Three months deep into my time in the Albany area, I finally got the chance to head to a Tri-City Valley Cats game at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, covering the pro debut of Mark Appel on July 5.  Here are the Top 5 things about the experience and a game at Bruno that I took away.

  1. Atmosphere.  There is something going on every inning, plus lots of noise and a great background.  There isn't a bad seat in the house, of course, and you can watch the game from any angle without getting blocked.  The side lawn viewing areas remind me of the great Frontier Field in Rochester.
  2. Gift shop.  The choices are incredible.  Toys for kids.  Apparel for older baseball fans.  Novelty gifts for the worker or teacher who supports the team on occasion.  The hat selection is top-notch and the air conditioning is always on to spell relief on hot summer days.
  3. Beer and food.  Great selection and variety of all things food and beer.  $4.75 for a draft beer is very reasonable.  Local Brown's Brewing is there which adds a nice touch.  Plus, you can get specialized food like a brat or an original like a grilled hot dog or a cold, tasty ice cream.
  4. Easy access with easy parking.  Bruno is just a few miles off the highway and a couple of turns up the hills.  The game I attended was a sell-out.  But parking was available in a big lot to the right of the park.  Piece of cake.
  5. "Southpaw."  Talk about a team that gets it from a marketing standpoint with its mascot and connecting the name to baseball.  The Valley Cat mascot, "Southpaw," is an actual cat, matches the team nickname, is super active at the ballpark and has a name, "Southpaw," that resembles baseball (lefthanded pitcher).  And yes, the "paw" part of that, I assume, is of course with the pun intended.

I had heard plenty about the Valley Cats games prior to my arrival, but you always want to experience baseball parks, like movies, yourself, and form your own opinion.  This is a place I will enjoy covering baseball and on a few occasions enjoy watching as a fan with a brat and a beer.  There was a lot of hype leading up to my first game at Bruno.  It is hard to exceed the hype, like LeBron James did, but the Valley Cats did it for me.  This is easily already one of my favorite parks in all of baseball.

By:  Mike Lindsley, "Mid-Day with Mike," M-F 1-4, Yankees pre/post game host on 104.5 The Team ESPN Radio.  Follow him on Twitter at  


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