I have been to 22 of the 30 current MLB ballparks but have enjoyed the national past time at 38 parks. Huh?, you ask. I have been to 1096 regular season or playoff games (I don't count spring training) and have retained the ticket stubs for all of them. Some of these games are at stadii and parks that are only memories or if you're lucky, these sights of ancient gatherings have a marker, a plaque, or part of the structure still standing. Montreal's Stade Olympique , the Houston Astrodome, and Dolphins Stadium still stand complete for me. Although, the Expos, Astros, and Marlins have moved to newer digs.
I have been going to games since 1972. The date of game one was August 4, 1972. The Yankees were in Milwaukee at County Stadium for a Friday night game against the fledgling Brewers. It was my first of only 3 MLB games I would ever see with my dad. I still prize the scorebook he used for the game. I have been a Brewer fan for my life but I enjoy watching baseball no matter who is playing. For instance, my 27th lifetime game was at Wrigley Field. Another August 4, but it was 1982. No lights yet at Wrigley. In fact, for that Met's- Cubs game, so few were in attendance (9,237), that they did not open the upstairs at the Friendly Confines. Can you imagine?
My most recent game was this past Tuesday, July 5, 2016. A's at the Twins at Target Field. I kept score as I typically do. It was lifetime game number 1023. The rain delay was over 2 and a half hours, the game was over three hours. That game finished after 1:00am. All the other games scheduled that day were done. It was fun to be in Minneapolis and see that the out of town scoreboard at beautiful Target Field was showing all final scores. Take that Pacific Time Zone, we're still playing here in the Central.
I love baseball the most of all pro sports. I enjoy, for decades now, the way statistics have been created for players. One player can be measured for not just hitting, but pitching and defense too. Only in baseball. Thanks to computers and the internet, I now keep stats for all of the players and teams I have seen play in my 1023 games. Also, visiting a ballpark and it's fans seems to encapsulate that unique area of the country I am in. I love seeing kids being brought by parents, grandparents or the big groups from throughout the area. Plus, you can often strike up a conversation to the fan next to you at a baseball game. We are all neighbors, aren't we?
Baseball is like life to me. It's a long grind of a season. There are few days off. I've had to work several holidays in a year, and baseball does too. You feel the season change. The wakening of spring, the heat of mid summer, the crispness of fall fading into winter.
Like loved ones and friends that have moved on or are gone. I miss the old parks. I've sat behind posts in Milwaukee and Chicago, I have felt the heat coming off the astroturf in St.Louis and Pittsburgh. I marveled at the Monster, Monument Row, and triple digit temps in Arlington. I've headed to the game on subways in Montreal, the "L" in Chicago, and Marta for the Braves. The old parks capture me. Unlike today, the old places were not all the ads and ribbon lights and loud music. It was quaint and quirky. I loved the intimacy. The new ball parks brag about being close to the action. Honestly, that is for a few expensive seats around home plate. Here's a fun fact. The LAST row of Detroit's old Tiger Stadium is closer to the field than the FIRST row of the new Comerica upper deck. Yep, it was cramped at the old palaces, but, man what a sight. At Tiger Stadium, both bull pens were in the open next to the left and right foul lines, the flag pole was in fair territory on the warning track, and the right field porch hung over the warning track. I was lucky enough to sit up there a few times. It felt like a parrot on a pirate's shoulder as I looked down at the left fielder. Yea, I know the Green Giant is still with us, but when I first went there, you couldn't sit on top of it. Still, Fenway and Wrigley represent a bit of how many old parks used to be. Frankly, the new parks feel a bit uniform to me. At many games, I am saddened that the best seats are often not filled. Those are the $200 plus lazy boy looking seats around the net at home. Thank you 1% ers.
Still, it's a treat to see the stars in person. Over the years I've been privileged to see the likes of Aaron, Seaver, Yount, and today's new stars like Cabrerra, Harper, or Verlander. All thrilling.
I hope to see you at the next game. OK, whose got a schedule in their wallet?.....