Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Diamonds are forever

With the car reliability question solved via getting a new one, I've moved on to figuring out what I'm doing for vacation. As it turns out, a heaping helping of baseball games in various locales looks to be on the itinerary.

More than any other sport, baseball is the one in which fans take great interest in tracking the stadiums they've been to and constructing trips around visiting different parks. It isn't unusual to read of a couple guys or a family setting out during the summer to attend games at all thirty Major League Baseball stadiums.

What ballparks have I been to?

In memoriam

-Riverfront Stadium/Cinergy Field (Cincinnati, Ohio) x multiple games

This cookie cutter stadium was where I saw my first games. There doesn't appear to be much appreciable nostalgia for it being torn down. Give it a few years.

-Memorial Stadium (Baltimore, Maryland) x1

It's hard for me to believe now, but this was the first ballpark outside of Riverfront where I saw a game. My church youth group went to a work camp in Maryland. Evenings were open, and I convinced the leader that we should go to this game. I seem to recall that Cal Ripken Jr. hit his 200th home run that night.

-Cleveland Stadium (Cleveland, Ohio) x3

In 1993 I attended the final series in this enormous yard with a couple college friends who are diehard Cleveland fans. Our seats were underneath the upper deck and way back, so the sight lines were pretty terrible. It was kind of like watching a game through a letterbox. Any fly balls of significance went out of our sight. The next summer I saw the Rolling Stones (with opener Lenny Kravitz) there with a better but still distant view of the action.

-Veterans Stadium (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) x1

Here's another of the 1970s cookie cutter stadiums that no longer exist. During the game I sat in the upper deck, where the fabled Philly fanatics were suitably boisterous. Of note: getting to see Tony Gwynn during his last season.

-Olympic Stadium (Montreal, Quebec) x1

Unlike the other ballparks, this stadium is still around, although Major League Baseball has vacated it. For those interested, I previously wrote about my experience there.


-Great American Ball Park (Cincinnati, Ohio) x multiple games

I saw a couple Opening Day games, including the first one here, when you could still buy one without having to get a ticket package. Of course it's my stadium of choice because of who plays there, even if the team can be mighty frustrating. It came as a shock to me this week when I read that this team has made the playoffs just twice in thirty years. WHAT?!

-Jacobs Field/Progressive Field (Cleveland, Ohio) x multiple games

The first time I went produced a 12-inning game that left those of us dressed for spring--it was late April--feeling pretty cold. Manny Ramirez hit a mammoth home run in the bottom of the twelfth to keep things alive for the home team, who rallied for three to win. Not bad for what was, at the time, a brand new stadium hoped to help change the franchise's losing ways.

-The Ballpark in Arlington (Arlington, Texas) x2

I kind of like the totally generic name--it's better than the rotating sponsor names without any sense of place--but I see that it took naming rights for a few years. Most notable thing from this game--I think...or the next night--was that this was the only time I sat in the winning row for one of the between inning contests. The prize: a Rangers t-shirt with Rafael Palmeiro's name and number on the back.

-SkyDome (now Rogers Centre) (Toronto, Ontario) x2

The name, look, and features of this ballpark--hotel rooms in the outfield--made it seem like some futuristic place. OK, so it has artificial turf and is so huge as to eliminate any sense of intimacy, but I kind of loved it the first time I went there anyway. That game wrapped in a tidy 2:01, a fast time for any baseball game, especially an American League match-up. The upside? I was able to get out of there in time to run across town to catch a movie.

-Bank One Ballpark (now Chase Field) (Phoenix, Arizona) x1

I do believe this was the first baseball game in air conditioning that I ever attended. Hey, it's Arizona in early August. I think I heard the outside temperature was 110 that day. Nobody was complaining about the air going full blast.

-Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles, California) x1

It's pretty telling of the ballpark construction craze in the '90s and beyond that this is now the third oldest stadium in Major League Baseball. I remember really enjoying my time at this place. My brother and I sat in left field and had a gorgeous view of the stadium. It wasn't the fanciest place, but it felt like a timeless spot to watch the game.

-Turner Field (Atlanta, Georgia) x2

Because my brother and I waited too long to get tickets I missed my chance to see a game at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, a place familiar to me from years of watching games on TBS. (He was living in Atlanta at the time, and we didn't think about them selling out the weekend series against the Phillies while I was visiting. Of course, that's what happens with good teams.) My first visit to Turner Field is notable because the game ended in a tie. The Braves won the following year when I was in town for my brother's wedding.

-PNC Park (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) x1

I saw the first regular season game here when my visiting Reds whipped up on the hapless Buccos.

For good measure...

Minor league stadiums

-Cooper Stadium (Columbus, Ohio) x multiple games

Last summer I wrote about attending my last game at the sturdy old home of the Columbus Clippers.

-Huntington Park (Columbus, Ohio) x1

In June I went to my first game at their new home.

-Bush Stadium (Indianapolis, Indiana) x1

I went to this former home of Indy's minor leaguers while the family was in town for a church conference. I had broken my ankle days earlier and was grudgingly along for the trip. Biographers, take note. This place hosted be the only baseball game I've attended in a wheelchair. (It was easier to get me around that way.)

-Stanley Coveleski Regional Stadium (South Bend, Indiana) x1

See last summer's report.

-Memorial Stadium (Fort Wayne, Indiana) x1

Featured in another of last summer's reports, although the team has changed nicknames (from Wizards to TinCaps) and relocated to a new stadium since then.

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At 8:22 PM, Anonymous LittleWit said...

Let's see I have been to Oriole Park, Jacobs Field and Nationals Park one a piece. I have been to Cooper Park a few times for games and I was at Huntington Park last weekend for non game day activities. :)


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