Wednesday, October 03, 2007

My most memorable trips to the ballyard.

The way I see it there are two criteria to be used for determining a great baseball game... or rather what makes that baseball game memorable. They are: The Experience Surrounding The Game and Actual Game Quality. Let me explain.

The Experience Surrounding the Game could also be looked at as "hype." Game 7 in the 2004 ALCS between the Yanks and Sox has an overwhelming amount "hype" surrounding it before it even begins and, regardless of what happens in the game, that game will be a memorable one for the person who attended - simply because of the circumstances.

The Actual Game Quality is just that. Was it a good game? A 9-0 blow out would rank low on this criteria, however an extra inning, 1-1 game, lasting until the 14th inning would rank very high on this scale.

Either one of these aspects could cause the game to be memorable and, using this criteria, I have compiled a list of the most memorable games that I've attended. It is the rare occasion when "Hype" and "Game Quality" intersect that makes the games simply amazing. Counting down - they are:

13. 1st game at PNC Park. While ranking high on the "hype" criteria, this game wasn't very memorable - except that The Buccos played the Reds and that Sean Casey hit the first HR at PNC Park. If memory serves - The Pirates lost... if not - at least that's a good guess.

12. Last game at The Vet. A similar placement on the "hype" scale as the 1st game at PNC Park and also a similar place on the "game quality" level. While I don't even remember who the Phils played, it receives a slightly higher ranking than Game 1 @ PNC on the overall list because of the history associated with The Vet. I think that last games at ballparks are higher on the "hype" level than first games at new parks - simply because of the history that is there. I remember reflecting back to my childhood at Three Rivers Stadium as I sat in the nose bleed seats in LF that day... speaking of...

11. Doug Drabek takes No-Hitter into the 9th - i.e. "The Best Mother's Day Ever". This Mother's Day in Pittsburgh was like no other. Drabek took a no-no into the ninth, forcing every father/son combo in attendance to postpone going home to celebrate with their Mothers on Mother's Day. If memory serves, this was in 1988.

10. Ripken's 3000th (and next to last) game. HUGE "hype" level here. The O's could have been playing the Annapolis Little League team that day - it wouldn't have mattered. The game belonged to Cal. The tickets we originally had were scheduled for a game that was canceled as a result of the of 9/11 attacks and then was played at the end of the season. I got to go with Geana in a celebration of our first date together that was also at Camden Yards a year earlier, see # 5 on the list.

9. Sammy's first real baseball game. I'm not talking about when he was a baby - I'm talking about him as a kid, able to enjoy and remember the experience. We went to a Pirates vs. Phils game earlier this year and Sammy actually had a blast. I think that it was more fun for me than him - but this ranks up there on MY "hype" scale - even though it was just a routine game against the Buccos for everyone else in attendance.

8. Bucco playoff games in the early 1990's. Now - all of these games were up there in "hype" but they all seem to melt together in my mind. Perhaps it is because as I grow older, I forget which game was which, but really - I honestly think that it was because the Pirates lost each of those series (and most of the games I was at) and I was devastated at the losses and therefore blocked out the specifics. Regardless, the memories of those games will forever be with me - the atmosphere of the ballpark, the sounds of the fans in the stands, rooting for my team - even if I can't differentiate all of the games from one another.

7. Erstad robs Yankees in bottom of 9th with great catch and then wins it with HR in extra innings. We're getting to the place where "Hype" and "Quality" start to intersect. This was my first game at hallowed Yankee Stadium, so it was up there in my personal "hype" criteria and then the game followed suit with the late heroics and the Yankee's losing. The game took place in 2000 on the baseball trip that I took with my Dad. He got me an Erstad Jersey that Christmas.

6. Another trip to Yankee Stadium is on the list because it was another GREAT game at Yankee Stadium. It was the game against the Jays earlier this season that was rain delayed for 90 minutes and then the game lasted 5 1/2 hours - going into extra innings. We had to leave early because we were afraid of missing our 10:45 pm connecting train in Trenton to get back to Philly. It was a scheduled 1pm game that kept us in Yankee Stadium for 7 hours. Yankees won.

5. 2000 - first date with Geana. Game @ Camden Yards. I don't remember anything about this game, particularly, except that we sat out in LF. I do, however, remember getting ice cream before the game, me spilling it on myself, and Geana laughing at me. We went to a restaurant after the game, then drove home and went to Penn's Landing because neither one of us wanted the day to end. She let me drive her Mustang home from Baltimore, I kissed her, and we ended up getting married. Fun times...

4. 1991 - Pirates clinch Division at home against the Phillies. Again - this fits into the early 1990's blurs of my childhood, but I remember some specific aspects of this game very vividly. Firstly - Drabek piched a complete game. The man was amazing. Secondly - I remember Drabek striking out Charlie Hayes to end the game and the team (and crowd) going nuts. We weren't sitting in the normal seats that we had for the Bucco games. My dad bought tickets in an attempt to see the Bucs clinch that day. We sat up the 3B line, under an overhang, in a higher up section. I sometimes wonder if I'll have that feeling again...

3. 2007 - Phillies playoff game #1 of the NLDS. This was today's game so it is pretty memorable right now. I forgot to mention the "In Recent Memory" factor when evaluating games. The atmosphere was electric at the ballpark today. This town is longing for a winner and the fans came out in DROVES to see their Phils play the Rockies. The Phillies were on the losing end of a 4-2 game, but the back-to-back jacks by Rowand and Burrell will live in my mind forever. We had seats up the LF line and Burrell's HR cleared the wall right in front of us. This game may fade as time moves on, but for now I'll keep it at #3. Hopefully we'll add some more this October to this list.

2. Millwood's No Hitter. This game is, pretty much, as high up there as you can get in "Game Quality." It was a no hitter, I kept score, and it was a really close game - involving Barry Bonds. What makes this game special for me (in addition to Bond's going 0-fer) was that it was following the March of Dimes Walk that we attend every year and I attended the Phillies game as a spur of the moment decision after the walk with my 6 year old Neice and Nephew. It was their first trip to the ballpark. We went because it was the Phanatic's Birthday. Following the game they were told, "You'll probably never experience this again - I know you don't understand this now, but remember this moment." They still talk about the day their uncle took them to the ballpark and got tears in his eyes.

1. 2000 Deciding Game 5 of the World Series - Yanks vs. Mets @ Shea. This one is - hands down - the best game I've ever been to. I got IMed at 2pm, in Philly, the day of the game by a friend who had an extra ticket, in NY. I left work, hopped on a train, and was in NY by 6pm. Our tickets were Players Union seats (I went with Donald Fehr's son ) so they were only a few rows behind 3B. Spike Lee, Kim Katrell, and Richard Dreyfus were in my section. And - oh yeah - Al Leiter pitched his ass off in a losing effort to the Yankees in one of the most memorable pitching outings I've ever seen. The Yanks won the series and I got to watch it in person. One may think that would make for a bad time for me (because I hate the Yanks) but it was a once in a lifetime experience that I'll never forget. On the subway after the game, fans were taking all of the "Subway Series" signs on the #7 train. It was incredible.

What are some of your best memories at the ballpark??


- Mark C. said...

Mine was at Veterans stadium awhile back. You can read about it here A Memorable Day At The Vet.

Great Stuff.

Mark C.