Part 4 : Leading Off

Boston Red Sox: Fenway Park

May 4th, 2014. Oakland defeats Boston in extra innings.

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Fenway Park is what we consider the trip that truly started our stadium tour. Roger’s Centre doesn’t count as we live in Toronto and Montreal is just exhibition games. Fenway is our “Lead off” stadium in regards to travelling across America to experience a home game for every MLB team. My wife had been before whereas I was completely new to Boston. We hadn’t yet developed our traditions when we visited Fenway. There is no picture standing in front of the stadium name sign, we didn’t buy a shot glass and we didn’t try to find it’s unique food (I think I just had a pretzel). It was such a good experience we both thought we have to see more stadiums. Fenway is a great park even for those that are not big baseball fans as the it is such an iconic part of history of sport and in many respects American culture. You can’t help but feel the importance of Fenway when attending a game.

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We stayed in a hotel in downtown Boston and was able to walk to the stadium so I’m not sure how easy it is to get to using transit. The area around the stadium is a great place to chill and grab some food and drink either before or after a game. When we entered the stadium after a couple of rounds at a nearby bar we walked around a bit and found our seats. We had some a great spot for the game but it did seem like there were some seats with pretty obstructed views due to the supports for the second level, perhaps one of the few negatives of an old stadium. The other being I had to walk quite the distance to find a restroom during the game. I suppose in that regard newer stadiums are designed with those things in mind. Fenway is obviously famous for it’s green monster (or as I call it after a few beers by mistake the “Green Giant”) and it’s strange outfield dimensions. It was cool to see it in person and to see just how different and game changing it is.

The game took place on Mother’s day. They had a special ceremony before the game featuring Red Sox Mascot Wally and Wally’s Mother and Father. The mother and father costumes were actually pretty funny, the mother was just a Wally costume with lipstick and a purse and I think the Father costume was a Wally costume but with a mustache and dad shirt. The game got underway and we saw the Word Series Champions the Boston Red Sox take on the Oakland Athletics. The game would end up going into extra innings and it was so cold that day we actually debated leaving. Of course we did end up staying for the end of that game when Oakland defeated Boston.

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Seeing a game at Fenway was a great experience. Despite not having the most modern amenities and having super bad weather that day we had a great time. In fact we had a great weekend experiencing all that the city of Boston has to offer and look forward to returning again someday. If you are looking to do a bunch of stadiums in a road trip the next closest parks to Boston would be the two New York teams and then Philadelphia.

Completed Stadiums: 2 of 30

To see the current completion status of our baseball stadium tour Click Here

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Part 3: The Pre-Season

Olympique Stadium – Exhibition Game Jays vs Mets

March 29th, 2014. Blue Jays shut out the Mets 2-0.


Our journey across America to see all 30 current MLB stadiums continues in none other than non-America aka Canada where we visited a former MLB stadium but more importantly a former Olympic stadium. While not part of the official stadium 30 park tour it was a cool place to check out a pre-season game.

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Fun Fact: Montreal Tower is the tallest inclined tower in the world.

Right away Olympique Stadium or “Big O” appears to be fairly dated. Other than the giant inclined tower (Montreal Tower) coming out of the base of the stadium the whole thing is a standard giant concrete donut.  The inside is much of the same, even the  vendors look like they haven’t updated their food pictures since the 1970s.

While we like to get to stadiums a couple hours before game time, this day we were running late a got there maybe 10 minutes before first pitch. And when we got there it looked like they had only recently opened the doors as there was an insane mass of people still trying to get to their seats through the one main entrance. We got through the doors as the national anthems were playing, grabbed beers and went looking for our seats. Now the problem with this stadium is that it is divided by odds and even sections. So when we entered and was looking for section 449(I don’t remember the actual section) we saw 408 and then 410 to our left so we figured numbers went up to our left. We got all the way to something like section 450 in far left field along with many other confused fans before we realized we were actually supposed to be in the exact opposite spot in right field. And there is no walkway crossing the outfield so we had to go around the entire stadium. In our defense the directions in the stadium are all in French, plus splitting odds and evens on opposite sides of a park is really nonsensical. For all you people reading this working in the numbering stadium section business please just number them 1,2,3,4,5 in order.

While we missed the top half of the first trying to find our seats the rest of the game was a lot of fun. Crowd was a mix of Toronto fans and Expos fans. There were a couple of times during the game the Montreal(ites?) started “let’s go expos” chants. I didn’t have the heart to tell those drunk fans the expos aren’t a thing anymore. The game ended with a Jay’s win because it was pre-season and it didn’t matter. There is only one exit from the stadium so it takes forever for 50,000 people to get out. And then there’s a subway station that is not designed to handle nearly enough people that it needs to. When we got to the station after the game it looked like a 30 minute line just to get in so we ended up walking.

 

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While we usually like to get some food at stadiums we visit we didn’t get a chance this particular time. Which is fine considering Montreal has some great food options so filling up on hotdogs and popcorn may not be the best idea. If you have never been to Montreal you’ll want to get some smoked meat sandwiches and some poutine at some point during your stay. For you Americans if you’ve never had good poutine or any poutine for that matter, it will change your life, proceed with caution.

While I liked visiting Olympique Stadium, it’s not really something I feel the need to do again. The stadium is not well designed for baseball and Montreal isn’t exactly a baseball town so unless you are a Jay’s fan wanting to see pre-season games you might be disappointed in the experience. If you do go you’ll likely enjoy the other aspects of the city which I visited a couple times since this trip.

Completed stadiums: 1 of 30

To see the current completion status of our baseball stadium tour Click Here

Part 2: Home Field Advantage

Toronto Blue Jays: Rogers Centre

June 19th, 2013. Toronto defeats Colorado 5-2 for the sweep. (Our first game together)


Being from TO we never really consider Toronto to be a part of the tour, as the motivation for the tour is to travel around America to see parks we wouldn’t otherwise see. We have been to Rogers Centre, formally known as the Skydome, collectively hundreds of times. While it may not seem like an all impressive stadium to us, the general consensus is… we’re right it’s not the impressive. The stadium was built in 1989 and unfortunately it shows. Compared to the newer stadiums in the league Rogers Centre is aesthetically sad to say, not in the same league. However for many reasons Rogers Centre has plenty to offer for a great visit.

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One of the big pluses for Rogers Centre is the retractable roof. Retractable roofs are invaluable when planning baseball trips, nothing worse then spending money on tickets and hotel rooms only to have the game postponed for rain. The other very attractive quality for road trippers is the location. Rogers Centre is in the heart of the greatest city in Canada and the earth. For you Americans keep in mind when you visit Rogers Centre(not Center) you’ll get more for your American buck. And there are a number of great city attractions within walking distance of the stadium. You can check out Ripley’s Aquarium directly across the stadium or even the CN tower which overlooks the field. If you are a fan of sports other than baseball you may also want to walk over to the hockey hall of fame. These are just a few things to check out, there are countless other options that cover whatever might interest you.

Now enough about the greatest city ever, what can you actually expect at a Jay’s game you ask? Well for one thing, Toronto has no problem with fan attendance. The last couple seasons we’ve had the highest attendance in the American League. Which many people may find surprising thinking Toronto is just a hockey town. Although to be fair the stadium has a hockey goal horn as it’s homerun and game victory siren. Generally I like to sit in the 500s (third deck) behind home plate. The stadium is built with the levels right on top of each other so you never feel too far from the field but the higher you go the smaller the lines for food and drinks. If you like to sit really close be aware that some sections are non-alcoholic for the kiddies.

In terms of the crowd work at Rogers Centre it seems to be pretty lacking. The best new trope they have added the last couple seasons is the Josh Donaldson roof report. Basically it’s just a clip featuring newscast music and then JD telling the crowd in attendance if the roof is open or not, it’s actually a lot funnier than it sounds. For the seventh inning stretch Toronto plays a sing along song. The lyrics are terrible. The title of the song is “OK Blue Jays”, I can’t imagine what less inspiring titles they decided not to go with. The food available at the stadium is all pretty standard baseball items, hotdogs, popcorn,  ice-cream served in tiny little batting helmets.

 

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Overall I think most people would surprised how much fun they could have visiting Toronto for a baseball game. If you are flying into Toronto, don’t feel the need to rent a car to get around the city. Public transit is super easy to figure out and is especially great at getting to the major attractions in the city including Rogers Centre which is right next to the main Subway/Bus/Train station. If you are planning on driving to multiple stadiums the closest stadium is Comerica Park in Detroit, a little more than a 4 hour drive depending on traffic. In the other direction you can head to New York city to see a Yankees and/or Mets game.

Completed stadiums: 1 of 30

This concludes our first stadium visit of the tour. While this post is more review and Toronto sales pitch the next updates will come more from the perspective of someone visiting a foreign stadium. To see the current completion status of our baseball stadium tour Click Here

 

Part 1 – The Ground Rules

My wife and I have decided to see a game at every MLB stadium and I have decided to blog the journey. Now obviously the best time to start a blog documenting 30 stadium visits is after already seeing 12 of them. Which is where we currently stand in our baseball stadium tour, 12 out of 30.

Now while the game of baseball is rich with tradition so is our stadium tour. The number one rule for the tour is we are only counting stadium visits from when we decided to start the tour, no retroactive visits. And my wife and I have to go to the game together. I had long ago seen a game at Tigers stadium before they moved to Comerica park, that is not part of the tour. My wife and I have both been to Wrigley but separately before we knew each other thus not part of the tour. Why do we have this rule? Because I’m a hopeless romantic (especially for tradition).

Every stadium we visit we arrive 2 hours before game time. This ensures ample time to purchase a shot glass from the pro shop and then walk a complete lap of the stadium, upper and lower decks. We cover the entire stadium to find all of it’s unique offerings such as a stingray petting tank, or a model aircraft carrier. Before the game starts we try to get an idea of all the different food available, usually trying to find the most unique one.

Now lots of baseball fans have done stadium road trips before, I’m sure almost every big baseball fan has at least fantasized about it. Everyone has their own approach to it, maybe do all the stadiums in one season, maybe you follow your team on the road every year. The approach my wife and I have taken has evolved slightly over the last few seasons.

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The first summer we dated we saw 5 parks in 4 separate trips(not including our home town). Those trips mostly consisted of going to a city, drinking at some bars near the stadium, then going to a game. The next season we did one long trip seeing all 5 California teams where we spent more time enjoying the cities of the teams. Last season we spent our disposable income on a trip to Paris, which if you ask me was very expensive for not having any baseball. We ended up having to sneak in a trip to Atlanta at the end of the season to see Turner Field before it had it’s final game.

Now me personally, I prefer doing one trip per season and fully exploring the city rather than running from place to place. In either case this blog will document all our trips (past and present) and you can decide what kind of trip you would like to plan.

To see the current completion status of our baseball stadium tour Click Here