Michigan Stadium

20 09 2009
  • 1 E. Stadium Blvd.
  • Ann Arbor, MI 48104
  • (734) 764-1817
  • Website
Michigan Stadium - The Big House

Michigan Stadium - "The Big House"

Don’t judge me.  I wouldn’t judge you if you went to a baseball game at Wrigley Field.  I’m not a closet Michigan fan.  In fact, growing up, I despised Michigan because my brother, for some reason, was a huge Wolverine fan.  We grew up about an hour north of the University of Illinois, so it caused a lot of Saturday afternoon fights in our house. 

Still, even though I’ve never been a fan of Michigan, like most sports fans, Michigan Stadium has been one of the stadiums that I really wanted to see a game in.  When we moved to Lansing, one of our goals was to see a football game at both Michigan and Michigan State.  I’ve been to Spartan Stadium for work, but not Michigan Stadium. 

Last week, when I was working at Illinois, I got a text message from J that said she wanted to go to a football game this weekend.  She looked first at MSU, but they were on the road, so she checked Michigan.  There were tickets available and at $50 a piece, didn’t seem to overpriced, so she ordered two tickets. 

I hate to admit it, but I’ve been looking forward to this all week.  I mean, it’s The Big House. I have a lot of friends back home, who aren’t Michigan fans either, that are really jealous. 

Michigan Stadium is the centerpiece of the University of Michigan athletic campus  on the corner of Main Street and Stadium Boulevard.  I’ve heard a lot of stories about how crappy the place is, but those opinions were coming from Michigan State fans, so there may be a little biased.  My expectations for the stadium itself wasn’t very high.  My suspicion was that Michigan Stadium was more about tradition and atmosphere than it was comfort and aesthetics. Read the rest of this entry »

Ray Fisher Stadium

11 04 2009
  • 1114 S. State Street
  • Ann Arbor, MI 48104
  • (734) 647-2583
  • Website
The entrance to Ray Fisher Stadium on the campus of the University of Michigan

The entrance to Ray Fisher Stadium on the campus of the University of Michigan

Being a former college baseball player, I’ve always been jealous of the guys who get to play in the Big Ten.  When I was a Senior in high school, I went down to Champaign to pitch my case to “Itch” Jones.  I wanted to play Big Ten baseball.  Coach Jones told me in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t good enough to play in the Big Ten.  He suggested junior college and see if I got better. 

I didn’t take his advice.  I went to a NAIA Division I school, played a year and a half and got cut halfway through my sophomore season.  I could have went back to juco, but I gave up on a baseball and focused on my education and getting out of college as fast as possible. 

Even though we were one of the top NAIA teams in the country, we shared our field with one of the local high schools.  It was our field, but it was on their property.  The field was ok, but it doesn’t compare to the minor league ballpark the team plays in now. 

I tell you all this because I get chills every time I walk on the grass at Ray Fisher Stadium in Ann Arbor.  The field is part of the Wilpon Baseball/Softball complex.  It sits in the middle of the athletic complex on State Street.  The field is surrounded by Yost, Schembechler Hall, the track and field complex and Alumni Field.  Read the rest of this entry »

Alumni Field

5 04 2009
  • 1202 S. State Street
  • Ann Arbor, MI 48104
  • (734) 647-2583
  • Website
The backside of the grandstands at Alumni Field in Ann Arbor

The backside of the grandstands at Alumni Field in Ann Arbor

My very busy April of shooting baseball/softball continues this weekend in Ann Arbor.  I was actually supposed to shoot baseball yesterday in Ann Arbor, but the weather kept that game from happening. 

This isn’t my first trip to U of M for spring sports.  Right after we moved here last year, I got a call to shoot the very first softball game in the remodeled Alumni Field.  I shot a couple baseball games later in the spring, but this is the first time I’ve been back to Alumni Field since then.

The University of Michigan’s softball team calls Alumni Field home.  The field is part of the larger Wilpon Baseball and Softball complex which is part of the even large sports complex on the Ann Arbor campus.  The softball diamond shares a parking lot with the baseball diamond, Ooseterban Fieldhouse, the UM Indoor Track and Field Building and Yost Ice Arena.  The center field wall butts up to the center field wall of Fisher Stadium.  Read the rest of this entry »

Eichelberger Field – Urbana, IL

30 03 2009
  • 1201 W. Florida Avenue
  • Urbana, IL 61801
  • (217)
  • Website
Eichelberger Field on the campus of the University of Illinois

Eichelberger Field on the campus of the University of Illinois

Nothing like getting up early on a Sunday morning to drive in blizzard like conditions to a softball game.  That was how my day started. 

After getting rained out Saturday at Illinois Field, I made the trek back to Champaign/Urbana from my parents house for a softball game between the University of Illinois and Michigan State University.  Unfortunately, the weather didn’t want to cooperate.

The University of Illinois softball team plays their home games at Eichelberger Field in Urbana.  It’s actually just a few hundred yards from the men’s field, but the city limits for the two towns lie just outside the center field wall at Illinois Field.  Even though the street addresses are different, they’re on the same street. Read the rest of this entry »

Huff Hall – Champaign, IL

21 03 2009
  • 1206 S. 4th Street
  • Champaign, IL 61820
  • (217) 244-9755
  • Website
Huff Hall on the campus of the University of Illinois set up for gymnastics

Huff Hall on the campus of the University of Illinois set up for gymnastics

Even if you’ve never been to the University of Illinois and you’ve never heard of Huff Hall, you are quite familiar with a term that was coined during the days when the IHSA boys state basketball championships played in the gym.  It’s actually pretty fitting that I’m writing about this right now.  The term “March Madness” is a term that was trademarked by the IHSA after a court battle that also gave the NCAA a right to trademark the term.  The IHSA still claims to have invented the term and they own the sole trademark to the phrase “America’s Original March Madness” which is how they bill their tournament these days

The phrase “March Madness” was first used in 1939 to describe the state basketball championships that were held at Huff Gymnasium.  The layout and design of the building made it loud and when the place was full, it was deafening.  If you’ve ever watched an IHSA small schools game, you know how loud it can get.

Huff Hall was built in 1925 as a multi-purpose gymnasium named after George Huff who was the school’s athletic director from 1895 to 1935.  It’s a 4,500 seat arena with a permanent upper deck and retractable bleachers in the lower area.  Like Michigan State’s Jenison Fieldhouse, Huff Hall is the home of the U of I’s volleyball, wrestling,  and gymnastics teams. Read the rest of this entry »

Crisler Arena

18 01 2009
  • 333 E. Stadium Blvd
  • Ann Arbor, MI 48104
  • (734) 998-7236
  • Website
Crisler Arena on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor

Crisler Arena on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor

When I got the e-mail asking if I was available to shoot men’s basketball at Crisler Arena, I have to admit, I was a little pumped.  Growing up in the far away land of Central Illinois, Ann Arbor was this far away, mystical place we saw on TV every Saturday afternoon.  I would have been in junior high during the Fab Five years and there were wars at my house over college basketball.  My brother was a Michigan fan while I rooted for Duke.  This was also about the time Nike was coming out with “authentic” apparel.  My brother had the Jalen Rose jersey and matching shorts.  I had a number of Duke shooter shoots.  As far as we were concerned, Crisler Arena was one of those places we’d never go to, but would have given anything, at that time, to see a game there. 

Well, I got my chance 10 plus years later.  Crisler Arena is on the campus of  U of M in the shadow of Michigan Stadium.  My first impression was, “wow.”  That’s not a good wow.  That’s a “I can’t believe this” wow.  The place is so run down it doesn’t look fit for a basketball program with the history and aura of the Michigan Wolverines. The seats were rusted, they were small and low to the ground.  From a broadcast point of view, Crisler is one of the worst stadiums I’ve ever worked at.  I’ve never been to Big Ten stadium where all of the cable had to be run from the truck.  After being there five minutes, all the expectations I had as a kid were squashed.  I’m really glad my brother hasn’t been there. Read the rest of this entry »

Merry Ann’s Diner – Downtown Champaign, IL

29 12 2008
  • 1 E. Main Street
  • Champaign, IL 61820
  • (217) 531-1160
  • No Known Website
  • Menu
Merry Anns Diner in downtown Champaign, IL

Merry Ann's Diner in downtown Champaign, IL

5:30 AM is still too early for me.  I was up at this ungodly hour because I had to be in Champaign by 7:00 AM for a basketball game.  My parents live a little over an hour away, so the alarm was set for just before 5:30.  Since the game was at 1:00, it meant lunch was actually going to be breakfast, so on my way in to town, I started scouting out breakfast joints.  I wasn’t having much luck until I had to detour off of Neil Street (the main artery of Champaign and the road that runs through downtown) because of construction.  I turned down Main Street and like a golden beacon, a simple sign that said “diner” jumped out and I found my breakfast spot.

Merry Ann’s Diner is located in the One Main building which is a development companies’ prototype for downtown buildings.  I know they also built a “One Main” in Normal, IL near Illinois State University even though the street is not Main Street.  The “One Main” name comes from the address of this original building. 

I was not aware that there was a second Merry Ann’s in Champaign.  I had eaten at the location farther down on the corner of Neil and Kirby Streets near the University of Illinois (review HERE).  I was surprised when I actually saw the name of the diner on Main was Merry Ann’s.

I got back downtown just before 10:00.  The diner isn’t very big and it’s set up pretty much the same was as the diner on Neil Street.  Most of the booths but up to the “kitchen” with little cutouts for the waitress.  This way, the waitress never has to go out into the dining room….unless you happen to be sitting at the two or three tables near the door which are separated from the counter.  The diner is setup with a row of booths, a lunch counter, and another row of booths.  When I walked in, I wasn’t sure there was any available space.  All of the booths looked full.  I thought maybe there was one down at the end, so I started walking that way.  That’s when I noticed the stools at the counter, so I just sat down there. Read the rest of this entry »