23 ballparks

My First Games In 23 Major League Parks

Fenway Park, August 22: Athletics 7, Red Sox 6 (11). I was 12 years old. (Full report 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). (Best game I've ever seen was at the Big O on August 23, 1989.)

Yankee Stadium II, September 13: Yankees 11, Red Sox 6. This was the first game Laura and I attended together. (I was still living in Vermont.) This was also the game in which Jim Rice went into the stands to retrieve his cap. I was off buying beer and missed it. (Post-game hijinks included stealing two shot glasses from a Manhattan bar.)

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 took the 7 train to Queens a handful of times 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 elderly ladies diligently keeping score (not on the scorecards sold in the park, but their own scorebooks brought from home).

Wrigley Field, May 7: Giants 2, Cubs 1. I wanted to see Wrigley Field before lights were installed, so I flew to Chicago for a weekend. I screwed up on my departure time, but still managed to walk into Wrigley on Saturday afternoon as the anthem was playing. 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 major league foul ball. (But I did get a Pacific Coast League ball 21 years later (in 2009)!) 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 bed-and-breakfast host insisted we take sweaters. She may have saved our lives. It was brutally cold. As Mark 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 first inning.

Note: We ordered (and received in the mail) tickets to see the Yankees at the original Comiskey Park on Memorial Day weekend, but the trip fell through for lack of money. (Listed, but not counted.)

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 (avoiding a four-game sweep)), we drove to Baltimore for the Yankees' first two games in Camden Yards. Dion James tossed a ball to Laura by the third base 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 our first baseball vacation – a day game on the 14th anniversary of the day we met (for our 20th anniversary, we went to Fenway). 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 Red Sox hit seven home runs (including three from Trot Nixon and two from Nomar Garciaparra) 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 (Nomar being Nomar) he would go through the exact same pre-game routine the following evening, I was able to get autographs from him before the next two games. His signature on my battered Red Sox cap, however, was washed away with sweat within weeks.

Jacobs Field, July 26: Cleveland 6, Tigers 3. Manny Ramirez played right field and batted 4th. He left the game after being HBP in the third. Gabe Kapler played center for the Tigers, who we saw for the fourth consecutive day. A unintentionally funny sign on the outfield wall celebrated the "Era of Champions" – though for Cleveland that meant AL Central titles [sic]. Pfft.

Comiskey Park II, July 27: Yankees 5, White Sox 3. First of three between the MFY and White Sox. 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 third base 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 (or anywhere else) like they did in Milwaukee. Vendors carried cotton candy and other stuff around on what looked like big white coat racks. Fenway's leg-room is like an airplane's spacious first-class compared to our seats in County Stadium. Worst seats ever.

Safeco Field, September 17: Mariners 4, Rangers 3 (10). Our 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 we still drool over. Game note: Ichiro saw eight pitches in five plate appearances.

Network Associates Coliseum, September 22: Athletics 7, Rangers 5. We had seen Chan Ho Park in Seattle – and here we saw his subsequent 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 Barry 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 MFY in the ALDS (this was G160). Laura wore a Yankees shirt and drew no comments. The Big A is a decent park, but it was populated by 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 scoring in every inning. It is extremely rare. 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 thought maybe we should visit what soon would be our new home! Pedro outpitched Halladay. The Red Sox won for us the next night, 4-2 again, as the Stud Who Hits Bombs 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. We drove over from Mississauga, Ontario, for three games. Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed only two hits in five innings, but walked eight. (Good ol' Dice-BB.) Flo, Dr. Doubles, and the Sultan of Sweat hit home runs. The following night, the Red Sox won 5-0, with Tim Wakefield pitching eight innings and allowing only three baserunners. Ortiz and Ramirez hit back-to-back home runs. On May 7, the Tigers walked off 10-9. (In two of the three games, Mike Lowell was left a triple shy of the cycle.)

Yankee Stadium III, September 3: Yankees 5, Red Sox 1. The night after a book-signing appearance at Professor Thom's (a Red Sox bar on Second Avenue), I met one of my nieces in the Bronx. Hiroki Kuroda outpitched Anthony Ranaudo. Allen Craig struck out in each of his four plate appearances, which is both noteworthy and not.

Petco Park, June 28: Padres 3, Cardinals 1. In San Diego for SABR's annual convention. After the Cardinals squandered several early scoring chances, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Eric Hosmer hit back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the sixth. St. Louis also challenged four of umpire Vic Carapazza's calls at first base, including one call in three consecutive innings; all four calls were overturned. Robots Now!

[Note: I have a 23-22 lead over my partner Laura. She has been to all the same parks as I have with these exceptions: she saw a game at Veterans Stadium in 1980, but has not been to YS III or Petco. The 14 teams I have not seen in their home parks: Rays, Twins, Royals, Astros, Rangers, Atlanta, Nationals, Mets, Marlins, Brewers, Cardinals, Reds, Rockies, Diamondbacks.]


laura k said...

Note: I have a 23-22 lead over my partner Laura. She has been to all the same parks as I have with these exceptions: she saw a game at Veterans Stadium in 1980, but has not been to YS III or Petco

I had tickets to a game in Atlanta in 1996. That should count for something!

allan said...