November 27, 2017

A Ballpark Odyssey Pt. 1 (Parks 30- 21)

I’m a guy who likes baseball.

I’ve been blessed with the time and the resources to see at least one game in all 30 stadiums currently used in Major League Baseball, as well as four that are no longer in use. These are some of the games that I’ve gone to and trips that I’ve been able to take.  I’m very grateful for all of these experiences. I went with a lot of different people, but primarily a core group of buddies. I’ve had a lot of laughs and burned a lot of gasoline. In order to finish this ballpark odyssey, I went to five parks alone. I wish I would have kept more pictures.

A few of my friends have asked me if I’ll feel like I need to go to new parks as they open. For example, I’ve heard that the Rangers might build a new one soon. The answer is no. I don’t think I will. Don’t get me wrong, if I’m in town and there’s a stadium I’ve never seen, I certainly might go. But like a collector, I feel like I have a complete set, and I don’t want to feel compelled to chase new editions. That’s what I’m saying now, anyways.

Barry and Matt asked me to include some details from the parks and to provide pictures. The truth is that even after asking friends, I could only scrounge up pictures for about half of the ballparks. So, I compensated by writing (possibly too much) about my experiences. I don’t know if anyone will enjoy reading this account, but I enjoyed the heck out of writing it.

I want to thank Barry and Matt for the opportunity.

Here are MLB ballpark’s #’s 30 – 21, as I have ranked them.

30. Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay,

Wednesday, August 12, 2015    Tampa Bay 9, Atlanta 6

My most lasting memory of this park was a sports bar that we went to before and after the game. We had a lot of fun. The people were really friendly, but the park itself, lacked atmosphere. There was however,  a neat area out behind centerfield, where the fans could hang out and enjoy themselves away from the game. It was during this game that the Jays first took over first place in that magical 2015 season. When the out of town scoreboard confirmed a Blue Jay victory, I cheered.

That was a great way to end the ballpark odyssey.

29. Oakland Coliseum, Oakland,

Wednesday, July 22, 2015     Oakland 4, Toronto 3 (10 innings)

All things being equal, I usually root for the home team, but not on this night. This was roughly a week before Alex Anthopolous started pulling strings to turn the Jays into a powerhouse, so it had been a frustrating season so far. The Jays let this game slip away in the tenth with a walk-off single that required video review.

I had some pretty good barbecue at the game. The fans, though, were knowledgeable and enjoyable. They had some pretty good cheers, including “I believe in Steven Vogt, I believe in Steven Vogt”. Had they been playing anyone else, I would have been happy to root for them. The stadium, though, was not built with baseball in mind.

28. Angels Stadium, Anaheim,

Sunday, August 27, 2017   Houston 7, Angels 5

There’s a nice walkway behind the waterfall in centerfield, if you need to stretch your legs during the game. It was hot on the day that I was there, but there was a core group of Angels’ faithful that made the game entertaining. Anaheim’s two out rally in the bottom of the ninth fell just short when Albert Pujols’ fly ball to centerfield was caught to end the game.

27. U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago,

Sunday, August 26, 2012   White Sox 4, Mariners 3 (7 inn.)

It was overcast all game, and as the White Sox took the lead in the bottom of the seventh, the skies opened up and it started to pour. Just in time for the umpires to call the game and send the White Sox faithful home happy.

26. Chase Field, Arizona,

Saturday, September 12, 2015     LA Dodgers 9, Chase Field 5

Nothing about this ballpark is typical. It doesn’t look like a park from the outside. There are a lot of quirks inside. But the fans have a good time. I enjoyed hanging out in the area outside the park before the game, but since it was so hot I looked forward to going indoors and watch some baseball. It’s unlike any other park in the majors, and I’m glad I saw it.

25. Skydome,Toronto,

Friday, August 24, 1990    Boston 2, Toronto 0

The Skydome had opened the year prior, and to be able to go to the eighth wonder of the world for a ballgame was a big deal. We sat behind a group of boisterous Red Sox fans who kept singing for Carl Yastrzemski. Despite the result, it was a great evening. I’ve been to countless games at Skydome and Rogers Centre since then, including Game 3 of the 1992 World Series and Game 1 of the 1993 World Series. The Jays won both games, and I got to see Devon White start a triple play with a sparkling grab and great throw from centre at the ’92 game. Unfortunately, the umpire missed the tag on the third out, but that was the greatest sporting event I’ve ever been to.

24. “New” Yankee Stadium, New York,

Saturday, July 1, 2012    Yankees 4, White Sox 2

They kept some of the original Yankee Stadium when they moved across the street, particularly the classic lattice wok. And although I’m not a Yankees fan, I have to admit that I enjoyed listening to Frank Sinatra sing us out to “New York New York” after the win. Truthfully though, I felt it lacked much of the heart of the original.  And the fences in right field were so noticeably drawn in that I found it distracting.

My favourite part of this ballpark experience was when we noticed that after demolishing the original across the street, they brought back the diamond on the same spot as the original. They keep it manicured, and anyone can go on it.  Naturally, I stood on the pitchers’ mound, then stepped to home plate and swung from the heels a la Reggie Jackson before circling the bases. When I was done, I noticed a guy give some of the Lou Gehrig “luckiest man on the fact of the Earth” speech from the same spot as Lou. That gave me the idea to storm from the visitors’ dugout like George Brett during the pine tar incident. Good times.

23. Miller Park, Milwaukee,

Tuesday, August 20, 2013    Milwaukee 6, St. Louis 3

This ballpark is technologically impressive. I enjoyed it, especially waiting to see if Bernie Brewer would slide into the barrel out in left field. Maybe he only does that for home runs though, because we never saw it.

22. Marlins Park, Miami,

Tuesday, August 11, 2015     Miami 5, Boston 4 (10 inn.)

This was a different kind of ballpark, with lots of yellows and greens and other bright colours. Since the Red Sox don’t play in the National League, this was the only chance that Red Sox Nation would have to represent themselves in South Florida for a few years. They made the most of it. It felt like a Red Sox home game. However, the Marlins’ fans really got into it, as they rallied to grab a walk-off win in the tenth.

We saw the dolphin monument out in center, spring into action. Once was plenty.

22. Citi Field, New York,

Sunday August 2, 2015     Mets 5, Washington 2

This was a Sunday Night Baseball game, and I enjoyed myself quite a bit. The Jays had just pulled off about five good trades. Of course I was wearing my Jays’ hat, and some Mets fans told me that they hoped to see us in October. There was some tailgating in the parking lot. Mr. and Mrs. Met entertained the fans, and the food was pretty good.  I had fun, and I’d be happy to go back.

21. Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati,

Monday, August 31, 2009    Cincinnati 4, Pittsburgh 3

This park is on the river, which is pretty cool. And I caught a home run ball in batting practice (well, I dropped it and then picked it up). But this was the lowest attended game that I’ve seen. It was Game 1 of a doubleheader, so maybe a lot of people showed up for the night game. The low attendance provided us with a few laughs.  For example, the stadium was broadcasting the play-by-play in the concourse, and there were so few people in the stands that I honestly think that the players could hear the broadcast.  At one point the announcers started hacking on Reds’ pitcher Kip Wells while he was on the mound. Talk about being all alone out there.

About The Author

Jim Beland is a Math Teacher and sports fantatic from Windsor, ON. A devout HABS and Blue Jays fan, Jim uses sports as a metaphor to teach his students about mathematics.

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