Tag Archives: Ballparks

Honoring Three Women Who Shaped my Love of Baseball

Aside from being the month of my birth, March is also Women’s History Month.

Established in 1987, Women’s History Month highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.

Few can argue that women have played a pivotal role in societies across the globe for centuries. It would be impossible to list all of those accomplishments in a single column.

Instead, I am going to focus on the three women in my life who, among other things, helped shape my love of baseball and sport in general. It is a love that has proven to be quite useful throughout my life and career.

Those three women are, my mother, my maternal grandmother, and my paternal grandmother.

Each of them, in their own unique way set me on the path that I am on today.


Our journey through the inspirational baseball loving women in my life begins with my mother.

My mother grew up as a Washington Senators fan and became a Baltimore Orioles fan after both versions of the Senators fled the Nation’s Capital to become the Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers, respectively.

As my mother would often point out, had the Senators stayed around, I likely would have never been a Baltimore Orioles fan.

But the Senators did leave town twice, which meant either by default, or by choice, I became a Baltimore Orioles fan.

In addition to taking me to my first regular season Major League Baseball game in Baltimore, my mother also took me to my first Spring Training game to see the Orioles play in Orlando.

In January 2013, I wrote a column about the series of events that occurred on that fateful trip to Memorial Stadium in 1983 for my first regular season game.

The story behind my first Spring Training game was equally memorable.

After moving from Maryland to Florida in the third grade, I went from living in a state where I had a local Major League ball club to root for from April to October, to a state that only had Major League Baseball during two months of Spring Training.

I did not know it at the time, but the lack of full time Major League Baseball, that existed until the arrival of the Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Devil Rays about a decade after I moved to Florida, would be a great benefit to shaping me.

While I would go on to attend hundreds of Spring Training games in my life, my first encounter with spring training started with a bit of constructive deception.

The Program from my first Spring Training game that occurred thanks to some creative deception from my mother.
Photo R. Anderson

One March day, which also happened to be my birthday, as I was sitting in my classroom like a good little student, my name was called on the intercom to go to the principal’s office.

To be fair, there were many times when my name was called over the intercom because I had done something to warrant a trip to see the principal.

However, on this particular day I was at a complete loss as to why I was being summoned.

As I exited the classroom, my mom met me outside my classroom door. We walked in virtual silence. The whole time we were walking, a series of thoughts ran through my head. The thoughts ranged from someone must have died, to I must have really done something this time if my mom is the one escorting to the office.

But we did not stop at the office. Instead we kept walking in virtual silence all the way to my mom’s car.

Once we were safely away from listening ears and inside the car, my mom told me of the real reason why I was leaving school. And that reason was, we were going to Tinker Field to see a Spring Training game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Minnesota Twins.

I was excited to learn that my fears of a death in the family were not realized. I was even more excited that I was getting to go see a baseball game Ferris Bueller style while the rest of my classmates were stuck at school.

Two traditions began for me that day. The first being, that one should never be in school ,or at work on their birthday, and second, birthdays are best when they are spent at a ballpark.

In the years since that first Spring Training game, I have often followed my mom’s example to stop and smell the nachos from time to time by skipping school, or work, in order to take in a day at the ballpark, even on days that aren’t my birthday.

My mom did not only take me to see Spring Training though. She would often take me to see the Orlando Sun Rays play Minor League Baseball games. My mom also took me to a Senior Professional Baseball Association game where I was able to meet Earl Weaver.

I have written extensively through the years about how those numerous trips to Tinker Field with my mom shaped me as a fan, as well as a sports writer. Those trips also instilled in me a yet unreached goal of working for a Minor League Baseball team.

As I also recently noted in another column, my mom also often took me to baseball card shops and card shows to ensure that my baseball itch was scratched outside of the ballpark as well.

Yes, my mother was quite influential in ensuring that my love of baseball was fed at every possible opportunity. However, she was not alone in nurturing my love of baseball.


The next women who inspired my love of baseball was Edna Kirby, who I called Granny. Granny lived among the slash pine trees of southern Georgia about four hours away from Atlanta. In addition to going to nearly every baseball game at the local high school, Granny always made a point to watch her beloved Atlanta Braves whenever they were on TV.

Before she got a satellite dish, and long before streaming games on the internet or a phone was a thing, Granny used an over the air antenna strapped to the roof.

On the days when the antenna just couldn’t pick up the station carrying the game, Granny would go old school and listen to the broadcast on the radio.

There were definitely some lean years to be a Braves fan. Still, Granny would soldier on with her devotion to her “boys” and most of all Chipper Jones.

Whenever Chipper Jones would make a great play, shouts of “attaboy Chipper” would resonate throughout the house from Granny’s recliner.

And, whenever Chipper would strike out or make a bad fielding play the battle cry from the recliner turned to “oh Chipper.”

Checking up on Chipper at Astros Spring Training in Kissimmee, FL.
Photo by R. Anderson

About 20 years ago, my mother and I traveled from Texas to Georgia to visit Granny in the hospital.

While it was never spoken out loud in the car, we both feared that maybe we were driving to say good bye to her based on the severity of why we thought she had been admitted to the hospital.

After driving for 16 hours straight, we arrived at the hospital and prepared for the worst as we approached the small rural hospital.

However, nothing really could have prepared us for what we saw once we got inside. Instead of a woman near death, we found my grandmother standing in the hall in her hospital gown shouting to us to hurry up since the Braves game was on.

She did not wait for us to get down the hall. Instead, she turned and went back in her room. By the time we got to her room, she was already back in bed and giving us a recap of the game and asking what took us so long to get there.

Near death indeed. She was as full of life as ever, and it was yet another time to talk about the Braves. Granny went on to live about another 10-years after her “near death” experience.

When Granny went into a nursing home, many of her things were divided up among family. There were not too many items of my grandmother’s that I wanted, but I made sure I got her television. It was far from a new television. In fact, it was downright old and heavy by today’s standards.

For me, it was the Braves TV. Every time I saw it or powered it on, I thought about Granny and our shared bond over the game of baseball.

Eventually I replaced Granny’s TV with a newer HD model after thinking to myself, there is no way that Granny would still be watching the Braves on this set.

I laughed a little when I thought that if she were here she would say, “Buster Brown, get rid of that old TV and get yourself one where you can see the blades of grass on the field.”

To this day, whenever I watch the Braves play, I smile a little wider because I know we are both watching the same game.


The third woman who shaped my love of baseball is Pat Hall, or Mom Mom as I called her. For years, Mom Mom lived in the perfect area to take advantage of a love of baseball. After retiring, Mom Mom moved from Maryland to the west coast of Florida near Bradenton.

In addition to being located near some really nice beaches, which made for great summer days in the surf, as well as year round fishing, there was proximity to baseball; lots and lots of baseball.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the layout of baseball in Florida, there are several teams that hold their Spring Training games in and around the west coast of the Sunshine State.

Each year when Spring Training rolled around, Mom Mom and I would try to plan when I could come down from Orlando and catch a game with her.

Sadly, it never worked out that we could see a Spring Training game in Bradenton. However, we were able to see several Minor League Baseball games together at Tinker Field in Orlando.

A map of the teams that call the Grapefruit League in Florida their Spring Training home.
Photo by R. Anderson

In addition to fueling my love for attending baseball games, Mom Mom also helped add to my autograph collection.

Mom Mom interacted with many ball players through a part time job that she had at a restaurant that was owned by a former player in the Pirates organization. Every so often, a new package filled with autographs of people that she had met would arrive in the mail.

Many of those autographs are still displayed in my office. One particularly cool item from those years is an autographed team ball for the Bradenton Explorers of the SPBA.

The SPBA disbanded after a single season. So, I consider that extra cool to have that memento of a forgotten era.

Encounters with sports figures was not just tied to baseball however. During one visit to her restaurant, I was also introduced to college basketball announcer Dick Vitale.

I met him before I really knew who he was. So, there was not a huge wow factor aside from the normal pleasantries of being introduced to someone and being told that they were famous. Once I did learn who he was I must say as he would surely say, “it was awesome baby.”

One of my remaining bucket list Ballparks is McKechnie Field in Bradenton. It is the Ballpark that Mom Mom and I never made it to. It is important to me that I make it there at least once in her memory.

I had planned to make the trek in 2020, but then the world of sports shut down for COVID-19. Hopefully 2024 will allow me to finally catch a game there 40 years after the invitation was first made.


Although both my maternal and paternal grandmothers have passed away, the lessons they taught me and the love of baseball remains.

My mom and I have attended many baseball games together over the years, and hopefully we will get to attend a few more in the years to come. Inside and outside of ballparks she continues to be an inspiration.

There are countless other personal stories that I am sure people can tell about their own experiences with inspirational women in their lives.

Of course, just like a single column cannot contain all the stories of important women in my life, a single month cannot contain all of the ways that women have contributed to societies throughout history.

Be sure to take time to recognize a few women in your life who have helped shape you into the person you are today, and the person you are yet to be.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some trips to some Ballparks to plan.

Copyright 2023 R. Anderson

Building my Ballpark Bucket List for When the World is Open Once Again Part 2

As the world of sports continues to look into ways to safely return fans into their facilities thanks to the COVID-19 virus, sports fans are left to wait and wonder when they can return to their local Ballparks and Stadiums and raise their souvenir cups high.

Although I will not be able to see live sports any time soon, that does not mean that from the relative safety of my gigplex 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.

Since catching my first Major League Baseball game at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore I have visited a lot of Ballparks. There are still many more Ballparks I want to see.
Photo R. Anderson

My Bucket List of ballparks was already pretty extensive, but 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.

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.

I unveiled the five Ballparks I want to see again in Part 1. Today, in Part 2, I unveil the five Ballparks that I have never visited, but in some cases, have wanted to see for years.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, MD

Oriole Park at Camden Yards is the main Ballpark on my Bucket List that I want to visit.
Photo R. Anderson

While there are many Ballparks that I want to visit, the one that has topped my list pretty much from the time it was built is Oriole Park at Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles. I was raised as a Baltimore Orioles fan, and saw my first Major League game at Memorial Stadium where the Orioles played prior to making the move to Camden Yards.

Once I moved to Florida, Spring Training meant trips to see the Orioles at Tinker Field, and later at Ed Smith Stadium. I have even seen the Orioles play regular season games against the Astros in Houston and against the Rays in St. Petersburg.

Still, the one venue that has eluded me is Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Ballpark started the movement for single use Ballparks, and includes a distinctive warehouse wall feature which the Astros mimicked when they built their new Ballpark at the site of the old Union Station. As soon as I am able, and the world gets a little more stability, I will board that big blue Boeing 737 nonstop from Houston to Baltimore to catch a game, enjoy an Esskay hotdog, and some crab cakes smothered in Old Bay. On a positive since the Orioles have struggled mightily the last few seasons, it is likely that the Ballpark will not be full which should allow me to really explore as I check it off of my Bucket List.

Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.

Proximity to Space Coast Stadium allowed me the chance to see many Washington Nationals Spring Training games when I lived in Florida. However, I have yet to see the 2019 World Series Champions play at Nationals Park.
Photo R. Anderson

When I lived in Maryland, the Washington Senators had already fled to Texas to become the Rangers, after replacing the version of the Senators that fled to Minnesota to become the Twins.

Additionally, the Washington Nationals went by the name of the Montreal Expos, so the ability to catch a game at Nationals Park would have been rather difficult since neither the Ballpark, nor the team existed. But from the time that the Nationals arrived on the scene, I embraced them with the full vigor that one would for a long-lost friend.

My fandom of the Nationals was further entrenched after my mom reminded me one day that since we had lived closer to Washington D.C. than Baltimore, had the Nats existed when I lived in Maryland, I likely would have followed them instead of the Orioles, or I would have followed them both. When I lived in Florida the Nats had Spring Training less than an hour away from where I lived, which made catching games easy. Even after moving to Texas I continued to catch the Nats whenever I traveled to Florida for Spring Training.

When the Nats made their magical World Series run against the Houston Astros in 2019, I certainly got nasty looks as I wore my Nats gear proudly around the Houston suburbs but my fandom was well entrenched by then and as the song goes, “the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, and the trash can gonna bang, bang, bang.” So when I make the trip to Oriole Park, I will be sure to stay in town long enough to catch a game at Nationals Park as well while I am there.

Globe Life Field, Arlington, TX

The Texas Rangers traded in their quaint, furnace of a Ballpark for a retractable roof version next door. When the scoreboard says it is 108 degrees outside it will be nice to catch a game in air conditioned comfort.
Photo R. Anderson

The third Ballpark I want to visit for the first time is Globe Life Field, the new home of the Texas Rangers.

I attended games at Globe Life Park, which the Rangers previously called home, and left each game a few pounds lighter than when I went in based on the triple digit heat, and the general lack of air circulation within the lower bowl of the Ballpark.

The Rangers decided that their under 30-year old Ballpark was not conducive to the climate in the Dallas Metroplex and a retractable roof Ballpark was built next door. Globe Life Park briefly served as the home of the Dallas XFL team, but with the XFL gone Globe Life Park will be two teams short.

While some could argue that based on the hard to miss similarities between the design of Globe Life Field and Minute Maid Park, I have already seen the new facility, I still want to visit it. Whenever I do make it up to Arlington it will definitely be nice to experience a Rangers game for once without needing to bring a dry set of clothes for the drive home.

Nat Bailey Stadium, Vancouver, British Columbia

During my previous trip to Vancouver, British Columbia I had poutine in Stanley Park. During my next visit to Vancouver I hope to have poutine in the Ballpark.
Photo R. Anderson

While the previous three ballparks on the list have all been on the Major League level, my fourth Bucket List Ballpark that I want to visit takes us north of the border, and also down to Class A in the Minor Leagues.

Nat Bailey Stadium, located smack dab in the center of Vancouver, British Columbia, is the home of the Vancouver Canadians, who are the Class A Toronto Blue Jays farm team. A few years back, I had the opportunity to catch a Vancouver Canucks hockey game in Vancouver. Catching a BC Lions CFL game in Vancouver is also on my Bucket List, so it is only natural that I would want to see baseball north of the border as well.

Taking my baseball fandom international will certainly be an experience to treasure. Of course, traveling all the way to Canada just to see a Minor League baseball game would likely be rather silly in the big picture. Good thing that there are many other items on the list for things to do on the trip besides the game. I just hope they serve poutine at the Ballpark. Something tells me that they do.

FNB Field, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

The Washington Nationals have a Farm Team named the Harrisburg Senators who play on an island. As long as I don’t have to take a boat called the S.S. Minnow to get there count me in.
Photo R. Anderson

The final Ballpark on the list is FNB Field in Harrisburg, PA. FNB Field is the home field of the Harrisburg Senators, the Double-A Minor League affiliate of the Washington Nationals,

The Ballpark has been on my Bucket List for several years based on a) it being a Washington Nationals farm team and b) it is located on an island in the middle of the Susquehanna River. I mean, a Ballpark in the middle of a river. How cool is that?

I still have the program from my first Major League Baseball Game. between the Baltimore Orioles and the Milwaukee Brewers. It is one of many programs that I have collected through the years. In the years to come I look forward to collecting even more programs, ticket stubs, and souvenir cups as I travel around to various Ballparks.
Photo R. Anderson

If I plan really carefully, I can likely catch a game on the island during the same trip where I go see Oriole Park and Nationals Park. Three days of Esskay hot dogs, Old Bay lump blue crab cakes, and Utz cheese curls sounds pretty spectacular right about now.

Of course, visiting any Ballpark will be welcome once the all-clear is given on this terrible virus that has taken far too many lives, and forever impacted the lives that it hasn’t taken.

Stay safe. Stay smart, and I will see you at a Ballpark in the not too distant future. Until then, may your dreams involve Ballparks with all you can eat popcorn and unlimited soda refills.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to check to see if we are still keeping track of the days of the week.

Copyright 2020 R. Anderson

Huntsville Stars Fell Out of Alabama

Not that long ago, it was announced that the Huntsville Stars of the Southern League are moving from Alabama to Mississippi to become the Biloxi Shuckers beginning with the 2015 season.

It is not uncommon for baseball teams to move from one city to another, but there are two sides to every move.

For the city getting the team there is the excitement of welcoming baseball to town and having new options for entertainment.

For the city losing the team there are the thoughts of what could have been done differently to keep the team in town.

Although I never made it to Huntsville, Alabma to see them play I did see the Huntsville Stars in action against the Orlando Rays in 1990. Since that time the Rays moved to Alabama and changed their name to the Biscuits while the Stars are headed to Mississippi to become the Shuckers. Photo R. Anderson
Although I never made it to Huntsville, Alabama to see them play I did see the Huntsville Stars in action against the Orlando Rays in 1990. Since that time the Rays moved to Alabama and changed their name to the Biscuits while the Stars are headed to Mississippi to become the Shuckers.
Photo R. Anderson

For Huntsville, the decision to move to Biloxi was Ballpark driven. After a deal to construct a new Ballpark in Huntsville failed to materialize, the team was sold and moved to a brand new Ballpark in Biloxi.

There are doubts about whether the new Biloxi Ballpark will be done in time for the scheduled home opener.

Ballpark delays create a possible awkward scenario where the team may still play some games in Huntsville next year, even though, for all intents and purposes the days of baseball in Huntsville are done for now.

As I have said many times, I grew up on Southern League baseball at Orlando’s Tinker Field.

Despite several facelifts through the years, Tinker Field was, by all accounts, a very old ballpark which lacked luxury boxes, suites, organic concession stands and the other must haves in today’s Ballparks.

While some found the lack of amenities as a negative, for me, the lack of those features added to the charm and made the games more fun to watch.

In my opinion, a Ballpark should be a little gritty and show some wear and tear. I want to feel like generations of people before me sat in similar chairs and watched nine innings played on a humid summer night under the stars sipping sweet tea and trying to catch a foul ball in the stands.

Although I never managed to catch a foul ball there, Tinker Field always gave me that time capsule feeling whenever I saw a game.

Unfortunately for Tinker Field, a new Ballpark was built up the road at Walt Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex at the end of the 20th Century and the Orlando Rays, the Double-A Affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, moved to the Ballpark that the Mouse built in 2000 and left Tinker Field without a Minor League Baseball team.

Despite moving to what they thought was greener pastures, the Orlando Rays broke their 10-year lease with Walt Disney World’s Ballpark and left the Orlando market entirely following the 2003 season to become the Montgomery Biscuits.

Orlando’s loss became Montgomery, Alabama’s gain.

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos are another Southern League team that moved in the last couple of years. The team formerly known as the Carolina Mudcats made the westward journey from North Carolina to the sugar sand shores of Florida in 2012.

In 2012 the Pensacola Blue Wahoos were born when the team formerly known as the Carolina Mudcats made the westward journey from North Carolina to the sugar sand shores of Florida.  Photo R. Anderson
In 2012 the Pensacola Blue Wahoos were born when the team formerly known as the Carolina Mudcats made the westward journey from North Carolina to the sugar sand shores of Florida.
Photo R. Anderson

Since moving to Pensacola, the Blue Wahoos have been named one of the best organizations in baseball and have had their Ballpark, which they sell out routinely, listed at the top of several polls.

The Shuckers appear to be trying to follow the Pensacola model of running a franchise where a new baseball starved market replaces a market and/or Ballpark that is deemed to be outdated.

While there are certainly nice features in the new Ballparks being built, I think in the era of Ballpark building people forget that the main reason to go to a Ballpark should be to see the actual game.

In recent years, I have seen more and more people at baseball games that probably don’t even know that there is a game going on.

It is certainly an individual’s right to pay for a ticket and then spend nine innings reading a book or sitting with their back to the field the whole game. However, the actual baseball game should still be the main attraction at a Ballpark.

Pensacola quickly moved to the top of the Southern League ballparks when they took the field in 2012. Biloxi is looking to duplicate that success when they open their new Ballpark next year.  Photo R. Anderson
Pensacola quickly moved to the top of the Southern League ballparks when they took the field in 2012. Biloxi is looking to duplicate that success when they open their new Ballpark next year.
Photo R. Anderson

I will admit that when I am watching a game at home on television I will often find myself doing two or three other things at the same time. So, my attention is not fully on the game.

But when I am watching a game in person, I could not fathom spending nine innings not watching the game.

Of course, these new Ballparks are not always built for the regular fan in mind. Instead, they tend to cater more to businesses who use their suites as places to hold corporate events or other functions.

I am sure that Biloxi will be a fine city for baseball, and I look forward to adding it to my list of cities to catch a game in. And while Biloxi is certainly close for me to get to then Huntsville, I do feel bad for the people who lost their team.

I know how I felt when Orlando lost their Minor League Baseball foothold; it is definitely rough for the fan bases that are left behind.

While I am a firm believer in keeping Ballparks free of distractions that take away from the game I will admit that I enjoy watching the boats go by when I attend games in Pensacola. It is also possible to see the Blue Angels flying home to Pensacola Naval Air Station some nights. Photo R. Anderson
While I am a firm believer in keeping Ballparks free of distractions that take away from the game I will admit that I enjoy watching the boats go by when I attend games in Pensacola. It is also possible to see the Blue Angels flying home to Pensacola Naval Air Station some nights.
Photo R. Anderson

The Southern League currently has teams playing in Birmingham, Alabama, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Jackson, Tennessee, Montgomery, Alabama, Kodak, Tennessee, Biloxi, Mississippi, Jacksonville, Florida, Pearl, Mississippi, Mobile, Alabama, and Pensacola, Florida.

By comparison, the cities represented by the Southern League in 1992 were Memphis, Tennessee, Charlotte, North Carolina, Greenville, South Carolina, Knoxville, Tennessee, Raleigh, North Carolina, Huntsville, Alabama, Orlando, Florida, Jacksonville, Florida, Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Birmingham, Alabama.

It is likely that the Southern League has not seen the last team relocation. There are already rumblings that Huntsville is going to try to get a team to replace the one that they lost. Panama City, Florida is also rumored to be looking to add a team. For either of those cities to gain, another must lose.

While there can be only one when it comes to certain sword wielding movie immortals, in the Southern League there can only be 10.

With only 10 slots available at any given time that leaves a lot of southern cities fighting to join the league. I just hope no one loses their head in the process.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I am suddenly in the mood to watch the Highlander.

Copyright 2014 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

Well, of All the Cheap Lousy Ways to Save a Buck

A few days ago the Houston Astros continued their fire sale and traded last year’s starting short stop for five minor leaguers, or “prospects.” This is far from the first time that this has occurred but they are definitely into the marrow at this point since they stopped having meat on the bone a long time ago.

Of course, as with the previous salary dumping trades the team tried to spin it as part of their multi-year rebuilding program. As part of the process the Astros are on pace to have the worst record in baseball for the third year in a row. The team is trying to say all the right things about how the trades make them more competitive in a few years while allowing them to keep salaries in check as they try to build a competitive product. Time will tell if their efforts are shown to be worth the sacrifice though.

The team’s activities of shedding more payroll then they are turning around and spending reminds me of a scene from the holiday classic National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. In the movie Clark W. Griswald is upset to learn that his boss, in an effort to save money, has eliminated the long standing Christmas bonus program and replaced it with a Jelly of the Month Club. And while, in Cousin Eddie’s words, the Jelly of the Month Club is the gift that keeps giving the whole year long it is not what Clark was expecting. To make a long story short, Clark blows his top, Cousin Eddie kidnaps the penny pinching boss and the police bust the doors and windows down to try and recuse him. Of course, in true movie fashion the boss learns the folly of his ways and reinstates the bonus program since sometimes things look better on paper than they do in the real world.

So, on paper the Astros have this grand plan to build cheap and trade players that make too much money and lather, rinse, repeat, turn around and get more cheap players that can be traded for more prospects. Now, on paper it seems like a winning formula but the reality is very few prospects will ever make it to the majors and there is something to be said for not turning over the full roster every year. Further trades are bound to happen in the next few weeks and months as the Astros seem determined to field the best Minor League team that plays against Major League opponents.

The Astros will have a new league, new uniforms and the same committment to fielding the cheapest team they can when the 2013 season starts.  Photo R. Anderson
The Astros will have a new league, new uniforms and the same commitment to fielding the cheapest team they can when the 2013 season starts.
Photo R. Anderson

I have followed the Astros for around 10 years and have to admit that all of the roster moves have left me scratching my head trying to figure out who is and who is not on the team any more. It has turned into some sort of comedy routine like the famous, “Who’s on First” Laurel and Hardy skit. But unlike the skit this is as real as it gets. I am not a fair weather fan by any means and I still support the team but even my loyalty is being tested by the management’s cavalier approach to sacrificing the present completely in the name of team building. I am sure it is difficult for the players as well to not know when they will be traded or when their next victory will occur. There really seem to be more losers than winners in the short term of this plan to go young and cheap.

This season will mark the first season in the American League for the Astros and instead of fielding a team of stars they are fielding a team of could be stars and may never will be stars. Major League Baseball seems perfectly fine with the salary saving measures. Contrast MLB’s lack of response to the Astros fielding what could be called a non competitive team for the third straight season with how things are handled in the NBA.

A few months back the coach of the San Antonio Spurs decided that most of his star players could use a night off. Unfortunately the team had a game scheduled with the Miami Heat instead of an off day. Still, the coach stuck to his guns and sent the star players home early and played against the Heat with a roster of bench players. Fans who had payed to see the superstars of the Spurs were livid. Some even sued for damages because they didn’t see the people that they paid to see. The bench warmers actually played a competitive game but in the end the Heat won and the coach of the Spurs was fined by the league and reprimanded for not putting his best team on the court.

The Miami Marlins recently traded most of their stars away in a similar salary dump and were put on notice by the league as well. Yet, the Astros who are moving into one of the more competitive divisions in baseball are not receiving any warnings from the league for the quality product they are putting on the field. Granted the Marlins are repeat offenders at dumping salaries at the end of each season but still they seem to field a way more competitive product than the Astros.

Another example of lousy ways to save a buck comes to us from the federal government and in particular a certain division of the government that shall not be named. Yes, I know it is hard to believe that the government would try to save money since most of the news always covers the spending overages but there are always exceptions to every rule.

The failed centralized trash idea.  Some times an idea can stink in more ways than one. Photo R. Anderson
The failed centralized trash idea. Some times an idea can stink in more ways than one.
Photo R. Anderson

Around the first of the year it was decided by this particular government agency that in an effort to save money from purchasing individual trash can liners the custodial engineers would no longer pick up trash at individual desks. Instead, several large trash cans were placed strategically around the building and people were responsible for taking their own trash to these collection points. It was believed that this process could be done with fewer people as well which would lead to additional cost savings. On paper it seemed like a sound idea. In reality it was one very smelly issue. The cans were only emptied twice a week so the halls became littered with overflowing trash and a stench that one should really not encounter in an office building.

After a month of centralized trash, logic prevailed and the desk side trash pick up was resumed. It seemed that the powers that be decided that saving a buck that way was not worth the stench that it caused. Here’s to hoping that the Astros realize the same thing and do not put a stinker of a team on the field. Although, the past two seasons do not leave a warm and fuzzy feeling that it will happen. Now if you’ll excuse me, all of this talk about trash has reminded me that it is time to take out the garbage.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson