Every baseball fan has their version of Mecca, whether it’s visiting the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown or attending an All-Star or World Series game. For some fans, seeing every Major League Baseball stadium is their definition of baseball heaven. Regardless of your fan loyalty, there is nary a baseball fan alive that would turn down an opportunity to see every Major League Baseball stadium.
I had a chance to interview a young man named Adam who has been fortunate enough to visit every MLB ballpark with his dad – a journey that took 15 years to complete. Adam was gracious enough to give thoughtful answers to all of my questions and even offers up a bit of advice for baseball fans who want to see a game at every Major League Stadium. Adam also let me feature a slideshow gallery of him and his dad at all of the parks. So without further ado, here’s the interview.
My Interview with Adam
All Sports Talk: Where was the first game you and your dad attended?
Adam: The first MLB game I went to was at Camden Yards when I was 6. I grew up an Orioles fan living in Maryland. The first stadium I went to other than Camden Yards was the Skydome in Toronto in July of 1997, so I was 7 then.
All Sports Talk: Which stadium closed out your journey – the last stadium you and your dad had to visit?
Adam: Last week we spent four days going from Seattle to Oakland and finally finishing at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
All Sports Talk: What was it like as you went through the turnstiles at your final stadium? What were you feeling?
Adam: We both had gigantic grins on our faces when they scanned our tickets, and then I threw up my hands with a triumphant ‘Yes!’ Once we went through the turnstiles my dad and I had a nice big hug. A huge sense of accomplishment, but also a recognition of how lucky I am not only to have seen these parks, but have a father who wanted to take me. As I got older the trips also took on a sort of ‘life lessons’ aspect. Walking around he would pepper in a story about school, work, relationships, etc. Until recently I didn’t realize how much that had really had an effect on me. It was a little bittersweet too, because growing up each year I knew I had this trip to look forward to. I just graduated from college and am starting a full time job soon, so I know planning future trips might get a little more difficult.
All Sports Talk: How many stadiums have been torn down/replaced since you visited them? Any plans to return to see the new version?
Adam: I think in total there are, or will be, six. We visited both stadiums in New York relatively early, so we’ve got to head back there to see the new Yankee Stadium and Citi Field. We went to see Busch Stadium in its last season, and drove up to Philadelphia for a day before they tore down The Vet. The Florida (soon to be Miami) Marlins are building a new park, and the Twins have too. I heard the White Sox are making plans [for a new ballpark] as well. I know we plan to go back and fill in the gaps, but it’s just a matter of when. I imagine in three or four years we’ll have seen those as well.
All Sports Talk: When did you decide that you wanted to see all of the stadiums – when did you realize that it was feasible?
Adam: I think after about 4 years. The first ones were centered around family vacations or were just within a reasonable driving distance from home. I think going to see the Indians at Jacobs Field was the first one we flew out to see on a separate weekend. [That was] in 2002. After that it turned into a yearly ‘Boys Baseball Weekend’ as my mom called it, so we figured we would just keep going until we had seen them all.
Adam and His Dad at All the Major League Stadiums
ProTip: Hover over the Big Image in the SlideShow and Click on the Expand Icon by for a Larger View
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All Sports Talk: Did you catch any home runs or foul balls at any of the stadiums?
Adam: Not on any of our trips, although we did come pretty close this past one. At each stadium we were about 5 rows away from one. In Seattle against the Rangers Nelson Cruz almost barreled into us going after a foul ball (we were sitting in the 3rd row about ¾ of the way down the RF line). I did catch one a few years ago at a Nationals game.
All Sports Talk: Do you plan on doing anything similar with your future kids?
Adam: I think I’m still at the stage in my life where being responsible for another human being terrifies me, but if I had kids I would absolutely want to do this with them. And if my son/daughter weren’t interested in baseball, I would want to find something else that we could share. Like I said earlier, there was a lot more that I gleaned from these trips besides getting to see each stadium. Sharing that time with my dad, learning from him, and getting to see over two dozen U.S. cities was an incredible experience by itself.
All Sports Talk: What was the coolest thing you got to see at one of the games on your trip?
Adam: Unfortunately I was still pretty young and don’t remember it as well, but in 2000 when we went to Fenway Park we saw one of Pedro Martinez’s best career performances. He struck out 17 in a complete game 1-0 loss to the Devil Rays (I think Steve Traschel was the winning pitcher). I remember fans in right field [who were] holding up K signs ran out in the 5th or 6th inning. Another one was actually from my most recent trip at AT&T Park. We saw the Giants play the Dodgers, with over 42,000 people in attendance. I had never been to a big rivalry game like that, a game that loud, or one with that many fans. Coming from Maryland and watching the Orioles and Nationals play to sparse crowds, [this game] was pretty amazing.
All Sports Talk: Worst Experience at a stadium?
Adam: Hm. I think we had pretty good luck with most places. When we saw both the Rangers and Rockies it bucketed rain to the point that it looked like we had just jumped into a pool. In San Diego the guy behind me spilled an entire beer on me when jumping up to celebrate a home run, so that made the last three innings of the game a bit less enjoyable too.
All Sports Talk: In your opinion, what is the prettiest ballpark?
Adam: I’d say both Wrigley Field and AT&T Park, giving PNC Park an honorable mention. Wrigley and AT&T are from such different eras that they are so hard to compare, but I loved everything about each one (save for the $9.25 beer price at AT&T). Wrigley has the aura around that I knew about well before I had gotten there, and it has a great charm to it with the outfield bleachers, ivy, and a dedicated fan base. I know recently the area past the outfield has been built up a bit more so people can sell extra seats, but when we were there, it was just tenants/businesses inviting people up to the roof which I thought was great.
San Francisco is a beautiful city, and AT&T Park offered some of the best views of it. I think separated from the city it would still be one of my favorites, but I certainly understand now why people love it so much. The crowd just added further to my enjoyment. I had never been to a game that had so little manufactured noise. Cheers (Beat LA the most common) came naturally from the fans, especially the LF bleachers, and there wasn’t as much need for piped in music or ‘Get Loud’ signs on the scoreboard. When I was younger I had this vision of Pittsburgh as a dirty industrial city, and I expected the stadium to be the same. We went just shortly after PNC opened and it was a fantastic park. The view of downtown through center field is great.
All Sports Talk: Which ballpark offers the best fan experience?
Adam: I’m tempted to say AT&T again, but I think actually Busch Stadium did. They had some of the nicest people I’ve ever met working there, whether at concessions, ushers, or ticket services. The fans too were great. Both games we went to in St. Louis there was stifling heat (you can tell just by looking at the picture) but I don’t think it bothered [me] as much because we had such a great time talking to the people around us and exploring the stadium. I’m really looking forward to going back and seeing the new one they built.
All Sports Talk: Which ballpark has the best food?
Adam: Depends on what you’re looking for, but the ones that stick out to me were Kauffman Stadium, Safeco Field, and AT&T Park. When I was younger I stuck mostly to burgers and chicken tenders at the stadium so I can’t say one was really better than the other, but the BBQ I had at Kauffman was some of the best I have had anywhere. Safeco, understandably, had great seafood (and I’m pretty sure was the only stadium I’d ever seen sushi for sale), and while expensive (I think 6 or 7 dollars), the garlic fries at AT&T were really, really good (and fortunately they give you mints with your order).
All Sports Talk: Can you give any tips to fans who might want see every baseball stadium themselves?
Adam: This probably goes without saying, but start with the [stadiums] closest to you and then go from there. As they get further away try and find two that are close to each other, maybe go to one park for one game and another for the second. Make sure you give yourself time to explore each city. I remember each stadium, but most of the games we saw don’t really stick out to me. What I do remember though is the places we went and things we saw in each city. It is a great accomplishment just to see that many U.S. (and one Canadian) cities, so take advantage of the opportunity.
Lastly, find or create a routine for each stadium and stick to it. It lets you see the differences between each park and will give you some things to keep after each visit. For example, my dad and I would head in, I’d buy a hat for the home team, and we would go to the 1st and 3rd base sides and take a picture. We tried to do a lap around each level of the stadium, and usually talk to one of the ushers who looked like they had been there a while to learn more about the stadium, team, and the fans. Oh, and it never hurts to find a game that has a promotion! We’ve accumulated several t-shirts, bobbleheads, towels, lunch bags, and umbrellas over the years, which have both practical and sentimental value.