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MLB Parks Tour #15 – AT&T Park, San Francisco, CA – 2013

| Posted by Harlan

On our anniversary, 8 years after visiting our first park (Boston on our honeymoon), we hit the halfway point on our journey toward visiting every Major League park.

As I said in the last installment, the roadtrip to San Francisco was quite the undertaking, spanning over 4000 miles and visiting the likes of San Fran, Oakland, Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and Phoenix. Five of us packed into our Explorer and headed for the coast. San Francisco is a great city, full of history. We truly enjoyed our time there, and marveled at some of the sights we had only seen in photos and on television. We trekked across the Golden Gate Bridge, saw Alcatraz (though only from the boat), braved the curves of Lombard Street, and even got in some catch at Fisherman’s Wharf. But obviously this trip would have been incomplete without a visit to AT&T Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants.

AT&T Park is an impressive structure, sitting right along the San Francisco Bay featuring an incredible waterfront and views of the Bay Bridge. The park opened in 2000, and has featured an exceptional amount of history along the way. Perhaps the biggest is the home run prowess (*asterisk*) of Barry Bonds, who hit 500, 600, 700, and ultimately 756, which put him on top of the home run records above Hank Aaron, all at AT&T Park. He also hit 71, 72, & 73 in the park, which gave him the single season record in 2001. In addition, it hosted three World Series Championships in 2002 (lost to the Angels), 2010 (where they beat the Rangers), and 2012 (won over the Tigers). The park itself is spectacular. From our perch in the second deck on the first base side, we had a bay-view into the water on the right, the Bay Bridge straight ahead in left-center, and a great view of the field. The weather was chilly, but manageable, and we had a great time. Cheers to Giants fans, you have an incredible park for baseball.

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MLB Parks Tour #14 – Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, CA – 2013

| Posted by Harlan

It’s pretty great that I get to do these posts so close to the actual game. I’ve got three to do that I’ll try to post over the next week. Then we’ll be all caught up and ready to start planning the next trip!

We set out in the early Summer of 2013 toward the West Coast, a trip that would take us to San Francisco, Oakland, Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and Phoenix, before arriving back home. Three ballparks and over 4,000 miles of open road for myself, Yvette, Baron and my parents, Bob and Kathy. And what a trip it was. We saw things and made memories in some of the most unique and awe-inspiring places in the country, and got to spend some great quality family time together. The whole trip will have to wait for another blog post, because this post is intended to feature the first installment of this trip’s park visits, Oakland Coliseum (or O.com Coliseum if we’re being technical) in Oakland California, just across the bay from the gorgeous hills of San Francisco.

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MLB Parks Tour #13 – Marlins Park, Miami, FL – 2012

| Posted by Harlan

All caught up! We’re heading to three more stadiums this month!

The Miami trip and ballpark visit marked a new chapter for us. In many ways, it was a rebirth and a new start. 2012 had been particularly unkind to us, and when we left for Miami in September, we were pretty much done putting up with the year. But bad vibes aside, the Miami trip marked a decidedly different push for us as a family, and it was the first opportunity to introduce our third member of the family to our little family tradition.

The trip on the whole was amazing. We spent time on the beach, ate great food, met new awesome friends, stayed on a boat, and of course caught a ball game. The most fun we probably had was doing the whole Airbnb thing and staying on the boat. We like the adventure of Airbnb, because you just never know what’s going to happen. The majority of our experiences have been great, and this one with new friends Michelle and Pat was no exception. And Baron made a friend in Mack, their furry child (who they love so much he has his own Facebook profile). 😉

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MLB Parks Tour #12 – Turner Field, Atlanta, GA – 2011

| Posted by Harlan

Working through these as quickly as I can preparing for the trip in June!

Our trip to Atlanta was a pretty exciting one. While many people would consider a drive from Fort Worth to the Georgia capital pretty uninspiring, for us it was to be the last road trip we ever took as a family of two. We found out in October that we were going to be pregnant with our first child (which we’d have just two months later), and decided to take a little “babymoon” trip to Georgia and Pensacola, Florida. We had such a great time, staying in the Atlantic Station area, visiting Stone Mountain, and eating at Hotlanta staples, Ted’s Montana Grill and The Vortex. And when we got out of Atlanta after the game, we got to visit some new friends we met while in Europe, Mark & Tammy Tamayo. And on that note, I should mention we got to eat at the greatness that is Peg Leg Pete’s, the restaurant that Mark manages.

The trip was eventful, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the baseball park and game we attended (especially considering the title of this post). I was actually quite excited to visit Turner Field, less for the park itself and more for the history that surrounds the Braves franchise. Well, that and the chance to participate in an authentic Tomahawk Chop. Turner Field, or “The Ted”, was completed in 1996 as Centennial Olympic Stadium, and was the the centerpiece of the Olympics being held in Atlanta that year. The next year it was converted to a baseball stadium, and just in time too, as the Braves would dominate the National League for nearly a decade following. Some of its features include the giant Coke bottle and Chick-Fil-A cow (who does the famous chop when the Braves hit homeruns) in the outfield, as well as the once Guiness World Record holding HD video board in center field. And you can’t help but notice all those pennants!

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MLB Parks Tour #11 – Minute Maid Park, Houston, TX – 2010

| Posted by Harlan

Working through these as quickly as I can preparing for the trip in June!

Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of Houston. And honestly, I couldn’t really give you any great reasons why. The humidity is a pain, but we’ve got some of that in Dallas. Whatever the reason is, it’s still in our back yard, and offers the convenience of being a drive away. We were busy in 2010, and already had a really nice vacation that we were recovering (financially at least) from. We had gone to Europe (which I’ll post more of in another post), and simply couldn’t afford to take another trip far away. Luckily, we had Houston still on the list and took advantage. Plus, we got to see my brother and his kids, which we hardly ever get to see. We actually didn’t do much else while we were there…so I’ll get straight to it.

Minute Maid Park is another of the downtown parks that have become a really cool trend in baseball. There’s something really nice to me about having the park in the epicenter of the city’s activities. We walked around in the horrible humidity for a while, and lamented the idea of sitting in the same weather for the game. Imagine our pleasant surprise when we arrived to find out that the walls and roof of Minute Maid Park were closed and the air conditioning was pumping in. While I usually believe baseball is meant to be played outdoors, Houston is the exception. Nothing is meant to be done outdoors there. Continue Reading

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MLB Parks Tour #10 – Busch Stadium, St. Louis, MO – 2009

| Posted by Harlan

St. Louis was the last stop on our three city, four ballpark road trip covering the St. Louis, Chicago, and Kansas City. We often talk about this road trip as one of our favorite times as a married couple. While Chicago may have been the highlight of the journey, St. Louis in no way left us wanting. From the summit of the Gateway Arch, to the ridiculous food, to the indescribable homemade jungle gym of City Museum, we had such a great time at the Gateway to the West.

Early in the day, we took in the views from the iconic, and disorienting apex of the Gateway Arch. A tiny carousel-looking elevator takes you up to a compact room at the top, where you could take in the sights of downtown from tiny windows along the top of the walls. From there we ventured to Pappy’s Smokehouse, a BBQ joint off Olive Street featured on Man vs. Food. We gorged ourselves on smoked meats, and to punish ourselves further, then made the trek over to Krown Kandy Kitchen, where Adam (from MvF) took the milkshake challenge.

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MLB Parks Tour #9 – U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago, IL – 2009

| Posted by Harlan

Working through these as quickly as I can preparing for the trip in June!

As I said in the previous installment on Wrigley Field, Yvette and I really loved Chicago. I think we were surprised to like it as much as we did actually. We have always been huge fans of Boston and of New York City as well, but Chicago always had that tertiary “oh yeah” quality to it. That faded very quickly as we spent time there. The trip from our hotel in the Northwest O’Hare Rosemont area to the more southern “Comiskey Park II” was an interesting one. We decided we wanted to visit the University of Chicago as well, and that train ride took us on a very unique journey through the different cultures and communities of Chicago. That train ride alone is a blog post all it’s own.

U.S. Cellular Field was built in 1991 season, after 81 years in the original home of the White Sox, Comiskey Park. It was initially named Comiskey Park II, until 2003 when U.S. Cellular bought the naming rights. It’s gone through many iterations and renovations over the years, some due to fan complaints, namely the very steep upper deck (which we sat in) that was the subject of many fan’s scorn. On the other side of the coin, perhaps one of the most recognizable features of “The Cell” are the pinwheels on the centerfield scoreboard, a holdover from Bill Veeck’s original installation at the original Comiskey Park. They make up part of the “exploding scoreboard” that was one of the first to feature a combination of fireworks and lights when the Sox would score home runs.

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MLB Parks Tour #8 – Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL – 2009

| Posted by Harlan

Working through these as quickly as I can preparing for the trip in June!

Chicago is an undeniably unique and wonderful city. From Sears Tower to Lincoln Park to El-Trains to that big, shiny, reflective bean thing in Millennium Park, Chicago is bursting at the seams with culture. And no Chicago culture tour would be complete without visiting one of America’s most iconic ballparks…Wrigley Field. You simply cannot look out from the seats of the “friendly confines”, see the ivy walls, the old scoreboard, and the unofficial rooftop seats, without feeling transported to the glory days of classic hardball. Wrigley was stop #2 in our 4-stop summer road-trip through Kansas City, Chicago, and St. Louis. In short, Chicago did not disappoint.

Wrigley Field was originally named Weeghman Park when it was built in 1914 to host the Chicago Whales. In 1916 the Cubs began use of the park, when chewing-gum billionaire William Wrigley, Jr bought the park in a trust with Weeghman. The field went by Cubs Park from 1920-1926, until it was finally dubbed Wrigley Field. It’s the oldest National League park in Major League Baseball, and the second oldest park in all of the MLB to Fenway (1912). The iconic Ivy was planted in the outfield in 1937, and has served as one of the most recognizable stadium features in baseball ever since. I could go on and on.

We had a great time at Wrigley, and sat in some of the oldest seats in baseball. Can’t beat that.

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