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Sacramento River Cats: Take Yourself Out To The Ballgame

A great source of local entertainment is a Sacramento River Cats home game. Being at the ballpark is an enjoyable experience, even for those who aren’t die-hard baseball fans.

For those with only a passing familiarity with the team: The Sacramento River Cats is a minor league baseball team that’s in the West Division of the Pacific Coast League. The Pacific Coast League is one of two Triple-A leagues in the United States. The other league is The International League.

The combined 30 teams in these two leagues match up with the 30 major league teams as Triple-A affiliates.

The River Cats are the Triple-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Here are the current standings for the Pacific Coast League.

History

The team was founded in 1978 in British Columbia, Canada. The original team name was the Vancouver Canadians. After the 1999 season, the team was purchased by a group led by the late Art Savage. Mr. Savage had been president and CEO of the San Jose Sharks of the National Hockey League from the team’s inception in 1990, through 1997.

The team was moved to West Sacramento and became the Sacramento River Cats beginning in the 2000 season. Since moving, the team has won five Pacific Coast League titles.

The River Cats were Triple-A National Champions in 2019.

Connection To The San Francisco Giants

The connection between Minor League Baseball (MiLB) and Major League Baseball (MLB) is a two-way street.

A Path to The Major Leagues

Very few baseball players go straight to the Major Leagues. Drafted (and some un-drafted) players work their way up through the minor league levels and some eventually make it to the major leagues.

A player who is drafted out of high school or college by the San Francisco Giants is employed by the Giants no matter which minor league level he is currently playing at. A player who makes it to the Major Leagues would play for the Giants unless he is first traded.

MLB Player Rehab

At any given point in time, there could be one or more Giants players on the River Cats’ roster with a status of “rehab.”

Per the Major League Players Association Collective Bargaining Agreement, with the player’s written consent, a player on the Major League Baseball 10-day or 60-day Disabled List (DL) can be assigned to a minor league club for up to a maximum of twenty days “for each injury, or reoccurrence of an injury, for the purpose of rehabilitation.” Pitchers can be assigned for up to a maximum of 30 days.

While always a temporary situation, one or more current MLB players appearing in the lineup adds extra excitement to a game.

Three-time World Series championship team member and four-time National League all-star Madison Bumgarner was the starting pitcher for the River Cats in May 2018. The game was a sellout.

Two-time World Series championship team member Hunter Pence played for the River Cats during the same month.

The Sutter Health Park Experience

Sutter Health Park is centrally located, family-friendly, and has a panoramic view of several Sacramento landmarks. Landmarks include The Ziggurat and the historic Tower Bridge.

Sacramento River Cats Ballpark: Sutter Health Park

Getting There

Sutter Health Park is just minutes from both Interstate 5 and the Business 80 section of Highway 50.

You can use your favorite mobile mapping app to get to Sutter Health Park.

If you use Google Maps, don’t be alarmed if you see “possibly closed” on gameday. This alert is referencing the business office, which is only open on weekdays until 5:00 PM.

Parking

The main parking lot has gravel sections, so it’s probably best to not drive a fancy sports car or a low rider to the ballpark unless you’re planning to park in the VIP section.

Non-VIP parking costs $10. Parking is free for a carpool of four or more people. For free carpool parking, that day’s Lasher’s Elk Grove Subaru parking permit must also be presented.

Seating

There are 10,624 fixed seats at Sutter Health Park. The stadium has an official capacity of 14,014 when the lawn and standing room is included.

The capacity at the ballpark is the fourth highest in all of U.S. Triple-A baseball. Only the Buffalo Bisons, the Indianapolis Indians, and the Salt Lake Bees have more capacity.

Because of the persistent summer sun and heat in Sacramento, seating along the third base line is preferable to seating along the first base line during afternoon games. Fortunately, most games start at 7:05 PM.

Sutter Health Park Third Baseline Shade

The lawn, which includes Toyota Home Run Hill, has shade trees. Early birds can stake a claim to the shade.

Sutter Health Park Lawn

The lawn area also features a mini Bogle vineyard. Bogle is the most widely recognized brand among Sacramento Area wineries. A vineyard within a ballpark may well be a feature that’s unique to Sutter Health Park.

Sutter Health Park Bogle Mini Vineyard

For a private gathering of up to 120 people, there’s the Jackson Rancheria Home Run Terrace above left field.

Home Run Terrace

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Merchandise & Concessions

River Cats merchandise can be purchased at the On Deck Shop, just to the right of the main stadium entrance. The shop is open to the public even when games are not in session. For information, call 916-376-4796.

Sutter Health Park OnDeckShop

Six new restaurant storefronts were added to the concourse in 2017. They include an Irish-style pub called Coop & Kennel Pub and a ’50s-style restaurant called Cadillac Diner.

Craft beer can be purchased in the Beer Garden, next to the left-field foul pole.

Sutter Health Park Beer Garden

Local Attractions

Old Sacramento is right across the river from Sutter Health Park. It’s about a ten-minute walk from the ballpark parking lots to Old Town Sacramento via the Tower Bridge.

Sacramento River and Bridge

An outing to the ballpark can be combined with a visit to the California State Railway Museum along with other Old Sacramento points of interest and dining spots.

There’s also a daytime Sacramento Historic River Cruise offered by Hornblower.

Sacramento River Cats Schedule & Tickets

In addition to being the primary online ticket source, TicketMaster has the best calendar view of the River Cats’ schedule.

Tickets can also be purchased at the Sutter Health Park box office. Ticket prices vary by game, but they generally range from $12 (lawn seating) to $42.

There are a number of club, season ticket, and partial season ticket options. For more information on these, call 916.371.HITS (4487) or send an email to tickets@rivercats.com.

Media Coverage

When you can’t make it to the ballpark, there are plenty of ways to stay current with the River Cats.

Streaming Audio

River Cats games are streamed on the MILB.com site.

The play-by-play announcer for the River Cats is Johnny Doskow, a resident of Folsom. His signature exclamation, “Holy Koudelka,” is well known by River Cats fans. Johnny’s Twitter handle is @JDoskow.

Twitter

As many sports teams are now doing, the River Cats tweet live updates during games. Twitter is also a good place to find out about specials. Here are the latest tweets from the River Cats.

Instagram

To get another visual perspective on the ballpark and the team, check out the tag #sacramentorivercats on Instagram.

Facebook

The River Cats’ Facebook page is another good source for the team’s schedule and related events.

Wrap Up

For anyone who lives in the Greater Sacramento area and beyond, consider taking yourself (and your friends & family) out to the ballgame. The Sacramento River Cats organization has done it right—they have made for an enjoyable fan experience.

As a bonus, a visit to the ballpark can be preceded or followed by a visit to Old Sacramento.

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