(Not) Just Another Ballpark Tour

Wrigley Field is one of baseball's greatest escapes. (via John Paschal)

Wrigley Field is one of baseball’s greatest escapes. (via John Paschal)

“Dude, I don’t want you to shoot the guy,” I whispered to my friend in the otherwise empty row of the forsaken right-field section. “But if you could just brandish your weapon to get this guy to shut his yap, I’d be very appreciative.”

We were seated in the cavernous confines of the Orange Bowl, or Joe Robbie Stadium, or Pro Player Mausoleum, or whatever they were calling that sad repository of commercial desolation in 2005, and if memory serves, the game had just entered the bottom of the first inning of what promised to be – nay, threatened to be – the most maddening nine innings of my life. Behind us, in the shape of a fiend so malignant that demonology had yet to catalog his existence, sat a man whose solitude had already begun to explain itself, for indeed, no human equipped with full sensory awareness could have remained within shoutin’ distance of this vexatious creature without going certifiably mad.

“Beltran! You suck!” he screamed.

Rendering each taunt even more an annoyance was the utter obtuseness of its content.

“You’re terrible!”

Look, I wanted to tell him, if your mission is to ridicule talented and handsome millionaires, then please, for the sake of all that is wondrous on this bleak mortal coil, do so with the wit of which effective heckling is made!

Rather than offer sage advice, however, I continued on the path of least resistance by beseeching my friend, an FBI agent who packed legal heat wherever he pleased, to make my day, as it were, by unstrapping the sidearm and displaying it forthwith and boldly to the inelegant agitator at our rear. My friend’s refusal to do so – something about ethics and legalities and whatnot – merely heightened my angst. This was no longer a spectator sport. This was a test of strength and endurance, and what had made this botheration even more maddening was a deeply unsettling factor: But for the nuisance behind us, we sat utterly alone. So isolated were we – even now, I recall that fewer than 5,000 people occupied that sepulchral arena – that Beltran could not only hear the heckling but identify its origin.

My fear of a Beltranian beatdown notwithstanding, a measure of manly pride had further inflamed this combustible situation. Somewhere, surely, a ticket vendor was cackling with schadenfreudian glee regarding the discomfort he had created, yet even so, I refused to surrender whatever masculinity I had earned to the peaceable alternative of moving to another seat. And so I sat, seething, stuck between a witless blowhard and a big league center fielder while envisioning eight more innings of the worst baseball I had ever experienced in a ballpark new to my history.

***

In mid-May of this year I drove to Arlington to see my first major league game in-stadium since Game Five of the 2011 World Series. Once there, I quickly remembered why people spend a summer night at the ballpark rather than in a LA-Z Boy at home. High-def TV is great for seeing nose hairs, sure, but a night in the ballpark is something that brings you in and adds you to its moments while those at home sit divided by screens. Aside from the bliss occasioned by a walk-off homer, my night at Globe Life Park also inspired a flight of reminiscence. I considered, in the days that followed the game, all the big league ballparks I have visited across a life that has never included a planned tour of those parks.

Let’s think about this.

Stadium tours – the kind where two pals hit a string of Motel 6s in efforts to visit as many parks as possible – are pretty popular these days. Granted, they can provoke an odd psychic dissonance by operating as both the eye-rolling stuff of schmaltzy car commercials and the object of our genuine envy, but in the main, stadium tours do seem a supercool way to explore the professional Pastime in all its local extracts, and anyone who undertakes such a journey is to be applauded for his or her dedication to a game that is only as great as the way it is understood by the senses.

The problem with stadium tours, I suppose, is that they are often measured in the immediacy of experience and explained in the language of categories: best food, best fans and, these days, best craft beers. By adhering to a template of experience, they can consign one’s awareness to the patterns of expectation and comparison while damaging the moments that go unfiltered across every occupied seat.

By contrast, a tour without agenda – one that leans on the happy accidents that only the decades can supply – is, or can be, an artifact even more valuable to anyone who remembers to keep it. While less impressive to Facebook friends, it is valuable precisely because it is so privately and patiently secured. It is one’s own. No one has copied its route. No one can borrow its clock. No one can cadge the circumstances that prompted a visit to Wrigley at this time or the Astrodome at that time, one long past.

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

What’s most valuable about this kind of tour is perhaps its incompleteness. There are, for me, far more stadiums on the to-do list than on the already-done, and my history suggests that I should look forward, with only Miami-fueled trepidation, to the ballparks yet to come. Still, there will be no formal plan to tip the balance to completeness, no paper atlas marked in yellow Hi-Liter and no travel app showing best places to eat. I will get to them when I get to them, on the strength of whatever causal mechanics have taken hold of my days. In the meantime – and as I invite readers to share their own ballpark memories – I offer a journey across what is now, but only now, my stadium tour.

Oh, that Miami game? I bought the guy a beer. He wasn’t so bad.

AT&T Park, San Francisco

The year was 2011, a season removed from the Fall Classic wherein the Giants dispatched my Rangers four games to one, and while visiting San Francisco I endeavored to attend a game at AT&T Park one afternoon as a way to exorcise the demons of that defeat by confronting the enemy head-on, making my Lone Star allegiance known to them and thereby inviting whatever ridicule they could dish out.

The strategy might sound flawed, I grant you, but to my mind it belonged in Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. I would sit among a gathering of Giants fans – San Franciscans! – while sporting my Rangers colors – Texas red-white-and-blue! – and upon being targeted by their inevitable taunts and withering social commentary I would either A) astound them with my progressive views on seal conservation, or B) go full rube, confirming their convictions about us Texas folk by inquiring about the availability of raccoon stew.

The plan had its holes, mind you. The sole accoutrements in my possession, sadly, were a Rangers cap and a current Texas driver’s license, assuming they would need to verify my bona fides. Had I added them to my wardrobe, I’d have happily worn overalls equipped with mud flaps and a gun rack, but cargo shorts and a T-shirt would have to do.

Boldly, I strode into AT&T Park and waited for the stares, the whispers, the passing shouts of “yeeee-hawwww.” Upon seeing and hearing nothing of the sort, I altered my plan by pulling my cap more snugly on my head so that the words “Texas” and “Rangers” announced themselves more aggressively from the lowbrow bearing of my forehead.

Still I got nothing in the way of the derision I’d imagined. Miffed but not defeated, I found my seat while aiming my cap at anyone who might take a look. Nobody took a look. With little choice I watched the game. Tim Lincecum stood on the mound, long hair blowing in the breeze. Palm trees danced. For reasons I couldn’t fathom, the woman beside me wore a tiger-head hat. Later we stood arm in arm, singing, “When the lights go down in the city…”

Safeco Field, Seattle

Today, the passage of time precludes a description of setting and mood; had I a notebook that afternoon, I’d have chronicled the scene such that burger grease and beer droplets adorned the paper as the most descriptive of stains. But sometimes memory is a better keeper of what’s ultimately relevant; it omits the choice between cheddar and Swiss and holds onto the stuff of a bigger picture. What I remember, eight seasons after the fact, is that my buddy Lee and I were drinking beer and eating burgers at a superb joint across from Safeco Field in the time leading up to the game.

“C’mon, we gotta go or we’ll miss the first inning,” Lee said as he finished his beer.

“Eh,” I replied while semaphoring for another, “let’s have one more.”

Time and place had favored us. Sun and breeze were streaming through the windows, and even at the risk of reaching our seats just as the first pitch arrived, I wanted to leave no moment behind.

“It’s time,” he said minutes later.

At last we stood and made our way to the ballpark. En route, I realized that my reluctance to leave a burger joint for a ballgame had been a shameful behavior for a putative baseball fan, yet I also realized that baseball, if we tell ourselves the truth, is really a test of our capacity to pay attention, a challenge to our desire to take it all in. We can’t watch every game, every play, every pitch. Only the nightly highlight shows can keep us on pace with the plays of the day, and even that level of devotion will ignore the plays of yesterday. Consider: For the rest of time, a grainy clip of Babe Ruth swinging or Ty Cobb “sliding” will have to suffice as properties of our viewing inheritance, surrogates for an I-was-there eyewitness. Regardless of our fidelity to the game, we’ll never have watched them play.

Millions of us have seen Gibby’s World Series walk-off, but only 55,983 people – minus whoever was in that car – were on hand to see it in person. When Maris hit No. 61, only 23,154 people were there to watch. When Ruth hit his 60th, only 8,000 people witnessed it. We do what we can, but we can’t be everywhere at once.

Just as Lee and I approached the gate, we heard a great roar. Playing again for the Mariners, Ken Griffey Jr. had just used that beautiful swing – the one I’d seen so often on TV – to hit a home run. And here we were, between places, at a time we’d never have again. What I’d remember about Safeco Field was not the inside. It was, and is, the outside.

Petco Park, San Diego

When you live in a city, if only for a time, the stadium there can lose its appeal as a shrine and become instead a place to go when your sushi plans fall through. Such did Petco Park become for me when I called San Diego home for two years. In its capacity as Plan B, it earned what critics would have called an A+ for its heavenly setting, but what I best recall about Petco Park is not its finest qualities but instead its most villainous visitor: Barry Bonds.

For a bunch of allegedly laid-back people, San Diegans showed little reluctance to express their hatred of Bonds. Each time that man so much as poked his forehead from the dugout, boos would rain down and signs would go up : “Welcome To Petco, Barroid!”; “What Size Is Your Cap Today, Barroid?”; “Babe Ruth Did It On Hot Dogs And Beer!”

As a neutral third party, I watched with no small amusement and never once felt sympathy for the devil that Bonds had become to the Friar mind. Why? Because unlike Darryl Strawberry, he never let a tear of hidden sadness stream down his cheek. Of that I was sure.

Bonds not only had a big cap, he had the biggest air of invulnerability I’ve ever seen. He didn’t give a rip – not just about the taunts but also about anything associated with interpersonal relations. Whenever a Giants pitching change occurred, he refused to join his fellow outfielders. He stood alone, always, and mostly above. His OPS at the end of one of those seasons would be 1.422, and I saw why. In one game he walked in all four at-bats. Two were intentional.

I would discover that sabermetricians place a high value on that sort of performance, one steeped less in execution than in a tolerance for the opposition’s fear, but as a fan I despised it. I wanted to see the generation’s greatest player doing what had made him such a villain on the field. Instead I saw the default mode to which his greatness had subjected him. Petco Park, indeed, is where I saw Barry Bonds being Barry Bonds by never getting to be Barry Bonds.

Arlington Stadium to Globe Life Park, Arlington

At the moment when Drew Stubbs’ liner cleared the fence at Globe Life Park, I began jumping around like the boy I had been in Arlington Stadium. After a few more moments of juvenile behavior, I began high-fiving temporary neighbors like the silly man-child I had been on several occasions at The Ballpark in Arlington, none so memorable as on Oct. 24, 2011, when the Rangers clinched victory against the Cardinals in Game Five.

Of all the ballparks in baseball, none is more meaningful than the one that hosts the hometown team. While other stadiums remain the subjects of travel journals and to-do lists, the hometown stadium finds a place where memory joins affection to create the other half of a relationship. While other stadiums stand as architectural assemblies that demand the attention of a camera, the hometown stadium remains as much a psychological presence as a collection of nuts and bolts. As such, it is a kind of emotional incubator, giving breath to moments that nourish a life made better by devotion.

My hometown team has played in two stadiums bearing multiple names, but today I find less a distinction between structures than a connection across the moments they’ve allowed. I recall with joy the nights we wore our YMCA jerseys to games beneath lights so bright that the place seemed an electric heaven, something we hadn’t learned about in Sunday school but that seemed a hell of a lot better than the heaven we were supposed to believe in.

There would be nights when I believed I’d join those guys someday, ranging to my left to snare a hot grounder, and days when I saw how truly great those players were, better than I could ever be. And there would be nights, later, when I’d gone beyond dreaming and focused instead on my friends and maybe on the next warm and terrible beer, used to fuel a conversation that had failed to account for the game on the field.

Yet even then, even when the social circle had ignored balls and strikes, I could look back with happiness at the moments that halted our banter: Juan Gonzalez, hitting his third homer of the game; Pudge Rodriguez, rifling out a runner at first; Nolan Ryan, unleashing a heater that exploded into the mitt to complete the seventh no-hitter. I can still see it now: Robbie Alomar taking a hack and dropping to a knee, defeated. Only the home stadium can supply a moment like that. We were boys.

Mile High Stadium, Denver

The year was 1993, and the Rockies, unlike their namesake mountains, had sort of popped up one day to give Denverites something to root for between NFL minicamp and the first preseason game. And root, root, root they did, at least from my perspective at the goal line – scratch that: way down the right-field line – of Mile High Stadium.

The day was clear and sunny, the air fresh and cool, and while seated in line with the end zone – sorry, the right-field fence – and also at alpine heights, I enjoyed a clear view of the Rocky Mountains on one side and, if memory is true, downtown Denver on the other. As is so often the case in life – well, my life – a stupid mistake had yielded this awesome outcome. Near the end of a trip to the mountains, I had misread my flight information and returned to Denver a day early, giving me 24 hours to put aside my embarrassment and explore the city alone. And here I was, high above the Mile High City, watching a team whose uniforms were barely out of their shipping containers.

In their first year of existence as part of MLB’s two-team expansion, the Rockies fielded a roster culled entirely from the expansion draft. A latter-day look at the Internet reveals a litany of long-forgotten names: Lance Painter, Butch Henry, Alex Cole, Ryan Hawblitzel, Freddie Benavides, Jim Tatum – hardly a squad of MLB All-Stars.

Did Denverites care? Not that I could see.

What I saw were fans so eager to root for the Pastime and its players that each seemed to have watched the instructional video. Nearly everyone wore a new cap or jersey. Some waved pennants. Many held a freshly poured beer, as if the cup had come from the props department. Kids wore baseball gloves, even up in the nosebleeds. Decked in Rockies gear, elderly women beamed in a way that matched the light. They booed nothing and cheered for every little thing, each putout and routine catch. Criticism would come someday, but this was a time of high spirit.

So loud were the cheers, so emphatic, the stadium sounded like a dome. It was no dome. Today, another look at the Internet reveals Mile High had its origin in 1948, not as a football stadium but as a baseball stadium, built for the minor league Denver Bears. Perhaps these people weren’t celebrating the arrival of professional baseball but, rather, its return. Yet another a look reveals that the Rockies in 1993 drew 4,483,350 fans in 79 home dates, an average of 56,751 per game.

Then again, I shouldn’t let fact trump feeling as the best descriptor of a time and place. Though it had retained the air of a football stadium, the place just felt right – except, perhaps, to Freddie Benavides. Upon rounding third and heading toward the plate for an inside-the-park home run, he slowly ran out of gas – of breath – in the Mile High atmosphere. The catcher tagged him out. It didn’t matter. Everybody cheered.

Astrodome, Houston

Domes do dot the landscape. The first stood high on Houston’s. Mention “Astrodome” to most people and they might think of its namesake turf. Mention “Astrodome” to me and I think of green fields that reached to the horizon. Sitting high atop a water tower between Houston and Corpus Christi, we tempted the gods or gravity to yank us down and turn a Dodgers-Astros game into the last big thing we ever saw – besides the green fields.

We didn’t fall. Survivors get to tell their story. Mine goes back to the fields.

Memory can always work against you. It can be your enemy, reminding you that the price of having survived is sometimes wishing you hadn’t. No matter how lucky you might have been, life eventually will be cruel to you, and memory will never erase the reminder that things were a little better before that one thing happened that you just can’t forget.

But memory also can rescue you from the facts outside your head and the thoughts turning black inside it. I remember those green fields. From our vantage point atop the tower, the fields went beyond where the hem of the sky could contain them, past the truth of perception and into a faith made firm by imagination, and there they never had an end.

The fields, or thoughts of the fields, remind me in turn of grass I played on as a kid, baseball fields that would drive me years later to a dome fitted with AstroTurf. My time on those fields would end, of course. The sun doesn’t shine all day. But today the time is unending when I play those games again in my head. The grass doesn’t vanish.

I can’t say who won the game that day – the Dodgers-Astros game, I mean. It didn’t matter then and doesn’t matter now. I only remember, or mostly remember, climbing atop that tower after our car broke down on the two-lane road.

I remember, too, that help came too quickly. The view is what we didn’t want to end.

U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago

Memory is weird sometimes. Though just a few years removed from that day in Chicago, I languish now in a void of what a scorecard could have delivered. I don’t even recall which team the White Sox played. I just remember the color gray — the sky, the ballpark, the uniforms — and a pair of long home runs.

Seated in the left-field section, we watched as Adam Dunn hit a ball that scraped the clouds before landing a few yards away. Another dinger came our way an inning or two later. When at last the ball settled, a young man picked it up. Beside him, his little girl jumped up and down. Then, at the urging of fans, the man chucked the ball back onto the field. Everyone cheered. And that was that – just another enemy dinger returned to sender.

Minutes later a security guard descended the steps, identified the man who had thrown the ball and began escorting him up the steps en route to his presumptive ouster. Apparently, U.S. Cellular Field neither shared nor tolerated the Wrigley tradition of throwing opponents’ home run balls back to the field. Left behind, the girl began to bawl. Suddenly, she had a dozen advocates. People came immediately to her aid while her dad called back in fruitless consolation. Other people booed, fiercely. Some threw cups and even food at the security guard.

Man, that was a gray day, though I do remember the redness of the faces.

Turner Field, Atlanta

This I know, bittersweetly, with the usual benefit of hindsight: In the space of a moment, a stadium can leave its mark on a man, and a man can leave his mark on a stadium. The year: 2003. The situation: bases loaded, two outs, Cubs down 1-0 to the Braves. My pal Jody and I had journeyed to Atlanta to attend Game One of the National League Division Series and now stood screaming as Cubs starter Kerry Wood took his turn at the plate in the top of the sixth. My love still belonged to the Rangers, but Jody had his heart in the Cubs, and so by association I had become a Cubs fan. Hoarseness would be a morning reminder of the wild night before.

Today I could look up the details, but I need only recall the sound: a crack of the bat, an escalating roar, and the ball bouncing off the wall of what had become Wrigley South. In an instant, Turner Field had made an impression that would never undo itself. I would remember that one moment – that massive, mind-splitting moment – and little else.

Two weeks later, having reached the NLCS partly on the strength of Wood’s two-run double, the Cubs were poised to reach their first World Series in more than 50 years when a man named Steve Bartman left his imprint on Wrigley Field. Nearly every baseball fan, and certainly every Cubs fan, remembers that moment and little else. The walk to Luis Castillo, the error by Alex Gonzalez – each is forgotten, conveniently, in service to an instant that defined one man’s enduring identity and reaffirmed a franchise’s alleged curse. Nothing would ever push it away.

Three years after those 2003 playoffs, I would move to Atlanta and stay until 2009. In that time, I attended numerous games at Turner Field, but none would ever make a mark like the first. Now, when I think of Turner Field, I don’t think of summer evenings. I think of one autumn night. I think of one autumn instant.

So, I assume, does Steve Bartman. The difference is that Wrigley can’t have him back, as Turner Field had me back, to even attempt to change the impression. His place in the stadium is as permanent as the numbers in the books.

Wrigley Field, Chicago

Go, Cubs, go!
Go, Cubs, go!

I had heard the song a hundred times before, but until now I had never stood in the Friendly Confines and joined its joyous chorus. A day earlier, the Cubs had clinched the 2008 division crown with a defeat of St. Louis, and now, having dispatched the Cardinals again, the players were shaking hands on a field showered in sunlight and sound. Happiness, of the kind that comes unqualified and without a hint of restriction, had anointed itself in the North Side air, and as the song carried across the whole of Wrigleyville, I felt as if the Cubs were my team and these my people.

Hours earlier, my wife and I had been walking along Chicago’s North Beach in the grip of sadness when it occurred to me: The Cubs might be playing at Wrigley! Half an hour later, after a quick ride on the “L” and a convenient interaction with a scalper, we were seated just beneath the overhang along the first-base line and cheering for a bunch of second-teamers. No Alfonso Soriano, no Derrek Lee, no Aramis Ramirez.

No big deal. We had come to Wrigley to be among the crowd, to hear the sounds of a stadium and to smell those clichéd peanuts, to feel something – honestly, anything – other than soul-destroying grief. Days earlier, our dog, Atticus, had taken ill unexpectedly and died in our arms inside the merciful confines of a veterinarian’s clinic.

We had come to Chicago on the fly, as a way to escape the place where our heartache began, but no Italian dinner or museum visit could relieve us of the anguish. But now here we were, at Wrigley Field, feeling the edge of sunlight in our big shadow. Most outsiders had come to Wrigley, I reckoned, to see its iconic ivy and feel its classical style, to occupy the place where Ernie Banks wanted to play two and where Harry Caray proclaimed, “Holy cow!” Its history – its antiquity – had become the source of what tourists properly paid to experience, a date with the good old days.

We had paid, at scalper’s prices, to move in a different direction. For a great few moments we had turned from what would follow us, what would never go away, to join a chorus of people looking ahead to more great days of baseball.

Go, Cubs, go.


John Paschal is a regular contributor to The Hardball Times and The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.
12 Comments
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Carl
6 years ago

John,

This was great. I miss your baseball card-based articles, but this was truly great. Thank you for sharing.

John Paschal
6 years ago
Reply to  Carl

Much obliged, Carl. I appreciate the kind words.

As for those baseball card pieces, I haven’t gotten around to posting any of the new ones at Banknotes Industries, but I will do so in the near future. (Motivation, alas, is often a faraway thing.) Stay tuned!

Frank Jackson
6 years ago

I too was there for those first two games of the NLDS in Atlanta in 2003. Only games I ever saw there, so I’m thinking of returning in September to see some more games there before Turner Field passes into history.

Just returned from Minneapolis, where I saw the Rangers take on the Twins. No adverse comments at all about my Rangers attire. Only friendly conversation about the merits of the Rangers and the demerits of the Twins. Minnesota Nice lives! One feature of the ballpark stands out — an outside bathroom! Great for fans who get caught short while waiting for the ticket windows or the gates to open. The St. Paul Saints have the same feature at their ballpark. Also the biggest craft beer stand (15-20 different offerings) I’ve ever seen in any park. Both parks are a triumph of public transit, as the western terminus of the Green line train is Target Field in Minneapolis and the eastern terminus drops you a couple of blocks from CHS Field in St. Paul.

Took a tour of Target Field. Probably the best formal tour I’ve had. The tour lasted two hours and 15 minutes and the guide was not a homer. He offered criticism where he felt it was due. Well worth the $14 price.

John Paschal
6 years ago
Reply to  Frank Jackson

Re Turner Field: Were you the guy in the blue shirt?

But seriously — unbelievable atmosphere, unforgettable game. Playoff baseball is something beyond baseball.

Re Minneapolis: I’ve long had a hankerin’ to attend a game there, and now, given your description, the hankerin’ has grown to a yearnin’.

Thanks, Frank.

Jojo
6 years ago

Put down the thesaurus, John.

John Paschal
6 years ago
Reply to  Jojo

The what?

Paul G.
6 years ago

Ah, beautiful.

In my opinion, you have truly never done a baseball tour properly until you are driving through Iowa on a stop for the Field of Dreams set, only to discover yourself splattering dozens upon dozens of monarch butterflies on the windshield. The guilt you feel inside is incredible. One of them even insisted on side-swiping the vehicle so I had butterfly guts no matter what direction I moved my head. And it’s not like slowing down helps at all. You very much get the feeling that if you stepped out of the vehicle and walked, you would accidentally end up eating them.

Not to be outdone, the dragonflies also exhibited excessive automotive magnetism. There was one fairly gigantic one that I swear just decided to sleep in the middle of the road awaiting its fate by Goodyear. I could see it a quarter mile away just lying there. Perhaps I missed. Also, there were these blue-green flying beetle things, but they were ugly so serves them right.

As an added bonus, once we got to the field I hit the ghost pitcher in the head with a baseball. At least it was a bad hop.

John Paschal
6 years ago
Reply to  Paul G.

Heh. If I’m not mistaken, Moonlight Graham spoke often of his love for roadside entomology. (Note proper spelling. It turns out that roadside etymology is a lonely endeavor, and remarkably unrewarding.)

JW
6 years ago

Home Park; Great American–so many memories, but Homer Bailey pitching his second career no-hitter. Going crazy high-fiving strangers while my wife occupied our four-year-old daughter up on the concourse since the game went waaaay past her bedtime.
Riverfront–so many memories; Game One, 1990 WS–Jose Rijo dominates–Eric Davis takes Dave Stewart yard–wondering if the home team could actually stun the world-beating As. John McSherry heart-attack on Opening Day.
Candlestick–cold and windy, just like they said it would be–in August.
Cleveland Municipal–narrowest seats I’ve ever seen. Total dump–no Wild Thing, no charm, no other fans.
Camden Yards–Hot July afternoon. Drove down from Annapolis with friends. Bigger than it ever looked on TV. Decent BBQ.
Petco–had two hours to kill, bought one ticket and walked around the park during a game. Great weather, great beer, solid cheese burger. Loved the grass park in the outfield.
Miller Park–nicest opposing fans in baseball. Great people–sausage race lived up to hype. Limited beer selection at the time. TAligating in the parking lot
Dodger Stadium; the traffic really is a nightmare, but the view…seeing Manny go Manny and hit a bomb into the packed bleachers.
Anaheim Stadium: Twins v. Angels. Kirby Puckett. RIP.

McCormick Field Asheville–talked my wife into going for a few innings; it’s where Crash Davis hit his last dinger–broke the record and hung it up.
First Tennessee Park, Nashville–great night, solid fried chicken–is that Barry Zito? Holly sh*t! It is Barry Zito.
Zephyr Field-New Orleans/Metairie–Abita Amber by the pitcher.

bucdaddy
6 years ago

I’ll read this all when I have some time, but your intro, Jesus …

The one time I’ve been to Camden Yards, I had selected Baltimore as a vacation spot for me, my wife and daughter. So I had them with me at the ballpark, where the temperature was 92 degrees at game time (7 p.m.) with humidity to match. It was miserable. And the game went on for 3:45. You can imagine how much they enjoyed it.

But even worse, there were three frat boy types sitting directly behind us, one of whom thought the height of hilarity was to yell as loudly as possible “DeShields, you SUUUUUUUUUUCK!” every time a ball got hit to second or Delino came to bat. His enablers thought this was hysterical. The four large black men sitting to our immediate left did not, and they stewed until finally around the sixth inning one of them turned around and told the white frat boy-types that he and his friends had had just about enough.

Just when we thought it couldn’t get any hotter in there.

Anyway, that finally shut up the frat boys, for which we applauded the gentlemen to our left.

So, there you go: If you simply take four large black men with you on your ballpark excursions, you won’t need to pack heat to deal with obnoxious fans. Things will take care of themselves.

CP9652
5 years ago

There’s some tough defenders but I’ve played them before so I know them. They may not know me because I think I’ve evolved in the past season so it will be a good thing for me to go in even stronger