|For those wanting to enjoy a pure baseball atmosphere and experience what the early days of independent baseball were probably like should come to Texas to take in some Continental League games. My visit to McKinney's Gabe Nesbitt Field represented my first CBL experience, and what an interesting one it was. The ballpark itself is fine - certainly suitable for any type of amateur baseball, but probably not a true professional level (which the CBL is not at yet). Nesbitt Field is located at the Craig Ranch Complex, which features eight other baseball diamonds and five softball fields. The exterior is made of brown stone and the grounds are beautifully manicured. Out front is a statue of Joe Dimaggio, though I'm not sure what connection he has to McKinney. Inside the park, the metal grandstand is completely uncovered, but features all fold down chairs. While all the seats are close to the field, the netting protects all of the grandstand, so sightlines are a bit obscured. At the top of the grandstand is a nice press box which is flanked by two small luxury boxes. The concourse is located behind the grandstand and features just one concession stand and a small souvenir shop. Concessions were average at best, with just standard ballpark fare offered (hot dogs, chili dogs, sausages, pizza, etc). As mentioned earlier, the atmosphere here is definitely pretty pure. The Blue Thunder do have a mascot, but he was only seen a couple times. The team did try to do a few on-field games spoon race, human dot race, hoola hoop) between innings, but with so few fans on hand, it seemed like the same kids were competing in all of them. The fact that they were even trying to act like a real minor league team was quite endearing. It was also interesting to see one of the uniformed personnel (a coach ?) wandering the stands trying to promote the team by handing out scheduled. One other unique "promotion" that was done was a "Meet the Blue Thunder" segment. Between one of the innings, a player came into the stands and introduced himself and what his goals were. He indicated that "he wanted to get the hell out of this league and move on up." He closed his little speech by saying he was single and giving out his phone number to any ladies who were interested. It was quite amusing to say the least. Despite being in their second year of existence, the CBL still has some issues - most notable the complete lack of attendance. This game only had about 100 people in the stands. Also, there were no programs or scorecards to be found, which is really unacceptable at any level. It is really amazing that this league has survived. Gabe Nesbitt Field is a comfortable enough ballpark and the atmosphere is fine if you are just interested in baseball. Just don't expect anything fancy as this is the lowest rung of independent baseball and the quality of play is quite poor. So unless you are a hardcore baseball fan, it is hard for me to recommend a visit to McKinney. Not surprisingly, pro baseball only lasted one season here.