- 1 Mayor Art Schultz Drive
- Joliet, IL 60432
- (815) 726-2255
I think I’ve already mentioned, I really like baseball. Most guys spend all year getting ready for their fantasy football draft….I look forward to April because baseball’s starting. I’ve been very lucky the last seven years having a Midwest League team in the city I’ve lived in. Trust me, I’ve taken advantage of that.
For my first two years of college, I played baseball at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, IL. We played our home games on a pretty nice field at Joliet Catholic Academy (high school). Since I went to a small high school, this field was a huge step up, but for most of the guys I played with, it was a step down. In 2003, USF got a huge opportunity to play it’s home games at the newly built Silver Cross Field in downtown Joliet. I never got to play there or even see it before I left school, but the park’s main tenant is the Joliet Jackhammers of the Northern League.
J and I were at my parents house and it’s always nice to be able to get my dad out of the house. He likes baseball like I like baseball so I suggested the hour drive north to Joliet. Once we figured out the rain might actually hold off, my mom and aunt also wanted in, so we loaded up the van an headed to Joliet.
Silver Cross Field is in downtown Joliet near Union Station and Joliet Township High School. There’s a beautiful entrance on Jefferson Street that is noticeable from a few blocks away. We chose to park in a public parking lot on the other side of the train station because all day parking was a buck. We were sort of in a hurry to get inside the park, so we didn’t mess around to much with trying to find street parking.
Like 95% of people that go to an independent or minor league baseball game, we walked up to the box office to get our tickets. Joliet only offers two price levels which kind of sucks. You either have to pay $10 for a seat or $5 to sit in the lawn. There’s nothing in between. There used to be a $7 seat, but not anymore. My dad kind of needs a seat, so we had to go with the $10 tickets. We got seats four rows behind home plate, so they were good seats. You would think that five seats would cost $50. At almost every other ballpark, they would, but Silver Cross Field actually PUNISHES you for deciding it’s a nice day for a ballgame. When you purchase your tickets on game day….or on the Internet, they add a $1 service charge per ticket. Our tickets actually cost $55. My mom had one of those preloaded Visa Debit cards that she wanted to use and the box office had a hard time running it. They finally figured it out and we made our way inside the park.
I said earlier we were in a hurry to get in the park. That’s because they had a great giveaway. The first 1000 fans over the age of 21 were given Budweiser pint glasses with the Jackhammer logo. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten anything that good at a pro game let alone from a team in the Northern League. We were one of the first 1000 so we each got one.
When you enter the ballpark, you have to walk up a stairway to get to the main concourse. Silver Cross Field isn’t as big as Oldsmobile Park, but they have a lot of the same amenities. There’s a souvenir shop off to the first base side an the concourse is littered with vendors and groups handing out information. The seating bowl is a lot smaller, but there are still suites that make up a second deck. The lawn seating starts just on the other side of the dugouts on either side. Beyond the left field fence is the home of Jammers BBQ which has a party deck for private parties. There are also kids games and a picnic area for groups. The night we went was a Thirsty Thursday and the only place in the park that had $1.50 beers was in left field. J and I walked out there to get a beer and a frozen margarita. We stayed in the outfield for a few innings. The outfield wall is set up so you can walk right up to it and lean against the wall.
The ballpark is full of the normal ballpark foods. My mom got a mini batting helmet of Dipping Dots. That was about the only thing we bought. We had dinner at Chicken ‘n Spice before the game which was the restaurant that got me through college.
The baseball’s not as good as it is in Lansing…and if you’ve been to a ‘Nuts game this year, you know that’s saying a lot. The Jackhammers are in the Northern League which is an independent league. None of the teams are affiliated with a Major League club. Almost all of the players spent time in the minor leagues at one time and they’re trying to get back into an affiliated league. The manager should be familiar to baseball fans. Wally Backman played for quite a few years in the Major Leagues and his son is the Jackhammers third baseman.
Silver Cross Field is a great addition to downtown Joliet. When I was in school, downtown was a little scary. The ballpark has been the backbone for revitalizing the area. I only knew of one restaurant ten years ago. Just in the little bit we drove around, I found a half dozen places that looked inviting. I’m jealous of the new crop of baseball players at St. Francis who get to play ball at this great field. I only wish it had come about four years quicker.
We enjoyed a great night out. My only complaint, and it’s a big one, is the “service charge” on day of game purchases. Seriously, how many people plan trips to minor league baseball games. Don’t punish your fans for wanting to go to games.