Baseball Fan Tours National StadiumsColumn by Danny M. Su
Another baseball season has finally come to an end. When I made my predictions six months ago, I received comments ranging from "This #%&*! guy doesn't know anything about the Pirates" to "Does this guy know anything about baseball?" I must confess now that I was wrong in picking the Mets and the Reds to win their respective divisions, but I was dead on in picking the Athletics and the Blue Jays. It is quite obvious that my knowledge of the National League has deteriorated over the years, since I only play rotisserie league baseball with the American League.
So, instead of making more stupid predictions about the League Championships and the World Series and receiving more uncomplimentary comments, I have decided to write a little review about cities and stadiums I toured at the end of summer.
About a month before my buddies and I went on this six-city tour, I wrote letters to each team's director of public relations. I used my Tech affiliation to try to reserve tickets in advance. The Yankees, the White Sox, and the Indians were very unfriendly and didn't even respond to me. The Blue Jays called me after I had already left for the trip. The Reds sent me a letter and told me that I could purchase tickets over the phone.
The Tigers' response, however, was by far the funniest of them all. They sent me a Tigers pocket schedule, a team logo sticker, and a letter which basically said "Since we are really bad this year, there is no chance for a sell-out at any game. Just drop by the stadium and purchase tickets at game day." The Cubs were the best. Lori Boike, who works in their PR department, called me and asked me if I would like to purchase some tickets. I then asked her what seats were available. She responded, "Anywhere you like." I was surprised and proceeded to say, "I thought Cubs tickets were difficult to obtain." She responded, "Not in our department!" Well, I have become a Cubs fan as a direct consequences of Lori's good work.
Our first stop was Yankee Stadium. The stadium is an awesome sight. The place drips with tradition, far too much to absorb in one visit. Just like the old Adidas commercial, there is nothing like the smell of freshly cut grass at Yankee Stadium. This unique experience is costly, though. The cheapest ticket was $9.50, and the food, as always, was expensive. The ushers were very unfriendly. Although the stadium was practically empty, one of the ushers decided that he didn't like us and kicked us out of his section, which we didn't have tickets for.
The next day was traveling day, and we drove straight from New York to Cleveland on Interstate 80, which had construction everywhere and was about as smooth as Vassar Street. Cleveland didn't give us a good first impression with its abundance of factories, and we didn't stay in the best neighborhood, either.
We went to Cleveland Stadium the next day. It was by far the most exciting stadium. You could get in for $5.00, and the food was relatively cheap. And you couldn't tell that the Indians were near the cellar of the division from the fans' spirit. Inside the stadium, there are plenty of fun activities, including having your fastball clocked by a radar gun and making your own baseball card. The scoreboard is like the one in "Major League," and brings fans both action and humor. After the Indians turned a double play, the scoreboard showed a baby crawling to blow up two candles on a birthday cake. Then it flashed, "Just Turned Two."
Our next stop was Cincinnati. It was the cheapest stadium, with the cheapest tickets going for just $4.00. And you could by hot dogs or ice cream for $1.25, and a 32 oz. beer was $2.50. Cincinnati is a real family park. Like Cleveland Stadium, you could have your fastball clocked and all sorts of other stuff. There is no better bargain to be found anywhere else.
From Cincinnati we headed toward the windy city of Chicago. Our experience with the new Comiskey Park was not a pleasant one, as our local host refuse to drive to the stadium. We were told that the park is in a terrible neighborhood, but I couldn't tell. The stadium has some of the best facilities, including a restaurant behind the right field fence. We almost witnessed baseball history as Toronto's Todd Stottlemyre carried a perfect game through five innings. But he lost his perfect game in the sixth and his no hitter in the eighth inning. But the White Sox fans were terrible! In a one sided game that was decided after three innings, they were cheering Carlton Fisk to get a walk in the sixth inning! And when Dan Pasqua, who made two errors to prolong the top half of the inning, broke up the no-hitter, the fans didn't even give Stottlemyre a standing ovation. As a matter of fact, we were the only ones who stood up and cheered for him.
After an off day in the city, we went to the friendly neighborhood of Wrigley Field. According to our local host, Wrigley has the best French Fries. I thought they were OK at best. But I felt cheated because I paid $16.00 for the ticket and Ryne Sandberg, who will be paid $7 million dollars this year, didn't even hustle down the first base line on a ground ball. As a matter of fact, none of the stars I saw on the trip put in 100% effort. Only the rookies hustled all the way.
From Chicago we went to Detroit. Tiger Stadium is the oldest stadium in the American League. Although it is a beautiful stadium, there are too many obstructed-view seats. There are some fun activities inside the park, though. The Tigers would occasionally pick a row and give everyone free popcorn. Vendors outside the stadium sell many good and cheap souvenirs, like $5.00 T-shirts and $5.00 hats.
We were looking forward to Toronto's SkyDome, but wound up catching only the miserable Mets, and then our road trip ended.