What could possibly be more all-American than baseball, fireworks and the Fourth of July?
Nothing, as far as the Rochester Royals are concerned.
The amateur baseball team, which has been around since 1924, has established a tradition of playing a ballgame on the evening of the Fourth at Mayo Field, and then opening the gates to the to anyone who wants to come in, settle down on the field and watch the Rochester fireworks from that ideal vantage point.
“It’s a pretty good view, actually,” said Brian Ness, co-head coach of the Royals. The stadium is located about a half-mile, as the crows fly, from the fireworks site at Silver Lake Park.
“It’s one of our biggest turnouts of the year,” Ness said. “I have my family down there, a lot of the players have their extended families come down and watch the game, and then sit on the field and watch the fireworks. Everyone is invited.”
Even members of the opposing team — this year it’s the Minneapolis Angels — sometimes stick around for the fireworks, Ness said.
So it appears baseball fans and players have found one of the best places in town from which to view the fireworks, which begin at dusk (roughly 10 p.m.).
The timing of the fireworks is no problem for the Royals, Ness said, even if the game goes to extra innings.
“Typically our games start at 7:30 p.m. and go until about 10 p.m.,” he said. “So by scheduling the game at 6 p.m., it brings us to a 9 p.m. ending. A few extra innings would be about 9:30. If it were to continue after that, we would call it a tie. But we haven’t had that happen yet.”
Tickets for the game are $3 for adults, $2 for kids and senior citizens. But after the game, Mayo Field is open to anyone who wants to enter the stadium and watch the fireworks from the field. As an added bonus, the concession stand typically remains open for a time after the end of the game.
The Royals have been hosting a July 4 game for least 20 years, Ness said. “It would be nice for more people to come out and watch some hometown baseball and see the fireworks,” he said.
By the way, if you want to mix baseball, hot dogs and fireworks a day early, Rochester’s other baseball team, the Honkers, will host a game Friday against Mankato, followed by fireworks. Game time is 7:05 p.m. at Mayo Field.
Through an unscientific survey on Facebook, we asked people for their favorite spots to watch the Rochester fireworks.
“It’s a secret,” might have been the smartest response we received. After all, if you’ve got your own slice of fireworks-watching heaven, why invite the whole city to show up?
The top of the parking ramp next to the Rochester Public Library received mentions, as did the bike trail that runs behind Mayo Civic Center. Others told of backyard decks and hilltop viewpoints that are on private property.
One respondent, though, said she prefers to go to the source of the fireworks: “Silver Lake really is the best spot,” she wrote.