Baseball and Chevrolet are forever intertwined in my memories. My parents, aunts and uncles always drove Chevy’s and my first car was a 1971 Chevy Impala convertible. And baseball was life for me when I was a boy. Our high school was too small to field a football team, so we had fall and spring baseball seasons. I lost my father at a young age and most of my memories of him involve baseball. Whether it was our daily Wiffle ball games in the yard or curled up in his lap watching his beloved Cardinals on the Game of the Week.
My love of the game carried me into my adult years where I had the privilege of playing in the Australian National Championship series and continued playing into my late thirties. I never reached my childhood dream of playing in the bigs, but I was pleased with what I had accomplished. But there was one thing missing. More on that in a minute.
Chevrolet recently invited me to join them for their Ultimate Baseball Experience. They invited us to bring a family member, and since my wife was tied up, I invited my daughter if she would like to join me. She heard Newport Beach and she was in. My girls are both in the school band so I hoped she would enjoy this baseball-intensive experience.
We headed down to Newport Beach just after rush hour and arrived at the Lido House Newport Beach, our accommodations for the night.
Lido House Newport Beach
Located in Newport Beach at the entrance to Balboa Peninsula, Lido House is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. This is the second Autograph Collection hotel I have stayed at recently and I am impressed but the individuality and character that is unique to each hotel. They are independent boutique hotels hand-selected and showcased by Marriott.
Located in the former Newport Beach City Hall, Lido House is centrally located near the marina, beach, restaurants, and boutiques, making it an ideal base to explore the Newport Beach area. It boasts a distinctly nautical feel, appropriate for its location, but like the other Autograph Collection property, the Hotel Paseo in Palm Springs, the Lido uses a subtle touch in with its decor so it doesn’t feel like they were trying too hard to make it feel nautical.
The hotel’s main draw was the beautiful pool area. There is plenty of seating and covered cabanas available to reserve if you plan of making a day out of your pool time. Also on the property is the Mayor’s Table restaurant and Topside, the first rooftop bar in Newport Beach.
Driving the Silverado 1500 LT Trailboss on the PCH
After a group lunch, we headed to our assigned 2019 Silverados for a drive down the coast. Every Silverado version you could think of were available and I was assigned to the 2019 Silverado LT Trailboss. Now, this is a seriously off-road capable truck with an additional two-inch suspension lift, blacked-out trim and rims and gigantic Goodyear rubber. It would be interesting to see how the Trailboss (one of the largest trucks Chevy has ever built) handled on the sometimes narrow Pacific Coast Highway that winds down through the beach communities as well as spending some time on the always nightmarish Interstate 5 during rush hour.
After taking a few minutes to adjust everything to my liking and becoming familiar with the controls, my daughter and I headed out for our driving adventure. The Silverado seemed more comfortable and roomier than previous versions. The ride was smooth and after a bit, we had the windows open and were just cruising down the PCH enjoying the ocean breeze and views. The Trailboss handled nimbly and the 5.3-liter V-8 provided plenty of zip to maneuver through the coastal traffic. My daughter’s feedback was that Twenty One Pilots sounded “amazing” through the included Bose sound system.
Trinity Bat Company
Our first stop on our Ultimate Base Experience was the Trinity Bat Company. Trinity is one of only a few bat manufacturers approved to make provide bats to MLB teams and players. After a brief overview from owner/founder Steve McKee stories on the origins of Trinity, we moved into the shop to see just how bats are made.
The air was filled with the amazing smell of freshly worked wood. There were racks of freshly cut blanks ready for the lathe. I was surprised that the blanks came in at just over five pounds when the average bat weighs right around two pounds. We got to see a bat created on the computerized lathe before moving to the paint booth where we were able to see how the bats are finished and engraved. After our tour, we were each presented with a custom mage bat engraved with our names as a keepsake! Even my daughter had one waiting for her and I was honestly surprised at how excited she was.
Batting Practice in the Big A
After finishing up at Trinity, we then headed over to the highlight of our day, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, or as we call it, The Big A, home of the Los Angeles Angels. We were escorted into the stadium and right down onto the field. I have been on a couple of MLB fields, but the experience of walking out on that perfectly green grass and looking around at the stands never gets old. There was a batting cage set up for is with a Jugs pitching machine out near second base.
Half of us went for the cage to take batting practice while the other half headed out for a tour of the stadium. While I waited my turn, I got to hang out with Clyde Wright, former Angels pitcher from the 1960’s and 70’s. I love talking with these vets and hearing there stories about the old days and Clyde has plenty of stories to share.
Finally, it was my turn. I put on my helmet, grabbed a bat and stepped up to the plate. I was instantly transported back twenty years. Everything felt natural and comfortable. I was at home in the batter’s box. That is until I swung at the first pitch. Then twenty years of not swinging a bat made its presence known to me. My timing was horrendous, I was way early in my swing and I think I swung and missed at the first 5 pitches. But then I took a deep breath, moved way up in the box, and settled in. I started making contact. Not the solid effortless contact I had hoped for, but solid contact that I would be pleased with after. My time came and went quickly, but I will always cherish the opportunity to take swings in a big-league park.
Next up was my daughter’s turn. I was a little nervous as she has rarely if ever swung a bat at a ball. And it’s often said that this is the most difficult task in sports. She swung through quite a few pitches, but then, like me, started to make contact. The smile on her face when she hit her first pitch is something I will cherish forever.
An awesome touch was that there was a video crew on hand so our batting practice was broadcast on the big screens around the stadium.
Touring Angel Stadium
After our group completed our swings, it was time for a quick tour around the stadium. We walked through the visitor’s clubhouse and got a good explanation of the instant replay setup. We then spent a couple of minutes in the press room, but unfortunately weren’t able to go into the Angels clubhouse. Trust me, the home team’s clubhouse is always a million times better than the visitor’s. To wrap up the tour, we were taken to the box level where we were able to tour the late, great former Angel’s owner Gene Autry’s personal box.
The Wrap Up
It was a quick trip but packed with memories. This was my first experience with Chevrolet and I honestly can’t wait for the next one. My custom bat hangs proudly in my office but the memories of our time out on the field are what will last.
I only had a short time in the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado LT Trail Boss, but I like what I have seen so far and I look forward to getting some serious time in it out in the desert to see what it can really do.
My deepest thanks to Shad, Scott, Mitch, Carly, Emily, Mariel and Zach for an absolutely incredible experience. You guys rock!