Can’t get enough baseball? Add a minor league game to your schedule at LoanMart Field in Rancho Cucamonga, home to the Dodger-affiliated Quakes.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Inland Empire 66ers pitcher Simon Mathews signs autographs before a June game against the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes at LoanMart Field in Rancho Cucamonga.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes mascot rouses the crowd.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Fans participate in the “YMCA” song between innings as the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes play the Inland Empire 66ers in June.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Game in progress: The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes play the Inland Empire 66ers in Class A Advanced California League baseball action in June.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
The Cucamonga Service Station, built in 1915, has been restored by a nonprofit group and is now a museum.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Dining options in Rancho Cucamonga include the State at Victoria Gardens. This is its truffle burger.(Gina Ferazzi / Los AngelesTimes)
The State restaurant in Rancho Cucamonga sets out an Old Fashioned.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
A cocktail at the State called Ashes of Pele: mezcal, tequila, fresh lime juice, charcoal simple syrup and cherry bitters.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
The State’s street tacos, made with braised short ribs, alongside an Ashes of Pele cocktail. The Rancho Cucamonga restaurant is in the buzzy shopping district known as Victoria Gardens.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
The State’s street tacos(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
As a dedicated Dodger fan and lover of baseball, I’m good for about 200 games a year, in person or on TV. But I’d never been to a minor league game. An open date on the big league schedule in May seemed the ideal time to change that. So off we went, my wife, Beth, and I, on an overnight to Rancho Cucamonga to see the Dodgers-affiliated Quakes of the Class A Advanced California League. LoanMart Field, previously known as the Epicenter, is a three-mile drive north of Interstate 10. For Beth’s birthday. Because I’m a romantic. With a 10:30 a.m. start for Education Day (think: kids on field trips) and nothing resembling Chavez Ravine traffic, we pulled in and parked wherever we wanted for $5. For $30 we bought two front-row seats over the Quakes dugout and an interaction with After Shock, the team mascot. We would pay $1,100 for the same view in Los Angeles and probably without the experience of having catcher Steve Berman toss Beth a souvenir baseball. She was as excited as a little girl and totally adorable. The tab: $118 on Priceline for our hotel, $120 for meals and $18 for gas.
Sheraton Ontario Airport is your basic, boxy airport hotel, with a restaurant, bar and 165 rooms. It was comfortable, with a nice pool, a Jacuzzi heated just right and genuinely warm service. And if it’s good enough for pilots flying in and out of Ontario, it’s good enough for me.
Victoria Gardens in Rancho Cucamonga is a lively shopping and nightlife district, which reminded us of the Grove in L.A. We were determined to patronize a non-franchise restaurant, and the State was a clutch find. We had braised short rib street tacos to start, followed by a juicy State Burger for me and the Truffle Burger for Beth. Whiskey aficionados take note: Two hundred varieties line the shelves, with ladders for the barkeeps at the ready.
I spotted the Cucamonga Service Station out of the corner of my eye after dinner, so we returned in the morning to check it out. The station, built in 1915 and beautifully restored by the nonprofit Route 66 Inland Empire California, has been a museum since 2015.
THE LESSON LEARNED
About 95% of the seats at LoanMart Field are on the infield, so there isn’t a bad view in the place. There’s a great community feel to the ballpark, making Quakes baseball fun for the whole family.
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, LoanMart Field, 8408 Rochester Ave., Rancho Cucamonga; (909) 481-5000. Advance purchase tickets from $10. Last home game is Sept. 3. Wheelchair accessible.
Sheraton Ontario Airport, 429 N. Vineyard Ave., Ontario; (909) 937-8000.
The State, 7900 Kew Ave., Rancho Cucamonga; (909) 317-2397.
Cucamonga Service Station, 9670 E. Foothill Blvd., Rancho Cucamonga. Hours are 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and noon-3 p.m. Sundays.