A Real Eye Opener
COLUMBUS, OH — I have a confession to make. Monday morning aboard a Southwest Airlines flight from Providence to Baltimore, I failed to power down my electronic device.
As the plane landed, music coursed through the wires connecting a pair of ear buds to the iPad resting on my lap. At least my seat was upright and my service tray was locked in place. Then, I never reclined the one or lowered the other.
I awoke on Boston’s South Shore at 2 a.m., allowing enough time to drive to Pawtucket for a 4 o’clock bus to T.F. Green. Shortly after 6, the PawSox were off to BWI on the way to Columbus. No different than virtually everyone else in our party, I was soundly sleeping soon after climbing to cruising altitude.
In no time, or so it seemed, I was jolted from my slumber as the wheels touched down. Uh oh, I realized; Tony Bennett was still singing; The Dave Brubeck Trio was still playing.
Aware of my indiscretion and alerted to the need to make amends, I made sure to silence the music before our descent on Columbus. On the first day of my last road trip as a PawSox broadcaster, I certainly didn’t want to fly afoul of the FAA.
Once in Ohio’s capital, energy still lower than usual, I headed up High Street to Columbus’s Short End and lunched at a cafe in the Italian Village. If that wasn’t revitalizing enough, a refreshing cup of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, as well as a cup of double espresso fueled my walk to the ballpark.
And that’s where I experienced a true eye-opener, taking in the sights of beautiful Huntington Park, the home of the Clippers on the edge of Columbus’s Arena District. Built a few blocks from Nationwide Arena, where the NHL’s BlueJackets skate, Huntington is a charming retro park that opened in 2009.
Now that I’m awake enough, I’d like to take you on a brief — albeit far from complete — tour.
The first look inside Huntington Park is afforded by the openings in the right-field wall adjacent to Nationwide Boulevard, inspired by the knot holes of yesteryear’s stadiums that used to allow a free peek at the action.
In addition to the 42 loge boxes where fans view the game from rolling and swiveling office chairs, the home plate club area includes an open-air broadcast location. There is a large bar flanked by two grills behind the media seating.
Like McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, Huntington Park pays homage to the game’s history. According to team historian Joe Santry, the stadium houses photos of all but a handful of players who’ve worn Columbus colors since the late 19th century.
With the skyline of Ohio’s capital as a backdrop, Huntington Park helps to shape the complexion of every game with its varying dimensions and the staggered height of its outfield wall. From pole to pole, left to right, the fence goes from 12 feet tall to 8 feet to 16 feet to 22 feet.
The left-field foul pole stands 325 feet from home plate, and the padded wall snakes to 365 at the edge of the berm to 405 at the corner of the ‘hitters eye’ to 400 in dead center. It then works its way to 365 feet out in right-center field, before angling back to 318 at the pole in right.
With so many vantage points at Huntington Park, almost too numerous to explore on a single visit, a game in Columbus is bound to command your attention. Even when you had a hard time keeping your eyes open on the way here.