Take Me Out To The Ballpark

Sep 13th, 2012, 01:53 PM
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Take Me Out To The Ballpark

As American as Mom and Apple Pie, so is Baseball. Although it's roots can be traced back to England, from T-ball to AAA and The Major Leagues, baseball has for many generations been an American national pastime. A sport that is enjoyed not only at home but around the world.

Over the years I have watched many games and have done my share of “The 7th Inning Stretch” in almost every Major League Ballpark in the country. From being at Yankee Stadium when Derek Jeter hit his first Grand Slam to enjoying a Friday Night Fireworks display after watching the Greensboro Grasshoppers, I have truly enjoyed sharing in one of America's favorite pastime.

These are my stories, in no particular order, from such experiences. I hope you will share yours.
DMBTraveler is offline  
Sep 13th, 2012, 02:06 PM
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ROOT, ROOT FOR THE ASTROS

Thanks to a “Fun Flight” on Southwest Airlines, I arrive at Houston Hobby airport about 45 minutes before the first pitch is scheduled to be thrown at Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston. Although this is a tight schedule, I will still complete one of my ongoing missions to visit every Major League Baseball Park in the country.

Following the signs for “Ground Transportation”, I find the local bus stop and wait for Bus No. 88 to arrive. Preparing to put $2.00 in the fare meter, I am asked by the bus driver, “Don't you have a quarter?” I respond “No” and unexpectedly get a discount. Instead of paying the $1.25 bus fare or $26 for a taxi, I am headed to downtown Houston for a buck.

Arriving in downtown, I exit Bus No.88 near Stop One. From here it is about a ten block walk to the stadium, less than twenty minutes. Starving after a long day of work and travel, my prayers are answered by a neon sign across an empty parking lot.

My introduction to downtown Houston is complete with a slice of pizza loaded with pepperoni, sausage and vegetables from Franks Pizza. With just the right amount of grease, it is delicious.

From a few blocks away I can hear the excitement of the game already underway inside the stadium. A quick stop at the Left Field Ticket Booth and for US$5.00 I have just bought myself entertainment for the next two to three hours.

Minute Maid Park is a modern stadium with a retractable dome that comes in pretty handy especially during the months of July and August when it is “Texas Hot”. Tonight it is open as it is a beautiful and cool evening to watch balls and strikes under the lights. Although the stadium is practically empty the crowd is still enthusiastic even if the majority of them are Cubs fans. This is not good for the Astros who are struggling with the bats. However, there are still a few hometown favorites that get their share of applause and appreciation from the Astro fans.

Not a sport to watch for everyone but one of the things I like about baseball is the pace at which it moves. With no time limit, excitement in the game usually comes in short burst. A double play, strike out or home-run always energizes the crowd then it may be minutes or not until the next inning or two that something exciting happens. In the meantime, you can enjoy great “Tums Qualified” stadium food, a sip or two of a cold drink or the distinctive solicitation of one of the many hard working stadium vendors.

“Popcorn, here, Popcorn!” “Ice Cold, Beer!”

If the game itself is not entertaining enough for you then the other stadium offerings like “The Kiss Cam” or “Air Guitar” will be sure to bring laughter or the fainest of smiles. Time for the “The 7th Inning Stretch” and the Astros can really use the motivation as they are still trailing the Cubs. I guess they have had their share of:

“It's 1,2, 3 Strikes, You're Out!”

Or maybe they are just showing the Cubs some Texas hospitality by letting them win.

I get my share of Texas hospitality at the Fan Accommodation booth where I am given a “First Time Visitor” certificate. This brings a smile to my face and I feel like a five year old kid, “Deep In The Heart Of Texas”.

Maybe a hat and boots are next. Thanks, Astros!

Video: http://youtu.be/dMnEszZDyPMos
DMBTraveler is offline  
Sep 13th, 2012, 02:10 PM
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I can't possibly compete with your stories, but I do have a number of anecdotes to tell, also related to our quest to visit all the ballparks (they've torn down and replaced so many since we started that we now have to backtrack!). Be back later....
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Sep 13th, 2012, 03:22 PM
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Agree - there is noting like baseball. Have been a Yankees fan my whole life.

Was taken to the games by my dad starting when I was 5 and got to see the Yankee greats of the 60s. (Company seats for salesmen to use - but on weekends other employees could get them for their families). They would send me down front - knowing a cute little girl with a blond pony tail would find it easier to get a program autographed.

To the days of the winning teams of the 70's (yes, I was there - sitting in the top deck - when Reggie hit the 3 homers).

To the clubs of the 90's and 2000's - with their incredible history. (Now we don't have time to go often - but make a point of sitting on the field - I want to see as much as I can - and prefer the waitress service.)

I'm surprised every year that they don't win the world series.

But I come by it honestly. My grandfather took my grandmother there shortly after their marriage (1920). She told me her memory - that Babe Ruth ran very daintily for such a big man - and did hit a homer on the day she was there.

And my father played, as a teenager, for a local team - also called the Yankees - and followed everything they did in the late 30's, 40's and 50's - so he clearly remembers from DiMaggio and Berra on.

Sad that they're not doing so well this year - partly a lot of injuries and some players aging (ARod but it seems not the magical Jeter).
nytraveler is offline  
Sep 13th, 2012, 03:25 PM
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I have only been to 3 baseball parks that I can recall. I'm not a big baseball fan. That said, nothing beats the excitement of a game at Wrigley Field in Chicago. I know, the Cubs can't seem to do very well.... (thanks to the billygoat)... Face it, the Cubs probably have more fans than any team anywhere. Everybody loves rooting for the underdog.
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Sep 13th, 2012, 04:40 PM
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Hated the Damn Yankees (the most championships money could buy) - but always loved the Dodgers - affectionately called "Da Bums" by their long suffering fans - and out here on the left coast - we liked them even more after they moved West in '58.

And oh - the stories about the old ballparks: Ebbets Field in Brooklyn (Abe Stark's sign in Right Field - Hit sign - win suit) - and who was the gal who rang the cowbell? - to the fabled Polo Grounds where the Giants played - and also where great old Army team (football) was upset by Notre Dame - and the incomparable sports writer - Grantland Rice - wrote about the Four Horsemen and the Apocalypse - to the other classic fields that were small and more intimate - and sadly are no longer with us.

I have at least been fortunate enough to get to Friendly Fenway - and another bastion of the old parks - Chicago's Wrigley Field.


From the Notre Dame webpage and I don't think they mind sharing it:

The Four Horsemen

It was 77 years ago that a dramatic nickname coined by a poetic sportswriter and the quick-thinking actions of a clever student publicity aide transformed the Notre Dame backfield of Stuhldreher, Crowley, Miller and Layden into the most fabled quartet in college football history.


Quarterback Harry Stuhldreher, left halfback Jim Crowley, right halfback Don Miller and fullback Elmer Layden had run rampant through Irish opponents' defenses since coach Knute Rockne devised the lineup in 1922 during their sophomore season. But the foursome needed some help from Grantland Rice, a sportswriter for the New York Herald-Tribune, to achieve football immortality. After Notre Dame's 13-7 victory over Army on October 18, 1924, Rice penned the most famous passage in the history of sports journalism.


"Outlined against a blue, gray October sky the Four Horsemen rode again.

"In dramatic lore they are known as famine, pestilence, destruction and death. These are only aliases. Their real names are: Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden. They formed the crest of the South Bend cyclone before which another fighting Army team was swept over the precipice at the Polo Grounds this afternoon as 55,000 spectators peered down upon the bewildering panorama spread out upon the green plain below."


George Strickler, then Rockne's student publicity aide and later sports editor of the Chicago Tribune, made sure the name stuck. After the team arrived back in South Bend, he posed the four players, dressed in their uniforms, on the backs of four horses from a livery stable in town. The wire services picked up the now-famous photo, and the legendary status of the Four Horsemen was insured.


"At the time, I didn't realize the impact it would have," Crowley said later. "But the thing just kind of mushroomed. After the splurge in the press, the sports fans of the nation got interested in us along with other sportswriters. Our record helped, too. If we'd lost a couple, I don't think we would have been remembered."


After that win over Army, Notre Dame's third straight victory of the young season, the Irish were rarely threatened the rest of the year. A 27-10 win over Stanford in the 1925 Rose Bowl gave Rockne and Notre Dame the national championship and a perfect 10-0 record.


As it usually is with legends, the Four Horsemen earned their spot in gridiron history. Although none of the four stood taller than six feet and none of the four weighed more than 162 pounds, the Four Horsemen might comprise the greatest backfield ever. As a unit, Stuhldreher, Crowley, Miller and Layden played 30 games and only lost to one team, Nebraska, twice.


Stuhldreher, a 5-7, 151-pounder from Massillon, Ohio, was a self-assured leader who not only could throw accurately but also returned punts and proved a solid blocker. He emerged as the starting signalcaller four games into his sophomore season in 1922. He was often labeled cocky, feisty and ambitious, but his field generalship was unmatched.


Crowley, who came to Notre Dame in 1921 from Green Bay, Wis., stood 5-11 and weighed 162 pounds. Known as "Sleepy Jim" for his drowsy-eyed appearance, Crowley outmaneuvered many a defender with his clever, shifty ballcarrying.


Miller, a native of Defiance, Ohio, followed his three brothers to Notre Dame. At 5-11, 160 pounds, Miller proved to be the team's breakaway threat. According to Rockne, Miller was the greatest open-field runner he ever coached.


Layden, the fastest of the quartet, became the Irish defensive star with his timely interceptions and also handled the punting chores. The 6-0, 162-pounder from Davenport, Iowa, boasted 10-second speed in the 100-yard dash.


After graduation, the lives of the Four Horsemen took similar paths. All began coaching careers with three of the four occupying top positions.


Layden coached at his alma mater for seven years and compiled a 47-13-3 record. He also served as athletic director at Notre Dame. After a business career in Chicago, Layden died in 1973 at the age of 70.


Crowley coached Vince Lombardi at Fordham before entering business in Cleveland. He died in 1986 at the age of 83.


Stuhldreher, who died in 1965 at the age of 63, became athletic director and football coach at Wisconsin.


Miller left coaching after four years at Georgia Tech and began practicing law in Cleveland. He was appointed U.S. District Attorney for Northern Ohio by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Miller died in 1979 at the age of 77.


All four players eventually were elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.
Tomsd is offline  
Sep 13th, 2012, 07:23 PM
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Some of my anecdotes:

Detroit (old) - we had dinner at some iconic bar where they set up tables in the parking lot (I wonder what happened to that bar when the new stadium opened). It was fireworks night. I've been to many fireworks nights - in San Francisco, they set them off in the bay, in Anaheim, they set them off in the parking lot behind the stadium. Not Detroit. In Detroit, they wheeled them onto the field and shot them off from a contraption that looked like a giant wheelbarrow. The fireworks went every which way, even hitting the scoreboard - it looked like the scene from "The Natural".

San Diego (been to old and new, but this is about new) - if you just want to wander around and see the stadium, you can buy a ticket for $5.00 - no seat, but you can walk all around.

Yankees (old) - before our first baseball trip (probably 1994 or so), my husband wrote to each of the box offices, told them we were coming from California, and asked if we could get good tickets directly from them (this was per-Internet). Most of them came through - with the Yanks being the best. Our seats were in Row 5 behind home plate. Unfortunately, it started pouring in the 4th inning and the game was called. We ended up giving our rain check tickets to friends in NY.

A's - I moved to California in early 1973. That year, we bought walk-up tickets to the World Series - bleacher seats for $5.00 (I think). Against the Mets with Willie Mays!

Stadia we've visited: San Diego (old and new), Anaheim, Dodgers, Oakland, San Francisco (new and old), Seattle (old), Arizona, Houston (new), Milwaukee (old), Comiskey (new), Wrigley, the Jake, Detroit (old), Shea, Yankee (old), Veterans, Camden Yards, Fenway, Kauffman, st. Louis (old), Atlanta (new) and Washington (new). We've also been to spring training in AZ. 3 or 4 times ( and are going again in 2013).
sf7307 is offline  
Sep 14th, 2012, 03:50 AM
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Wow SF7. You and your hubby have been very fortunate. Again, very impressive the number of parks you have been to.

I always wanted to get to the classic old park in Pittsburgh - (Crosby?) - where my law school buddy used to watch the great Roberto Clemente dig the ball out of the Ivy in right field and throw runners out at 3rd base, home, etc. He used to compliment the new guy - big Dave Parker - when Dave would show off his own strong arm, - Wowee - I used to be able to throw like that.
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Sep 14th, 2012, 07:26 AM
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SF have you been to the new Yankee Stadium? It looks like no? I really enjoyed it. There is a neat museum.... You do have a great list!
My husband is a huge fan and makes his business trips often around baseball schedules.
I have not been to as many parks as he has but have been to: San Diego (old and new - love the new one of our favorites!) Anaheim, dodger, Yankee (new) Seattle (old) Rangers... next on my list is Fenway and Wrigley - hoping to get to Fenway next season.
Cool thread!

A couple of cool stories (well for us!)

We were at a Anaheim game and Frank Robinson was sitting close to us - he was not signing any balls and my husband was beside himself... finally I said "Do you want a ball signed?" I might have been 27 at best... not sure if we were even married yet - and I got up and went to him - he smiled and signed the ball.

We went to the Angels spring training with our boys when they were fairly young - it was an amazing experience - My husband's company had a box and we all got to hang out with the players - have some amazing photos - had a big dinner with them - it was the year Mo Vaughn was there - Tim Salmon, Darin Erstad - it was a blast.

We went to a Padre game in the new stadium and it was the "almost no - hitter" went 8 innings... sucha bummer but what an exciting night -

We love baseball!
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Sep 14th, 2012, 07:32 AM
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Love the topic. As a kid growing up in Ontario, Canada, hockey was definitely considered the sport to be passionate about but that wasn't the case in our household.
My dad was a baseball nut. Our family vacations were centered around baseball games and related side trips.
He took us to Fenway, Old Tiger Stadium, Veterans in Philly, Municipal in Cleveland, spring training in Florida, The Big O and Skydome countless times and multiple trips to Cooperstown.
I have incredibly fond memories of all of these excursions.
When the Expos left Montreal in 2004 and the steroids era reached it's pinnacle, my interest in baseball waned considerably to the point where I didn't watch it for a number of years.
I couldn't stay away forever however so in 2010, with a renewed interest in the game, My wife and I traveled to Progressive field in Cleveland for a game and I subsequently caught the bug again.
Since that Cleveland trip, We've been to PNC in Pittsburgh, Camden Yards, Comerica in Detroit and a couple of AAA games in Pawtucket and Syracuse.
Anyway, can't get enough of the ballpark. Thanks for the thread.
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Sep 14th, 2012, 08:57 AM
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<<>>

I forgot about the games we went to in Bend Oregon - the Bend Bandits, I think in the Northern League (or maybe it was Independent). Best memories of those games -- the kids all went ON the field to do the "YMCA" thing, and when they picked a couple of fans to move to the "best seat in the house", the new seat was a sofa on top of the dugout!

vanderglenn, my interest in baseball also waned at one point -- I was a huge Mets fan growing up, then lost interest in the late 70s and early 80s (probably because the Giants (I moved to California in the early 70s) sucked!). Reignited interest when my son was little and we've all been huge Giants fans since the late 80s. Took him to his first game when he was 3 (and petrified by the cannons they were shooting off). Both son and daughter and tremendous fans. (But we're also huge hockey fans -- Sharks are our team. I wish they'd get the darn deal done so the season can start on time!)
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Sep 14th, 2012, 09:54 AM
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sf7307

Will have to do some back tracking myself...

Tried to go to "The New Yankee Stadium" during a "Subway Series" and just did not feel like coughing up $95 for a ticket.

Watched the game in "Billy Martin's" bar where I think I paid about $8 a bottle for a few beers instead

Also, have to go to "The New Cardinals" stadium. Looking forward to the revisits as technology allows for some great keepsakes that the mind sometimes forget
DMBTraveler is offline  
Sep 14th, 2012, 09:58 AM
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nytraveler,

I am envious

Always loved "The Yankees" and the organization approach to winning. Although hated by many, I think they have done the most for baseball as an institution.

Have sat a few times in the bleachers in "The Bronx" but have not been fortunate to go to the new stadium, yet.
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Sep 14th, 2012, 10:02 AM
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simpsonc510,

We have got to get you out to a few more parks.

I think you would be great doing "The Wave" or "The 7th Innning Stretch"
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Sep 14th, 2012, 10:47 AM
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lol.... I probably would get in on the wave.
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Sep 14th, 2012, 11:09 AM
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sf7307

I have to get out to AT&T park before long. It looks beautiful and that's just from television. San Francisco in general, actually.
Agree about the NHL as well. It makes for a long, cold winter up here without hockey. Doesn't look good though.
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Sep 14th, 2012, 11:14 AM
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It's not looking good for the NHL. My season ticket holders' group hasn't even bothered conducting our game selection lottery yet. Bah humbug!

Do visit San Francisco and AT&T Park. It's my favorite of the "new" parks I've visited, although I haven't been to PNC yet, which has a great reputation.
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Sep 14th, 2012, 12:52 PM
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It's true that Steinbrenner was so successful because he operated the Yankees as a business, rather than a midieval fiefdom. So many people hate the Yankees because they spend money to try to win. They should hate the other owners who are too cheap (or stupid) to figure out how to spend to win. What is the purpose of a losing team? And if the owners don;t have the money to play they shouldn't be in the game (like poker). You can't complain if someone else is a better player, makes smarter bets, or bigger bets when they have a good hand - and they win a lot.

And, in any case, no matter how expensive the player - they can be hurt. No matter how expensive the team they can lose. One of the reasons the Yankees win so much is that it is expected. Losing is not accepted.

What is fascinating to me is watching some of the management - who seem to be operating in some alternative universe. Not saying new ideas are bad. Not saying it's bad to take chances. But - if you don;t take the game seriously - you can't expect to win.
nytraveler is offline  
Sep 14th, 2012, 12:59 PM
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<<>>

Conversely, as a fan of their biggest rival, you (and by that I mean I)can be pleased as punch when "someone else" (aka The Dodgers) spends a ton more money and makes the trades-of-the-year, and still loses!!!! I have no expectations that the Giants will do great in the playoffs this year, but the first step is always, always, eliminating the Dodgers.
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Sep 14th, 2012, 01:12 PM
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Yeah the whole "Buying a team" criticism directed at the Yankees is silly. There are no guarantees that who you buy will perform as advertised. It takes expert judgement and encyclopedic baseball knowledge to purchase the right free agents or make the right trade.
Financial freedom certainly helps and infinite money will provide infinite mulligans in the event of ill-fated decisions by the GM (whose name happens to be Cashman) but ultimately, putting together a perennial contender is no easy task.
I'll use another NYC based club as an example of how the free agent philosophy can steer you wrong. The Rangers under Glen Sather have tried for years to buy their clubs with very limited success until recent years that is.
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