You Can Find Me in the Club

J.P. Finlay

I felt guilty as I walked to the dessert table. I complained all season about people sitting in the Presidents Club, the best seats in the house, not actually in the seats for the first pitch. Here I was, with seats six rows behind home plate, and I missed the first pitch. Now I know why.

The Presidents Club was certainly my most extravagant sporting experience. Upon entering the stadium, you are escorted to an elevator where you descend to the field level, walk across a red carpeted hallway and into the dining room. The dining room looks as swanky as any K Street $100-a-head restaurant; lofted ceilings, dark cherry paneling, silver cutlery, pleasant servers, flat screens littering the walls. This is a world away from the 45-minute wait for nachos upstairs.

Sitting at the table, the media room for postgame press conferences was over my left shoulder, while the batting cages for in-game BP were just down to the right. Both were enclosed in glass, inviting those in the dining room to watch.

The buffet was vast; the roasted pork with fig chutney was my favorite. The cost of food is allotted into the ticket, and because my ticket was free, I approached the buffet like Kobayashi walking into Nathans.

My first plate consisted of Caesar salad, spinach salad, snap peas and carrots with ginger, creamed spinach and a grilled chicken breast. This was my health-conscious plate. My next plate was the heart attack plate; I loaded up with two lamb chops, a generous portion of the freshly trimmed roast pork, rice pilaf, mashed potatoes and more snap peas (they were really good). Stuffed, I got dessert anyway, a trio of cakes: cheesecake, chocolate cake and strawberry vanilla. Looking back on how much I ate last night, there really should be no surprise I split my pants at a wedding this past weekend, but I digress.

Finally able to drag myself from the dining room, I walked out to the seats. The view was incredible. All I could write in my notebook was "WOW;" I stood no more than 30 feet from home plate. Though I missed the first pitch, I was in my seat for Chase Utley's first at-bat. Major league baseball this close is intoxicating; the speed of the pitch, the crack of the bat, the smack of leather as ball meets glove. My senses were almost overstimulated. When the first foul ball came screaming straight back, I ducked behind my coworker like a teenage girl would grab her boyfriend at a horror movie.

The view from the Presidents Club. (Photo by J.P. Finlay)

The actual seats were big and soft, padded both on top and bottom, the top of the seat rising above my shoulders. Underneath the seat was netting to hold personal belongings, which for the upper-crust that usually sit here probably consists of iPhones and designer handbags, though I kept my free two-year upgrade Samsung in my pocket. I was so close to the action that when Ronnie Belliard was drilled in the bottom of the fourth, I not only heard him scream in pain but I heard the ball make a hollow plunk bouncing off his back.

Excluding the action on the field, the night was unbelievable. In the eighth inning, the waiters (oh yeah, in these seats you have a personal waiter) came through the aisle passing out free containers of Dibs (bite-sized, chocolate-covered vanilla ice cream). Later in the ninth inning, as I hoped for the Nats to score one more run, one of the waiters was presenting a couple with their check and inadvertently knocked over my beer. I pointed it out, and he was back in a flash with a new beer and an apology. Show me where that happens in Section 133.

I doubt I will ever spend $350 on a regular-season baseball game, but if I had money to burn, the Presidents Club is a great place to start. Everything except alcohol is free and the experience is unforgettable, although if I ate that much at every baseball game I went to, I would definitely run out of dress pants.

By J.P. Finlay  |  July 30, 2008; 9:08 PM ET  | Category:  J.P. Finlay
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LOL! You sound like me with my first business class upgrade last weekend. I took anything and everything they offered!

Great post and vivid description of the experience. Man, I so wish I could afford one of those seats, even for just one game. You were lucky.

Posted by: NatsNut | July 31, 2008 3:01 AM

This might be the best blog of the year....except for maybe Solem's post when he was on acid.

Now if you get Solem and JP together....that's what I'd call a Sticky Situation.

Posted by: Fushezzi | July 31, 2008 7:53 AM

Too funny. You went to a baseball game and ended up writing a restaurant review. Considering the sad state of our Nationals, I would have spent the whole game at the buffet table. It is conceivable they won't win another game this year, but I'll be there tonight cheering them on regardless with a Ben's Half Smoke in hand.

Posted by: El Rey | July 31, 2008 10:02 AM

So should we be expecting a president's club ticket raise to make up for your gorging the other night.

Posted by: pstew | July 31, 2008 11:21 AM

Step away from the buffet and write more blogs Tubby!

Posted by: Fushezzi | July 31, 2008 2:56 PM

"I ducked behind my coworker like a teenage girl would grab her boyfriend at a horror movie."

No comment, just thought i'd quote Jp.

Carry on.

Posted by: Barno | August 1, 2008 2:32 PM

Does anyone know why these clubs exist? It's to attract people to attend a game for sub-par teams. Maybe the President's club isn't the only deterrent for missing the first pitch of a team in last place in their respective division year in and year out. Then again one has to ask, is this the modern version of the American classic Field of Dreams "if you build it, they will come"? They, meaning the non-baseball fans paying to enjoy what these "president's clubs" have to offer. You don't see these luxury boxes at Yankee stadium. Hence the reason why the longest standing stadium was still in tact... for the simple fact that fans come to watch good baseball.

Posted by: Benjamin P. Runkle | August 1, 2008 3:43 PM

Hey Stan, here's an idea for paying back your frustrated season ticket holders for suffering through this god-awful year. Why not give one free upgrade to the Prez Club, all amenities included, for each season ticket holder between now and the end of the year. Tickets would have to be upgraded in advance, letting the Nats resell the original tickets. Surely the team could afford it, and you might even encourage a few high rollers to buy seats in the Prez Club for next year. I'd love to see how the other half lives, and I think I deserve it after spending thousands of dollars for a year of AAA baseball.

Posted by: Upper Deck ST Holder | August 3, 2008 2:47 AM

Mr. Runkle, were you aware that they are building a new Yankee Stadium primarily so they can add all those clubs and suites that they don't have now? Not to mention, have you even looked at what they charge in the current stadium for field-level seats? The average fan isn't paying for these (unless he's a lot wealthier than I am). It's all about corporate fat-cats impressing their clients. Welcome to the 21st Century.

Posted by: Cosmo | August 3, 2008 9:00 PM

Mr. Cosmo,

I had no idea you were in direct talks with Steinbrenner these days. What else did he say? Can you tell me why it took so long to decide to bulid? Last time I checked the "corporate fat-cats" have been around for 20+ years trying to impress.

also do you understand the term "field seats"? look it up. That is the price you pay to be close to a good team with a chance of being in the postseason almost every year.

Posted by: Kirt Saucler | August 4, 2008 10:40 AM

Nice post! Sounds like once I do get the opportunity to sit in those seats I'll show up early.

Posted by: DanD187 | August 4, 2008 10:52 AM

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