After Monday's announcement that Stephen Strasburg will make his debut with the Harrisburg Senators on Sunday, April 11th against the Altoona Curve, I imagine that many of you went searching for tickets. And if you haven't already, you should!
The Nats will be out of town and Altoona is just three hours from Washington D.C. -- a perfect Sunday drive to see the star prospect in a beautiful gem of a ballpark in western Pennsylvania.
"Coming up, I remember that it was the place everybody always talked about, especially coming from High-A Lynchburg, which is one of the oldest stadiums," said Sean Burnett, who played for the Curve in 2003.
"This was almost brand new and it has that roller coaster in right field. It's a double decker park, so it felt like a little Big League field and there was seating beyond the outfield wall. Not a lot of parks have that in the minors. It was pretty cool with all its little quirks."
It's true -- Blair County Ballpark is a masterpiece; it opened in 1999. It's seated next to Lakemont Park, an amusement park that runs an old wooden roller coaster near right field. Unfortunately, the amusement park doesn't open until May.
"For a Double-AA ballpark, it's very, very nice," said Matt Capps, who also played for the Altoona Curve in 2005. "This is a pretty new ballpark. It's really fan-friendly. The amenities are very nice and it creates a great atmosphere all the way around for the players and the fans."
There are great tickets still available (ranging from $5-$12). Gates open at 1:00 p.m. and there is plenty of parking. The game starts at 2 p.m.
Food prices are just as reasonable at the ballpark. They feature a strange but popular Fried Bologna sandwich. It's kind of a big deal; you should try it.
If you want to eat in Altoona, I'd head for Allegro or Jethro's. Others have recommended Finelli's Italian Villa, Marzoni's and El Campesino.
Another option is eating near Bedford, PA, right off of 99 South. Ed's Steakhouse is a popular favorite, as well as Bad Boyz Bistro, The Golden Eagle Inn, and The Union Hotel.
"Altoona Curve fans really support their team, so I'm sure that will be a great atmosphere for him as he makes his debut and an exciting time for the Nationals fans who are coming up to see it," Capps continued.
The park seats 7,210 fans, but it's highest regular season turnout (9,255) came on August 10, 2003 against the Senators. Is it time to set a new record?
"I really enjoyed playing there and I know the visiting guys loved playing there too because of the crowds. It's Altoona and they love their baseball, so it should be pretty electrifying," Burnett continued.
On a personal note, I grew up about 25 miles from Altoona. In fact, I watched Jordan Zimmermann pitch a great game against Altoona back on July 4, 2008.
I am so excited about this opportunity to go home and catch the game with my Dad. His birthday is on April 13th, so it's the perfect present.
See you there!