When I was growing up, I managed to convince mom and dad that going to baseball games was the thing to do for summer vacation.
There was the all the times going to St. Louis for Cards games at old Busch Stadium and chasing ballplayers outside the stadium and nearby hotels for autographs. I learned all the right exit gates and hotel doors to stake out. Great memories.
Late in my college years we made a trip East to visit my grandmother in Virginia. Naturally, we made stops to Toronto, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to take in baseball games.
Well, fast forward many years later, and things haven’t changed much. I’ve still been able to make side trips to the ballparks.
On the way to our most recent vacation to Myrtle Beach, the Hieronymus family planned to make a stop in Cincinnati to see my niece Ashley Schrader, a former BCR sports correspondent who is interning at the Western and Southern Tennis Open. I mentioned something to our travel director, aka my wife, about going to a Reds game if they were home that night. Well, they were, and it just so happened to be the Cardinals. I had no prior knowledge of this event. Honest.
It was nice to finally see a new ballpark up close and personal that I’ve seen only on TV the past 10 years. It’s nestled right along the riverfront that makes for a picturesque setting. It’s only a six-hour drive to the Queen City and I would definitely put that on your park to do list. That the Cards won 13-3 was a bonus.
I learned the origin of the name Great American, comes from Great American Insurance, which signed a 30-year naming lease with the Reds when the park was built in 2003. Great American has a towering building overlooking the park.
I tried to imagine where the old Riverfront Stadium was that I attended years ago. At least I think I had the right site.
Any time you get to the ballpark, it’s surely a Great American vacation.
Passing time later on the trip, I made a list of all the ballparks I’ve attended games at over the years. I came up with 23 parks in 15 cities, 13 of which are no longer in existence or used for baseball. In eight of those cities, I’ve seen games at two or more parks.
This list includes Riverfront, Three Rivers in Pittsburgh, Tiger Stadium, Comiskey Park, old Yankee Stadium, Cleveland Municipal Stadium and its successor Progressive Field, the Metro Dome in Minneapolis, Candlestick Park in San Fran, Royals Stadium, Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta and County Stadium in Milwaukee, and of course, Busch Stadium II in St. Louis, with its magnificent arch-themed roof top.
I’ve been to Fenway Park in Boston and Wrigley Field in Chicago, the two oldest parks still being used today, and the more newer parks like Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia, and Miller Park in Milwaukee.
I attended the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, which is now home (Turner Field) for the Braves, but didn’t count that on my list nor St. Petersburg, Fla., where I saw a NCAA tournament game. In Oakland, I managed to walk through an open gate on a non-game day. I’ve also driven by four parks out of season, but didn’t count them either.
There are 14 current stadiums that I’ve never seen or attended so I guess we’ve got some more trips to make. I’d really love to see PNC Park in Pittsburgh, AT&T Park in San Fran and Target Field in Minneapolis one day.
I know there are many of you who share my love for ballparks, like Jim Wimbiscus of Spring Valley. I’d love to hear all the parks you’ve been to. Send me an email and I can post your list here on my column online.
• Hieronymus Seafood: Along with the beach, another highlight of our vacation was a stop at Hieronymus Seafood Restaurant in Wilmington, N.C. for daughter Brynn’s 11th birthday. The founding family of this establishment are distant relatives, and although the new ownership didn’t offer any kind of family discount, the meal was great.
• Condolences: I’d like to offer my condolences to Arlene and the family of Walt Windt after his recent passing. Walt was the man who hired me for my first coaching job at PHS when he was the AD. I always found him to be a very nice and humble man and I understand he dominated those PHS staff basketball games back in the day. Also loved those steak dinners he held at the end of each track season.
Also, my condolences to J.A. Happ and his family for the loss of his grandfather, Tony Mertel of Peru. I understand he was a grand man. J.A. pitched with a heavy heart Monday in Toronto before returning home.
Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR Sports Editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org