Having missed seeing a game in Monterrey, Mexico, when MLB last played there in 1999, I was determined not to make up for that this time around. I contacted the nominal home team, the San Diego Padres, who were very kind and helpful in my obtaining a ticket. I flew to Houston from NJ on Friday May 4, and had supper at one of my favorite delis in the world, Kenny and Ziggy’s. Saturday I drove my rental car to Laredo, which is right on the border, about 140 miles north of Monterrey. Early the next morning, Sunday, I boarded the Greyhound bus for the four-hour trip to Monterrey. Crossing the border into Mexico was uncomplicated and quick, with U.S. officials boarding the bus to ask their questions and inspect credentials, and then my having to visit the immigration office on the Mexican side to get a tourist permit. I sat in the first row and enjoyed watching the scenery change from fairly flat at the border to seriously mountainous as we approached Monterrey. The road, which is mostly a four-lane tollway, climbs to a pass, surrounded by some craggy looking peaks up to 7,000’ elevation.
The Greyhound bus station in Monterrey is about 3-4 miles north of the Estadio Beisbol (you can translate), with a light rail station very nearby. A ticket for the train costs the equivalent of 23 cents U.S., amazingly cheap like most things in Mexico. The station for the ballpark is about a half-mile walk through a park and military compound from the ballpark itself. I arrived almost three hours before game time at 3:10 PM, but the place was already jumping, with people everywhere, and lively Mexican music to get folks in the mood. I picked up my “will call” ticket without a hitch, entered the park, and began the wait until game time. The park holds 27,000, is triple decked, and looks and feels like a major league stadium. From my seat in the third deck along the right field foul line, there was a great view of the craggy, four-summited, 5970’ peak, Cerro de la Silla, the signature mountain of Monterrey, and it looked very inviting for a climb.
As for the game, the Padres shut out the Dodgers (yay!) 3-0. High spots included a two-run homer by Eric Hosmer and the Dodgers leaving 13 men on base.
After the game, I returned to the bus station, had a snack there, and waited an hour and a half for the return bus to Laredo. We had a quick ride to the U.S. border and arrived about 11:30 PM. The lines at the check point were not bad, and the bus was not due into Laredo until 1:40, so I figured we were going to be arriving early. Wrong! Turns out the buses are diverted into their own checkpoint, and so we sat motionless for 90 minutes, then drove into an huge parking lot, where everyone had to disembark with their luggage, and go through an immigration and customs checkpoint. Everything seemed very haphazard, and the U.S. officials were pretty nasty. Next we all had to walk across the lot to re-board the bus, which has been searched during the interim, before the bus could leave. Problem is—if anyone had problems clearing immigration and/or customs, we all had to wait. Of course one poor woman with two little girls in tow ran into a problem, which added yet another half hour to the wait. Much of this process is outdoors, and would seemingly be a nightmare in bad weather. Once we finally got underway and drove the last mile or so to the bus station, it was about 2 AM, so when Greyhound allowed five hours for a two-hour drive, they knew what they were doing. I then drove back to my motel and was in bed by 3. I could only sleep for four hours, as I had to drive back to Houston to catch a late afternoon flight back to NJ, arriving after midnight. I think all I did the next two days was catch up on sleep.
Impressions: Folks in Mexico were friendly and helpful. Everything was dirt cheap. Things in general looked a little shabbier than in southern Texas, but not horribly so. Fans at the game were loud, animated, and had a great time. Weather was in the low 80s, and I missed the rains of Friday and Saturday. This was the 67th different ballpark in which i have seen a regular season major league baseball game. Glad I made the trip.