30 Parks in 26 Days

Check out the slideshare below to learn about a group of people’s trip around to all 30 Major League Baseball parks in 26 days, which is a world record. It’s a cool story. The group did it to raise money for the Jim Thorpe Little League in Hawthorne, California.

The trip started on June 16, 2008, in Seattle at Safeco Field and concluded on July 11, 2008, in in Milwaukee at Miller Park.

Vote: What Stadium Is the Best?

It’s a tough call, but which stadium is the best for fans in the American League?

Baseball History: Induction into the Hall of Fame

I’ve blogged a lot about the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in the past. When I interned with the nonprofit that’s all about baseball in the summer of 2013, I learned a lot about baseball history and the integrity of the game, as well as making baseball accessible for all generations and driving new generations to the game.

I had the pleasure of attending the Induction Ceremony while I was up in upstate New York in 2013, and went back to help out in 2014. I saw some of my childhood heroes enshrined into Cooperstown and baseball lore last summer when Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine delivered their induction speeches up on the stage with over 40 living Hall of Famers welcoming them.

This summer, arguably my favorite player will give his speech. John Smoltz, the only pitcher to ever save 150 games and win 150 games will gain entrance into baseball’s most elite club. Check out his Hall of Fame Election Interview, below:

Baseball History: Giamatti Research Center

It seems fitting that baseball’s largest catalog of information and materials would be housed in baseball Holy Land. That’s definitely true with the Giamatti Research Center, located inside the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Along with a lengthy collection of baseball-related books, movies, periodicals, magazines and even audio and video clips, the most fascinating part of the world-class research center is the baseball player files, located upstairs beyond where the public’s eye can reach. Since 1871, if a baseball player has appeared in a major league game, they have a file there. Any news clipping or article ever written about these players is on file.

As you can imagine, the entire floor is stacked to the ceiling with file cabinets. Some files, like Hank Aaron, take up masses of space, while others who only played a single game are a little lighter. Even some umpires have files, and one of my favorites was Michael Jordan’s file, for when he played for the Chicago White Sox’s AA affiliate, the Birmingham Barons in 1994.

When I interned at the Hall of Fame in the summer of 2013, I spent a lot of time in the player archives researching different players. I would use the research to build stories off of for the Hall’s weekly e-newsletter (you can read some of my pieces here, if interested). Mostly, the research center is used by journalists and writers penning the next great baseball book. There would always be several individuals looking up stats or reading past articles on players in the lobby of the facility, under the watchful eye of the Hall of Fame staff, of course.

It’s quite the place, and I guarantee you that if you have any question, obscure or run-of-the-mill, it can be answered at the Giamatti Research Center.

All images property of Andrew Kivette.

America’s Park: Nationals Park

If there’s a city that has seen bigger growth and progress from building a stadium, it has to be Washington. 

When the Montreal Expos relocated to Washingon and became the Nationals, they were playing in one of the oldest stadiums in the nation — RFK Stadium. It was old, and I remember going to a game there the first season they played in Washington, in 2005. The upper deck was so steep, I thought I was going to fall backward and land on the field while I was walking to my seat. Don’t even mention the fact that the support was almost nonexistent. 

Since moving to Nationals Park, which opened in 2008, the Nats have seen not only a better product on the field, but more people in the stands. 

Getting there is a breeze now too. Just take the green line of the DC Metro to Navy Yard, only minutes from the bustling L’Enfant Plaza station. You’ll know you’re in the right place when droves of Nats fans pack the metro cars. Upon exiting the station, the Navy Yard area has quite a few bars & restaurants that will be packed prior to the game, but it certainly makes for a great pre-game atmosphere. 

You enter the park and are immediately surrounded by cherry trees, a perfect welcome to a park whose city’s trademark is the cherry tree. 

As for the in-game product, you can’t miss the Presidents race during the fourth inning. Where else can you watch larger-than-life mascots of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft run around the warning track? 

To sum it up, it’s a great park, and it’s on the shortlist of must-sees, according to me. 

New York’s Other Park: Citi Field

When I went out to Flushing in Queens for a game last July 4th, I wasn’t expecting much. I had been to the Mets’ old stadium — Shea Stadium — several years ago and was not impressed.

So after I got off the 7 train and walked toward the stadium, I was cautiously impressed. The facade and outside surroundings of the park are immaculate. It has the feel of an old-time ballpark, but the features of a new-age place.

When I entered through the grand home-plate entrance, I was really impressed. The grandiose entrance hall featured banners of former Met greats, and when I settled into my seat on the club level, the view of the field was fabulous.

One of the most unique features of Citi was, I thought, its cell phone charging stations throughout the club level’s bars. You could sit and watch the game from the bar, be served a cold drink, and charge your phone all at the same time.

The only thing I thought was a little ridiculous was the game-day attendants at the park. At about the eighth inning, me and my friend went down to field level to watch the final three outs of a blowout game from the bottom level before leaving. The attendants made us go back to our seats, and did not allow us to watch the game from the 100 level. I can understand the practice if the game was a sellout or close to being full, but at less than 50 percent capacity, it seemed a little odd.

But all in all, the stadium is beautiful. It even has a Shake Shack in center field, what more could you want? Oh and don’t worry Mets fans, the iconic home run apples are still in place at the new stadium.

My view at Citi Field, July 4, 2014 (photo credit: Andrew Kivette).

 

Baseball History: Interviewing Babe Ruth

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Interview.”

If there is one baseball player from the old days I would give just about anything to interview, it’d be one of the most respected baseball players of all time, Babe Ruth. The hall of famer totaled over 700 home runs, and sat at the top of the all-time home run list until Hank Aaron broke his record in 1974.

Ruth played back in the days where pitchers could easily go nine innings, and still throw their best stuff late in the game. Some would argue that the Babe’s career — especially his 1919 season when he hit 29 home runs — signaled the end of the “dead ball era.”

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The Jewel of the West Coast: Safeco Field

If there’s one city on the west coast I could call home, it’s Seattle. The mild weather, the best coffee in the world, and the wonderful coast just make it a great place to live. The city’s ballparks are also something to cherish.

I’ve been to Seattle for baseball once. It was the final stop on my west coast baseball swing. We caught two games — a night game and a day game — before heading out of town. One thing that makes this park a great place to watch a game is the ease in getting there. We took public transportation (Sound Transit) and arrived at the park with ease. The stop for the light rail is literally called “stadium”, how much easier could it get?

As for the park, it’s settled in the SoDo neighborhood of Seattle, which means South of Downtown. The stadium opened in 1999, and it is true to Seattle. With a very open feel to the stadium, it empowers the feelings of the city that the Mariners call home. It’s a great place to watch a game.

 

Baseball History: National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

While up in New York for baseball, you have to consider a weekend getaway to the village of Cooperstown. Nestled between the Adirondacks and Catskill mountains, Cooperstown is simply put where baseball lives.

If Yankee Stadium is “the Cathedral” to baseball, then Cooperstown is baseball heaven. Home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Cooperstown is all about baseball. The entire village survives on baseball business. From the souvenir shops on Main Street to the restaurants, they all make a living based off the museum which sits at 25 Main Street.

Where all the greats are enshrined, the Hall of Fame plaque gallery (shown below) is stunning. The museum catalogs the history of the game from start to present day. If you want to really experience baseball ecstasy, consider visiting over the annual induction weekend, which usually takes place the last weekend in July. During the weekend-long celebration, the new inductees are enshrined in the Hall of Fame and give their induction speeches in front of thousands of die-hard fans. I had the pleasure of being in attendance to see Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa get inducted in July 2014. It’s an experience unlike any other.

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The plaque gallery at the Hall of Fame (image credit: Andrew Kivette)