May 5, 2008

21 Ball Parks

L and I are driving to Detroit today -- and will see the Red Sox and Tigers tonight, Tuesday and Wednesday, and visit some blog friends in Windsor, Ontario.

Comerica Park will be my 21st major league park. For L, it'll be #22; she's been to all of my 20, plus Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.

My first games in each park:

Fenway Park, August 22: Athletics 7, Red Sox 6 (11). I wrote about this game here.

Olympic Stadium, July 31: Dodgers 8, Expos 2 (10). Saw several games there as a teenager. Vermont Transit had a combination bus/game ticket deal (I think it was $25). That's also how I got to Fenway once per season in 1976-77-78. (Best game I've ever seen was at the Big O: August 23, 1989.)

Yankee Stadium, September 13: Yankees 11, Red Sox 6. This was the first game L and I went to together. It was also the game in which Jim Rice went into the stands to retrive his cap. I was off buying beer and missed it.

Shea Stadium, August 7: Mets 7, Cubs 1. I'm the only person I know who actually liked going to games at Shea. In my first years in New York, I'd often take the 7 train out to Queens for a weekday game. The park was usually quiet and I didn't care who won, so it was always a relaxing afternoon. I loved seeing the elderly ladies diligently keeping score (not on the scorecards sold in the park, but their own scorebooks that they brought from home).

Wrigley Field, May 7: Giants 2, Cubs 1. I wanted to see Wrigley Field before the lights were installed, so I flew to Chicago for a weekend. I screwed up on the departure time, yet managed to walk into Wrigley on Saturday right as the anthem was ending. Three innings later, San Francisco's Robby Thompson hit a foul ball directly at me; it smacked against the middle of my right hand and caromed away. I've never come closer to getting a foul ball. Spent the night in a youth hostel, got to the park before it opened on Sunday, and flew home after that day's game (Cubs 13-7).

Candlestick Park, August 16: Mets 13, Giants 6. During a vacation in San Francisco. Our B&B host insisted we take sweaters. She may have saved our lives. It was brutally cold. As Twain may have said, "The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco." The Mets scored nine runs in the top of the 1st.

Camden Yards, June 19: Orioles 10, Yankees 7. Second half of a mini-East Coast Yankee road trip. After seeing two games in Boston (Yankees 4-3, Red Sox 5-4, thus avoiding a four-game sweep), we drove to Baltimore for the Yankees' first games in Camden Yards. Dion James tossed a ball to L by the 3B dugout. New York took the second game 9-5.

Kingdome, July 11: Mariners 5, Angels 4 (12). Before an RV vacation in Alaska, we spent a few days in Seattle. Worst park I've ever seen. Ugly, gray concrete. It looked and felt like a huge prison complex.

Three Rivers Stadium, July 20: Dodgers 8, Pirates 4. The initial stop on L&A's first baseball vacation -- a day game on the 14th anniversary of the day we met (we went to Fenway on our 20th anniversary). Got Claude Osteen's autograph on my scoresheet before the game.

Tiger Stadium, July 23: Tigers 14, Red Sox 5. Wanting to see Tiger Stadium in its last year was what prompted this vacation. We saw the Red Sox for three games (but no Pedro). The second night, the Sox hit seven HR (including three from Trot and two from Nomar) and won 11-4; Detroit won the third game 9-1. We talked to Tom Stanton, who was writing about the park's final summer; our story didn't make his book, but we're thanked in the acknowledgements. After watching Nomar before Game #1 and assuming he would go through the exact same pre-game routine, I was able to get autographs from him the next two nights. His signature on my battered Sox cap, however, was washed away with sweat within weeks.

Jacobs Field, July 26: Cleveland 6, Tigers 3. Manny played RF and batted 4th. He left the game after being HBP in the third. Gabe Kapler played CF for the Tigers, who we saw for the 4th consecutive day. A unintentionally funny sign on the outfield wall celebrated the "Era of Champions" -- though for Cleveland that meant Central divisional titles. Pfft.

Comiskey Park II, July 27: Yankees 5, White Sox 3. First of three between the MFY and CWS. Mariano Rivera signed L's cap before this game; he looked confused when she told him we were from New York. For one of the next two games, we had seats about 10 rows behind the 3B dugout, but it was near 100 degrees, so we chose to sit about 30 rows back in the shade under the overhang. ... We also saw a game at Wrigley on this trip.

County Stadium, July 31: Expos 4, Brewers 2. I have never seen people guzzle beer at a game like they did in Milwaukee. Vendors carried cotton candy and other stuff around on what looked like big white coat racks. Worst seats ever. All of Fenway is like an airplane's spacious first-class compared to our seats in County Stadium.

Safeco Field, September 17: Mariners 4, Rangers 3 (10). L&A's second baseball vacation -- down the west coast. Saw every team at home except San Diego. Safeco is a wonderful park, and the roof was open. We ate grilled salmon sandwiches that -- 6+ years later -- we still drool over. Game note: Ichiro saw 8 pitches in 5 plate appearances.

Network Associates Coliseum, September 22: Athletics 7, Rangers 5. We had seen Chan Ho Park in Seattle -- and here we saw his following start.

AT&T Park, September 24: Giants 12, Padres 3. Another beautiful new park, right on the bay. Much warmer than Candlestick! We wanted to see a Bonds home run - and he obliged. #612.

Edison International Field, September 27: Mariners 7, Angels 6 (12). The Angels were days away from facing the Yankees in the ALDS (this was regular season game 160). L wore a Yankees shirt and drew no comments. The Big A is a decent park, but it was packed with ignorant people waving rally monkeys and banging Thunderstix.

Dodger Stadium, September 28: Dodgers 14, Padres 2. Easily my third favourite park, after Fenway and Wrigley. A true baseball park, with (at the time) no blaring sound effects or commercials. ... I have a fascination with teams that score in every inning. All nine is ideal; that has been done only seven times -- all in the NL -- and only three times since 1898. Six AL teams have scored in each of the first eight innings at home and then not batted in the 9th. Through six innings, the Dodgers' linescore read:
232 113
In the 7th, Joe Thurston (!) opened with a double (the second hit of his career), but was stranded there. Boo! LA scored twice in the 8th and won a blow-out.

Skydome, April 20: Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 2. Our applications to move to Canada had been filed the previous year, so we figured we should actually visit what would be our new home! Pedro outpitched Halladay. The Sox won for us the next night, 4-2 again, as the Stud hit two bombs.

Citizens Bank Park, July 8: Phillies 5, Mets 4. Bobby Abreu won it with a walk-off home run on John Franco's second pitch of the ninth inning.

Comerica Field, May 5: Red Sox 6, Tigers 3.


Also: We ordered (and received in the mail) tickets to see the Yankees at the original Comiskey Park (like we later did with Tiger Stadium, we wanted to see it before it was gone), but the 1990 Memorial Day weekend trip fell through for lack of money. ... In 1996, L was on a writing assignment in Atlanta and was offered tickets to a game at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, but declined. She could have been two parks up on me!


laura k said...

Wanting to see Tiger Stadium in its last year was what prompted this vacation.

A great trip, which included Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater, and Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry Frescoes, among other non-baseball sights.

Only marred by one thing, but it's a huge one. One of our dogs - Allan's baby - became fatally ill while we were gone. She hung on til we got back, then died. :<(

L&A's second baseball vacation -- down the west coast.

Border to border, Canada to Mexico, coastal route the whole way. Sea lions, rainforests, sand dunes, the amazing Oregon coast. And Dodger Stadium! A revelation.

A perfect trip. I never knew it would be my last full season as a Yankees fan!

Great post. For me anyway. :)

Iain said...

My own personal ballpark list reads like this:

Fenway Park (May 3, 2006; Toronto 7, Sox 6)

Not the longest of lists, to be sure, but I do have the Atlantic Ocean as an excuse.

Years ago I dreamed of doing all 30 ballparks in the course of an idyllic summer on the road, but nowadays I'd settle for three or four to add to the list.

Amy said...

My list is not as impressive: Shea (1968), Fenway (1976), Yankee Stadium (??), Camden Yards (2000)PacBell (when it was PacBell)(2003). Not surprisingly, I don't recall exact dates or scores...

I would love to get to Wrigley and will be in Chicago in June, but the Cubs will be at Comiskey Park that weekend playing the White Sox.

Have a great time!

Jack Marshall said...

I'm impressed: clearly, I have to get my ass in gear. All I can lay claim to are Fenway, Memorial Stadium, Camden Yards, Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Wrigley, Riverfront, Coors, Jack Murphy Stadium,the Seattle Dome,
Kaufman Stadium, Skydome, Olympic Stadium, RFK, and whatever they called the previous Phillies stadium. And most of these either aren't even used any more or have changed their names!

Christ, I'm obsolete!

laura k said...

Not surprisingly, I don't recall exact dates or scores...

Allan didn't do this post from memory either! That's when his scorecards and my travel journals come in hand.

whatever they called the previous Phillies stadium.

That is the above-mentioned Veterans Stadium - The Vet - which I went to, but Allan did not.

And most of these either aren't even used any more or have changed their names!

We have plenty of those on our list, too. Many parks that no longer exist. Yours is a pretty long list, Jack.

I want to plan another baseball road trip and hit another 7 or 8 parks that we haven't been to yet, but I don't know when that will happen.

Greetings from Windsor! Go Sox!

laura k said...

Uh, that is "come in handy".

Zenslinger said...

This is good reading.

My list is not impressive or memorable either.

I have only been to Fenway once, (although I'm going again June 2 vs. the Rays). It was April 1993, still cold and a day game -- a Frankie V shut out. Research shows it was probably April 18, 1993 against the White Sox. Very hopeful feeling after that one with the Sox at 9-3 (we finished with 80 wins).

I've been to Shea once, dragged as a teenager by Mets enthusiasts in their 20's.

I also went to Atlanta-Fulton County once in the summer of '92 and saw the Braves win 1-0.

On my first driving trip to the West Coast I saw Atlanta beat San Francisco at Candlestick -- also in 1993, the year the Giants could not make the playoffs with 103 wins. My friend and I were not well received as Braves supporters at that stadium, but at least it was warm and sunny. AT&T can be pretty cold, too, but Candlestick is usually miserable. Sweater? Shit. I put on my fuckin' union suit if I'm going to a night game even at AT&T.

I've seen the Rockies in both Mile High and Coors Field. Saw minor league ball in Mile High and in Jacksonville, Florida.

I went to several games at Jingu-mae, the proper outdoor stadium of the Yalkult Swallows, and unfortunately went to one Giants game in the Tokyo Dome. I didn't get to Tokorozawa (where Dice-K pitched) or the Chiba stadium at Kaihin-Makuhari desipte living relatively close to it for a while. All these are in Tokyo or its second or third layer of megalapolis. If you didn't have too busy a work schedule and lived in the center of Tokyo, you could have your choice of two or three different games to go to on any given day within an hour's train ride.

Other than that, I've been to AT&T and Oakland many times since living in San Francisco. I've only been to one playoff game: the Yankees in Oakland in...2000 or 2001? 2001, probably. Strangely lifeless atmosphere; I expected it to be electric.

Fun to hear about this subject.

Matt said...

Here's my list:
Fenway, Camden Yards, The Vet, Tropicana Field, Comisky, ATT Park, Oakland, Safeco, Anaheim, Dodger Stadium, Shea, Yankee Stadium, Tiger Stadium, Comerica Park, County Stadium, Jacobs Field, Wrigley, Petco Park, Turner Field, Dolphins Stadium, Coors Field..not in that order.

I agree with your post about Dodger Stadium, it impressed me more than I thought it would except they don't open the gates until 2 hours before game tailgating. Enjoy the game, I hope you get to see #497

Jere said...

"As Twain may have said,"

Yeah you just never know with these guys named Clemens. Someone may have misremembered that quote.

I've been to approximately 15 parks. I'm always scrawling down the list on little post-its, along with trying to write out every World Series result, drawing the US, etc.

All right, you twisted my arm. I'll list 'em quickly: Fenway, Yankee, Shea, old and new Philly, Cleve, old and new Pitt, Camden, new Comiskey, Wrigley, old Tiger, KC, Rogers/SkyDome...okay, 14. Too bad being on the outside of a stadium when no game's going on doesn't count.

andy said...

No shitting you at all I was at that Candlestick game. My family are devout Giants fans as I grew up in Northern California. We had season tix to the Giants and 49ers all through the 80 and the early 90's. I remember that blow out. I also remember that season really went well until the A's "shook" up the world series. Are you kidding me how cold it is there? It is soo fucking cold with the wind. The Oakland coliseum is windy and cold as hell too with the wind blowing around the racetrack wind tunnel that is the top of the stadium. It is a good place to retreat to during rain delays though.

Candlestick is by far the worst stadium I ever went to. The new pacbell is pretty sweet.

Pepe Lepew said...

My list (And I'm *very* impressed you kept track of dates and scores! I can't remember anything about any of the games I went to .. except George Foster hitting a ball completely out of Dodger Stadium .. on a bounce.):
Oakland Alameda
Dodger Stadium
You're absolutely right about the Kingdome. It was awful. It's amazing. The entire stadium smelled like pee. All of Seattle cheered when they blew it up. Safeco is much, much nicer.
I went to a game at Candlestick when I was a kid ... in April! It was, like, 100 below zero wind chill! Someone hit a foul ball in our section and everyone ran away from it. No one wanted to catch it. I remember asking Dad why all the cigarettes being smoked in the stands smelled different than most cigarettes. PacBell is a huge improvement. I think the A's new stadium in Fremont will be a big step up, too.

Zenslinger said...

Getting any kind of food or drink at Oakland is a nightmare, especially during a relatively well attended game. The seats/field are fine but the rest is really bad. And, like Andy said, it can be pretty cold as well.

Anonymous said...

Happy to have found your blog today, and read your tribute to The Bird. I remember watching him at age 6, when I first got interested in baseball.

Here are some of the ballparks I've been to, with photographs on flickr.

Look forward to checking in here from time to time this baseball season.

Jere said...

Updating my list--I'm up to 19 now, with the two new NY parks, the Nationals' park, and Houston and Arlington.

I'm sure I mentioned this somewhere else on this blog, but I was doing a similar midwest ballpark trip while Allan and Laura were doing theirs in '99. My buddy Chan and I went to a game in Pittsburgh, one in Detroit, and then we went to Skydome but didn't see a game there--he had to leave the country and come back for some green card issue or something, and we couldn't work it out where we got a game in up there. (I since went to actual games there on 2 other trips.) Okay, I feel better this is recorded in the proper place now!