Baseball Essential Staff Special #1: Ballpark Memories

Each baseball fan has a distinct memory at a ballgame, the place where dreams are made. It can be as simple as hanging out with your father, eating a hot dog, and enjoying a good pitching match up, or as complex as going to Game 7 of a World Series. Although those events are on two different spectrums, they mean just as much to the person taking it in.

We bring you a new series, that gives a little more perspective into the baseball lives of us at BBE. Each week we will have a new baseball orientated question get sent out to the staff, with their replies here, to give you a more in-depth experience with the writers. This is also a question for you, the fans, to give us a little peek into your experiences as well as for others to chime in and converse with each other. For the first installment, each member of the team was asked “What was your favorite memory while at a ballpark?” with no requirements.

Here is what they said:

Tyler Fiedler: 

“My favorite ballpark memory has to be Derek Jeter’s final home game at Yankee Stadium. It was something that was both magical and emotional. I have never been to a stadium so electric and so packed for a team that was eliminated from playoff contention. You can see Jeter’s emotions throughout the game and many times he had to cover his face to hold back the tears. The chants of “Derek-Jeter” rang throughout the stadium the entire night. I had goosebumps the entire game. Nothing will beat the pure joy, happiness and excitement that everyone felt when Jeter wrote his magical ending by getting an opposite field base hit to win the game. So saying goodbye to my favorite player in his final game at Yankee Stadium has to be my favorite memory.”

James Terry:

“I have so many amazing ballpark memories but my favorite one has to be going to the 2006 All-Star Game at PNC Park with my dad, grandfather and younger brother. Everything about it, including the buildup to the game, was amazing. There was a buzz among the city and just by walking the streets of Pittsburgh it was easy to tell that something special was going on. For anybody who has never been to an All-Star game in person, it’s breathtaking when all of the players are introduced. You hear the names of every great player in the game today including a number of future Hall of Famers. For me, these names included Mariano Rivera, Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Joe Mauer and Derek Jeter. Baseball fans only see that much talent on the diamond once a year and I got to see it in person. The game also kept me on the edge of my seat for all nine innings. Michael Young ripped a two run triple with two outs in the top of the 9th to put the American League up 3-2 and that held up as the final score. It was an amazing night and I wouldn’t want to share it with anybody else but my dad. Going to an All-Star game should be on any fan’s bucket list.”

Gabriel Bogart:

“One of my favorite memories: my mom took me to a Mariners’ game for my 22nd birthday. A friend of mine worked for the M’s at the time, and she got together with my mom and switched out the tickets to seat us three rows behind home plate. Granted, this was in the Kingdome, so it still wasn’t the most ideal setting for baseball, but I didn’t care that much at the time, as I was still transitioning from basketball being my primary sport as a fan to baseball. I had never sat so close and been able to see pitches arrive at the plate and how they moved and whether the umpire was giving the pitchers a large or small zone. It was a wholly illuminating experience. I don’t even remember who was pitching, but just to see all of that so up close and to hear the ump’s calls and some of the chatter between the batters and the catcher and the ump. It sealed the deal for me and I was well on my way to becoming a rabid baseball fan. What I do know clearly for sure is that Griffey (Jr.) hit two home runs that day. It was one of those central moments in any baseball fan’s “careers” and I’ll never forget it.”

Kyle Head:

“July 28, 1994 was one of my most memorable trips to the ballpark ever. That was the day Kenny Rogers threw a perfect game against the California Angels, and I was there in the left field bleachers to witness history as a seven-year-old. Each year we’d take our family vacation to Dallas to visit my aunt and uncle, go to Six Flags and watch a Rangers game or two. We’d try every year to watch the Mariners play, since that was/is my favorite team, but they weren’t in town so we settled for the California Angels. They didn’t disappoint either. I don’t remember much from the game but I do remember the final out and everyone in the crowd going crazy. It was awesome to get to witness history live and in person, something I’ll never forget.”

Josh Sadlock:

“To me, there is no one ballpark memory that stands out. I have not been lucky enough to attend a World Series game or see a historic event like a no-hitter. I have never caught a foul ball, and I have attended only one playoff game in my life (thanks, Peter Angelos) — Game One of last year’s ALDS in Baltimore. Instead of one singular event, I look back on my entire life spending afternoons and evenings at the ballpark with my dad. The two of us have been attending games as far back as I can remember. It was in these moments that I learned about the game through his careful observations, and really came to love the intricacies of the game that you cannot pick up from watching on TV. My dad and I still attend several games a year together, and I continue to look forward to each new chance to add to my lifetime of ballpark memories.”

Paul Mammino:

“My favorite ballpark memory has to be when I went to Game Two of the 2003 World Series.  My dad was able to get four tickets for the game with him, two of my adult cousins, and myself all going to the game. I was only eight but I can remember so many facts from the game vividly. Our seats were behind the right field foul pole close enough to read the various messages fans had written on it through the years. I was excited to go to a World Series game, but it was even better because my idol, Andy Pettitte was starting for the New York Yankees against Mark Redman for the Florida Marlins. Pettitte had always been and remains to this day my favorite baseball player. He certainly did not disappoint as the left-hander twirled a gem throwing 8.2 innings giving up one unearned run. The bleachers were rowdy all game long and the sounds of “Hip-Hip Jorge” and “An-dy Pettitte” are ones I will never forget for the rest of my life.”

Jose Alvarez:

“My first MLB game was a complete fluke. I took the subway to visit a friend of mine, at the time I was going to college in Boston. The year was 2003 and the Red Sox were down 2-0 in the best-of-five series against the Oakland Athletics in the ALDS. I was with another friend of mine when we decided to get out at Kenmore Square (Fenway Park’s subway stop) and just walk to his house. The atmosphere was INCREDIBLE. I had never felt anything like that. Long story short, we ended up buying tickets off of an old man who could barely walk. We escorted him to the nearest ATM where we completed the transaction (yes, the “S” word.) We sat in the second to last row in the RF bleachers. That night the Sox would win on a walk-off home run by Trot Nixon. At that time it was the first walk-off HR by a Red Sox since Carlton Fisk. I will never forget my first Major League ballpark memory, even if it led to heartbreak a week later at the hands of Aaron Boone.”

Scott Stone:

“My favorite ballpark memory was a tough one because I’ve spent a lot of my life on fields and at games. I wrestled with a few memories of past games that I played in, or watched, but my favorite didn’t have anything to do with a specific game, but a coach. Chris Burton was a former SHSU Bearkat and Atlanta Brave that volunteered his time with my high school my freshman year. More than anything, he taught me the right way to play the game that I loved. He taught me to hit off-field, taught me how to bunt, and how to go all out every time. He was only my coach for one year, but if it wasn’t for him, and the the things he taught me about the game, about life, and about the faith in God that we shared, I wouldn’t have gone on to play college ball, and I wouldn’t be writing about it now. Coach Burton passed away a year ago from cancer, but those memories and the things he taught his players live on in us.”

Nik Jarvinen:

“For me, there’s plenty of great memories watching everything from MLB games to minor league games. It’s been basically a second home since my dad got me into baseball in 2004, when I was seven. I’ve been lucky enough to visit 12 MLB stadiums and numerous minor league and spring training ones. I’m saying all of this because it’s really hard to pick a favorite memory. I’ve seen many great moments and hopefully I’ll get to see many more (like a no-hitter or cycle sooner a later). Nowadays my games all have the same routine. I get to the park a half hour before the gates open and proceed to watch BP and try to get as many autographs for my personal collection as possible. Then I sit and enjoy the game with a friend or family member. So, I’m picking a game when I had less of routine. My favorite ballpark memory was being at Game 4 of the ALCS in 2006. I wasn’t that long suffering of a Tiger fan, as they hadn’t really ever done anything great since they made the playoffs in 1987, but it was my first playoff experience that year.

I went to the ALDS and I saw how the atmosphere was electric. That day, the ALCS started in the middle for the afternoon and myself being only nine at the time, my mom took me. We got there and purchased an ALCS program (one I used to look at so much that the cover had to retaped on). Then we sat and ate over at the Brushfire Grill in Comerica before making our way up to our seats. The game didn’t start well as Jeremy Bonderman got hit around and the Tigers fell behind. They slowly clawed back like they had so many times that year. Then to lead off the sixth inning, Magglio Ordonez followed through on his beautiful swing and nailed a ball out to left and the game was tied. The next few innings didn’t produce a run, but boy were they fun! It was as intense a sporting event as I remember and I loved it. My mom was begging my little self to put on my winter jackets as the temps were falling to the low 40’s, but I refused. I was on the edge of my seat. I was okay with the fact the Tigers might lose because that 3-0 lead was so nice, but I was rooting hard for them. It seemed like the game was going to go to extras as the Tigers quickly made two outs in the bottom of the ninth, but then Craig Monroe lined a single, and so did Placido Polanco. Then I heard Maggs at-bat music, a Latin song, called “Mirala” by Oscar D’Leon play. Last thing I told my mom was that we were a base hit away from the World Series, which seemed like a dream the season before.

Sure enough Magglio didn’t waste time hitting the second pitch, the first strike to his liking into the seats in left field. Then everyone went crazy, beer went up, there was a mob of Tigers hugging and jumping on each other. Horses with policeman were on the field, I saw one of the wives getting escorted and running onto the field. It’s amazing how much detail of such a hectic moment is still with me. We watched the trophy presentation and walked down the ramp to leave, where “Eat Em Tigers” was being chanted by everyone (RIP Eat Em Tigers guy) and we bought the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News special edition papers. That definitely solidified me as a fan for life, and it’s why you keep going back to the ballpark.”

Nick Delahanty:

“My favorite memory was very recent, but will always be a night I truly won’t forget. I was fortunate enough to be in attendance for Derek Jeter’s final home game at Yankee Stadium with my dad. I still get goose bumps thinking about it, as I witnessed one of the game’s greatest players say goodbye to a fan base that supported him for 20 seasons. To see Jeter’s storybook career end in grand fashion was simply an amazing experience, and I can honestly say I’ve never been in a place where the atmosphere was as electric as Yankee Stadium was that night.”

Tyler Milliken:

“My favorite ballpark memory took place at Fenway Park almost two years ago when the Boston Red Sox were making their historic run towards another World Series victory. It was August 1st, and I was celebrating my 15th birthday with my best friend that night. Being at Fenway that hectic night had been a great time, but it was a bit upsetting to watch the Red Sox struggle throughout the game and trail five runs going into the bottom of the ninth. No one ever wants to see their home team struggle, especially against a rather weak team like the Mariners were at the time. The bottom of the ninth would change the mood of the whole game though as the Red Sox continued to rally after each hit. As the comeback took form it seemed like Fenway had become one, as fans began to hold their breath with each pitch and celebrate as victory inched closer. As the game became tied up it was great to see guys like Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes so caught up in the moment. But nothing compared to when Daniel Nava sent the game winning hit into center and Fenway completely erupted. Red Sox fans beside me jumped around like it was Christmas morning, and Mariners fans continued to shake their heads in disbelief. I remember after the game winning hit just screaming like crazy and hugging my best friend, we couldn’t believe what we had just witnessed. Seeing the entire team celebrate on the field and go crazy was just a moment that reminded me why I fell in love with the sport of baseball at such a young age. Getting to see a team you watch all season have an iconic moment like that was fascinating, not to mention it was one of the biggest ninth inning comebacks in years. Games like that don’t come around very often, but when they do they’re remembered for years to follow. The night I spent at that Red Sox and Mariners game is a memory I’ll keep forever, and definitely a story I’ll continue to share with both my family and friends for the rest of my life.”

Andrew Miller:

My favorite ballpark memory was taking a tour of Marlins Park while it was still being constructed. It was roughly two years before the stadium opened to the public, and we got a letter asking if we wanted to go on a tour. I was 14 at the time and the letter said I had to be 16, but I was able to get through with no questions asked. They took my dad and me on a golf cart all around the stadium still being built, and although there was barley any sight of a stadium, it was cool to see what the future stadium would look like, and where I would go see my favorite team play in the future with no rain delays (little did I know), and being there with my dad who is an avid Marlins fan as well made it that much better.

Jeff Snider:

I have a lot of good ballpark memories, but I gained a new favorite last year. On April 4, 2014, my seven-year-old son came with me for his first home opener at Dodger Stadium. It wasn’t our first game together — heck, it wasn’t even our first game together that season, as we had gone to game three of the Dodgers/Padres series in San Diego just two days earlier — but it was our first home opener together, and it was also my first home opener with my dad. It was my dad, my son, my brother, and me, together at Dodger Stadium to watch our team play their first home game of the season. The Dodgers lost to the Giants — ewwwwww — but those memories fade. Watching my dad and my son talk baseball throughout the game made it all worth it.

Gershon Rabinowitz: 

“My adoration for the game of baseball began during the famed 1998 season, along with my deep passion for the New York Yankees. Unfortunately I had never seen them win a game in person despite going to a number of games between then and 1999. I told my dad to buy me a ticket to a game against the Expos in July since they were the worst team in baseball unbeknownst to me that it was also Yogi Berra Day. David Cone took the mound for the Yankees and was pitching a gem before the rains came in the third. I realized at that point that Cone was pitching a perfect game. The innings went by after the rain stopped and as a precious eight year old I realized I witnessed something that only happened a handful of times before in the thousands of baseball games ever played. It was a perfect game and the perfect ending to my first Yankees win in person”

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