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A fan notes: the best eats, seats, treats in the PCL.

Northern Division

Calgary Cannons (Seattle Mariners). Known as hitter's ballpark, Foothills Baseball Stadium lived up to its reputation last May when three Cannons hit grand slams in one game, a Pacific Coast League record.

While the PCL has older and more architecturally distinctive stadiums, 7,500-seat Foothills has plenty of character, enthusiastic fans, and wide views. We caught a game during last year's pennant race, and the stadium was hopping with the third-largest crowd in franchise history. The festive mood culminated in a dramatic come-from-behind victory over Vancouver followed by a rousing chorus of "Play me some mountain music."

If the sun bothers you, ask for seats along the right field line because left field gets blasted by glare. Only reserved seats have backs, so be prepared for bleacher seating in general admission. In addition to the usual ballpark food, Calgary has a diary bar for ice cream. Foothills also has a good souvenir stand and, unless his driving habits have changed, the fastest infield tractor driver in the PCL.

At intersection of Crowchild Trail and 24th Avenue N.W. (Banff Trail Station on Calgary Transit); $4 to $7; $1.25 parking next to the stadium; (403) 284-1111.

Edmonton Trappers (California Angels). This year may be the last for John Ducey Park, a quirky, 59-year-old, 6,200-seat ballpark near the North Saskatchewan River and a few blocks from downtown Edmonton. The park has the strangest outfield walls this side of Fenway Park: in left field, a mini-Green Monster; in right, several zigs and zags.

You won't have much chance to hang out by the bull pens, which are tucked behind the stands. The first-base side is your best bet to keep the sun out of your eyes, but left field has a more panoramic view. General-admission seats are bleachers.

At 10233 96th Avenue; $3.75 to $6; $3 parking near the stadium; some street parking, but be careful because some areas prohibit parking during games; (403) 429-2934.

Portland Beavers (Minnesota Twins). The Beavers were an early PCL powerhouse, winning four pennants from 1910 to 1915, but the team has won only five titles since 1916.

The purist in us sneers at the synthetic turf and laments the loss of the old jerseys with a beaver sitting on the end of a bat. But the new pin-striped look is actually quite nice, and Civic Stadium's downtown location, quality barbecued food and Japanese beer, and the bat-and-ball motif on the gates help you forget that the 25,762-seat stadium also hosts football.

At 1844 S.W. Morrison Street; $2 to $6.50; street parking; (503) 223-2837.

Tacoma Tigers (Oakland Athletics). Except for Jose Canseco during batting practice, no one has ever hit a home run over the 32-foot-tall, 425-feet-to-dead-center "Great Wall of Cheney," one of many distinctive features of 8,500-seat Cheney Stadium. Always known as a pitcher's ballpark, it was where you could see future Hall of Fame pitchers Gaylord Perry and Juan Marichal (both charter members of the Cheney Stadium Hall of Fame) in the 1960s.

One major improvement this year is the replacement of the old chain-link fence that guarded the field with one of finer mesh. Luckily, progress hasn't come to the old-fashioned dugouts, where players' helmets are hung on hooks outside.

Cheney Stadium has a wide range of food and drink possibilities: there are two taprooms, a fajitas stand, a speciality sausage stand, and the only cappuccino and espresso in the PCL; it also has a fine souvenir stand.

Located a mile off 1-5 on State 16 (follow signs); $3.50 to $5.50; $2 parking next to the stadium; (206) 752-7707 or (800) 281-3834.

Vancouver Canadians (Chicago White Sox). With its rooftop press box, hadn scoreboard, and park setting, 41-year-old, 6,500-seat Nat Bailey Stadium is a PCL classic (though early-season games are at BC Place, another Vancouver stadium). Provincial flags fly atop the ballpark modeled after Seattle's old PCL ballpark, Sick's Stadium, and the concourse--dim, enclosed, and echoing with tradition--adds to that unforgettable moment when you walk through the tunnel and first see the field.

Old ballparks with character can also have drawbacks. If you're rising player, Nat Bailey's cramped dugouts only provide more incentive to get to The Show. For fans, the chainlink fence between stands and field can be a distraction; opt for seats above the 10th row and you'll still be plenty close to the action. Left field gets bright sun for the first few innings of night games. There's no cost to watch from the hill behind the outfield fence, but frankly you'll regret not shelling out a few bucks to experience Nat Bailey up close.

For food, there's a Domino's Pizza stand, strolling hot dog and beer vendors, and in the concourse, food stands with perhaps the best lineup of fresh condiments in the PCL.

Take Highway 99 to Oak Street, east on 41st Avenue, left on Ontario Street; $3.25 to $7.50; $2 limited parking next to the ballpark, some street parking; (604) 872-5232.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:guide to Pacific Coast League fans
Date:Jun 1, 1992
Previous Article:Take me out to the Coast League.
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