FifthThird Field – Toledo Mud Hens
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The Toledo Mud Hens trace their heritage back all the way to 1883. Some of the deepest roots in all of baseball are probably most famous for their link to an iconic television show. Toledo native Jamie Farr had a love of the Mud Hens in his role on the iconic TV show MASH. Farr’s character, Max Klinger, also hailed from Toledo and was routinely seen sporting a Toledo Mud Hens cap or shirt, when he wasn’t wearing a dress. MASH may have temporarily brought the Mud Hens some national notoriety, but they are far more than just a punchline on a sitcom. In 2016, the not-for-profit team remains the Triple-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, playing in the International League. History runs deep in Toledo, with championships being claimed in 1927, 1968, 2005 and 2006.
The Hens make their nest in a jewel of a ballpark in downtown Toledo. Fifth Third Field was built in 2002 and is the centerpiece in the downtown neighborhood now known as Hensville. The naming rights for the ballpark are held by Fifth Third Bank. The original ballpark was located near marshland which was inhabited by the American Coots, a bird commonly known as a mud hen. The Mud Hens experience is the quintessential Minor League Baseball experience and Toledo is a quintessential minor league town. The opportunity to catch some baseball at Fifth Third Field will undoubtedly have fans screaming, “Holy Toledo!”
Food & Beverage 5
Fifth Third Field offers culinary selections that are as good as any other park in Minor League Baseball. Food is a huge part of the Toledo Mud Hens experience. The Mud Hens provide ads, plans and brochures to help the fan find that perfect concession to go with the game experience. There are a number of different concession spots, each with some unique fare. All of the expected items can be found, of course, including hot dogs ($3.25), brats, polish sausage, chicken tenders, chicken sandwiches, fries, nachos, tacos, peanuts, pretzels, Cracker Jack, and ice cream. The pizza onsite is from Marco’s ($5.00).
You can also find a number of more interesting items that are unique and tasty. The Hen and Hound has a variety of gourmet hot dogs, including the mac & cheese, Muddy, Heater, and Georgia. Other interesting items include waffle bites, chili cheese fries, quesadillas, and burritos. Fifth Third Field goes out of the way to hit the sweet tooth. You may be interested in Nutella Poppers, Caramel Apple Nachos or the Strawberry Belgian Waffle. The signature stand might just be the Farr out Funnels, which has a massive selection of funnel cakes with different toppings.
Fountain soft drinks are sold at most of the stands ($2.25/$3.50/$4.75) and feature Pepsi products. Bottles can be found at many stands as well for $3.50. Water, juice and coffee can be easily found throughout the park. There is a decent selection of beer throughout the concourses. Draft options include Budweiser, Bud Light and Shock Top ($7.50/$8.50). Bottles can also be found and varieties include Budweiser, Bud Light, Corona, Michelob Ultra, Yuengling and Labatt Blue. The Mexican stand sells margaritas for those not in the mood for beer and Barefoot wines come in four varieties sold in plastic, beer-sized bottles.
The atmosphere for a Mud Hens game at Fifth Third Field is about as good as you can ask for. Outside of the stadium, Fifth Third Field is very attractive with a combination of red brick and grey stone, which gives it a classic, yet modern look. When building Fifth Third Field in 2002, older buildings in Toledo were required to be incorporated as part of the stadium. The stadium fits in perfectly with the older buildings, which can be seen in right field and are used as part of the team merchandise store and Coop party deck and Roost seating area.
The streets surrounding Fifth Third Field have been renamed for important figures in Mud Hens history, including Henry Morse, Ned Skeldon and Gene Cook. All had a hand in bringing baseball back to Toledo. The small square behind the home plate has also been named for a significant figure in Toledo baseball history. Moses Fleetwood Walker was the first African-American Major League player and he played for the Toledo Blue Stockings in 1884. The square where the ticket windows are located has been named Moses Fleetwood Walker Square. Outside the stadium, fans must make a bit of a trek to find the “Who’s Up?” bronze statue, which brings baseball back to a more innocent and special time.
Entering the stadium, fans should take notice of the unique gates which incorporate a variety of baseball gloves, another attention to detail. The seating area is two tiered, with the club level on the second deck. Luxury boxes and the press box are behind the club section in the upper deck. Seats are the newer, plastic stadium seats, which seem to be commonplace in ballparks around the country. Some alternate seating areas in the park include the left field Coop Party Deck and the Fowl Pole Patio or the right side’s Nest Party Deck. Rooftop seating is also available above the Nine in right field. Fleetwood’s, on the other side of St. Clair Street also offers rooftop seating. The kids play area can be found in dead center field and the video board is in left. In the center field square area you can also find another bronze statue similar to “Who’s Up?” “I Got It” also brings fans back to a simpler time in the sport. The nod to Mud Hens history continues with the retired numbers on the second deck facia on the left field side of the park. Numbers are retired for Gene Cook and Larry Parrish and an memorial for former broadcaster Frank Gilhooley can be found with the numbers.
The in-game production is what you would find at a typical Minor League game. The Mud Hens promo team does a pretty good job of keeping the fans engaged. They select the “0 For” player of the game, offering a promotional discount if a selected player on the opposing team goes hitless. The Toledo mascots Muddy and Muddonna travel the stadium and entertain the crowd and kids especially. The music and commercials are not overboard and the experience is absolutely enjoyable for all fans. Free WiFi is also available for those wanting extra stats, or a distraction from the on-field action.
The neighborhood surrounding Fifth Third Field has been branded Hensville and has become more of an entertainment district in the city. There are a number of interesting spots to eat or drink before or after the game and a quick trip around the outside of the ballpark might be a good idea to find the right restaurant. Some options include Ye Olde Dirty Bird, Blarney Irish Pub, Ye Olde Cock and Bull, The Bronze Boar and Nine. A pretty good option is Fleetwood’s Tap Room, which is right across St. Clair Street.
Right beside Fleetwood’s is Hensville Park which often houses outdoor concerts or Mud Hens’ promotions during the summer. The SeaGate Convention Centre is up the street from Fifth Third Field and Imagine Station is a good spot to take the kids. A bit of a drive from the ballpark is the Toledo Zoo, but it is one of the better zoos you can find and well worth the time. There are also a few other sporting options in Toledo. The nearby Huntington Center is the home of the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. The University of Toledo is not too far away. Toledo Rockets football can be found at the fantastic Glass Bowl, and basketball can be found at Savage Arena.
There are not a ton of options for hotels right by the ballpark. One option within walking distance is the Park Inn Toledo.
Fifth Third Field has one of the smaller capacities in the International League. At under 9,000 seats, Fifth Third Field offers the ability to provide an intimate atmosphere where it almost always feels like a sellout. The fans in Toledo have responded in kind. From 2013 to 2016 the average attendance at Mud Hens games has been a steady 7,600 fans. This puts the Mud Hens in the middle of the pack with regards to attendance in the International League. However, the smaller capacity makes this a great spot to be.
The fans at Mud Hens games are intelligent, friendly and definitely into their Mud Hens. They are not over the top and fairly laid back, but you will absolutely know when something big happens on the field.
Getting in and around Fifth Third Field is not too difficult. Fifth Third Field is located in downtown Toledo, west of the Maumee River and a half mile east of I-75 in the neighborhood of Center City. Access to the interstate is not terrible, but if you are driving in from a distance, you will have to maneuver some city streets to get to Fifth Third Field.
There are some city buses that travel on Summit St and Jefferson Ave, if you are interested in public transit. Head to the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority website for fares, maps and schedules.
There are some surface parking lots that are close to the ballpark. You are probably looking at between $10 and $20 for parking, which is a bit on the expensive side.
The main ticketing gate is on the west side of the ballpark at the home plate gate. It is outdoor and not normally busy. Other gates can be found around the park on Monroe and Washington Streets.
Moving around the ballpark is not an issue. Concourses are wide enough for travel and washroom facilities at the ballpark are pretty good.
Return on Investment 5
There is great value in a Toledo Mud Hens game. Tickets for the Mud Hens go for $15 for club seats and $12 for lower deck seating. Concession prices are pretty good and parking can be a little high. The Mud Hens provide a great experience in a fantastic atmosphere that any baseball traveler would be interested in. The end result is an experience that the whole family can enjoy for not much in the way of investment. The return is more than enough for the investment that the fan puts in.
An extra mark for the attention to history that the Mud Hens have paid. Specifically the Moses Fleetwood Walker Square and the two bronze statues offer a unique take on the history of baseball not found in many other places.
An extra mark for the Jamie Farr connection that the Mud Hens have.
A trip to see the Toledo Mud Hens at Fifth Third Field is well worth your time and money. Fans young and old will quickly see why Max Klinger of MASH was so enamored with the team. One trip to see the Mud Hens and you will definitely be yelling out “Holy Toledo!”
Park Inn by Radisson Toledo, OH
101 N Summit St
Toledo, OH 43604
Holiday Inn Express Toledo-Oregon
3154 Navarre Ave
Oregon, OH 43616
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