Tag Archives: ballpark bucket list

Building my Ballpark Bucket List for When the World is Open Once Again Part 1

For the past five years, I have traveled an average of one to two weeks a month. During this time, I saw a lot of hotel rooms, drove a lot of rental cars, and most impressively I mastered the art of snagging a coveted aisle seat close to the front of a completely full Southwest Airlines flight.  On those rare occasions when the seat next to me on the flight was empty, I felt like I had won the lottery as I crisscrossed North America during the carefree days before COVID-19.

Over a five-year span I logged a lot of miles in blue planes just like this one.
Photo R. Anderson

Many of those trips involved visits to Ballparks and other sporting venues. I saw Major League games at Dodgers Stadium, Angels Stadium, Tropicana Field and Coors Field. I caught Minor League games in Colorado Springs and Port Charlotte, among other places.

For good measure, I even visited four hockey arenas. While Coolio sang of living in a “Gangsta’s Paradise,” I was truly spending most my time living in a sports fan paradise.

The era of the non-retractable roof Ballpark as fallen out of fashion in recent years. Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, is truly the last of its kind. Based on historically low attendance some might argue that the Trop was the first Ballpark to engage in social distancing.
Photo R. Anderson

Of course, that carefree ability to cram into full arenas, full ballparks, and even full blue Boeing 737s, has been put on hold for the foreseeable future thanks to the COVID-19 virus.

Large gatherings of people at sporting events would be the perfect storm for community spread of the virus. So out of an abundance of caution, fans will not be allowed to congregate for a while once the sports world reopens.

I can totally respect that since, a) I really don’t feel like getting sick just so I can see a game in person, and b) drinking Dr Pepper with a straw through a hole in my officially licensed MLB face covering does not sound like fun.

Constellation Field in Sugar Land, TX has a scoreboard that reminds people what state they are in. This can be helpful for fans who become disoriented from the heat.
Photo R. Anderson

Although I will not be able to see live sports any time soon, that does not mean that from the relative safety of my gigaplex I cannot compile a Bucket List of the ballparks I want to visit once the green light is given to safely return to mass gatherings.

My Bucket list of Ballparks I wanted to visit was already pretty extensive. However, as I have had much time at home to contemplate, I have had the chance to add to it. For the purpose of this exercise I have selected a Top 10 list of Ballparks I want to see when the world reopens.

The list is broken up into five Ballparks that I want to visit again, and five Ballparks that I want to see for the first time. The Ballparks include facilities at the Major League level, the Minor League Level, as well as the Independent League level.

For the first installment of our series, I have chosen to look at the five Ballparks I want to see again. While I will always enjoy finding new Ballparks to visit, I also enjoy returning to some old favorites. The five Ballparks on this list are ones that I would visit for every game if I had the chance.

Constellation Field, Sugar Land, TX

A mascot with a water gun is the perfect combo for baseball in triple degree heat.
Photo R. Anderson

Located just a smidge too far away from the gigaplex for me to be a season ticket holder, Constellation Field plays home to the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.

With reasonable prices on tickets, food, and souvenirs, a game inside Constellation Field won’t break most piggy banks. The action on the field is exciting, and the mid-inning promotions staff provides the usual Minor League Baseball standards to keep the fans entertained.

I do take issue with the team getting rid of the carousel in Center Field a few years ago, but aside from that, this little ballpark is pretty much perfect for catching a game. The Ballpark is in Texas so it does get hot during day games in the summer, but there are thankfully ways to stay cool including a splash pad and air conditioned areas.

Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, FL

Though it is criticized by many, I find Tropicana Field to be a pleasant place to catch a game while also feeding some wildlife.
Photo R. Anderson

Tropicana Field gets a lot of flak from a lot of people. They complain about the location of the facility as well as the fact that it is one of the last of the multi use large domes that once dotted the sports landscape from coast to coast.

While domes in Houston, Seattle, and Minnesota have given way to single use baseball fields, courtesy of the Ballpark renaissance kicked off by Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Tropicana Field stands as a reminder of what a certain era of Ballpark design looked like. While the Trop has haters, I actually like the Ballpark. It was one of the first facilities to allow people to bring in their own food and also offers an unlimited refill policy on soft drinks.

Paying tribute to the days when the Tampa Bay Rays were known as the Devil Rays, there is even a Ray touch and feeding tank in center field.  Plus, it is hard to beat catching a game in air-conditioned comfort and staying dry during those hot and wet Florida summers that last from March to November.

Coors Field, Denver, CO

During my lone trip to Coors Field I hit a triple with a Pepsi, a hot dog, and a bobblehead.
Photo R. Anderson

Next up is Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies. I have only had the pleasure of attending one game at this Ballpark. It was a day game during a Colorado heat wave and the vendors were selling equal amounts of beverages and sunscreen.

From what I could see through my sun screen irritated eyes, the Ballpark has a lot to offer. The game I attended included a bobblehead giveaway, as well as a race between people dressed up as the presidents on Mount Rushmore. Not too shabby.

Coors Field made the list, based on my desire to catch a night game at the Ballpark and to have time to explore more of the amenities without feeling like I was every bit of a mile closer to the surface of the sun.

Dr Pepper Ballpark, Frisco, TX

Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, TX is a great venue to catch a game, just try to avoid day games in August.
Photo R. Anderson

Dr Pepper Ballpark is home of the Frisco Rough Riders, who are the Double A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. It has been several years since I made the drive up to the Ballpark located in a suburb of Dallas, but it is a drive well rough making.

The Ballpark features bullpens that are surrounded by seats so fans can really get a close look at the pitchers warming up. The facility also includes a lazy river and a pool, which is perfect for the sweltering heat that the Dallas Metroplex is famous for.

One major plus of Dr Pepper Ballpark, is the availability to have a cold and refreshing Dr Pepper. I am sure there are people who do not mind Pibb Xtra, but for me it has to be Dr Pepper. With the headquarters for Dr Pepper being located next door in Plano, TX, I feel pretty confident that the Ballpark will keep serving Dr Pepper for years to come.

Blue Wahoos Stadium, Pensacola, FL

Pensacola’s Blue Wahoos Stadium is a true gem among Ballparks and  has a waterfront view that can often include spotting the Blue Angels returning from an Air Show.
Photo R. Anderson

Blue Wahoos Stadium is home to the Blue Wahoos, a Class Double A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. The Ballpark is one of my favorites for many reasons. The location right on the bay is hard to beat.

The concessions are top notch. The Ballpark itself is beautiful and has been named best ballpark in the country by numerous outlets, including being a three-time recipient of the Southern League Ballpark of the Year award. The Ballpark is the smallest facility in the Southern League and this creates an intimate fan experience.

I try to visit Pensacola as often as I can. When the world reopens, and it is safe to move about the country once again, Pensacola will be one of the first trips that I make. Southern League Baseball has always been my favorite league since catching Orlando Sun Rays games with my mom at Tinker Field in Orlando. The Blue Wahoos allow me to keep that tradition alive once every other year or so.

These five Ballparks are definitely places I would go to again and again. There are other Ballparks that I could have included as well on my list of places I love catching a game at.  Be sure to return Friday when I will reveal the five venues that I want to visit for the first time.

Now if you’ll excuse me, all of this talk about Ballparks has me craving a hot dog and some nachos.

Copyright 2020 R. Anderson

 

Road Trip Ponderings from Bed Better Than Matlock Reruns

About this time last week, depending on when you are reading this, I was sick in bed.

Considering that I am fortunate to not get sick that often, and also that on those times when I am sick it really involves being bed bound, this indeed was quite a rare occurrence.

Don’t get me wrong I enjoy the personal wellness day as much as the next guy but when I am using “sick time” and am actually sick it is a totally different story and far from as fun.

Fueled by saltines and chicken stock I used my idle time well during a recent illness. Photo R. Anderson

Fueled by saltines and chicken stock I used my idle time well during a recent illness.
Photo R. Anderson

On my sickest day, I spent much of the day in bed sleeping, eating saltine crackers, drinking massive amounts of Gatorade  and sipping chicken broth. During my rare waking hours that did not involve eating and drinking the aforementioned items I tried to watch television.

Now, I have a very nice cable package that gives me far more channels than I could possibly watch in a lifetime let alone a day yet despite this fact I found the choices for things to watch very slim.

Of course the television in my bedroom does not have the same channel selections as the television in my living room but it was not worth trading my horizontal position in bed with one on a couch so that I could have a few more channels to choose from.

So with only so many episodes of In the Heat of the Night and Matlock that one could watch I found myself needing to find other ways to pass the time.  I of course could have found a book to read but I had just finished a book on the role Galveston, TX played in the Civil War and had not decided what my next book to read should be. And picking a book while sick is not the wisest of choices since what I feel like reading sick might not be the same thing that I want to read while well.

Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, TX is a place I can go again and again. Photo R. Anderson

Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, TX is a place I can go again and again.
Photo R. Anderson

So with television and books failing me my thoughts quite literally began to wander. And these were not fever induced mind wanderings they were more wanderings out of boredom.

While I am sure there are many people who could happily lay in bed all day I am just not wired that way. About halfway through the day I began to get antsy and wanting to not be trapped inside. Of course I did not really know what I would do if I were to go outside but the very fact that I could not go outside was enough to give me that cooped-in feeling.

So with only my mind to entertain me, and less than a week removed from a vacation I did what any normal person would do, I started thinking of ideas for additional vacations.

In particular I thought of baseball ballparks to add to my bucket list to go see and some of my favorite past ballparks that need one of my annual visits. In no particular order the following ballparks were considered with four ballparks that I have never seen and want to and four ballparks that I just can’t seem to see enough.

Let’s start with the four ballparks that are worth visiting again and again.

Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco TX is the home of the Frisco Roughriders, the Double-A affiliate for the Texas Rangers.  The Ballpark includes a swimming pool among other amenities and is the only ballpark to include seats on all sides of the bullpens to give fans a truly unique experience. At just over four hours away it is also one of the closest affiliated Minor League ballparks I can get to.  As it gets very warm in the Dallas area in the summer it is a Ballpark best visited prior to the end of July.

Bayfront Stadium in Pensacola, FL. is another one of the ballparks I just can't get enough of. Photo R. Anderson

Bayfront Stadium in Pensacola, FL. is another one of the ballparks I just can’t get enough of.
Photo R. Anderson

Bayfront Stadium in Pensacola, FL. is the home of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, the Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.  The Ballpark sits overlooking the water and combines great views and competitive Southern League action. Of course the proximity to the beaches of Pensacola does not hurt when it comes to making the eight hour drive east.

Lest I leave out the Major League ballparks, Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL, home of the Tampa Bay Rays is truly a fun Ballpark to visit. I know it continues to get a bad wrap due to perceived issues related to its age but when it is 97 degrees outside and 72 degrees inside where the game is being played it is hard to beat. Of course when not watching the game action one can visit the Stingray touch tank in center field as well as the Ted Williams Museum. And did I mention that all of this can be accomplished with it dry and cool?

It has a roof to keep out the rain. It has ice cold AC to set you free. It has a ray feeding tank and the Ted Williams Museum. What Tropicana Field lacks is respect from the wider baseball community who seem set on tearing it down. Photo R. Anderson

It has a roof to keep out the rain. It has ice cold A/C to set you free. It has a ray feeding tank and the Ted Williams Museum. What Tropicana Field lacks is respect from the wider baseball community who seem set on tearing it down.
Photo R. Anderson

And of course one needs to include the hometown ballpark Minute Maid Park. Home to the Astros and the place that I have seen the most regular season games it is also an oasis from the heat and rain like Tropicana Field. It also includes a train above the outfield and a flagpole within fair territory. It is years away from a consistently competitive home team but the Ballpark cannot be blamed for that.

So that concludes our look at four ballparks I enjoy seeing again and again. Now let’s look at four Ballparks that I just haven’t made it to yet but can’t wait to see.

As mentioned a week or two ago I love the movie Bull Durham so it makes sense that I would want to take a trip to see the Durham Bulls play at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Sadly the Bulls no longer play in the historic Ballpark featured in the movie but it would still be nice to see a game  there and drive by the old Ballpark as well.

The Washington Nationals’ Double-A affiliate the Harrisburg Senators play at Metro Bank Park in Harrisburg, PA. Metro Bank Park is located on an island. Not a large island like say Oahu but an island that is basically large enough for the Ballpark and some parking. Once I learned of this Ballpark a few years back it quickly rose to the top five that I wanted to see. I mean think about it, an island just big enough for a Ballpark. It doesn’t get much more unusual than that.

Minute Maid Park has a train that blows its whistle whenever the Astros hit a home run. The train has not made much noise the past few years but is still better to look at than the eyesore billboards in center field. Photo R. Anderson

Minute Maid Park has a train that blows its whistle whenever the Astros hit a home run. The train has not made much noise the past few years but is still better to look at than the eyesore billboards in center field.
Photo R. Anderson

Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, MD is the Ballpark most credited with ushering in a return to the era of baseball-only Ballparks. Even if it were not home to my beloved Baltimore Orioles I would still want to see a game there just for the fact of all that it inspired. The fact that it is home to the Baltimore Orioles certainly adds an extra degree of wanting to see it though.

Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Watching baseball in another country. Need I say more?

So those were some Ballparks that my weakened self thought of seeing during my recent illness. Now I just need to flesh out the plans to see them again and in some case for the first time.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to replenish my supply of soup and other supplies in preparation for my next illness and also get some road trip supplies just in case the urge to catch a game strikes.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson