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.