My Biggest Ballpark Thrills

Your webmaster lists his 100 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 biggest thrills at ballparks. And, yes, it was difficult for me to whittle my list down to just 100, which is why I threw in a few as Honorable Mentions! What is your biggest ballpark thrill? Let us know in the Comments box at the bottom of the page.
  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 first baseball 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 22, 2010 at Rangers Ballpark, Arlington, TX  The team by which I lived and died (the Rangers) won the first pennant in franchise history. It was even sweeter because the 4-2 victory was against the Yankees, and former Ranger Alex Rodriguez (who bad-mouthed the team on his way out) made the final out.
  3. July 3, 2016 at Fort Bragg Field, Fort Bragg, NC It was an honor to get to cover the MLB game between the Braves and Marlins held in this one-time-use ballpark. Not only was the military tie-in thrilling, I also got to file an article for USA TODAY about the experience. Truly an unforgettable day!  Check out the series of articles I wrote about the preparations for this massive undertaking starting here.
  4. October 26, 1999 at Yankee Stadium, New York, NY  The Bronx Bombers were in the process of sweeping the Braves, thereby giving the Yanks their 25th World Series title.  If that didn't make the franchise the Team Of The Century -- perhaps in any sport -- then I don't know what possibly could. And if the thrill of seeing a World Series Game in Yankee Stadium weren't enough, the game I attended went into extra innings before Chad Curtis ended it with a home run.  The ushers eventually had to throw me out of the park, because I didn't want to leave when it was over!  To look at my photo essay of the evening, click here. (Yes, the quality of digital photography has improved incredibly since 1999!!)
  5. July 30, 2017 at Globe Life Park, Arlington, TX  My favorite player is Adrian Beltre, and I was in the stands to witness his 3,000th hit. A moment for the ages -- to me, anyway. Check out my page on it, including a photo of the moment of his big hit.
  6. April 23, 2014 at Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL This game marked the 100th anniversary of the opening of my favorite ballpark. I’d written extensively about the birthday for USA TODAY Sports Weekly, and when I emerged from that game, I found at a local newsstand that my piece was the cover story of that week’s issue. The photo shown here, by the way, shows the widow of Harry Caray leading Billy Williams, Ferguson Jenkins, Dick Butkus and the rest of the crowd in "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the 7th inning stretch.
  7. October 29, 2014 at Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, MO  Baseball games don’t get any bigger than this: Game 7 of the World Series. And it was an incredibly tense game, won 3-2 by the Giants.
  8. 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 Wranglers 8-4 to win the Texas League Championship Series four games to one.  This was meaningful not only because it was the crowning of a league champion, but it was even more special to me since this was the team I had adopted as my own when I moved to Texas earlier in the year.  I attended a number of their games.  I listened to them on the radio (and who really listens to minor-league baseball on the radio?).  And now I was there to see them win the championship.  A moment like none other!
  9. 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 this was the first time I was 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.
  10. June 6, 2015 at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, CA   This was a phenomenal day, as I was given a personal tour by sports-architecture legend Janet Marie Smith of the $100 million in renovations done to the venerable old ballpark. Making this one of the most memorable days of my life, though, was being introduced to Vin Scully in the press box during the seventh inning stretch. Nuff said!
  11. September 16, 1998 at Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA   On this night, I saw two teams battling for playoff spots, and one player in search of the all-time single-season home run record.  Sammy Sosa achieved a home run total (64) that -- at the time -- had never been exceeded, and in the process probably locked up the National League MVP trophy.
  12. 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 single ticket for me (at face value!) and I spent a very rainy evening having the time of my life at my first Fall Classic game.  By the way, the Phillies beat the O's that night, but Baltimore went on to win four straight to take the title.
  13. October 27 and 28, 2011 at Busch Stadium, St. Louis, MO I wouldn’t exactly call it a thrill, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it because of its historical significance. The Cardinals won Games 6 and 7 of the World Series, denying my Rangers their first crown, despite being one strike away from the title … not once, but *twice*. Frankly, I’m sick of hearing about it.
  14. 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.  I resolved to come back again. And again. And again. And I did. And did.
  15. October 27, 2010 at AT&T Park, San Francisco, CA  Game 1 of the 2010 World Series represented the first Fall Classic for my team, the Rangers. Unfortunately, the Giants prevailed 11-7.
  16. June 2, 2010 at Rickwood Field, Birmingham, AL  God bless the Birmingham Barons for going to the trouble of holding a regular-season game at "America's oldest ballpark" every season. This year's event was truly special, because it celebrated the 100th birthday of Rickwood Field. I wouldn't have missed this for anything!
  17. 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.
  18. August 9, 2001 at the Metrodome, Minneapolis   The Twins beat the Indians to move into a first-place tie with the Tribe, but much more importantly to me, I had now attended games in all 30 of the current MLB ballparks!  After seeing the Metrodome, though, I fully realized that I hadn't saved the best until last!
  19. March 29, 2008 at the Los Angeles Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA  The Dodgers decided to mark the 50th anniversary of their arrival on the West Coast by holding an exhibition game in the LA Coliseum, their first Los Angeles home. The field dimensions were comical, but it was no joke that 115,000 fans packed the place, giving the venerable facility the distinction of hosting the largest crowd ever for a baseball game.
  20. 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!
  21. 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!
  22. August 15, 2011 at Comerica Park, Detroit, MI  As fate would have it, I happened to be in Michigan on this date, so the family went to see the Tigers. Jim Thome was playing for the Twins, and that evening he hit the 599th and 600th home runs of his career.
  23. 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 rare opposite-field shot for Big Mac and it helped the Cards beat the Mets 6-3.
  24. 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.
  25. 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 rain delay 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.  The O's beat the A's 6-1 that day.  For a photo from this day, see the Author's Story page.
  26. 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 in five games, though.
  27. 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 beat my Orioles, it was still thrilling to be present.  In the photo to the right, Cecil Fielder -- one of my least favorite players of the '90s -- is being congratulated by his teammates after hitting a back-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!
  28. April 19, 2009 at Huntington Park, Columbus, OH I was overjoyed to visit this brand-new park, because it might just be the best in the Minors. It ended up being our Ballpark of the Year for 2009, even though Citi Field and the billion-dollar-plus Yankee Stadium also opened the same year.
  29. 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 the team's souvenir shop (and we sold out!), plus I was a guest on the Royals' radio network and I had the thrill of meeting Ernie Harwell! I'll always love KC as a result!
  30. 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 my mind for all time.
  31. 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 won their 23rd consecutive game at home, setting the all-time American League record.  How nice of them to do this while I was in attendance!
  32. March 22, 2017 at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, CA  It was the fourth World Baseball Classic, but the first time the USA team had reached the finals. This day, amidst an incredible game-day atmosphere, they pummeled Puerto Rico 8-0 to win the title.
  33. July 25, 2009 at Appalachian Power Park, Charleston, WV  I've gone to lots of games here, but this is one I will remember forever. I attended it with my father and my son. My Dad and I had gone to a lot of baseball contests, but this was his last, as he passed away five weeks later.
  34. 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!
  35. 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.
  36. 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 Camden Yards.  It was an exhibition pitting the Orioles against the Mets.
  37. 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.COM New Park of the Year for 2001, and I've gone to the trouble to make return trip after return trip.  Anyway, the home team beat the Indians in an inter-league game that night. There was also a rare capacity crowd on hand.
  38. 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 -- and you can see the grainy shot in the Cal Collection in the archives of this site.
  39. June 19, 2015 at Monongalia County Ballpark, Granville, WV  I was overjoyed to be able to attend the first pro baseball game played in this new park. From the stands, you could see the valley below that contained my alma mater, West Virginia University.
  40. May 26, 1997 at Yankee Stadium, New York   My first visit to The House That Ruth Built was spellbinding.  What a sense of history!
  41. October 1, 1982 at Memorial Stadium, Baltimore  The 1982 AL East race had gone down to the wire, and the two combatants -- the O's and 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 days later.  My long-running love affair with the Birds of Baltimore had begun,though!
  42. February 23, 1996 at Fort Lauderdale Stadium   One of several examples of stumbling across a great baseball event. I happened to be 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 an essay I penned the heartbreaking day that DiMaggio died in 1999 (after my three year old came up to me and said, "It's OK, Daddy. There will be other baseball players"). I wish I could find a copy of that emotion-filled piece now.
  43. October 6 , 2005 at Turner Field, Atlanta, GA  It 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.
  44. September 29, 1996 at the Astrodome, Houston, TX   And another example of not knowing how "special" of a time I was in for!  I knew I'd be attending the final game of the '96 season for the Astros, but I did not know that it was going to be Nolan Ryan Day.  The Alvin, TX native had his uniform retired in a moving pre-game ceremony (see photo).
  45. October 2, 2016 at Turner Field, Atlanta, GA   It was the Braves’ final game at the two-decade-old ballpark, which was originally built for the 1996 Olympics.
  46. July 1, 2001 at The Dell Diamond, Round Rock, TX  The Class AA All Star Game came to town, and over 12,000 fans packed Round Rock's park to see the best prospects of the National League beat the AL's future stars 8-3.
  47. July 12 , 2006 at Blair County Ballpark, Altoona, PA  And 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.
  48. October 8, 1997 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore Game One of the '97 ALCS went to the home team in a 3-0 shutout.  I already had my ticket to the World Series. I (and the whole state of Maryland) was fully 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 there for that, but it wasn't a thrill!).
  49. June 18, 2013 at Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium, Vancouver, BC When I visited this very historic park for the first time, it meant that there was only one other currently used park that I’d never seen.
  50. August 13-14, 1999 at Busch Stadium, St. Louis, MO    It wasn'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-run title, and what a treat it was to see them going head-to-head!  For the record, the baseball-crazy fans of St. Louis (and I) got to see Big Mac hit three HRs and Sammy one in this two-game set.
  51. May 30 , 2003 at Olsen Field, College Station, TX  My first postseason college baseball game was at an NCAA Regional contest between Texas A&M, the alma mater of all of my kids, and Oral Roberts. The home team won 6-3.
  52. July 24, 1993 at RiverSide Stadium, Harrisburg, PA  This year's edition of the Harrisburg Senators was arguably the best minor-league team of the '90s.  The roster included names like Rondell White, Curtis Pride and Cliff Floyd -- who was the Minor League Player of the Year -- and a starting pitcher on the staff was Ugueth Urbina.  The team led the Eastern League in both batting and pitching, they won the Eastern League regular-season championship by 19 games and cruised through the playoffs to take the EL crown.
  53. October 15, 2009 at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, CA  Chavez Ravine was rocking as the NLCS came to town. Stud starters Hamels and Kershaw faced off in Game 1, with the Phils prevailing 8-6.
  54. July 4, 1997 at Tiger Stadium, Detroit, MI   My one and only visit (to see a game) to venerable Tiger Stadium.  In obvious need of repair or replacement, this ballpark still had a gripping effect on me.  And it was a double-header on Independence Day to boot! To this day, I love visiting the site of the ballpark on The Corner, which is now a beautiful youth field that's operated by the Detroit Police Athletic League.
  55. June 16, 1990 at Comiskey Park, Chicago, IL   After 80 years, old Comiskey was in its final season.  Cramped, run-down and certainly not fit for a Major League team, I am thankful beyond words that I was able to see the home field of Shoeless Joe, the Go-Go Sox and Disco Demolition Night. The grand-old park faced its own demolition that winter.  Today you can see where home plate and the foul lines were located in a parking lot for the Sox' new park across the street.
  56. May 3, 1975 at Riverfront Stadium, Cincinnati, OH   This game pitted the Reds versus the Braves.  Any game with this batting order is a thrill:  Rose; Concepcion; Morgan; Perez; Bench; Driessen; Griffey; Geronimo and the pitcher Norman (Foster had the day off).  This was the year that the Big Red Machine won the first of back-to-back World Series.
  57. March 30, 2008 at Nationals Park, Washington, DC  While shivering in the stands at the first game played in the new home of the Washington Nationals, I was thinking that it was a mistake to play a night game in Washington in March. No matter. The park was a gem, and the home team won in a walk-off.
  58. September 15, 2002 at Nelson Wolff Municipal Stadium, San Antonio, TX   It was Game 7 of the Texas League Championship Series, and the hometown Missions knocked off the Tulsa Drillers 4-1 to take the trophy (see right).
  59. June 11 , 2005 at Baylor Ballpark, Waco, TX  My 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.
  60. May 21, 1972 at Watt Powell Park, Charleston, WV  I've never seen a no-hitter in person, but the closest I ever came was when Barry Moore of the International League Charleston Charlies carried a no-no into the 9th inning of this contest. The 5-3 win over Richmond also included a grand-slam by Richie Zisk, who went on to hit 207 homers in the Majors.
  61. April 16, 2000 at The Dell Diamond, Round Rock, TX  Being on hand for the first game of a brand-new stadium is always fun, but this was also the first home game ever of the Round Rock Express of the Texas League.  Keith Ginter, the 2000 TL Player of the Year, collected the Express' (and the ballpark's) first hit -- a first-inning home run.
  62. July 12, 2011 at Chase Field, Phoenix, AZ  While it’s always nice to see a MLB All Star Game, this one was even more enjoyable because I attended it with my son.
  63. August 20, 2017 at BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field in Williamsport, PA   Much like my incredible visit to Fort Bragg in 2016, I covered the MLB Little League Classic in Williamsport for USA TODAY. Watching the big leaguers interact with the Little Leaguers, and getting to write about it in my by-lined story in the print edition of USA TODAY, was a joy beyond words.
  64. July 11, 2012 at Coca-Cola Field, Buffalo, NY  It was a lot of fun attending the Triple-A All Star Game, especially since my good friend Doug Greenwald was one of the broadcasters.
  65. May 27 , 2006 at West End Field at Greenville, SC  This 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.
  66. July 5, 2000 at Pac Bell Park, San Francisco, CA   What a wonderful experience to get to visit this beautiful, beautiful ballpark for the first time. In a setting this gorgeous, the game becomes secondary.
  67. May 28, 2016 at Doubleday Field, Cooperstown, NY I got to attend the Hall Of Fame Classic Game featuring lots of noteworthy former Major Leaguers. Even better, it was held in historic Doubleday Field.
  68. April 3 , 2003 at Dr Pepper 7 Up Ballpark in Frisco, TX  It 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 -- and he did it by the 5th inning!
  69. April 17 , 2005 at Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi, TX  And 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).
  70. April 12 , 2007 at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock, AR  And not to be forgotten is another "first-ever game," this one in the brand-new ballpark of the Texas League's Arkansas Travelers.  It also won our plaque for Ballpark of the Year.
  71. April 13, 2013 at Regions Field, Birmingham, AL I visit every ballpark right after it opens, but rarely have I been as thrilled in seeing a new park as this fabulous facility. The architecture resembles the steel mills of the area.
  72. September 12, 2000 at Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA    I had the pleasure 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 baseball non-stop!  I'm photographed in front of Qualcomm with Ruppert and his wonderful wife Betty.
  73. 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 at Minnesota, winning 3-0.  The Twins' only hit was a scratch single by Gary Gaetti in the 5th.
  74. 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.
  75. June 11, 2001 at Louisville Slugger Field, Louisville, KY    Not only 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, which was his 10th in just 19 games since being called up to AAA. A Major League career with 462 HRs awaited.
  76. 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 was also interviewed by two local TV stations. It was nice to be interviewed instead of being the interviewer for once!
  77. September 9, 2001 at Nelson Wolff Municipal Stadium in San Antonio, TX  My adopted team, the Round Rock Express, had pushed the hometown Missions to the final game of the Texas League Western Division playoffs.  In one of the most thrilling contests I've ever witnessed, the Express won in extra innings -- propelling them into the Championship Series (which was never completed after the events of 9/11/01).
  78. April 17, 2018 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, PR I was given the opportunity to cover MLB's games in Puerto Rico for USA TODAY. Because of the compelling story about how the park had been repaired following the back-to-back hurricanes the previous September, my article was chosen to run on the back page of the daily USA TODAY Sports Section.
  79. 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??
  80. March 25, 1999 at Jack Russell Memorial Stadium, Clearwater, FL It was a great pleasure to attend this exhibition game pitting the Phillies and the Red Sox -- but not totally because of the park or the game itself.  You see, my good friend (and professional musician) Jay Michaels sang the National Anthem that night . . . 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!
  81. 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 excited when 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 cavernous Superdome.
  82. April 13, 2017 at Dunkin Donuts Park, Hartford, CT  Its opening had been delayed a year, but I was there for its first game. At long last.
  83. March 31, 2017 at SunTrust Park, Atlanta, GA  I'd scoured the site before construction started. I'd been given a tour when it was half-done. Now I was attending the first game (an exhibition where the Braves hosted the Yankees) in SunTrust Park.
  84. August 8, 1997 at Coors Field, Denver, CO    My first visit here -- with perhaps the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen anywhere -- was an awesome experience.
  85. 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 Collection includes a shot of this moment. Again, you have to realize how primitive digital photography was back then!!
  86. 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
  87. April 14, 2016 at Spirit Communications Park, Columbia, SC  What an incredible ballpark in an incredible setting! It was the inaugural game at this new park.
  88. March 31, 2017 at SunTrust Park, Atlanta, GA I'd scoured the site before construction started. I'd been given a tour when it was half-done. Now I was attenidng the first game (an exhibition where the Braves hosted the Yankees) in SunTrust Park.
  89. 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.
  90. April 12, 2018 at SRP Park, North Augusta, SC  It was Opening Night for the new gem of the South Atlantic League. Its intimate design and riverfront setting make it a winner.
  91. July 6, 1996 at Prince George's Stadium, Bowie, MD  The US Olympic Baseball Team was tuning up for the '96 Games with an exhibition against the Korean National Team. Team USA, led by Travis Lee, Troy Glaus and starting pitcher Kris Benson, won 8-2.
  92. July 4, 2001 at Centennial Field in Burlington, VT   What a great way to celebrate Independence Day!  Eighty-year-old Centennial Field is gorgeous (see photo), even if the hometown Expos lost their eighth straight game that day.
  93. May 20 , 2005 at Sunken Diamond, Palo Alto, CA  What 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.
  94. April 2, 2010 at Target Field, Minneapolis, MN I saw the first two games played at the Twins’ brand-new park, truly a marvel of engineering and architecture. They were exhibitions against the Cards.
  95. June 5, 2000 at the "Field of Dreams," Dyersville, IA  No game was going on. In fact, I had the place completely to myself. But getting to see the famous ball field carved out of the acres of corn (where the 1989 film "Field of Dreams" was filmed) was, well, a dream come true.
  96. 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 Bench and Ray Knight hit back-to-back homers.
  97. 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.
  98. October 16, 2009 at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, Phoenix, AZ   I've been attending Arizona Fall League games since it began, but this was the largest crowd I'd ever seen at an AFL game. That's because the #1 draft choice in that year's draft, Stephen Strasburg, made his professional debut. It was also the first pro game for future Major Leaguer
  99. February 10, 2000 at Rickwood Field, Birmingham, AL   I didn't see a game on this visit. But what I saw (while being given a wonderful guided tour by the Executive Director of The Friends Of Rickwood) was a gorgeous, old ballpark -- scene of an enormous amount of history during its 90 years. Dubbed "America's oldest ballpark," the facility is being lovingly restored and cared for.
  100. June 10, 2002 at Sam Lynn Ballpark in Bakersfield, CA I was asked to throw out the ceremonial first pitch in this historic park -- the first and only time I've done that. The number-one prospect in all of baseball, Josh Hamilton, then signed the ball I used. Some pretty funny things happened when I threw the pitch, by the way -- and the story gets funnier every time I tell it.

Honorable Mention

  • April 23, 1978 at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA  In a wild game, the Pirates (including Taveras, Parker and Stargell) scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Cards, 8-7.  Lou Brock stole the 903rd base of his career in the 7th, and with each steal, he was adding to his "modern" record.
  • April 1, 2012 at Marlins Park, Miami, FL Although the ballpark has never received the praise it deserves, I thoroughly enjoyed attending the first two games at this brand-new facility. They were exhibitions pitting the Yankees versus the Marlins.
  • June 6, 2006 at AutoZone Park, Memphis, TN This 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 at-the-time Redbirds' president, about the business of baseball.
  • March 29, 2013 at Alamodome, San Antonio, TX San Antonio’s massive domed stadium had hosted the NBA and the NFL, but never baseball … until now. Ryan-Sanders Baseball ponied up the million dollars it took to squeeze in a baseball field (including a special playing surface), and the Rangers played the Padres in two exhibitions.
  • April 5, 2007 at Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, MO  The 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.
  • June 10, 2001 at Fifth Third Field in Dayton, OH Samone Peters of the hometown Dayton Dragons was nice enough to hit a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 9th to 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 skit with the Famous Chicken (yes, he's in the photo, but don't ask me which one he is!).
  • 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.
  • February 27, 2014 at Cubs Park (now called Sloan Park), Mesa, AZ I attended the inaugural game at this impressive spring-training park after having written an article about it for USA TODAY’s Spring Training Preview.
  • March 2, 2002 at Baseball City Stadium, Haines City, FL  The Astros, with my personal favorite prospect Jason Lane hitting a single, double and triple, pounded the Royals in an exhibition game in this uninspiring ballpark (which met a wrecking ball the minute spring training was over that year). However, this game started a ten-game, seven-day spring-training odyssey for me in which I did book signings and saw baseball all over Florida.  It was an incredibly memorable week!
  • June 17, 2013 at Hillsboro Ballpark, Hillsboro, OR   I went to the grand opening of this new park, and I was impressed by the way it shares a concourse, concessions and restrooms with the adjacent football stadium.
  • March 29 , 2005 at Jackie Robinson Stadium, Los Angeles, CA  This 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!).
  • July 16, 2008 at Louisville Slugger Field, Louisville, KY   The facility with the best corporate-sponsorship name in the sport hosted the Triple-A All Star Game on a lovely night along the Ohio River.
  • April 17, 2015 at First Tennessee Park in Nashville, TN  I’d written extensively about how Nashville’s old Greer Stadium was the worst in Triple A. Well, it was only fitting that I covered the first game in the team’s new park.
  • September 18, 2007 at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, Oklahoma City, OK   For the second straight year, Minor League Baseball held a one-game championship between the winner of the Pacific Coast League (Sacramento) and the champ of the International League (Richmond). The River Cats prevailed 7-1.


  1. I compiled my own list of Ballpark thrills and posted it to your site several years ago. I’ll have to update mine. Some of mine coincide with yours (I witnessed both of the Rangers pennants, Game 6 of the 2010 and 2011 World Series, and I was at Games 6 and 7 of the World Series in St. Louis in 2011). I also attended the first game ever played by the Rockies (at Shea Stadium), April 5, 1993 and the first game ever played by the Diamondbacks on March 31, 1998. Number one on my list will probably always be Nolan Ryan’s 7th no-hitter, May 1, 1991. Seeing Ian Kinsler go 6 for 6 with a cycle in 2009 would be number 2.

    1. Yes, I remember your submission (when someone has attended The Ryan Express’ 7th no-hitter, that’s memorable!). We completely modernized the site last year, and there was no way to retain all of the old comments from visitors. Thanks so much for making a new submission!!

  2. Here are my top four, all of which I’ve written about on my website:

    1) Memorial Stadium, Baltimore, June 23, 1979. The Orioles took on the Tigers in a night doubleheader that set an attendance record (45,814) for night doubleheaders in Baltimore…I still remember the scoreboard announcing this during the second game. My Birds came from behind to win both games, including with an Eddie Murray walk-off in Game 1.

    2) Yankee Stadium, New York, July 9, 2011. I originally planned to do Yankee Stadium as cheaply as possible to show readers the benefits of my E-Guides, but I picked the date when Derek Jeter was two hits away from 3,000! The whole story of my attempts to get into the ballpark were memorable enough, but it was an unbelievable, incredible day.

    3) Progressive (then Jacobs) Field, Cleveland, June 30, 1994. It was a gutsy move on my part to make the eight-hour drive to Cleveland with as much rain in the forecast as there was. But by the time I arrived to see Cleveland’s brand new and stunning ballpark, the weather had turned into an absolutely beautiful evening. I truly felt like a Higher Power smiled on me that day.

    4) Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia, July 1, 1977. It was my first Phillies game, the first baseball game I actually remember. Just me and my father, witnessing an epic thriller between the Phillies and their equally tough division rival Pirates. The game was knotted at 4-4 until the 14th. The Bucs scored two in the top of the inning, and the Phillies came back with three in the bottom. An incredible game that made a lifelong impression on a nine-year-old.

    Great ideas for a piece Joe, enjoyed reading this!

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