SPORTS & RECREATION

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Best Batting Cage
Batter's Box
6091 S. Pierce St., Littleton

Dig in there, slugger. For one buck you get to see sixteen pitches (would you like the 35-mph floater or the 85-mph smoke?), and if your hands aren't bleeding after that, shell out $20 for something called the Heavy Hitter punch card, which entitles you to thirty rounds of sixteen pitches each. Located in Littleton's Clement Park, Batter's Box features nine outdoor hitting cages for baseball and softball (fast pitch and fifteen-foot arc), and the ball carries far enough in the open air that any budding Willie Mays can tell how well he's really hit it. Aluminum bats and helmets are provided, of course.

Readers' choice: Batter Up

Best Bargain Baseball Parking
Allright Parking
1550 Delgany St.

The private parking lots surrounding Coors Field are not what most of us would call cheap: $7 and $10 rates are commonplace. But just a few blocks away, directly behind the Terminal Annex Post Office that's within sight of the ballpark, are a pair of Allright lots that will run you a mere $2 maximum. It'll take you a few extra steps to get to your seat, but you're saving $8 for hoofing it an additional three blocks.

Best View From Inside Coors Field
Bullpen balconies on the mezzanine
Stroll around the mezzanine to the outfield, and between sections 201 and 205 in right-center field, you'll behold artists and craftsmen at work--up-close and personal. Coors Field's bullpen balconies are situated just ten feet above relief pitchers warming up for the fray, and from this perch you can hear every heater pop the catcher's mitt and watch every yakker break. Seats in the right-field mezz go for $8, but even if you're not sitting there, an intimate visit to the pen is a must for every Rockies fan--even when Darren Holmes is bouncing his famous 55-foot curve balls up to the plate.

Best Coors Field Pacifier
Children's play area
Even six-year-olds who love baseball often have difficulty sitting still for more than two hours. Fortunately, the designers of Coors Field came up with a solution: a large jungle gym placed just beyond the left-field seats. Better yet, parents keeping an eye on their progeny as they climb, slide and run around are still able to see the game from this vantage point. Clearly, it's a win-win situation--or win-win-win, depending on the Rockies.

Best Coors Field Art
"Evolution of the Ball"
Lonnie Hanzon

Fans who enter Coors Field through the entrance just north of 19th Street would do well to stop and look at the gateway above them before they scurry to their seats. "Evolution of the Ball" is an ideal introduction to the diamond. Hanzon's contraption, whose artistic ambitions take a backseat to fun, incorporates a section of railroad track in tribute to the history of the area, as well as a fanciful history of the ball that blends the literal (eyeballs, skee balls, Koosh balls, balls of string) with the loony (one sphere is identified as "The Amaze-ing Future Ball"). It may not be Picasso, but it sets the right tone for a ballpark.

Best Rockies Scorecard
Homestand Flyer
Publisher Bert Matthews turns out a no-nonsense, sixteen-page booklet on the kind of coarse, heavy paper that makes scorekeeping easy, and the individual at-bat boxes are larger than most. Scouting reports on home and visiting teams make for quick reading, and there are columns by Denver writers John Ashton and Lew Cady, as well as "collectibles" and nostalgia features. Radio storyteller Garrison Keillor is listed as a "Special Flyer Contributor," which means the publication reprints a baseball piece of his from time to time. At $1, this is a real score.

Best Concession Stand Inside Coors Field
Hot Dog
Level Three in the Clock Tower area behind Section 331

How do you say it? Hot Dog. Hot Dog? Hot Dog! When you've got the best dog in the park, who cares? Hot Dog serves up a spicy Hebrew National dog that's a cut above the humdrum variety of links offered at other ballpark stands. Plus, it's located in Coors Field's best concession area, featuring brand-name fast food, Dreyer's ice cream and espresso, a convenient ticket booth, Rocky Mountain Oysters and the Clock Tower Bar, which looks like it could be haunted by Quasimodo. But we're sticking to tradition: hot dog, pretzel and beer. Nothing foul about that.

Readers' choice: Sandlot MicroBrew

Best Foam Delivery
Bob D. Beerman
You've got your surf bums and you've got your ski bums, but Bob Donchez--aka Bob D. Beerman--has got to be the world's most famous ballpark bum. He was first in line to apply for the job when ARA Services began hiring beer vendors for Colorado Rockies games. Selling beer is his calling, in spite of--or, perhaps, thanks to--an MBA from Fordham University and a stint in the concrete canyons of Wall Street. So he wrote a book about his suds-pouring experiences in the stands, got some press and managed to wheedle himself onto ESPN's SportsNight. Bob, who actually works all the arenas in town (and a few out of town, like Wrigley Field), prefers hawking Rockies games: "The pace of the game is like the tide coming in and out," he says. And it allows him time to perfect the science of vending beer. These days, Bob hardly ever spills a drop.

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