My Biggest Ballpark Thrills

Your webmaster lists his 75 best moments at a ballpark

Come on.  You can admit it.  You're among friends here. Some of the very biggest thrills you've experienced in your life have occurred at baseball parks, haven't they!?!  Well, here's the list of my 75 biggest thrills at ballparks.  And, yes, it was difficult for me to whittle my list down to just 75!  And I'll get around to updating this soon, as I have more to add.
  1. September 9, 2000 at Old Settlers Park, Round Rock, TX   My five-year-old son Jody -- wearing uniform number 1 -- played in his very firstbaseball game, a t-ball contest in the Round Rock Youth Baseball Association.The future big-leaguer collected two hits (as long as you don't count errors!!!) with two runs scored in his two plate appearances. Nothing compares with the pride a father feels for his young'n, and the memory of this proud day still lives with me!
  2. October 26, 1999 at Yankee Stadium, New York, NY  The Bronx Bombers were in the process of sweeping the Braves, thereby giving theYanks their 25th World Series title.  If this doesn't make this franchisethe Team Of The Century -- perhaps in any sport -- then I don't know whatpossibly could.  And if the thrill of seeing a World Series Game in YankeeStadium weren't enough, the game I attended went into extra innings before ChadCurtis ended it with a home run.  The ushers eventually had to throw me outof the park, because I didn't want to leave when it was over!  To look atmy photo essay of the evening, click here.
  3. September 15, 2000 at The Dell Diamond, Round Rock, TX  Just a mile or so from Old Settlers Park (see #1 above) sits the home park of the Round Rock Express.  On this night they defeated the Wichita Wranglers8-4 to win the Texas League Championship Series four games to one.  Thiswas meaningful not only because it was the crowning of a league champion, but it waseven more special to me since this was the team I had adopted as my own when Imoved to Texas earlier in the year.  I attended a number of theirgames.  I listened to them on the radio (and who really listens tominor-league baseball on the radio?).  And now I was there to see them win the championship.  A moment like none other!
  4. October 26 , 2005 at Minute Maid Park, Houston, TX   As you'll see throughout this list, I've attended a number of post-season games in the big leagues, but only once have I been present for the crowning of a World Series champion. That happened here as the White Sox completed a dominating sweep of the Astros in front of the losing team's home fans. It was the first Fall Classic championship for the Sox since 1917 -- and when you think about it, that was an even longer drought than the much-ballyhooed "curse" that the Red Sox went through from 1918 until 2004.
  5. September 16, 1998 at Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA   On this night, I saw two teams battling for playoff spots, and one player insearch of the all-time single-season home run record.  To read how Sammy Sosa achieved ahome run total that -- at the time -- had never been exceeded, and in theprocess probably locked up the National League MVP trophy, clickhere.
  6. October 11, 1983 at Memorial Stadium, Baltimore, MD  When I woke up that morning, I had no idea that I'd be attending Game One of the'83 World Series that night!  But a friend of a friend uncovered a singleticket for me (at face value!) and I spent a very rainy evening having the timeof my life at my first Fall Classic game.  By the way, the Phillies beat the O's that night, butBaltimore went on to win four straight to take the title.
  7. May 10, 1991 at Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL    My first visit to The Friendly Confines is better than I ever could've imagined!  I was struck by the incredible beauty of this place.  Iresolved to come back again.  And again.  And again.  And I did.  And did.
  8. July 13, 2004, Minute Maid Park, Houston, TX   In addition to a World Series championship, Houston also presented me with my first Major League All Star Game. It was quite a spectacle, as my photo essay attests.
  9. August 9, 2001 at the Metrodome, Minneapolis   The Twins beat the Indians to move into a first-place tie with the Tribe, butmuch more importantly to me, I had now attended games in all 30 of the currentMLB ballparks!  After seeing the Metrodome, though, I fully realized that Ihadn't saved the best until last!
  10. February 1, 2007 at Estadio Municipal Roberto Clemente, Carolina, Puerto Rico   The Caribbean World Series was one of those events that I'd always heard was an incredible, colorful spectacle. Until I finally saw it for myself in Puerto Rico, I couldn't have imagined just how festive and entertaining it is. I hope my photo essay on the event conveys this adequately ... but I bet it doesn't. You have to see this for yourself!
  11. June 15, 2007 at Rosenblatt Stadium, Omaha, NE   And another event that fits into the "spectacle" category is the College World Series. The weeklong tournament to crown the king of college baseball virtually takes over the city of Omaha. You owe it to yourself to indulge in the madness at least once in your life!
  12. August 11, 2001 at Shea Stadium, New York, NY   Just two days after completing my quest to hit all 30 current Major League parks, I witnessed the Cardinals' Mark McGwire move into fifth place on the the all-time home-run list with his 574th career dinger (yes, that is indeed the home-run ball flying off his bat in the photo to the right. Hey, if I'm going to witness an important event, I figure I better have my camera ready!).  It was a rareopposite-field shot for Big Mac and it helped the Cards beat the Mets 6-3.
  13. June 20, 2007 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, TX   Milestones are always fun to witness, and the Rangers really played up Sammy Sosa's 600th career home run. And you can read all about it.
  14. May 26, 1996 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, MD I was never more glad to have seats on the Club Level for a game, because (a) there was a lengthy raindelay and (b) we had our nine-month-old at his very first baseball game!Being able to go inside to the lounge area came in real handy.  TheO's beat the A's 6-1 that day.  For a photo from this day, see the Author'sStory page.
  15. October 9, 1972 at Riverfront Stadium, Cincinnati, OH    My first-ever post-season game.  It was Game Three of the NLCS as the Pirates beat the team of my youth, the Reds, by a score of 3-2.  The Big Red Machine came back to win the series infive games, though.
  16. October 13, 1996 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore   This was the final game of the '96 ALCS, and even though the hated Yankees beatmy Orioles, it was still thrilling to be present.  In the photo to theright, Cecil Fielder -- one of my least favorite players of the '90s -- is being congratulated by his teammates after hitting aback-breaking HR. OK, maybe "thrilling" isn't the right word. It was a big moment, but it felt like it was my back being broken!
  17. June 26-27, 2002 at Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, MO   The Royals beat the hapless Tigers in both of these games, but more importantly to me, I conducted a "book signing" for my book on ballparks at theteam's souvenir shop (and we sold out!), plus I was a guest on the Royals' radionetwork and I had the thrill of meeting Ernie Harwell! I'll always love KC as a result!
  18. Sometime in late July, 1967 at Crosley Field, Cincinnati, OH    My first baseball game.  I think the Reds lost to the Braves.  Maybe someday I'll figure out the date (I suspect it was July 31 when I look back at the Reds schedule for that season), although the magic of the night will be etched in mymind for all time.
  19. August 12, 1988 at Fenway Park, Boston, MA    I don't need to tell you what a historic place this is, or how unique it is.  But my first visit here was also noteworthy because in defeating the Tigers, the Sox wontheir 23rd consecutive game at home, setting the all-time American Leaguerecord.  How nice of them to do this while I was in attendance!
  20. March 15 , 2006 at Osceola County Stadium, Kissimmee, FL   Spring training was in full swing, and I was wrapping up an extended sweep of exhibition-game visits with a game between the Yankees and Astros. What made this afternoon special, though, was the fact that I was able to sit down and have a long visit with Nolan Ryan during a pregame reception hosted by the always-gracious front-office folks of Nolan's Minor League team, the Round Rock Express. Thanks for inviting me, guys!
  21. August 24, 1990 at St. Cloud Commons, Huntington, WV A meaningless game toward the end of the Appalachian League season?  Not to me!  My hometown finally had a pro team (the first in my lifetime), and I was there to see the Huntington Cubs host the Pulaski Braves.
  22. April 3, 1992 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, MD  Despite the fact that it was the coldest baseball contest I've ever attended, I was very excited to be on hand for the first game ever played at CamdenYards.  It was an exhibition pitting the Orioles against the Mets.
  23. June 15, 2001 at PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA   I was absolutely, positively thrilled with the Pirates' new ballpark.  This is exactly what a baseball park should accomplish, which was why I named it the BASEBALLPARKS.COMNew Park of the Year for 2001, and it's in the Top Ten "Must See" ballparks list in this site.  Anyway, the home team beat the Indians in an inter-league game that night. There was also a rare capacity crowd on hand.
  24. September 2, 1999 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, MD  Sometimes you get lucky.  I was lucky that I had tickets for the game in which Cal Ripken hit his much-anticipated 400th career homer.  I also got lucky that I snapped a picture on the very swing in which he did so.
  25. May 26, 1997 at Yankee Stadium, New York   My first visit to The House That Ruth Built was spellbinding.  What a sense of history!
  26. October 1, 1982 at Memorial Stadium, Baltimore  The 1982 AL East race had gone down to the wire, and the two combatants-- the O'sand Brewers -- faced off in a wild doubleheader on Baltimore's jammed, insane park on 33rd Street.  The Orioles swept this twin bill (with a rookie named Ripken hitting a home run), but alas, Milwaukee went on to capture the flag as they came back to beat the O's in the last game game of the year two dayslater.  My long-running love affair with the Birds of Baltimore had begun,though!
  27. February 23, 1996 at Fort Lauderdale Stadium   One of several examples of stumbling across a great baseball event.  I happened tobe in Miami on business when I learned that the "Joe DiMaggio Legends Game"was taking place in nearby Fort Lauderdale.  It was a magical night. I wrote about the evening in my remembrance of Joltin'Joe.
  28. October 6 , 2005 at Turner Field, Atlanta, GAIt was a rainy, miserable night, but I was on hand to see a postseason pitching match-up for the ages, as ageless Roger Clemens and his upstart Astros took on perennial playoff participants, the Braves, and their 38-year-old starter John Smoltz. Atlanta nabbed this NLDS tilt, 7-1, but the Astros got the last laugh by later winning the series and then the NLCS.
  29. September 29, 1996 at the Astrodome, Houston, TX   And another example of not knowinghow "special" of a time I was in for!  I knew I'd be attendingthe final game of the '96 season for the Astros, but I did not know that itwas going to be Nolan Ryan Day.  The Alvin, TX native had his uniformretired in a moving pre-game ceremony (see photo).
  30. July 1, 2001 at The Dell Diamond, Round Rock, TXThe Class AA All Star Game came to town, and over 12,000 fans packed RoundRock's park to see the best prospects of the National League beat the AL'sprospects 8-3.
  31. July 12 , 2006 at Blair County Ballpark, Altoona, PAAnd speaking of All Star Games, my first-ever visit to Altoona's drop-dead-gorgeous park was to see the Eastern League All Star Game.
  32. October 8, 1997 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, BaltimoreGame One of the '97 ALCS went to the home team in a 3-0 shutout.  I alreadyhad my ticket to the World Series.  I (and the whole state of Maryland) wasfully expecting an imminent trip to The Fall Classic.  Only one problem . .. the Indians came back to win the Series in six games (and, yes, I was therefor that, but it wasn't a thrill!).
  33. August 13-14, 1999 at Busch Stadium, St. Louis, MO    Itwasn't my first trip to Busch, but it was extremely memorable nonetheless!For the second year in a row, Mac and Sammy were battling for the home-runtitle, and what a treat it was to see them going head-to-head!  For therecord, the baseball-crazy fans of St. Louis (and I) got to see Big Mac hitthree HRs and Sammy one in this two-game set.
  34. May 30 , 2003 at Olsen Field, College Station, TXMy first postseason college baseball game was at an NCAA Regional contest between Texas A&M, which my family adores, and Oral Roberts. The home team won 6-3.
  35. July 24, 1993 at RiverSide Stadium, Harrisburg, PAThis year's edition of the Harrisburg Senators was arguably the bestminor-league team of the '90s.  The roster included names like RondellWhite, Curtis Pride and Cliff Floyd -- who was the Minor League Player of theYear -- and a starting pitcher on the staff was Ugueth Urbina.  Theteam led the Eastern League in both batting and pitching, they won the EasternLeague regular-season championship by 19 games and cruised through the playoffsto take the EL crown.
  36. July 4, 1997 at Tiger Stadium, Detroit, MI   My one and onlyvisit (to see a game) to venerable Tiger Stadium.  In obvious need of repair orreplacement, this ballpark still had a gripping effect on me.  And it was adouble-header on Independence Day to boot!
  37. June 16, 1990 at Comiskey Park, Chicago, IL   After 80 years,old Comiskey was in its final season.  Cramped, run-down and certainly notfit for a Major League team, I am thankful beyond words that I was able to seethe home field of Shoeless Joe, the Go-Go Sox and Disco Demolition Night.The grand-old park faced its own demolition that winter.
  38. May 3, 1975 at Riverfront Stadium, Cincinnati, OH   This gamepitted the Reds versus the Braves.  Any game with this batting orderis a thrill:  Rose; Concepcion; Morgan; Perez; Bench; Driessen; Griffey;Geronimo and the pitcher Norman (Foster had the day off).  This wasthe year that the Big Red Machine won the first of back-to-back WorldSeries.
  39. September 15, 2002 at Nelson Wolff Municipal Stadium, SanAntonio, TXIt was Game 7 of the Texas League Championship Series,and the hometown Missions knocked off the Tulsa Drillers 4-1 to take thetrophy (see right).
  40. June 11 , 2005 at Baylor Ballpark, Waco, TXMy second postseason-college game saw the Baylor Bears fall to the Clemson Tigers in a Super Regional contest in one of the most beautiful sports facilities on any college campus in America.
  41. May 21, 1972 at Watt Powell Park, Charleston, WVI've never seen a no-hitter in person, but the closest I ever came was whenBarry Moore of the International League Charleston Charlies carried a no-no into the 9th inning ofthis contest.  The 5-3 win over Richmond also included a grand-slam byRichie Zisk, who went on to hit 207 homers in the Majors.
  42. April 16, 2000 at The Dell Diamond, Round Rock, TXBeing on hand for the first game of a brand-new stadium is always fun, but thiswas also the first home game ever of the Round Rock Express of the TexasLeague.  Keith Ginter, the 2000 TL Player of the Year, collected theExpress' (and the ballpark's) first hit -- a first-inning homerun.
  43. May 27 , 2006 at West End Field at Greenville, SCThis South Atlantic League facility was one of the most captivating new ballparks I'd seen in years. That's why I named it the Ballpark of the Year for 2006.
  44. July 5, 2000 at Pac Bell Park, San Francisco, CA   Whata wonderful experience to get to visit this beautiful, beautiful ballpark.In a setting this gorgeous, the game becomes secondary.  If you'd like,take a look at our special page devoted to Pac Bell Park (as it was called then).
  45. April 3 , 2003 at Dr Pepper 7 Up Ballpark in Frisco, TXIt was the first game ever played in this fabulous park, but the home team, the Frisco Roughriders of the Texas League, were trounced by the Tulsa Drillers, 16-2. And to make matters even more interesting, the Drillers' Jorge Piedra pulled off the rare feat of hitting for the cycle that night.
  46. April 17 , 2005 at Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi, TXAnd it was just as much fun when I attended the first game in Corpus Christi's new park. It was also the first home game for the Corpus Christi Hooks, who had relocated from Round Rock the previous offseason (as the Express moved from Double-A to Triple-A).
  47. April 12 , 2007 at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock, ARAnd not to be forgotten is another "first-ever game," this one in the brand-new ballpark of the Texas League's Arkansas Travelers.
  48. September 12, 2000 at Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA    I had thepleasure of getting to sit next to Ruppert Jones for an entire Padres game.Ruppert played for 12 years in the Majors, while winning a World Series ring(Detroit, '84) and going to two All Star Games ('77 and '82).  We talked baseballnon-stop!  I'm photographed in front of Qualcomm with Ruppert and hiswonderful wife Betty.
  49. September 4, 1982 at Memorial Stadium, Baltimore, MD It was perhaps the most dominant pitching performance I've ever witnessed -- and you have to keep in mind that I've seen way over a thousand games in my life.Jim Palmer, in winning his 11th straight decision, hurled a one-hitter atMinnesota, winning 3-0.  The Twins' only hit was a scratch single by GaryGaetti in the 5th.
  50. October 10 , 2003 at Pro Player Stadium, Miami, FL   It was Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, and the Cubs upended the hometown Marlins in this match-up. The Fish got the last laugh, though, thanks to the assistance of Steve Bartman (sitting in aisle 4, row 8, seat 113 in Wrigley Field four days later), as they came back to bounce the Cubbies before going on to upset the Yanks in the World Series.
  51. June 11, 2001 at Louisville Slugger Field, Louisville, KY    Notonly did I find the park to be one of the very best in the Minors,one-man-wrecking-crew Adam Dunn was blasting his way up the ladder in the Reds'organization.  In this contest, he had a two-run double and a homer, whichwas his 10th in just 19 games since being called up to AAA.
  52. September 6, 2004 at Petco Park, San Diego, CA   What a whirlwind visit this was to San Diego! Not only did I present the president of the Padres with a plaque (BASEBALLPARKS.COM Ballpark Of The Year) in an on-field ceremony prior to this game, I also did two TV interviews.
  53. September 9, 2001 at Nelson Wolff Municipal Stadium in SanAntonio, TXMy adopted team, the Round Rock Express, had pushed thehometown Missions to the final game of the Texas League Western Divisionplayoffs.  In one of the most thrilling contests I've ever witnessed, theExpress won in extra innings -- propelling them into the Championship Series(which was never completed after the events of 9/11/01).
  54. June 12, 2007 at Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL   Any trip to the Friendly Confines is a treat, but this was my first night game here. What a scene these nighttime affairs are in Wrigleyville! Not only that, since I had photography credentials from the Cubs, I was able to have an extended -- and delightful -- conversation with the national-anthem singer, American Idol finalist and country-music star Kellie Pickler, before she sang. What a doll, and she's bashful around my camera, isn't she??
  55. March 25, 1999 at Jack Russell Memorial Stadium, Clearwater, FL It was a great pleasure to attend this exhibition game pitting the Phillies andthe Red Sox -- but not totally because of the park or the game itself.  You see, mygood friend (and Nashville musician) Jay Michaels sang the National Anthem thatnight . . . and he did a great job! The Phillies certainly have a showplace park for their springtime games now, but I miss stately, old Jack Russell!
  56. July 23, 1977 at the Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, LA My family happened to be in New Orleans for a convention, and was I ever excitedwhen I found out the American Association All Star Game was taking place!The AA All Stars took on the Texas Rangers that night in the cavernousSuperdome.
  57. August 8, 1997 at Coors Field, Denver, CO    My first visithere -- with its indescribably beautiful sunset -- was an awesome experience.
  58. August 21, 1998 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, MD With a seventh-inning single, Cal Ripken collected his 2,849th career hit --making him the Orioles' all-time hits leader.  The Cal Collectionincludes a shot of this moment.
  59. December 11, 2004 at Nido de las Aguilas, Mexicali, Mexico  I had such a good time at my first game ever in Mexico that I devoted a page to that visit here in BASEBALLPARKS.COM
  60. May 16 , 2007 at Dedeaux Field, Los Angeles, CA   It was a joy getting to attend a game at the Southern Cal Trojans' legendary field. This is the program, by the way, that has won more College World Series than any other.
  61. July 6, 1996 at Prince George's Stadium, Bowie, MDThe US Olympic Baseball Team was tuning up for the '96 Games with an exhibitionagainst the Korean National Team.  Team USA, led by Travis Lee, TroyGlaus and starting pitcher Kris Benson, won 8-2.
  62. July 4, 2001 at Centennial Field in Burlington, VT   What a great way tocelebrate Independence Day!  Eighty-year-old Centennial Field is gorgeous(see photo), even if the hometown Expos lost their eighth straight game thatday.
  63. May 20 , 2005 at Sunken Diamond, Palo Alto, CAWhat magic there is here! Truly, the home of The Cardinal (remember, there's no "s") is awe-inspiring. Stanford has one of the greatest venues in all of college baseball.
  64. June 5, 2000 at the "Field of Dreams," Dyersville,IANo game was going on.  In fact, I had the placecompletely to myself.  But getting to see the famous ball field carved outof the acres of corn (where the 1989 film "Field of Dreams" wasfilmed) was, well, a dream come true.
  65. June 17, 1980 at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA The team I'd grown up with, the Reds, edged the Pirates 4-3 when Johnny Benchand Ray Knight hit back-to-back homers.
  66. July 6, 2007 at U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago, IL Justin Morneau, the defending AL MVP, blasted three bombs against the White Sox in the second game of a day-night doubleheader. Morneau capped a day in which he had six hits and nine RBIs over the two games, and his Twins hung a total of 32 runs on the helpless Southsiders.
  67. February 10, 2000 at Rickwood Field, Birmingham, AL I didn't see a game on this visit.  But what I saw (while beinggiven a wonderful guided tour by the Executive Director of The Friends OfRickwood) was a gorgeous, old ballpark -- scene of an enormous amount of historyduring its 90 years.  Dubbed "America's oldest ballpark," thefacility is being lovingly restored and cared for.
  68. June 10, 2002 at Sam Lynn Ballpark in Bakersfield, CAI was asked to throw out the ceremonial first pitch in this historic park -- afirst for me!  Number-one prospect Josh Hamilton then signed the ball Iused.
  69. April 23, 1978 at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA In a wild game, the Pirates (including Taveras, Parker and Stargell) scored tworuns in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Cards, 8-7.  Lou Brock stolethe 903rd base of his career in the 7th, and with each steal, he was adding tohis "modern" record.
  70. June 6, 2006 at AutoZone Park, Memphis, TNThis occurred on the interesting date of 06/06/06. Not only was this my first game at the most impressive venue in minor-league sports, I also had the pleasure of getting to spend several innings chatting with Dave Chase, the former publisher of Baseball America and current Redbirds' president, about the business of baseball.
  71. April 5, 2007 at Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, MOThe national media had descended on KC for this chilly, early-season game because "Dice K," Daisuke Matsuzaka, was making his American debut. And he lived up to expectations, notching the win while striking out ten in his seven innings of work.
  72. June 10, 2001 at Fifth Third Field in Dayton, OHSamone Peters of the hometown Dayton Dragons was nice enough to hit a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 9thto propel his team to victory in this Midwest League contest.  Even better,my five year old is asked to be a "little chick" for an on-field skitwith the Famous Chicken (yes, he's in the photo, but don't ask me which one he is!).
  73. April 11 , 2003 at Isotopes Park, Albuquerque, NM  I had a lot of fun covering the first game in America's most-fun ballpark. Isotopes Park was constructed on the site of the city's previous pro-baseball facility, Albuquerque Sports Stadium.
  74. March 2, 2002 at Baseball City Stadium, Haines City, FLThe Astros, with my personal favorite prospect Jason Lane hitting a single,double and triple, pound the Royals in an exhibition game in this uninspiringballpark (which met a wrecking ball the minute spring training was over).However, this game started a ten-game, seven-day spring-training odyssey for mein which I did book signings and saw baseball all over Florida.  It was anincredibly memorable week!
  75. March 29 , 2005 at Jackie Robinson Stadium, Los Angeles, CAThis was my first of several games at UCLA's storied ballpark. I really enjoyed the park's surroundings and the statue of Jackie Robinson (I bet you didn't know he attended college at UCLA, did you? I know I didn't!).