Day 204 “Fenway Part 2”

The Hardons!
The Hardons!

Today I am back in Boston. I went to a game between Baltimore and Boston, not much of a game, Boston won, 10-6.  I got to see a family I met when I was in Cape Cod a couple months ago, the Hardons. They have been very encouraging since I met them and it was great to talk with them.

Fenway Park is my favorite MLB stadium and this was the second time I was here during this trip. I had the same visceral feeling, the history hit me; so, I didn’t watch a lot of the game. I wandered and caught the game from different site lines. I thought of the players, the most jimmyfundremembered and the forgotten, who played on the field.  I marveled at the how well the place has been maintained and improved. It is a museum. I had the urge to donate to the “Jimmy Fund” every time I walked by a donation station. Simple and unexploited, no sponsor was attached to it, it seems pure.  (Red Sox fans know about the Jimmy Fund)

Sponsorship has been a part of the game since its inception. I personally think is overdone.  Even at Fenway, I cringe at the signage on the Green Monster. Historically, the wall was always intended to have it; but, I just don’t like it.  When you walk and read all the brick walls, seeing the vintage signage that is painted on the brick, something hits you – or it does me.  I am a nostalgia freak admittedly, but it is an art form from “back in the day” to produce these commercial pieces. Today, we let a computer replicate such things, it feels empty.

fenwaysitelineI read somewhere that as you get older you tend to lose your interest in politics and start appreciating history since that is where you will eventually end up and this is happening to me with the game.  It is the history that I have chosen to embrace since it is so much apart of America.  I am excited to see what happens with Wrigley Field, with Fenway’s example, I am positive they will master the update.  I hope other gems, like Bosse Field in Evansville, Indiana, get the love and attention it needs.

newspaperfenwayThe day was cool, felt like fall was in the air. I wore a sweatshirt, pants and shoes for the first time in months.  I am fretting about the end of this journey. I still have well over a month left and I know I will get to the end of the regular baseball season.  I hope to be able to make it to the end for the World Series. That has always been the plan and I need a little bit of luck to do it.  The world has already conspired to make this trip happen, relatively easily.  I am starting to think what it is going to be like sleeping in a bed every day and taking a shower in my own place (also daily).  I hope that I continue in some capacity within baseball. I went into this without expectations, to say that I was void of all would be a lie, it has been a roller coaster of expectations, especially when I was getting interviewed every day.  We will see where I end up…

fenwayparkChad, my brother, has pushed and supported me throughout. He reminds me how important it is for me to finish.  I can honestly say that I have never had a moment where I said “What am I doing?”, until now.  Worry has crept in I admit; however, I have absolutely no regrets. I am doing something that very few people have done and maybe, none other than myself.  Why that is important, I will never know. I wish everyone could follow their passion. I’m just so grateful that I have had so many people supporting me.

Being at Fenway stirred up all the memories I have about the trip, things that I haven’t written about. I think of all the nights I have slept in the car. I would say, “More than 70% of the time.” I am so glad I made that decision to ‘camp out’, or I would never have been able to finish.  I have learned so much about the game, people, and especially myself.  I have been told that I am bold, brash, crazy, and fearless. May be when judged from the outside looking in, but there have been many days and nights I had to push myself through insecurities and fears. I do feel more confident. Fenway stirred all of this contemplation in me…

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014″, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at www.baseballbuddha.com.  Follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page! Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get.

Day 203 “Such a long season!”

Opening Day at Dodger Stadium!
Opening Day at Dodger Stadium!

Have you ever wondered why the MLB baseball season is so long?  Why do they play 162 games?

To answer the first question and part of the second, I think we need to go back to roughly 1904, the beginning of the “modern” era of baseball. At that time there was no one broadcasting games on the radio; but, newspapers had already been covering the sport for years. Some games were actually broadcast by telegraph to saloons. You have to think of baseball as daily entertainment. There was a recognition of the willingness of people to pay to see grown men play the game.  The entertainment choices were limited and the baseball owners were filling a need for the general public in a world without TV, Internet, and instant gratification.

The game grew in popularity with more and more people coming out to the ball park.  There were eight teams in the National League and eight teams in the American League.  Each team played their seven opponents in their league 22 times for a total of 154 games per season.

“In 1913 Western Union paid each team $17,000 per year over five years for the rights to broadcast the games. The movie industry purchased the rights to film and show the highlights of the 1910 World Series for $500. In 1911 the owners managed to increase that rights fee to $3500.”  (The Economic History of Major League Baseball)

With the advent of radio, more people were exposed to the game.  On August 5th, 1921, Harold Arlin of KDKA, broadcast the first baseball game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies (Pirates won, 8-5).  The MLB owners originally saw radio as a threat to the value of their franchises. They resisted putting their games on the radio for fear that customers would stay home to listen to the game for free rather than come to the park. Owners soon realized that this media only helped the popularity of the game.  More and more people came out and listened to the games. The schedule of 154 games was optimal for entertainment and financial purposes. However, the long schedule did something else that a shorter schedule would stymie. Teams would need both skill and endurance in order to win. Luck was less of a factor.

So to that end, the test of a champion would be performing consistently over an entire season. The long season taxes the pitching staff and the bench has to contribute. If it was one game a week like football, one good starting pitcher could carry a team a long way. Baseball might be less demanding physically but it more than makes up for it with the mental game.  My buddy, Dan (Ante), loves to point out that it is a marathon and not a sprint. I wholeheartedly agree with him. Also, this shows why the entire organization needs to be on the same page during the season. A team might consist of the 25 players that are shown on their roster; but, if they don’t have players in their pipeline at the different levels to come up, you will not win consistently.    It has always been an organizational championship, one player will never make or break a team in baseball.

Save the season of 1919, the 154 game schedule didn’t changed until 1961. In 1961 the American League expanded to 10 teams, playing their nine opponent’s 18 times each.  The following year the National League expanded to 10 teams and they switched to the 162 game schedule.  As the MLB has evolved over the years, the formula has changed on how the schedule is comprised.  Today every team now plays 19 games against each of 4 opponents within its division (76 games), and six or seven games against each of the 10 opponents from other divisions (66 games), plus 20 interleague games.

I hope I gave some clarification to those questions. The MLB season is a long one and I think the teams that make the playoffs year in and year out, for the most part, deserve to be there.  I didn’t touch on the preponderance of some teams that can afford to buy enough talent to put them on the cusp every year.  I wanted to try and answer why baseball has a long season and the amount of games it has settled on.

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014″, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at www.baseballbuddha.com.  Follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page! Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get.

 

 

 

Day 202 “Derek Jeter Day”

Gate 2As I sat and watched the happenings at Yankee Stadium along with 50,000 other people on Derek Jeter Day in the City of New York, I invariable had to wonder why this man connected with so many people. People were spending hundreds of dollars to buy shirts, hats and other trinkets celebrating his career. I wanted to get to the stadium early since I didn’t have a ticket. I figured three hours before game time would give me plenty of time to find a parking spot and a ticket, wrong…  Traffic was a nightmare!  I did feel smarter than the average fan, however. I went a different way than the “normal” way to the stadium.  I was shocked at the site when I arrived, the entire place was encircled with fans.

people2I pulled into the parking structure across the street and a worker handing out the parking passes said, “Why does he have to retire?” As the gate opened, I responded in wonderment at the crush of people by just saying, “This is insane!”  I worried that I wouldn’t be able to get a ticket. There were lines of people everywhere. But, to my amazement, I was able to walk right up to the ticket window and purchase a ticket.  I asked for the “cheapest” ticket, “The cheapest I have is $95” the guy said behind the window, I was skeptical. He gave me that attitude you only seem to find in the Northeast, I paid the $95. What was I going to do?  This would be an expensive day, $35 for parking also. (I am getting to the end of the trip and I am starting to worry everyday about money, it is what it is…)

store2As I walked around the inside of the stadium and watched the lines of people purchasing all the nostalgia of this day, I started getting swept up in the emotion of it all.  People were buying a piece of history, at least that’s what they thought. Someone asked if there was any game day programs left, the vendor said, “No.” He then mentioned that they were already selling on Ebay for $80.  I laughed at the thought of how fast people want to profit. The energy was abundant, I would look at a “cool” t-shirt to buy and then realize it was just this energy and emotion that was tempting me.  I had already been given a commemorative coin when I walked in, that would have to suffice.

When the ceremony started to honor Jeter, I watched the fans. I could see in their eyes that they felt they knew him, that they had history with him, that he was their brother, hero and inspiration.  Derek Jeter is an entertainer and a showman. He managed his image meticulously. But, to be able to do what he has done, he had to be a man with incredible talent and humility. I loved the pageantry. New York City proclaimed September 7th, 2014, Derek Jeter Day. 50,000 people showed up early to a game to honor him. Old teammates of years gone by where there, along with ‘Legends” of other sports who also made appearances. Memories of championships, great plays and other moments played out on the big screen in centerfield.

banner2I was being thoroughly entertained, the moment was big, this was the Yankees. Of course, Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Maris, Jackson; and now, Jeter.  I was trying to be nostalgic of another time and era, before social media in my thoughts. I took in the moment from my vantage point. I was grateful that I got to witness this grand moment. I got to hear the fans, the noise and then it was over. The game was played, Jeter got a hit in his first at bat, the Yankees lost, 2-0, to the Royals. I didn’t feel bad, he had already won five World Series Championships. I did laughed at some of the comments of fans about other players, they were harsh, critical and some were mean.  Throughout the game the stadium slowly emptied. I didn’t understand why because the Yankees are having a good year, not great but good, and still might make the playoffs. I guess expectations are just different here…

Baseball is an emotional sport for fans. Their attachment and expectations of players, rise and fall on every play and game. Some players are easy scapegoats and some turn into legends that can do no wrong.  To understand why people get so emotional is probably a pointless exercise. I know that I have a physical reaction to the energy I feel when at, and during, games. I enjoy the feeling which helps me stay in the moment and that is probably what most people feel. That feeling helps us stay connected to one another, that is why we need hero’s in our sports.  Thank you, Derek Jeter!

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014″, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at www.baseballbuddha.com.  Follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page! Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get.

Day 201″Family and Friend Section!”

Nationals Family and Friends Section...
Nationals Family and Friends Section…

I went to see the Washington Nationals the last two days.  I had a great experience on Friday night and this afternoon. I sat in the players’ family and friend section.  I have to thank Pam LePlavy and her sister Mandy Zimmermann for hooking me up with tickets (Mandy is married to Jordan, Pam is part of Oredocker Nation). I had a fun time sitting with a college friend, Anthony Rendon, Nationals third baseman and a friend of Nationals centerfielder, Denard Span.

Racing Presidents at the Nationals game!
Racing Presidents at the Nationals game!

It was interesting to get to talk with both and to hear some behind the scenes stuff; especially, since both Rendon and Span had great nights at the plate, with each being involved in plays that cost the Nationals runs.

I am not going to write too much tonight. It was very hot and humid today, I am worn out and want to get some sleep. I will be at the Yankees game tomorrow. They are retiring Derek Jeter’s number, so I need to get there early to find some decent parking, and hopefully, won’t have to pay too much for a ticket.

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014″, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at www.baseballbuddha.com. Follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page! Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get.

 

 

Day 198, 199 and 200 “What I remember…”

bbpicI am happy to report that I accomplished one of the goals I had when I began this journey.  I wanted to get to a game in each of the continental 48 States. I complied a list of the first game I saw in each state and what I remember about the experience.

Alabama-AL Game 73, played April 21 in Birmingham. A Double-A MiLB game between the Tennessee Lookouts and Birmingham Barons. The Lookouts beat the Barons, 10-5. It was a day game and I got a home run ball!

Arizona-AZ Game 45, played March 25 in Phoenix.  A Cactus League Spring Training game between the San Francisco Giants and the Milwaukee Brewers.  I met my buddy Jared and his family at the game.  The Giants beat the Brewers, 4-3.  The Brewers are my hometown team and of course my favorite.

Arkansas-AR Game 94, played May 12 in Little Rock. A Double-A MiLB game between the NW Arkansas Naturals and the Arkansas Travelers. The Naturals beat the Travelers in extra innings, 6-5.  The game finished about midnight and I had to drive about three hours and it started storming as I was running to my car.

California-CA Game 50, played March 30 in San Diego.  This was Opening Night of the MLB season between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres. Unfortunately the Padres beat the Dodgers, 3-1.  (I am a Dodgers fan…)  This was also my very first opening day anywhere.

April28th 379Colorado-CO Game 63, played April 12 in Grand Junction. A NCAA D2 college game between Metro State (Denver) and Colorado Mesa. Colorado Mesa won, 10-3. This was the first game of a doubleheader and I met “The Pit”, one of my top experiences.

Connecticut-CT Game 210, played August 25 in Norwich. A Short Season Single-A MiLB game between the Lowell Spinners and the Connecticut Tigers.  The Spinners beat the Tigers, 7-3.

Delaware-DE Game 211, played August 26 in Wilmington. A Short Season Single-A MiLB game between the Potomac Nationals and the Wilmington Blue Rocks.  The Nationals beat the Blue Rocks, 3-1.

Florida-FL Game 1, played February 14 in Port Charlotte. A NCAA D1 college game between the University of Auburn and Indiana State. Auburn prevailed 4-0.  This game was the official start of the Baseball in America Tour 2014. It was also Valentines Day!

Georgia-GA Game 75, played April 23 in Suwanee. A high school game between Johns Creek HS and Lambert HS. Lambert prevailed, 9-3, and at the time they were the top ranked high school team in the nation. I was walking around acting like a scout and I remember being impressed with Johns Creek catcher.

Idaho-ID Game 185, played August 3 in Boise. A Short Season Single-A MiLB game between the Vancouver Canadians and the Boise Hawks.  The Hawks beat the Canadians, 3-2. This was a Sunday afternoon game where I got two foul balls.

Illinois-IL Game 132, played June 15 in Chicago. This was a MLB game between the Kansas City Royals and the Chicago White Sox. The Royals beat the White Sox, 6-3.  It was a Sunday afternoon game, I was tired from the day and night before in Milwaukee.

Indiana-IN Game 101, played May 19 in Evansville. A high school game between North HS and Mater Dei HS both of Evansville, a rivalry game.  Mater Dei beat North, 7-3.  This game was played at Bosse Field, one of my top stadium choices.

Iowa-IA Game 141, played June 23 in Des Moines. A MiLB game between the Albuquerque Isotopes and the Iowa Cubs.  The Cubs beat the Isotopes, 4-3.  I was tired and it was a day game. There was lots of kids in the stands from the local day care facilities.

asgticketsKansas-KS Game 98, played May 16 in Manhattan. A NCAA D1 game between the University of Texas and Kansas State. Texas destroyed K-State, 12-0.  It was a no hitter, raining and I found a practice ball under the bleachers.

Kentucky-KY Game 102, played May 20 in Lexington. A MiLB Single-A game between the Hagerstown Suns and the Lexington Legends. The Suns soundly defeated the Legends, 11-3.  I was reading a book before the game near the bullpen and almost got hit by a warm up pitch that was overflown. The pitcher allowed me to keep the ball.

Louisiana-LA Game 42, played March 23 in Baton Rouge.  It was a college game between the University of Georgia and Louisiana State University.  LSU won, 2-1. I slept in Tiger Stadium parking lot and was amazed at the turn out for a college baseball game.

Maine-ME Game 154, played July 5 in Portland. A MiLB Double-A game between the New Britain Rock Cats and the Portland Sea Dogs.  The Sea Dogs shutout the Rock Cats, 4-0.  I changed my schedule for this one on the spur of the moment so I could I could get Maine checked off the list. It was the first game of a doubleheader.

Maryland-MD Game 219, played September 3 in Baltimore. A MLB game between Cincinnati Reds and the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles won, 6-0.  This completed the goal of getting to a game in all of the continental 48 states during the Baseball in America Tour 2014.

peter gammonsMassachusetts-MA Game 152, played July 3 in Hyannis.  This was a college summer wooden bat league game between the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox and the Hyannis Harbor Hawks. The Red Sox beat the Harbor Hawks, 8-2.  I was very excited to be at this game; however, traffic was a nightmare! Loved the atmosphere of the game and it is one of my top experiences.

Michigan-MI Game 133, played June 16 in Detroit. A MLB game between the Kansas City Royals and the Detroit Tigers. The Royals beat the Tigers, 11-8. I remember sitting in the last row behind home plate on a beautiful night for baseball. I had a great view of the city.

Minnesota-MN Game 117, played June 2 in Mankato.  This was a college summer wooden bat league game between the Wilmar Stingers and the Mankato Moon Dogs.  The Moon Dogs won handily over the Stingers, 10-2. The night was cloudy and I enjoyed a fish fry at local bar even though it was Monday. And, a plus of the day, the waitress was very attractive.

Mississippi-MS Game 72, played April 20 in Hattiesburg. A NCAA D1 game between Louisiana Tech and the Southern Miss University. I was treated like a “Rock Star”, I was interviewed on the local TV station and I got to meet Hall of fame punter Ray Guy. I had a great time in “The Roost” on Easter Sunday.

Missouri-MO Game 99, played May 17 in Kansas City. A MLB game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Kansas City Royals. The Royals won in a great pitchers dual, 1-0.  The pitcher for KC was perfect through 6 2/3 innings and I also got to meet the KC Super Fan.

Montana-MT Game 170, played July 20 in Billings. This was an American Legion game between Medicine Hat (Canada) and the Billings Scarlets.  Billings hung on to win the game, 9-7.  It was the first game of a double header and I was interviewed by the local newspaper.

Nebraska-NE Game 136, played June 19 in Omaha. A NCAA D1 game between the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) and Texas Christian University (TCU).  Ole Miss won over TCU, 6-4.  This was at the College World Series. I changed my schedule to come early to the CWS and I had a Press Pass for the next day.

Nevada-NV Game 56, played April 5 in Las Vegas. A MiLB Triple-A game between the Fresno Grizzlies and the Las Vegas 51’s.  The Grizzlies scored 7 runs, with two outs on the board, in the top of the ninth to win, 8-6. This was Opening Night for MiLB. The Wisconsin Badgers got beat by the Kentucky Wildcats in the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament.

press box rowNew Hampshire-NH Game 212, played August 27 in Manchester. A MiLB Single-A game between Harrisburg Senators and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.  The Senators beat the Fisher Cats, 9-6.  I was interviewed during the fifth inning by the Fisher Cats play by play announcer.

New Jersey-NJ Game 205, played August 22 in Lakewood. A MiLB Single-A game between the Delmarva Shorebirds and the Lakewood Blue Claws. The Blue Claws had a shutout over the Shorebirds, 4-0. This day got switched around. I was suppose to go to Montclair, but changed it to Trenton since it was closer. When I arrived, I realized they were out of town, luckily Lakewood was close by and playing at home.

New Mexico-NM Game 66, played April 14 in Albuquerque. A MiLB Triple-A game between the Tacoma Rainiers and the Albuquerque Isotopes. The Rainiers were triumphant, 8-6, over the Isotopes.  I remember having my first funnel cake made by the great ladies on the third base side, along with being impressed with the guy making Banana Foster behind home plate.

New York-NY Game 151, played July 2 in Utica. This was a college summer wooden bat league game between the Elmira Pioneers and the Utica Brewers. The Pioneers defeated the Brewers, 4-0, in a rain shortened affair. I was interviewed by the local news.

North Carolina-NC Game 106, played May 23 in Charlotte. A MiLB Triple-A game between the Indianapolis Indians and the Charlotte Knights. The Indians hammered the Knights, 15-6.  The stadium was new and beautiful. I was also interviewed by the local news.

North Dakota-ND Game 122, played June 7 in Fargo. This was an Independent Professional league game in the American Association between the Winnipeg Goldeyes and the Fargo Morehead RedHawks. The RedHawks outlasted the Goldeyes, 4-2.  I was surprised at the size of the crowd for the game and there were lines of fans because it was “Jersey” night.

Adam and Anthony
Adam and Anthony

Ohio-OH Game 108, played May 25 in Cincinnati. A MLB game between the St Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds.  The Cardinals defeated the Reds, 4-0, behind a great pitching performance by Adam Wainwright. Charlie Sheen was at the game and I was interviewed by ESPN in front of the stadium.

Oklahoma-OK Game 95, played May 23 in Oklahoma City. A MiLB Triple-A game between the Colorado Sky Sox and the Oklahoma City RedHawks. The RedHawks beat the Sky Sox, 1-0. It was a day game and I was interviewed by the play by play announcer for his pregame show. The stadium was packed with school children.

Oregon-OR Game 179, played July 28 in Salem. A MiLB Short Season Single-A game between the Eugene Gems and the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. The Volcanoes defeated the Gems, 5-3.  I sat on a picnic table near the bullpen on the third base side. I was impressed with the amount of merchandise in the team store.

Pennsylvania-PA Game 149, played June 30 in Erie. A MiLB Double-A game between the Akron Rubber Ducks and the Erie Sea Wolves. The Rubber Ducks destroyed the Sea Wolves, 9-1. I sat in the Press Box, “Geeked the Game” and parked directly across the street.

Rhode Island-RI Game 214, played August 29 in Pawtucket. A MiLB Triple A game between the Syracuse Chiefs and the Pawtucket Red Sox. The Red Sox beat the Chiefs in a close game, 2-1.  I gave blood before the game.

South Carolina-SC Game 78, played April 26 in Clemson. A NCAA D1 game between the University of Miami and Clemson University. Miami beat Clemson, 3-2.  I sat in the Cheap Seats and camped out on campus with a great group of people.  We had late night tacos. One of my top experiences.

South Dakota-SD Game 167, played July 17 in Sioux Falls. This was a Independent Professional league in the American Association between the Laredo Lemurs and the Sioux Falls Explorers. The Lemurs squeaked out the win over the Explorers, 1-0. I was interviewed by a local tv station and by the play by play announcer.

Tennessee-TN Game 76, played April 24 in Chattanooga. A MiLB Double-A league game between the Birmingham Barons and the Chattanooga Lookouts. The Lookouts outlasted the Barons, 5-4. The stadium was on top of a hill, with an outside escalator and there was pollen on everything!

Texas-TX Game 43, played March 23 in College Station. A NCAA D1 game between the University of Florida and Texas A&M. Texas A&M wins over Florida, 4-3. It was a chilly windy Sunday afternoon game and the students kept yelling something when the Florida catcher patted the pitchers ass. (“You need a cigarette?”)

modelsUtah-UT Game 61, played April 10 in Salt Lake City. A MiLB Triple-A game between the Fresno Grizzlies and the Salt Lake Bees. The Grizzlies hammered the Bees, 11-4.  I remember that an outfielder slide head first into the wall and the ambulance had to come on the field.  Also, the walk back to the motel was a bit unnerving with meth heads and house everywhere.

Vermont-VT Game 217, played September 1 in Burlington. A MiLB Short Season Single-A game between the Tri City Valley Cats and the Vermont Lake Monsters. The Valley Cats beat the Lake Monsters, 3-2. I loved the old stadium and the downtown area.

Virginia-VA Game 203, played August 20 in Richmond. A MiLB Double-A game between the New Britain Rock Cats and the Richmond Flying Squirrels. It wasn’t much of a game the Rock Cats won, 7-0.  The stadium was built in the early 80’s. I sat in the Press Box and was treated exceptional well by Richmond.

Washington-WA   Game 174, played July 23rd in Yakima.  This was a college summer wooden bat league game between the Bellingham Bells and Yakima Valley Pippins.  The Bells held on to defeat the Pippins 5-4.   I was interviewed by the play by play announcer.

West Virginia-WV Game 204, played August 21 in Princeton. A MiLB Rookie league game between the Greenville Astros and the Princeton Jays. The Jays held to get the shutout over the Astros, 1-0. This game started late because of rain and I was worried that it won’t be played. This was the only day I was scheduled in West Virginia. I helped take the tarp off the field.

Greg BrockWisconsin-WI Game 110, played May 27 in Milwaukee. This was a MLB game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers beat the Orioles, 7-6.  It was the first time I was home during the trip, I went to the game by myself.

Wyoming-WY Game 169, played July 19 in Casper. This was a college summer wooden bat league game between Sterling and the Casper Cutthroats. The Cutthroats pulled out the win in extra innings, 6-5.  I was interviewed by the local TV station and watched a lot of the game with the owner of the Cutthroats.

That is my ‘collection synopsis’ of memories at each game I attended, what I saw or did, in each of our 48 States. It took me ten hours to compile this; so, if you read all the way down to here – I “thank you!”

Day 197 “Just weird and blah…”

I had this text exchange with a friend of mine a few weeks ago, he was obviously in New York and I was hoping that he had a positive take on the ballpark:

Me: How was Yankee Stadium?

Friend: Yankees Stadium was the worst!

Me: That bad, I haven’t heard good things.

Friend: Just weird and blah.

Yankee corridorThe new stadium is meant to be very similar in design to the original Yankee Stadium, both in its original 1923 state and its post-renovation state in 1976. The exterior resembles the original look of the 1923 Yankee Stadium.  I never attended a ball game at the old Yankee Stadium but when I came out of the parking structure and took my first look at the new Yankee Stadium I was impressed. I was confused by what I had heard from my friend and from others.  I decided to walk around the entire structure to get a feel for it and the neighborhood.

New York City is probably the only city that has ever intimidated me. I don’t know why, it just does. I have driven around the city a few times and it confuses me. I am constantly worried about getting lost. I have never worried like that in Chicago, Los Angeles, or Delhi.  I have been “around” the city about four times, I am getting comfortable; anyway, I walked around the stadium.  The stadium seemed out of place. Here was this majestic structure in a run down area.  I looked at the new park that was built where the old Yankee Stadium stood and it was a beautiful. The parking structure had a soccer field built on top of it and, also, a baseball field where kids were playing.

yankee stadiumI went and purchased the “cheapest” ticket I could get, $26 in the upper deck. The guy that sold it to me seemed to be having a bad day or didn’t like his job.  There was security and a large police presence. Three hours before game time, so I went and found a restaurant where I could kill some time.  I walked into a sports bar across the street. Nobody was in it, I stood at the bar.  Two attractive bartenders gave me the “low down” about the neighborhood and on non-Yankees days it isn’t recommended to come down to the South Bronx. The blonde told me she lived in North Bronx, “More expensive rent, but safer.” she said.  People started filing in after awhile with those that probably don’t live in the neighborhood.

Baseball field where the old Yankee Stadium was...
Baseball field where the old Yankee Stadium was…

I stood outside the stadium to people watch and it was an interesting dichotomy with people and ‘things’ converging.  There were uncomfortable glances. A man touched his back pocket to reassure himself, a guy was repeating loudly and quickly “Water! Only a dollar.” I asked him how much the water was, he said,”a dollar.” I thanked him and he looked at me confused, then smiled.  People who lived in the neighborhood were selling their wares across the street, non-residents were trying to get into the stadium.  Police congregated in groups of four, but they were relaxed. I decided to go in, there was a large impressive corridor where banners hung and approved merchandise was being sold. I liked everything so far. Then, I went into the field area and quickly realized what people meant by “blah.” It was blah. I expected more. This is the most successful MLB franchise and this is New York, where was the cutting edge design?  It was a bad idea to try and replicate the old Yankee Stadium, besides that you can’t move history. I felt nothing when I walked in, the history is across the street.

Jeter!
Jeter!

As far as watching the game, I enjoyed it and loved the vibrations when the train rumbled along side the stadium. The view of the city let my imagination run and the fans were taking multitudes of pictures of Derek Jeter; which, I joined in.  It was a humid night, perfect baseball weather.  I will be back to Yankee Stadium, I hope my critical eye eases…

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014″, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at www.baseballbuddha.com. Follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page! Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get.

Day 196 “You little prick!”

“You have to contact us in advance, we can’t give out Media Passes to just anyone” the guy said this to me from behind the security glass at the Will Call window. He was showing the intern how to handle a situation firmly and with an air of authority.  I had now become annoyed and the young woman had already given me a Media Pass. I could have taken it but it didn’t have my name on it and she looked uncomfortable.  I looked at the guy, gave him my best “whatever you little prick” look and said, “I understand”. I walked away saying, “asshole”, to no one in particular.  I text Roger. He sends me the email from the week before they didn’t respond to. So, back to the Will Call window again to show the “little prick” I had contacted them in advance. His boss sends me to the Administration Offices and I ask for the guy that didn’t respond.  The intern in reception makes a couple of calls, then tells me that ‘my guy’ is busy, but another guy is coming to talk to me.

Sandra, Kiley and Me!
Sandra, Kiley and Me!

This big guy walks out. When I say ‘big’, think “bouncer” big.  “I am Rick Medeiros, Director of Security, what can I help you with”, he says.  “Are you throwing me out of here?” I asked, kinda nervous now. My “I am the Baseball Buddha” arrogance was fading fast. Rick was disarmingly polite and he explained that I can’t get a Media Pass even though I requested one in time.  He explained there was not enough time to look into my website, and further stated, “You can’t be too careful now-a-days.”  Rick tells me that he would get me a ticket; and, if I need access to anything to let him know when I am at the game. I felt it was a win. Rick made me feel welcome. “Pick the ticket up at Will Call, should be there by 4:30.” It is 2:30 p.m. and I now have two hours to kill.  I like to write in the Press Box before the games; but, today I can’t. I see a Mobile Blood Center in the Paw Sox parking lot, so I decide to donate some blood.

“Do you know what a Bubbler is?” asks the nurse as she pricks my finger to test my blood. I look at her with a “Of course I know what a bubbler is” expression. “I do”, I said, “I am from Wisconsin”… We had been talking about Rhode Islandism’s, I figured she was switching to Wisconsinism’s.  “It is a water fountain” I said proudly. “YES”, she exclaims and smiles broadly. I was confused as she was. I told her in Wisconsin we call it that. She said, “In Rhode Island, that’s what we call it.” She tells everyone on the bus when they are sticking me with the needle and taking my blood.  Everyone feels good about being from Rhode Island and Wisconsin; now, we are connected in a very small way.

Kiley's first pitch!
Kiley’s first pitch!

The door opens and a couple of ladies walk in with four kids. One kid says he doesn’t like seeing blood. I tell him, “It isn’t that bad.” His Mom tells me about his sister Kiley, who she is holding, who has Leukemia. The Blood Drive is in Kiley’s honor. My demeanor changes. Kiley, her mom, Sandra and I take a selfie.  Kiley is three years old and she is throwing out the first pitch at the game. I instantly think of my daughter Sami. I try to imagine what Kiley’s family has gone through.  I ask Sandra if I can talk to her when the game starts and she agrees.  ALS, Cerebral Palsy and now Leukemia I think after they leave, I am getting an education.

Autographs seekers!
Autographs seekers!

I walk around the stadium after I pick up my ticket. I don’t want to like this venue; but, I am open to liking it after I spoke to Rick.  I think of Kiley, and think to myself, “Get your ego in check. You are living a charmed life at the moment”.  I see smiles on peoples faces, the place is filling up. The Paw Sox are a big part of the community and the ushers are very pleasant .  The stadium is old but remodeled and I really like what they have done. People are hanging things over the railing into the dugouts for players to sign. I must admit, I have never seen that before. But, what a great tradition.  I read about the history of the place, the longest game ever played happened here in 1981. I let go of the minor blow to the ego and the sternness of the “little prick”.

Kiley's family!
Kiley’s family!

I sent a text to Sandra as I watch Kiley throw out the first pitch. Sandra texts me back and go to meet up with her, and her family, sitting under the Press Box behind home plate.  She tells me how traumatic it is to hear your child has Leukemia. She wants to fix it, but doesn’t know how. Friends ask what they can do for Kiley who needs tons of blood products. Therefore, the many blood drives in Kiley’s honor. Sandra is smiling and she tells me about how the Paw Sox have a night when families can camp in the outfield. The movie “Angels in the Outfield” is shown on the big screen, and all one sees is a “sea of tents” and “they have coffee waiting in the morning”, she tells me. All for free.  I concede to myself that it was all me and my arrogance, my first impression was wrong.  I thank Sandra for sharing her stories. She tells me, “Kiley will survive. All of the Leukemia is gone; but, she still has another year of preventive treatment.”  I think of Mike, my brother-in-law, and thank him in my head. He has donated every eight weeks for decades.

Vinny and Keith!
Vinny and Keith!

I walk around the entire park I talk to Vinny and Keith Morris, who grew up across the street from McCoy Stadium. The two of them tell me stories about being a kid and playing ball in the parking lot and in the streets. They used to collect practice home run balls. If you turned them in you could get a ticket for that night’s game. They spent their entire childhood here.  The place has history and I want to come back sometime. I am glad I was wrong. Thank you Pawtucket Red Sox, you were a lot more forgiving than I was initially. You have a great stadium, wonderful history and beautiful fans. Baseball is happiness…

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014″, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at www.baseballbuddha.com. Follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page! Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get.