TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME – Rich Paschall

To The Ball Park We Go, by Rich Paschall

If you live in the continental United States and do not have Major League Baseball in your city, you are probably just a short road trip away from a stadium.  For some you may need one over night stay, for a few locations it may mean longer travel plans.

The thirty MLB ball parks are spread across the country.  If you count the 248 minor league teams, then I guess you can find professional baseball just about everywhere.

Center Field scoreboard from Sheffield Avenue
Fenway Park, Boston – Photo: Garry Armstrong

For our purposes, we will stick with the Major Leagues.  Three cities are lucky enough to have two teams, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.  Only one has a third team close at hand.  People in and around Chicago can also make the quick trip to Milwaukee to catch a game without needing an over night stay.

You might tell me that people in New York or Philadelphia can visit the other city with a quick trip since it is only a little farther than Chicago to Milwaukee.

Okay, start in New York City. Head down the New Jersey Turnpike, and get to Philadelphia. Then come back and tell us how long it took.  What time did you have to leave NYC to get to a 7 PM game in Philly.  Sorry, I digressed.

Game time 7:10 pm

Closest to home for those of us on the north side of Chicago is Wrigley Field, Major League Baseball’s second oldest ballpark.  Built in 1914, the park tries to maintain its old-fashioned charm despite some major upgrades. Only Boston’s Fenway park is older.

The neighborhood ballpark still lacks parking, however.   But who drives to the park?  The busy “Wrigleyville” is well served by the Clark and Addison bus lines.  The Chicago Transit Authority “Red Line” is just a few doors east of the ballpark, so you can take the “L” train.

After the game, buses are lined up all along Addison and leave in a “load and go” fashion.  When the bus is full, it takes off and the next one pulls up to the bus stop.  Years of anguish taught us how to get 40 thousand people in and out of a neighborhood with little parking.  In fact, Wrigley Field gave up its tiny lot along side the park on Clark Street for one of its renovation projects.  More seats, less parking!

By the way, people here bristle at any suggestion that naming rights should be sold for the park.  The park was originally Weeghman Park.  From 1920 to 1926 it was Cubs Park.  After that the Cubs owner, chewing gum king William Wrigley Jr.,  named it Wrigley Field.  Legend has it he wanted to popularize the name to help give gum sales a boost.  And we are against naming rights?

On the south side of Chicago fans can visit Guaranteed Rate Field.  Built in 1991, it originally carried the name of the stadium it replaced, Comiskey Park, which was located just across the street.  In 2003 it was named US Cellular Field.  This year it got another new name.

US Cellular Field

When it was first built, before the wave of “retro-style” ball barks, it was massively criticized by just about everyone in town.  There were lots of things to dislike.  Starting in 2001 the park has undergone renovation every year since, except 2015.

The South Side structure had the highest upper deck of any stadium in baseball, and loomed large above the old park before that was torn down. Few wanted to sit in the top rows of the steep upper deck.  There was no roof and only a wind break at the top.  In 2004 the top 8 rows and 6600 seats of the park were removed and a roof added, covering what became the top 13 rows.  It now has a smaller capacity than its north side rival.

Baseball on the South Side

Unlike Wrigley Field, Guaranteed Rate Field has copious parking.  Located right off the Dan Ryan Expressway (Interstate 90/94), it is easy to find.  It is well served by Public Transportation by train and by bus.  The Red Line train runs close to the ballpark, the same line that runs past Wrigley Field.  If the Cubs have a day game, followed by a White Sox night game, you can grab the Red Line and easily go from one ballpark to the other.  If you have to go to Soldier Field for a football game, just get off at Roosevelt and take the bus.

From the north side of Chicago, we made it to Miller Park in Milwaukee in 90 minutes.  We got on the Interstate close to home and did not get off until we spotted Miller Park.

Home of the Brewers

Fortunately for us, the park has a retractable dome which can open and close in 10 minutes time.   There were intermittent showers the day we went. A roof that opens in good weather and glass panels allow for a natural grass field.  It is the best a domed stadium can offer.

The park was scheduled to open in 2000, but was delayed a year due to a construction accident.  A large crane collapsed while lifting one of the massive roof sections.  The park was built behind the old County Stadium, one time home of the now Atlanta Braves.

Domed stadium, natural grass

If you like bratwurst, pretzels and cheese curds, this is your stadium.  There is no shortage of concession stands featuring the typical Wisconsin fare.  Of course, Miller beer is easily located as well.

With all of the renovations since the new Comiskey park opened, it may be the best of the group.  It can be the least expensive.  Wrigley Field continues its historic attraction, despite the many changes in recent years.  Miller Park is the newest and will have baseball rain or shine.

Author: Rich Paschall

When the Windows Live Spaces were closed and our sites were sent to Word Press, I thought I might actually write a regular column. A couple years ago I finally decided to try out a weekly entry for a year and published something every Sunday as well as a few other dates. I reached that goal and continued on. I hope you find them interesting. They are my Sunday Night Blog. Thanks to the support of Marilyn Armstrong you may find me from time to time on her blog space, SERENDIPITY. Rich Paschall Education: DePaul University, Northeastern Illinois University Employment: Air freight professional

21 thoughts on “TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME – Rich Paschall”

  1. Washington DC and Baltimore are about 50 miles apart, so I think you can count that as a twofer also. When I was growing up, NY had three teams — the Dodgers, Yankees, and Giants. Then we lost the Dodgers and the Giants but eventually got the Mets. Losing the Dodgers was a nightmare for the fans — like Garry and me.

    The Mets were nice, but nothing made up for Da Bums we lost. Some people gave up baseball entirely because they never felt good about the game again. Then they knocked down Ebbets field and built cheesy condos. What a terrible waste. Boston had the Braves until they went south to Atlanta. In many ways, the Yankees and the Sox are a pair. 250 miles apart, but it’s not a difficult drive and people — even us — drive back and forth between the cities regularly.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I saw the Braves in Milwaukee before they went on to Atlanta. That was in the old County Stadium when Hank Aaron was playing there. I was a child and don’t remember much about it.
      A lot of Cubs fans will take the trip to St. Louis and vice versa. That’s about 300 miles.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. New York and Boston are very close. It’s actually faster to drive than it is to fly. When Garry and I were courting, I was still living in New York and he came to visit me every weekend unless I went to visit him. It’s actually 236 miles. Of course, there’s no accounting for traffic!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Between Chicago and Milwaukee there are a number of attractions that can cause traffic nightmares, but it is all interstate from here to Miller Park, so it is usually OK. St. Louis or Detroit is another matter.

          Liked by 1 person

      2. RICH, this is top shelf stuff, clearly penned by a genuine baseball lover.

        Fenway Park is our Field of Dreams. During my working years, we lived IN Boston. Given my job perks and local celebrity, we often visited the home of Teddy Ballgame. Built in 1912, coinciding with the ill-fated Titanic cruise, Fenway has lots of old charm but lacks modern comforts. They still have the old “wild west” style urinals for men. It’s survival of the fittest when you race in between innings. Some never make it back outside to the game. The wooden seats are for Ben-Gay users. You need X-Ray vision to see the game from the many obstructed view seats.

        On the plus side, The Red Sox have not completed exorcised its venerable staff. You can still chat with fellas who knew the Splendid Thumper, Pesky, Rudy York, Smokey Joe, Yaz, El Tiante and Chicken Man among other heroes of the past. One old timer shared some fine hooch he claimed was originally made in Sudbury where Babe Ruth once lived..made by the Bambino in the basement of his suburban home. I’ve checked Babe’s basement, as professional curiosity, and I’m not sure about the facts.

        Fenway Parking is not for the faint of heart or those on thin incomes. During my working years, I was in like Flint at a Gas Station just a short walk from Fenway. The Gas Station is now gone…as are most “legit” parking spaces. I only attend a game or two these years, thanks to the kindness of a friend. He drives in from our boonies to a town near Boston. We then take the “Green Line” train to Fenway. The “Green Line” is heart-stopping adventure. Packed with commuters, tourists, winos , pick pockets, pervs and glassy eyed baseball fans from the hinterlands. My hearing aids usually burn out from the overwhelming “ambient”noise and the “conductor voice” piped over an ancient PA system. I feel lost and bewildered, wondering if this is worth it.

        The streets surrounding Fenway are alone worth the trip. Packed with outdoor vendors, the smell of Fenway Franks, Italian sausages and locally brewed beer, it’s a festive adventure, similar to Boston’s North End, Italian Street Festivals. I try to make sure my valuables are tightly concealed as I spot familiar faces from the felons lineup of old. These guys never retire.

        Finally, we’re inside Fenway and I hear “Hiya, Garry. Long time – no see.” It’s one of the ushers who harken back to the days when Ted Williams was still “The Kid”. He grabs me in a bear-like hug and, for one long moment, I feel like a kid again.

        A few moments later, we find our seats and take in that first, full view of Fenway, where Pilgrims come to worship in the Shrine of baseball.

        It never gets old.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Wrigley never had the obstructed views the old Comiskey had. I always thought the place should have been torn down decades earlier, The new Comiskey was awful and it took decades to fix it. THe main benefit was the wide concourses..
          We lived walking distance from Wrigley and could go there after school and just walk in. There were not a lot of patrons then.. Knowing the neighborhood well has helped us in our trips to the park now. Only out-of-towners would actually drive there.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Rich, you should write about specific ballpark memories. I’m sure you have more than a few. I saw Billy Williams during a recent CUBS game. Brought back memories of the Cubs during his time. Remember Durocher and his college of coaches bit?

            Ebbets Field is another piece…for another time.

            Liked by 1 person

      1. He just might be one. He stole three bases yesterday even though his team lost the game. His Dad has been taking him to see the Jays since he was a little tike. He would stand up and recite all the names of the players and their achievements when he was about 4 years old. He’s a winner.
        Leslie

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Yep.He is a natural. I love that he can recite all the players’ names and stats. Tell him I could also do that. It’s a rite of passage. if he has old baseball cards, make sure he keeps them. They’ll be worth money as he grows older.

          Liked by 2 people

            1. Leslie, how far back does his baseball knowledge go? I can “show off” and send some baseball batting orders that I remember. I can still go back to the 50’s (today).

              Liked by 1 person

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