Category Archives: A2 Ballparks

Dodger Fans ….. On Saving the American Flag!

Happy 4th of July!

This YouTube video was uploaded by giramino on Jun 10, 2008, and this is an excerpt from the comment that was posted with the video:

“On April 25, 1976 at Dodger Stadium, Rick Monday of the Chicago Cubs, grabbed and secured the American flag from two individuals as they were attempting to burn our flag in the middle of the playing field. It was an outstanding display of American Patriotism.”

I particularly liked that this incident took place at Dodger Stadium, because it’s been in the news lately as being maybe not such a great place to attend a ball game.  But great fans are everywhere including Dodger Stadium and little things like God Bless America, sung  by the home team fans, the Dodger fans,after the incident, is symbolic of baseball fans in every stadium.  And even though this happened over 35 years ago, it’s a reminder that patriotism is alive and well in the USA.   Happy 4th of July everyone!

Cleveland Indian Fans ….. Fair Weather? Not Even!

Jacobs Field is one of the most beautiful ballparks in America.   It sits spectacularly in the middle of downtown Cleveland, surrounded by high-rise buildings and, of all things,  Quicken Loans Arena, home to the Cleveland Cavaliers.   It’s within walking distance to the Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where I was once given a  T-shirt with the words “If I can hear it, it’s too loud!” by my 13-year-old grandson.  This was during the 2004 Baseball Tour we took that included a Cleveland Indians game at Jacobs Field.   We arrived at the ballpark early and walked around the stadium taking pictures and enjoying the fantastic views of the skyline and other parts of the city, from inside the stadium.   The design of the stadium gives you an intimate feeling of a small ballpark because every seat is a great seat and you’re almost on top of the field no matter where you’re sitting.   I mention all of this because, back in 2004, I remember mentioning to Dan Lindsey, Diamond Baseball Tours owner, what a shame it was to have this spectacular ballpark and no one’s there.  This was a day game in the middle of June, and the weather was beautiful, and still, where’s the fans?   And this was back in 2004, when attendance was still relatively good. 

I mention this because today the Cleveland Indians have the best record in Major League Baseball.  Well, okay, they’re tied with the Phillies, but still.   And they’ve maintained this standing from almost the beginning of opening day.   For the past two years they’ve finished 4th in their division, but not this year.  This year they’re all by themselves at the top.  And still ….. no fans!    Cleveland is a diverse sports town.  They have it all;  Baseball, Football, Basketball, Hockey, Soccer.  Could it be that they’re probably the smallest city to host three professional sports franchises and, therefore, are not able to sustain them?  But a lot of cities have this same mix and are able to bring the fans to the ballpark.  Baseball, in general, is thriving throughout the rest of the country. 

Last summer we met a couple from Ohio, and they were bemoaning the state of baseball in Cleveland.  The die-hard fans are in constant worry they’re going to lose the franchise.  What causes this?  Why Cleveland?  Opening day this year showed a sell-out crowd of over 42,000 and now,  five weeks later, they’re showing less than 10,000 a game.    A really great blog about Cleveland and Ohio in general is entitled “WFNY”,”Waiting for Next Year“.   An article from that website, written by Jon Steiner on April 5,  offers some light on the subject.   Jon’s currently investigating the claim that “the Indians are a real team, with uniforms and everything.”  

You don’t have to convince the rest of us.   You just have to convince the fans.

Phillie Fans Show Support for U S A!

It’s  USA   USA   USA  In Philadelphia!

I don’t usually agree with the Phillie Phanatics on anything, but this time I think they got it right!   On hearing about Osama Bin Laden’s death, and seeing the scoreboard read 9 – 1 – 1 , the crowd erupted into chants for the USA.  It was the 9th inning and the score was 1-1.  Eerie huh?

The Intentional Walk ….. And “Walk’r” the Chicken!

  “We weren’t trying to walk him; he just wouldn’t swing at any bad pitches.”  -Bobby Cox, on the Braves walking Barry Bonds 7 times in a series

There’s nothing that irks me quite as much as the intentional walk.  I’ve always wondered how the pitchers feel about it.   If  the batter’s a real crackerjack, would they be glad they don’t have to pitch to him or would they welcome the challenge?   If the pitcher is a really good pitcher, and has a lot of confidence in knowing he’s a really good pitcher, wouldn’t you think he’d welcome the chance to get a strikeout, knowing he had the competitive edge?  You know the saying, “Good pitching beats good hitting anytime”.    Personally, if I were a pitcher I think I’d be a little insulted if the manager gave me the signal to walk a batter. I’d think he probably didn’t have enough confidence in me to be able to get the guy out.  But that’s just me.  On February 4, 1956, the  American League announced it would begin testing the automatic intentional walk during spring training.    I don’t know when the National League jumped on the bandwagon, but at some point they definitely did.   Before that time, I guess the pitcher always pitched the ball and the batter swung,  or not, depending on the pitch.  Geez, what a novel idea huh?   I think here in San Francisco we’ve had a belly-full of the stuff and that’s why I’m a little antagonistic on the subject.  Back in 2004, ESPN reported the Giants concessions would start  selling “rubber chickens” , appropriately named Walk’r, to protest the number of walks at AT&T Park.  The chicken was an instant success and the chickens, if necessary, are still evident in the park today.  To illustrate how bad it had become, you might be surprised to know that Barry Bonds today still holds the career record for most “Intentional Bases on Balls” (since 1955)  with a startling 645 intentional walks.   George Brett  is second with 229.   It’s highly unlikely Bonds’ record will be broken anytime soon.   Here’s some statistics on Intentional Bases on Balls Records, provided by Baseball Almanac:  

 
Intentional Bases On Balls Records
Records Only Kept Officially Since 1955
Single Season Records
Record Lg Name(s) Team(s) Data
Most
In A Season
(Top 100)
AL John Olerud Toronto 33 1993
Ted Williams Boston 1957
NL Barry Bonds San Francisco 120 2004
Most
In A Season
By A Lefthander
AL John Olerud Toronto 33 1993
Ted Williams Boston 1956
NL Barry Bonds San Francisco 120 2004
Most
In A Season
By A Righthander
AL Frank Howard Washington 29 1970
Frank Thomas Chicago 1995
NL Albert Pujols St. Louis 44 2009
Most
In A Season
By A Rookie
AL Alvin Davis Seattle 16 1984
NL Willie Montanez Philadelphia 14 1971
Most
In A Season
By A Switch-Hitter
AL Eddie Murray Baltimore 25 1984
NL Tim Raines Montreal 26 1987
Most At Bats
In A Season
No Intentional Walks
AL Kirby Puckett Minnesota 691 1985
NL Jose Reyes New York 696 2005
 
According to Baseball Almanac, the one event in baseball that signifies true respect is the intentional walk with bases loaded.  The implication, I guess, is that the pitcher is showing respect to the batter by walking him instead of pitching to him, out of  fear he might hit the ball.   Personally, I’d  like to see the pitcher, pitch to the batter and strike the socks off  him, or not.  Now that, my friends, would command some real respect, don’t you think?

Seattle Mariner Fans ….. This One’s for You!

In Memory of  Dave Niehaus 

 Everytime I hear Dave’s voice I tear up. I get chills until no end. Not so much because I miss Dave the person, but Dave the spirit. I grew up watching baseball, knowing every night when I turned on the television I could hear Dave. I knew that when no one was positive about the Mariner’s chances, Dave would always have a hopeful attitude. I am going to miss the “My Oh My‘s” and the “Grand Salami‘s”. Even the simple hello, welcome to beautiful Safeco Field, with his signature grin. FLY FLY AWAY! ”   Taken from Comments on YouTube

Dave Niehaus, Throwing out the First Pitch

To be honest, I didn’t know much about Dave Niehaus except that he was a former announcer for the Mariners.  When I was researching about who he was Continue reading

Attention Baseball Fans! Win an All Expense Paid Baseball Trip!

I just received an email from Dan Lindsey, owner of Diamond Baseball Tours, announcing their first (hopefully annual) contest just in time for the World Series!   As GFBB readers know,  I blogged daily on my 7 day baseball tour this summer, writing on every game and each ballpark we visited, and tours of Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant and Cooperstown Hall of Fame in New York.  You can read the daily blogs from my June and July Posts.  It was a great experience and I’d recommend it to anyone.  Click here http://diamondbaseballtours.com/ to find out Dan’s “World Series Prediction Contest”.   Good luck and hope you win!   GFBB

This day in Baseball History ……fans at Fenway. Where’d they go??

“1965.   At Fenway Park in front of only 1,247 fans, Boston right-hander Dave Morehead no-hits the visiting Indians 2-1.  On the same day, the 100 loss bound ninth place Red Sox fire their GM, Pinky Higgins.” 

I found this statistic fascinating!   This day in history, 1965, your couldn’t GIVE away tickets to watch the Red Sox play at Fenway.   Only 1,247 showed up for the game!  Wow!   Times have changed and so has baseball.   I was in Boston in June and talked with a cabbie there, exuberant about the fact I got to see the game that day.  It’s  hard to get tickets to a game at Fenway Park these days.  On June 17, 2009, Red Sox fans were celebrating their 500th consecutive sellout at Fenway Park!  And this is a park with 33,871 night time seating capacity that had an average attendance of 37,811 in 2009!   Go figure. 

But on September 16, 1965, seating capacity for Fenway Park was 33,524.   Imagine going to a professional baseball game and you’re one of 1,247 fans.  That means there are 32,277 empty seats.  Whew!  You could even hear yourself holler, if there was anything to holler about.  I mean that season they ended up losing 100 games. 

It’s different now.  If you’ve ever been to Fenway you’ll get this.   Once you get nestled into your wood seat you don’t 

Fenway Park

dare move.   This is a small stadium and I’d estimate maybe 12,000 fans are mulling through the concessions stands and restrooms at any given time.  So once you leave your seat, figure about 45 minutes before you’ll get back again.  Best advice……do all your stuff before you sit!     So right now, today, Boston’s in 3rd place in their division, up and down this year.  But it really doesn’t matter.   Boston Red Sox fans are no longer fair weather fans.  They’ve had  winning seasons and  losing seasons since  1965 .  Not to worry.  They manage to sell those seats game after game, year after year.   And it’s one of the best stadiums in Major League Baseball!   I love Fenway Park.  I love the fans, the food, the team.  

Where’d the fans go?   They went right back to the park and that’s where they’ve been ever since, God love em! 

Back to New York, Yankee Stadium & the Mariners …..

Whew!   Finally getting back to finishing my June 29 blog.   It was Day 4 of our baseball tour, Mariners vs. Yankees.   I took time to post the stats and final score after the schlocking  the Mariners gave the Yankees, much to the thrill of our Pacific Northwest and Canadian fans onboard, but  fell asleep at 2:30 AM…….so here it is again, continued…..

Sitting in the Yankee Dugout!

 

Just wanted to take a minute to comment on the New Yankee Stadium.   Naturally, I’d expect it to be the best and the greatest since the Yankee organization has the money to do all these things.   But I can’t tell you how great it is to sit your bum on a ballpark seat that’s actually “comfortable”!  Who knew?    They were leather (seemed like it) padded seats with wriggle room to cross your legs.   It’s state of the art in every way.  Our seats were next to the Mariner bullpen and we spent a good deal of time watching Cliff Lee warm up.  This was great stuff whether a Yankee or Mariner fan!

This was a night game so we had the day to run around New York City, all by ourselves on the subway.  Whatta hoot!  We found our

Roxy's Reuben & Potato Salad

 

way to 42nd and Broadway street and were able to interact with some great street performers.  After getting some much needed help from one of NYPD’s finest, really, we ended up in the heaven of heavens, “Roxy’s Delicatessen” @ 46th and Broadway.  Our waiter was “Jess” and

Jess @ Roxy's Deli

 

he was the  ultimate New York City greeter!  Great service and sense of humor.   In downtown New York City.  Who knew?   

  Back at Yankee Stadium we had taken a tour of the park and

"We Remember" Plaque

 

one of the highlights was the “Gallery of Plaques” that included baseball history of course but also a plaque commemorating September 11th.   It was appropriate.  I remember cheering for the Yankees in 2001, just because, and this brought it all back to me.   New York and Yankee Stadium were one of my favorite parts of the trip.  That’s why I wanted to spend a little more time on this blog.  Fans either love or hate the Yankees, there’s rarely an in-between.   But the stadium as usual was packed!  Of course, we were thrilled to see the Mariners who are having a really lousy season, step up to the plate and sock it to em, but down deep I’ll always have a special place reserved for those dang Yankees.   Probably goes back to my Mickey Mantle  high school locker days (see my very first post).   All in all,  Tuesday, June 29, 2010, was a really great day!

Day 7. Cincinnati Reds vs. Chicago Cubs!

Friday, 7/2/2010.  1:20PM Game time   Left our hotel and boarded the bus this morning at 7:00AM so we’d have time to tour around Wrigley Field before the game started.  This is a very old and historic field with lots to do and see.   When we left for the tour one week ago I was told to be sure and try the “Italian Beef” roll at Wrigley, that ‘s the only place you can get the original “Italian Beef” so I set out to be sure and do just that.  And I did!   Whatta treat!   You can load it up with sweet and/or hot peppers and condiments of all kinds, but I chose to take just the beef on a bun with sweet peppers, because that’s what I was told to do!   It was exactly as described to me and I’ll be sure and thank those who recommended it. 

The most popular food at Wrigley I’m told, and it must be true if you look at the fans waiting in line, is the Chicago Dog!  But the dogs here are Ballpark Franks unlike the Nathans used at Yankee stadium and I think there’s a difference.  Maybe I was just a little more hungry at Yankee Stadium or could it possibly be that I’d already eaten that huge Italian Beef?    But officially the Chicago Dog is the food of choice at Wrigley Field!   Also prices are better here.  Hot dogs are $4.75 vs $5 – $7.50 at Yankee Stadium.

I really have to spend just a bit of time talking about the ballgame today.   Final score Cincinnati 12 – Chicago 0.  Ugghh……. Reds scored 8 runs in the 7th inning alone!    The  Reds went through their entire lineup in the 7th inning with only one hit before it all broke loose (this included 5 walks)!   What’s interesting here is the Cubs have lost 20 of their last 30 games but you’d never know it by looking in the stands.  Over 40,000 in attendance cheering as if this was a game of monumental importance in the standings.   Cubbie fans have a reputation of being rough and rowdy and I’ve experienced this before.  But not today.  Today these were  just loyal fans hoping for better from their beloved team.   It wasn’t there.   But I’ll bet tomorrow they’ll be back at the ballpark cheering the team on.    Lots of parks are losing attendance and it’s usually because the team is doing poorly, i.e., Baltimore Orioles.  The Oriole game we just saw  had around 25,000 in attendance.  This was a beautiful park with the visiting team (Washington Nationals)  located only a few miles away.  The stadium should have been packed.  So you have to hand it to the Chicago Cub fans.  They’re definitely not fair weather fans.   They love their Cubs!

I’ve always had this stereotype of Chicago in my mind that resembles inner-city slums and poverty.  Perhaps of recent we’ve been made to believe that or maybe it’s just the politics of the whole thing that slanted me in that direction.  In any event, don’t believe it.  Chicago has some beautiful areas and I tried to capture a few thru the bus windows as we were driving the Lakefront area on the way to the park.   That, along with the incredible skycraper landscapes, puts a whole new idea of Chicago in my mind.  Here are a few so you can get the idea.  If you’ve been to Chicago you already know this.   So there you have it!   We leave tomorrow morning for home and I’ll write some final notes on our trip! 

Day 6. Philadelphia Phillies vs. Pittsburgh Pirates!

Thursday, 7/1/2010.     Long day on the bus to get to a great ballpark and a great game!  Pirates won 4-2 as I remember.  We left this morning at 8:00AM   and arrived at PNC Park at 6PM after a couple of quick 20 minutes stops, rushed into the stadium to find our seating.  Whew!  Grueling day for most but honestly I slept most of the day so was ready to go once we got there!  The park itself was set on the river and directly opposite the Steelers football stadium.  We could stand at the concessions and look out over the river.   Really great views! 

This was the most accessible and user-friendly park to get around of all the parks we’ve been to so far.  Took about 5 minutes off the bus to our seats which is pretty amazing when you compare it to some of the marathon walks we’ve been through!   As far as ballpark food goes, the Fermenti Bros sandwich lays claim to the best food at PNC and they’re probably right!   This sandwich sure makes carrying it back to your seat “easy”.   It not only loads the bread with lots of deli sliced roast beef, but also layers the coleslaw, condiments AND french fries on the sandwich.  No kidding!   And they were lined up to get it!   The Quaker State BBQ Chicken looked great but had an awful sauce.  Big mistake so I was glad I got the smallest order.  It pays to listen to the locals!    As far as the game went, Pittsburgh has one of the worst records this year, and the Phillies are doing great.  But we were all compelled to cheer for the Pirates which I wanted to do anyhow.  So it was fun to hear the cheers and enthusiasm when they pulled it out in the end.  They were ahead the entire game but it was one of those “you score – I score” games and was never really comfortable until the end!   This is a great ballpark.   The backdrop looking out from the 3rd base line toward Right Field is spectacular, resembling a Hollywood backdrop of high rise buildings that look super-imposed, not the real thing!    We arrived here at our hotel after the evening game at 1:30AM and leave 7AM for Chicago.   It’s now 2:45AM so goodnight all!  Next stop Wrigley Field in Chicago!

Day 5. Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox!

Wednesday, 6/30/2010.   Arrived one of my favorite all time American cities, Boston, Massachusetts!  I skipped the scheduled tour of Fenway Park  in favor of a tour around town.   This started with the grand old Trolley Tour that took us to all the highlights of Boston and there are many!  30 Universitie and Colleges in Boston proper, and history of our founding fathers everywhere!   Boston Harbor and of course Fenway Park are always main attractions.  Fenway is a  grand old ballpark.  First thing I noticed was the big wood scoreboard over centerfield.  They still turn the scores by hand!   All the scores are kept current for other games throughout the day, and as the scores change, they reach out and manually put up the new numbers, in real time. as it happens.  Of course, they have  electronic scoreboards in other parts of the field, but my attention was focused on the old one.  Fascinating stuff in this age of super electronics.

The general consensus of the group is Red Sox fans are the best!   Well for sure they’re the friendliest.  Everywhere you go in Boston, not just at the ballpark, everyone wants to talk baseball.  Maybe it was just because it was a game day, I don’t know, but Bostononians love their Sox!   Even the Boston cops were approachable and friendly!   During the game they played “MTA” by the Kingston Trio which we all got a chuckle out of, having just arrived via the MTA.  We didn’t find it daunting at all, but very user friendly, especially compared to the New York subway system!  The game itself was somewhat of a disaster for the home fans, ending up 9 – 2 in favor of the Rays, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the Red Sox fans.  The sellout crowd (it’s been a sellout for the past 380 games we were told!) was friendly and chattering as we all left the stadium, no sign of letdown in their spirits.   This was a great place for a ballgame!

Everywhere, including at the ballpark, you hear the touts of a special “lobster roll” which is a pile of lobster mixed with a little mayo and celery on a sandwich roll.   It was a disappointment,  but the most popular and best tasting was the Kielbasa on a bun.  Big, fat, juicy and we were told later by the locals, that’s what local Boston fans want to be known for!  And now we know!

Boston harbor was bustling to get ready for their annual 4th of July celebration, fireworks loaded on barges in the harbor, and a general feeling of festivities.  That’s one thing to put on my list of things to do, spend the 4th of July with the Boston Pops live and in person!  It’s a great feeling of community spirit here and you can stop and talk with anyone on the street or in the subways and it’s a generally friendly feeling.    And now once again it’s 2:00AM!  Whew!  These late nights are tough since our bus takes off  again at 8:00AM for destination Pittsburg!   Haven’t had time to read a paper or watch the evening news for 5 days now!  It’ll be nice to find out what’s going on in the world.   Or maybe not.   It’s been a nice reprieve that’s for sure!  We’ll talk again tomorrow from Pittsburg!

Day 4. Seattle Mariners vs. New York Yankees!

Tuesday.  6/29/2010.   Tour of Yankee Stadium, Subway trip to 42nd Street, Broadway and Roxy’s Delicatessen!  And of course Mariners vs Yankees game!    I’ll blog on all this later  ~ traffic delays just got us to the hotel and it’s now 2:15AM!  There’s lots to write about, but not enough time since we’re leaving 9AM for Boston.   But notice today’s box scores below.  Great game and some very happy Mariner Fans in our group, not to mention we were shown on ESPN News after a Mariner home run landed in the middle of us!   Next time we’ll be sure and bring a mitt along!