Thwarted by Yet Another Stadium

This will be a very personal post, so I might as well start with a few personal notes. First, I’ve finally broken down and joined Twitter. Follow @replevel for links to new posts, other observations, and general snark. Second, I’ve taken on a new blogging venture, the details of which I’ll share very soon. And third, I’d like to dedicate this post to Pat and Rob Moynihan, who have suffered the slings and arrows of my baseball watching misfortune, and to my wife, Jill, with whom I’ve shared most of the fortunate moments.

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I spent the weekend in Philadelphia with great friends, playing baseball, drinking, throwing trivia around, and attempting to watch a baseball game. Saturday night’s game against the Rockies at Citizens Bank Park was postponed until Sunday afternoon, long after I needed to be on the road back to Portland.

Though it lingers in the back of my mind, as I’m sure it does with most baseball fans, I’ve never made it a formal goal to watch a baseball game at every stadium. There are too many stadiums, too much distance to cross, and not enough time. In my 32 years, I have been to 12 major league parks, which sounds like a decent starting point, maybe equivalent of Adam Dunn’s chances at hitting 763 home runs (Dunn has 403 and is two months shy of his 33rd birthday; Barry Bonds had 346 at that age). The same way that Dunn’s slim chances start to disappear when you consider how prone he is to strikeouts and slumps, my chances of watching a ballgame at every major league park evaporate pretty quickly when you learn that I’ve only watched a baseball game in five active big league parks.

How do I get from 12 to five? Here’s a quick rundown, alphabetically by team name:

Blue Jays
Sometime around 1989, I decided that I was a Blue Jays fan for some reason. Never having been too attached to a team, my parents went along with it, and watched with me as they won back-to-back titles not long thereafter. In 1994, they decided it was time to take me to a Blue Jays game at their new stadium. My dad bought tickets in midsummer and planned a six- or seven-hour trip across upstate New York, through Niagara Falls, and into Canada. Of course, by the time the trip rolled around, the players had decided they didn’t make enough money to let me watch my favorite team play baseball live, so I had to settle for dinner at one of SkyDome’s restaurants, overlooking a Toronto Argonauts practice on the field. My love for the Jays didn’t last much longer.

Stadiums visited: 1
Active stadiums where I’ve seen a game: 0

Braves
My wife’s family had a reunion in Atlanta in 2010. We drove from Portland, Maine, stopping a few places on the way, and caught a Braves game on the way out of town. We didn’t stay for the whole game, as we had a long trip to Oak Ridge, NC, ahead of us, and my then-infant daughter fell asleep in the first inning, but we watched live baseball, and that’s what counts.

Stadiums visited: 2
Active stadiums where I’ve seen a game: 1

Cardinals
No sob story here, as I visited St. Louis on business when the Cards were out of town, but I like to consider this a stadium I’ve visited because the recessed grounds give passersby a view of the field better than a lot of seats I’ve had behind a post at Fenway Park.

Stadiums visited: 3
Active stadiums where I’ve seen a game: 1

Dodgers
Here’s the biggest sob story of them all. My family took our only trip out west in 1988, despite the fact that my mom had two sisters in the LA area. Naturally, we took the time to visit Dodger Stadium. Here’s a list of every rainout in Dodger Stadium history:
1. April 21, 1967 vs. St. Louis
2. April 12, 1976 vs. San Diego
3. Sept. 10, 1976 vs. Atlanta
4. Sept. 11, 1976 vs. Atlanta
5. May 8, 1977 vs. Philadelphia
6. May 9, 1977 vs. Philadelphia
7. Aug. 17, 1977 vs. S.F.
8. April 15, 1978 vs. Atlanta
9. Sept. 5, 1978 vs. S.F.
10. April 11, 1982 vs. San Diego
11. Aug. 18, 1983 vs. New York
12. Sept. 24, 1986 vs. San Diego
13. April 19, 1988 vs. San Diego
14. April 20, 1988 vs. San Diego
15. April 21, 1988 vs. San Diego
16. April 11, 1999 vs. Colorado
17. April 17, 2000 vs. Houston

Care to guess which month we tried to go to a game? At least no other kid was denied his only chance to see the Dodgers for the next 11 years.

Stadiums visited: 4
Active stadiums where I’ve seen a game: 1

Mets
On October 3, 2004, I visited Shea Stadium with roughly the same crew that sat through Saturday’s showers in Philly, and was treated to the Montreal Expos’ final game. This was my first and last trip to Shea, which would close four years later, adding one active stadium back to my to-visit list.

Stadiums visited: 5
Active stadiums where I’ve seen a game: 1

Nationals
Stade Olympique was the closest stadium to my home town of Queensbury, NY, so my parents took me to a few games in the late eighties. I remember showing up late every time, buying a program and scoring the innings we caught, and my older sister reading a book in her seat. I haven’t been to a game in Washington.

Stadiums visited: 6
Active stadiums where I’ve seen a game: 1

Padres
Here’s another success story. My wife and I honeymooned in San Diego, staying half our trip on the beach and half in the Gaslamp District, a short walk from Petco Park. We took in a game against the Cubs, in which Rob Bowen homered for the Padres. I think he’s still the only player ever to homer at Petco. My other memory from that game is that the stadium was at least 20 percent Cubs fans, and they got it. They stood up for two-strike counts and clapped when their players drew walks and made good defensive plays. Padres fans watched dumbfounded until their players actually crossed home plate and the scoreboard registered a run. I might not watch much baseball either if I lived in San Diego.

Stadiums visited: 7
Active stadiums where I’ve seen a game: 2

Phillies
See above.

Stadiums visited: 8
Active stadiums where I’ve seen a game: 2

Pirates
Here’s a successful business trip baseball game. At a United Way Staff Leaders Conference a few years ago, I bought tickets to a Pirates game for several co-workers and we caught a good game at a gorgeous stadium. I wouldn’t trade that experience to cancel two of the rainouts.

Stadiums visited: 9
Active stadiums where I’ve seen a game: 3

Red Sox
For a few years in the mid-2000s, I lived and worked within walking distance of Fenway Park. In 2004, 2005, and 2006, I caught at least ten games every year, and I’ve been a few times since moving north. I’ve seen two Big Papi walkoff homers and two inside-the-park homers (neither by Ortiz) live. I’ve seen the most dominant pitcher ever mow down batters and one of the best right-handed hitters ever launch homers over the monster.

Stadiums visited: 10
Active stadiums where I’ve seen a game: 4

White Sox
In 1998, my high school’s Quiz Bowl team (which included some of the same guys I’ve mentioned twice in this post) went to Chicago for the national championships. The Cubs must not have been in town that week, so we settled for a White Sox game. My only memory of this one was heckling Wil Cordero, who’d probably heard a few boos in his day. New Comiskey Park has been renamed US Cellular Field, but I think I can still count this one.

Stadiums visited: 11
Active stadiums where I’ve seen a game: 5

Yankees
I caught a game in the Bronx in the late ’80s with my dad and an uncle and cousins who lived in New Jersey. My most vivid memory of this one is not of anything that happened on the field, but of my dad getting out of his GMC pickup truck in traffic in the Bronx to take his camera and jacket out of the flatbed and put them in the cab with us. Then he locked the doors and I feared New York City for about fifteen years.

The Yankee Stadium I visited wasn’t adequate to fund the team’s payroll, so it’s gone. I have no plans to visit the new one.

Stadiums visited: 12
Active stadiums where I’ve seen a game: 5

That’s the list. I’m afraid if I tried to hit the 25 stadiums where I haven’t seen a game, a rain cloud would follow me and spoil the outing for 35,000 innocent fans. Someday I’ll get to Camden Yards and Wrigley Field and Kauffman Stadium whatever they call the Giants’ park then. And even if every one of those games is rained out, I’ll still love baseball.

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This entry was posted in Blue Jays, Braves, Cardinals, Dodgers, Mets, Nationals, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Red Sox, White Sox, Yankees. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Thwarted by Yet Another Stadium

  1. This was a thoroughly enjoyable post. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but three of the four stadiums where I’ve seen an MLB game (Three Rivers Stadium, Shea Stadium and the Kingdome in Seattle) are now gone. Only Fenway remains. Hope it lasts forever.

  2. bstar says:

    Hey Bryan! Glad to hear you joined the HHS staff. I found your article quite entertaining and laughed a few times. You’ll be hearing way too much from me at HHS.

  3. Great post as usual, Bryan. I’ve traveled to see a lot of ballparks, including two road trips where I visited 4-5 each. I’ve occasionally wondered what I would do about rainouts, but it’s honestly never happened to me. Reading your post makes me realize how unbelievably lucky I’ve been.

    As of three years ago, I’d been to 20 active parks (30 total) and my goal was to gradually increase that total until someday I’d been to all the current ones. But, life has intervened, in a good way, of course, so even that’s looking like a long shot. The Metrodome has since closed, so I’m down to 19, but I still haven’t been to relatively easy ones in Citi Field and Citizens.

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