MCU Park.jpg

A picture from last year's first road trip.

(KMAland) -- Sports are here, and the blog streak continues. This is the 88th consecutive blog and the 92nd in the last 94 days.

I’ve been to 55 professional baseball parks/stadiums in my life. I made it a goal to reach 100 before I turn 50. This year, is not going to help it any. Also, the elimination of several minor league teams is not going to help it either. Regardless of that, I wanted to review the 55 I’ve gone to. There’s no better place to do it than on this page.

1 – Kaufmann Stadium (Kansas City, Missouri): I’ve probably been to the K roughly 50 times in my life, but the one that will forever stand out is the 2014 AL Wild Card game. A game full of emotions from the opening pitch to the final swing. I’m getting goosebumps writing this right now. Phew. Game 1 of the 2015 World Series was solid, too.

2 – Busch Stadium (St. Louis, Missouri) – A Saturday night in 2009. Matt Holliday homered against the Padres. It was the end of a ballpark tour, and I was feeling pretty miserable throughout. I drove from St. Louis to Denison after the game. Not great.

3 – Rosenblatt Stadium (Omaha, Nebraska) – The former home of the College World Series was also home to the Omaha Royals for a number of years. One game I remember pretty well is a preseason game between the Omaha Royals and Kansas City Royals. Some coach threw me a ball.

4 – Werner Park (Papillion, Nebraska) – The current home of the Omaha Storm Chasers. The original plan was to not go to the game we went to on that particular night. I had tickets to both “if necessary” games at the College World Series. Neither was necessary, so we went to the Storm Chasers game instead. Just remembered: I also went to Hunter Dozier’s Storm Chasers debut a couple years ago with the entire family.

5 – Principal Park (Des Moines, Iowa) – I’ve probably seen a half-dozen actual professional games in this park along with plenty more state baseball tournament games. One Iowa Cubs game that really stands out is when my wife moved to Iowa from Virginia (because she couldn’t resist me). We met in Des Moines for a game and watched from a suite. I’m not really sure how that happened, but it was pretty, pretty nifty.

6 – Metrodome (Minneapolis, Minnesota) – I actually played in the Metrodome. Twice! It was good being a member of the Denison-Schleswig baseball team. Anyway, the last game I attended here was a Twins/Royals game. Alex Gordon hit a ground-rule double that nearly landed in my lap.

7 – Target Field (Minneapolis, Minnesota) – I also watched the Twins and Royals multiple times in their current stadium. One game I sat high above center field and yelled at Lorenzo Cain a lot. Every time, he turned around and gave me a wave. Good guy, that Lorenzo Cain. Key’s Café is always a must for brunch.

8 – CHS Field (St. Paul, Minnesota) – Home of the St. Paul Saints! I also played in this stadium. We watched the Saints play a game and then played (and beat) Spencer in 1999.

9 – Fenway Park (Boston, Minnesota) – The best experience I’ve had at any MLB ballpark, save for the K. We sat right by Pesky Pole, signed it and had many “pops.” The next day, I started a drive from Boston to Shenandoah. Whoof.

10 – Yankee Stadium (Bronx, New York) – We sat amongst the well-known Bleacher Creatures, who hate the wave. Even though I dislike the Yankees greatly, I have to respect anybody that doesn’t get in line with the wave.

11 – Turner Field (Atlanta, Georgia) – A trip to Atlanta to watch the Braves lose to the Blue Jays and the Yankees. Matt Diaz did throw me a ball, though. Caught it. At the Yankees game, I was pretty obnoxious and mouthy to some Yankees fans. I used to be that way. I was lucky to get out alive.

12 – SunTrust Park/Truist Park (Smyrna, Georgia) – This was on the same trip that I went to Fenway and Yankee Stadium. We had to get back to “Atlanta” in order to keep up with the times. What was wrong with Turner Field? Well, it wasn’t exactly easy to get to, and it wasn’t exactly in the best area. SunTrust – now Truist – Park is a much better atmosphere OUTSIDE the park. And that’s important sometimes.

13 – Camden Yards (Baltimore, Maryland) – Rainy night, but I did have a Natty Boh before. The stadium itself is a beaut.

14 – Comerica Park (Detroit, Michigan) – I drove myself and my two-year-old son to an afternoon game in Detroit once. What was I crazy? It ended on an Ian Kinsler walk-off home run. However, we got revenge last year when I went back – this time with my then six-year-old and a four-year-old. Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier hit all kinds of home runs, if I remember correctly.

15 – Guaranteed Rate Field (Chicago, Illinois) – Well, I didn’t watch a full nine-inning game at the current home of the White Sox, but it still counts. It has to count because I’m not going back. As it turns out, the thing was rained out after five or six innings. Tyler Flowers had one heck of a game, though.

16 – Wrigley Field (Chicago, Illinois) – I’ve probably been about 8-10 times. It was a different experience the first time versus some of the last several. You know, because I was of age. That place is nuts, and I’m not just talking about Wrigley Field itself.

17 – Progressive Park (Cleveland, Ohio) – I went to a nice Indians/Reds in-state showdown. Sat in left field and watched a lot of Reds and Indians fans yell at each other.

18 – Minute Maid Park (Houston, Texas) – My wife and I went to two of three games of a Royals/Astros series in 2016. The Royals won the first game on a late Salvador Perez home run and rolled in the second one we saw. An Astros fan turned to me at one point and said: “Why can’t we beat you?” I think that was the point they devised their sign-stealing scheme.

19 – Safeco Field (Seattle, Washington) – A lesser time for the Royals. We went to all three games against the Mariners a couple years ago. All losses. I think they were all pretty close games, too. Still, Seattle is awesome. LeBron signed with the Lakers while we were eating at a fancy restaurant, and the tip I gave our waiter is one he’s still live on. I was kind of excited. Did I say Seattle is awesome?

20 – O.Co Coliseum (Oakland, California) – Another Royals game. Probably 2015. Kendrys Morales hit an opposite field home run in the first inning, and it was a party the rest of the way. The place is a dump, and I didn’t have the best experience with the people, either. And it wasn’t even in my obnoxious years, so I take no blame for this.

21 – Angel Stadium (Anaheim, California) – Albert Pujols went deep a couple times, I believe. Mike Trout was a beautiful specimen. I can’t seem to remember who they played that night. It wasn’t the Royals.

22 – Globe Life Park (Arlington, Texas) – Baltimore hit like 100 home runs in this game and rolled over the Rangers. We stayed about three blocks from the stadium, which was pleasant. We went to “The Star” earlier that day. Looks like we’ll have to get back to Arlington with the construction of their new park.

23 – Miller Park (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) – Way too much Miller Lite and not a lot of other options. The Brewers were really bad at this time, and the ballpark just seemed so big and so empty. This was part of the 2009 trip that ended in St. Louis.

24 – PNC Park (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) – One of the most underrated MLB parks I’ve attended. The setting is beautiful, the environment in and around the park is great and the great tickets were CHEAP. I would go again if you asked me.

25 – Great American Ballpark (Cincinnati, Ohio) – Two words: Skyline Chili. We sat right under some flames that they set off on home runs. Very hot. Otherwise, there was nothing too memorable about this park.

26 – Chase Field (Phoenix, Arizona) – I watched a pretty bad mid-2000s Royals team and got a nice wave from David DeJesus. I also went to a game when the Dodgers had Manny Ramirez. I even had a mohawk at that time. Don’t ask.

27 – Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles, California) – We went to a Sunday Night Baseball Father’s Day special against the Giants. A Giants fan was thrown out of my section for being un-fatherly. Really cool setting at Chavez Ravine, but our trip to the Staples Center was the highlight. Or maybe to Jimmy Kimmel Live.

28 – Coors Field (Denver, Colorado) – I’m pretty sure my dad and I went to Coors Field in the first year it was open. They played the Mets, and Ellis Burks hit a couple bombs. I’ve looked that came up multiple times on Baseball Reference.

29 – AT&T Park (San Francisco, California) – We went to a Giants/Padres game on the same trip we went to the Dodgers and Angels games. It was kind of interesting to see the contrast in popular food options. At the Dodgers game, it was a Dodgers Dog. In San Francisco, I went with some kind of jerk chicken medley.

30 – Modern Woodmen Park (Davenport, Iowa) – Rest in Peace? This park is/was really, really cool. A great setting with all kinds of fun things to look at in between innings.

31 – ONEOK Field (Tulsa, Oklahoma) – This was the first stop on a trip that ended in Boston. They played the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Royals affiliate), and Corey Toups homered on one of the first pitches. Before the game, we sat at a watering hole and tried one of their home-brewed options. It was said to have the taste of chew spit and pine tar. The menu was correct.

32 – Trustmark Park (Pearl, Mississippi) – Same trip that went from Tulsa to Boston, and the home of the Mississippi Braves. I remember this one because I talked with Kent Poncelow’s pal Grant Kay before the game. In the lineup that night? Ronald Acuna. Pitching? Max Fried.

33 – Durham Bulls Athletic Park (Durham, North Carolina) – Walked into Cameron Indoor Stadium and watched some dudes, including Nolan Smith, scrimmage during the afternoon. Caught a baseball game that evening.

34 – Joseph L. Bruno Stadium (Troy, New York) – Stopped in here after a visit to Cooperstown and on our way to Boston. Former Iowa bopper Jake Adams was playing in his first professional game, and he homered in his first at bat. Pretty neat.

35 – Standard Bank Stadium (Crestwood, Illinois) – Home of the Windy City Thunderbolts, who plays in the Frontier League. This is now called Ozinga Field. This was the same trip that my then two-year-old and I went to Detroit. He spent most of the time on the playground.

36 – Lewis and Clark Park (Sioux City, Iowa) – The home of the Sioux City Explorers. I’ve been to it, but I don’t remember it. I was very young. I might need to stop back in sometime. Any games coming up?

37 – Veterans Memorial Stadium (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) – Another that I’ve played in. We caught a game and played in a game in concurrent days, I believe.

38 – Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) – Back to the MLB ballparks. The Phillies and Cardinals played a pretty good game that, I believe, went to extra innings. The ballpark was fine, but we went on one of those hop on, hop off tour buses and saw most of Philadelphia. We ate at both Geno’s and Pat’s, checked out the Liberty Bell, ran the Rocky steps and really had a fun time. Philadelphia is cool when they aren’t booing Santa Claus.

39 – T-Bones Ballpark (Kansas City, Kansas) – My son Turner and I went on a trip a couple years ago, and it started here. I don’t think this team even exists anymore, unfortunately. It was a nice, quaint stadium.

40 – Huntington Park (Columbus, Ohio) – We stopped in at The Horseshoe and snuck into the stadium before the game. I believe this was right before the Urban Meyer/Zach Smith stuff really blew up. I don’t remember much about the game or the ballpark, but I put it on my list so I must have been there!

41 – Classic Park (Eastlake, Ohio) – The first of a day-night doubleheader on a trip that started at T-Bones Ballpark. I believe this game started at something like 10:00 AM. I’m all in on that kind of fun.

42 – Fifth Third Field (Dayton, Ohio) – And the second part of the day-night doubleheader. This is the best minor league ballpark we’ve ever been to. My son Turner was picked out before the game to participate in a mid-inning big wheel race. And he won the dang thing. Pretty awesome place.

43 – Bosse Field (Evansville, Indiana) – They filmed A League of Their Own in this joint, and they haven’t had any sort of revamp or renovation since. The Evansville Otters from the Frontier League play here.

44 – Arvest Ballpark (Springdale, Arkansas) – Final stop on that trip from KC to Columbus to Eastlake to Dayton to Evansville. Home of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (the Royals affiliate). Turner spent a lot of time in the outfield at their version of The Little K.

45 – TD Ameritrade Park (Omaha, Nebraska) – Yes, this counts! We went to the Royals/Tigers game that was played there to open the CWS last season. Remember the CWS? Remember seasons?

46 – Citi Field (Flushing, New York) – My wife and I caught a pair of Braves/Mets games here last year. The Braves won both games. The first night was pleasant, and we were around some good people. The next day we went a little cheaper on the tickets and ran into some not-so-pleasant peeps.

47 – MCU Park (Brooklyn, New York) – MCU is on the Riegelmann Boardwalk in Coney Island. The parking was ridiculous, but the atmosphere was pretty cool. After the game, we walked down the Boardwalk for some not-so-fine cuisine.

48 – FirstEnergy Stadium (Reading, Pennsylvania) – Same trip and a check-in on the Reading Phillies. When we first arrived, we were asked if we wanted to upgrade to dugout seats for no charge. Yes was our answer. We were up close and personal for Roncalli’s own Alec Bohm.

49 – Municipal Stadium (Hagerstown, Maryland) – I believe we had planned on a different stadium that night, but it was rained out. So, we high-tailed it to this one. It’s nothing special, and it’s old, but it had baseball in it. I can’t imagine they will be playing here much longer.

50 – Daniel S. Frawley Stadium (Wilmington, Delaware) – Big bonuses here. The Wilmington Blue Rocks are an affiliate of the Royals, we bought one ticket for a doubleheader and we got to watch Sioux City North alum Daniel Tillo pitch.

51 – Arthur W. Perdue Stadium (Salisbury, Maryland) – Home of the Delmarva Shorebirds. Did you know Delmarva stands for Delaware-Maryland-Virginia? Maybe you did. I didn’t. Pretty cool stadium that was jam-packed for the fireworks show. It was around July 4th.

52 – Nationals Park (Washington D.C.) – Still on the same trip last year, folks. We ended up catching two Royals/Nationals games, and as a bonus, the Royals were able to beat the Nationals in extra innings. The Royals went on to finish poorly. The Nationals…well, you know the story.

53 – Community Field (Burlington, Iowa) – A second trip in one summer. My two oldest boys – Turner and Hudson – accompanied me on this one. It immediately turned into a trip to catch as many balls as they could. They ended up with three at this park – home of the Burlington Bees.

54 – Routine Field (Franklin, Wisconsin) – This is another independent professional baseball stadium, but it’s the best one you’re ever going to see from an independent league. It’s home of the Milwaukee Milkmen, and it’s located in a developing area outside Milwaukee. Really nice, family friendly place. I think the boys got one ball each, and Turner spent the whole game playing catch with some random kids that he just met outside the park. I also saw a Boy Scout throw up all over the concourse.

55 – Dow Diamond (Midland, Michigan) – The last new professional ballpark that I’ve been to. This was a minor league 10 AM special start time. Turner and Hudson spent the entire game stationed in right-center field begging for the outfielders to throw them baseballs. And they did. I’m pretty sure we left with six.

I don’t know why I did this today. Maybe it’s my way of remembering the good times of taking ridiculous driving trips to all kinds of ballparks. Maybe it was therapy to grieve the fact that I won’t be adding to my list this year. Maybe I just needed to fill some pages. I still hope to get to 100 by 50, but they better start playing games and stop eliminating teams.

Send any questions, comments and/or concerns to dmartin@kmaland.com.

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