As spread out across the United States as we are, it is amazing that we are all so close in number! Kevin recently forged ahead of Mark on "Off-BIB" trips with his son to take the lead with 41 Major League Ballparks, with Mark in second with 40, Scott third with 37, followed by Gerry bringing up the rear with 35. For the record, Gerry does not believe in "Off-BIB Visits." A saving grace for Gerry is that he has the first BIB visit to an All-Star Game, the 2002 aborted extra inning contest in Milwaukee (Kevin caught the recent All-Star tilt in Detroit's Comerica Park for a second BIB tally to an All-Star Game).
In 2010 "unofficial BIB" visits, Mark and Scott celebrated Mark's daughter's move to College Park, MD for grad school by catching a game together at Camden Yards. It really is a jewel of a ballpark, setting the standard for all the retro parks that have been built since then. In 2014 unofficial visits, Kevin was able to catch 1) a game at the re-built-in-2009 Yankee Stadium and 2) Petco Park in San Diego on a business trip. Kevin also leads in total ballparks, now with 83 total major, minor, and independent ballparks, pulling ahead of Scott (78), Mark (76) and Gerry (71) in total ballparks, but Mark still has the only Japanese baseball visit to the Tokyo Dome in 1995.
The Brothers have taken an informal poll of the non-game attractions that we have attended through the years, and 16 attractions garnered votes in a "rate your Top 10" contest. Each Brother rated his Top Ten, giving 10 points to the favorite diversion on down to 1 point. Forty attractions were dredged up from our trips, ranging from the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco, TX to the Miller Brewery Tour in Milwaukee to the high culture of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. Fittingly, no high culture made the cut, and with no further ado, the official "BIB Top Ten" roadside attractions are:
BIB2004's Field of Dreams topped the list with a score of 36,
BIB1991's Baseball Hall of Fame came in a close second with a 33 owing mostly to a measily 4 points awarded this shrine to baseball by Kevin. Gotta wonder about that boy...
BIB1999's quirky Seattle Underground Tour rounds out the top three,
BIB2001's Louisville Slugger Museum came in fourth, owing to the strength of discovering that Elvis lives and is working at the bat lathe in Louisville, KY,
BIB2005's Coopertown (Miami) Airboat Tour garnered 23 points, with real honest to goodness gators coming right up to the boat and daring our reptile-phobic Scott to jump on in,
BIB2002's Ben & Jerry's Factory Tour,
BIB1999's Mt. St. Helens volcano driving tour,
BIB2003's Branch Davidian Compound in Waco, TX, at least what's left of it,
BIB2003's JFK Assassination Museum in the Sixth Floor Book Depository in Dallas
BIB2004's "Twister" Movie House (actually seen for a brief few seconds at the very end of the movie) in Eldora Iowa rounds out the Top Ten.
Other attractions garnering points include the Olympic Stadium Tour in Montreal, our rather tame foray into Tijuana, Mexico, Pike's Place Market in Seattle, the definitely off-center Gatorland in Orlando, FL, the Football Hall of Fame in Canton (definitely much less the shrine than Cooperstown owing to our points), and the Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco, TX. I imagine if we had got likkered up and tossed in a Mexican jail, the Tijuana trip would have managed more points.
Check out the excellent trip reports for each year's tour to get the full scoop on our adventures at these attractions elsewhere on our site.
The Brothers also rated their favorite ballpark "experiences" subjectively, again, assigning points and tallying up the concensus. The ballpark could be less than perfect, but if the game were particularly memorable (as the final game in the Kingdome was) or the extras heaped on the Brothers for being the Brothers (as the stadium tour, free parking, and free tickets at Qualcomm), the overall experience could be rated high. But of course, the stadium could also be a dump, by any measure, as Shea and Veterans Stadiums were.
Top 10 Major League Stadiums 1 - Kingdome, Seattle, WA, 1999 2 - Minute Maid Park, Houston, TX, 2003 3 - Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA, 2000 4 - The Ballpark at Arlington, Arlington, TX, 2003 5 - Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL, 1992 6 - Yankee Stadium, New York, NY, 1990 7 - Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, CA, 2000 8 - Fenway Park, Boston, MA, 1991 9 - Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, FL, 2005 10 - Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, MO, 2004
Bottom 5 Major League Stadiums 19 - Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia, PA, 1990 20 - Memorial Stadium, Baltimore, MD, 1991 21 - Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA, 1993 22 - Cleveland Stadium, Cleveland, OH, 1993 23 - Shea Stadium, New York, NY, 1991
Top 5 Minor League Stadiums 1 - Dell Diamond, Round Rock, TX, 2003 2 - The Epicenter, Rancho Cucamonga, CA, 2000 3 - BellSouth Park, Chattanooga, TN, 2001 4 - Fox Cities Stadium, Appleton, WI, 1998 5 - Traditions Field, St. Lucie, FL, 2005
Bottom 3 Minor League Stadiums 11 - Holman Stadium, Vero Beach, FL, 2005 12 - Civic Stadium, Portland, OR, 1999 13 - Lynx Stadium, Ottawa, ON, 2002
Past Year's History
BIB '98 Account from Scott Mark was the first to arrive--he flew to Milwaukee and arrived Thursday afternoon. Gerry took him on a tour of Milwaukee and the Miller brewing company. Kevin drove up from Cincinnati and arrived late Thursday night. Apparently as Kevin walked in the door, they turned on the TIPB video tape and immediately sat down to watch it for the next two hours.
Friday Gerry, Kevin, and Mark drove to Minneapolis while I was flying in from Richmond. They arrived at the airport just as my plane was landing. From the airport we drove downtown and found the Metrodome. We had plenty of time so we bought our tickets (Mark set a terrible precedent of buying all the tickets for everyone--we spent the rest of the weekend picking up each other's tab and I still don't know if I owe someone some money. This is only worth mentioning because our Twins tickets were $76, our Timber Rattler tickets were $20, and our Brewer tickets were $1.40.), and then headed to an outdoor grill/cafe for some refreshment before the game. Kevin had us chasing after some steak house he had eaten at once many years ago, but after a lengthy walk we stopped where we could. The conversation was a little stiff until we started talking about my ex-wife and girlfriend--that seemed to loosen up everyone.
The Metrodome was a pleasant surprise--not a bad place to watch a baseball game in spite of what others say about it. The first thing you notice is the ceiling. You can't take your eyes off of it at first, but after the game had been going for a while you no longer know it's there. There are signs above the exit that warn of being sucked out into the street because of the air pressure. The game itself wasn't too interesting--the Red Sox hit a couple of 3-run homers and it wasn't much of a contest. If I were a Twins fan the highlight would be Paul Molitor's appearance as a pinch hitter late in the game.
After the game we hit the road for a little drive to our hotel. We might have gotten to the hotel sooner if we hadn't got lost on the way after we got to Eau Claire. In the same manner that Kevin led us straight to the Steak House, Gerry had us believing he actually knew how to get around Eau Claire. Hard to believe we could get so lost in such a little town, but we finally found the hotel and got to our rooms around midnight.
Saturday morning we found the Henry Aaron statue (actually a bust) before leaving town. Not much to the statue, but I was surprised that Gerry knew of it and could find it (with a map). There was a cool stadium behind it. We headed out for Green Bay and found a cool little place for breakfast called Cadott--notable to the local folk for being halfway between the North Pole and the equator. I ordered an omelet that had to weigh no less than 10 lbs., we shared elephant ears, and the other breakfasts were just as big and cholesterol laden.
After a brief stop for ice cream, we got to Green Bay shortly after lunchtime. We quickly discovered how fanatical Green Bay Packer fans could be--EVERYONE wears green and gold packer stuff. We wanted to take the stadium tour but it was sold out. That's right, a tour to see an empty stadium before the football season started was sold out. I guess tickets are nearly impossible to come by, so this is the only chance many have to get inside Lambeau Field. We decided to tour the Packer Hall of Fame and again the crowds were surprising. The little movie area was actually standing room only. It was a nice Hall of Fame and we spent probably a couple of hours there, including this area where we unsuccessfully tried to throw and kick a football.
Afterwards, we found the practice field and got to watch a couple minutes of practice. I don't think we were suppose to so we hightailed it when Mike Holmgren came towards us to get on his Harley. By then we were hungry, so we found a sports bar a few blocks from the stadium. We ordered a hamburger shaped like a football and watched in amazement as a wedding party rolled in. First the groomsmen and bridesmaids, and then the bride and groom themselves. What an odd way to spend your wedding day--going to the local bar to smoke and drink.
We left for Appleton as it started to rain, and when we got there it was raining pretty hard. We found a mall to hang out at while we faced our biggest decision. Should we stay in Appleton and hope the rain stops and the game is played, or do we go on to Milwaukee to watch the Brewers Saturday night? I think Kevin wanted to see the Brewers Saturday night so he could leave for home earlier on Sunday, but we decided to stay and it was good decision. The rain stopped and we headed for Fox Cities Stadium to watch the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers take on the Kane County Cougars.
Turns out we picked a good night to visit. They were giving away T-Rat caps, and there were fireworks after the game. We had good seats (as one always does at a minor league game) and the game was actually pretty good. The home team won the game 3-2 in the bottom of the 10th. During one of the inning breaks, they were sling-shooting t-shirts into the stands. One came right at us--I leapt and missed it, and it hit Kevin's hand before bouncing off into someone else's hands. For the rest of the trip Kevin wouldn't stop talking about how lame he was for missing the t-shirt to the point where we could do nothing but agree. After the game and 3-D fireworks, we headed into Milwaukee and got to Gerry's around midnight. After a quick visit with Sue, we headed off to bed--Mark and Kevin with the boys and me downstairs in the basement.
Sunday Sue put on an awesome breakfast--cinnamon rolls, this french toast thing, eggs, fruit, toast, etc. We took our time getting ready and taking pictures, so we had just a little time for a quick Milwaukee tour before the game. Gerry and Sue really took this hosting thing seriously, so before we left we received our parting gifts of a miniature bat, plastic mug, stadium sauce, packer rain gear, etc. The Milwaukee tour consisted of the empty lot that used to be Jeffrey Dahmer's apartment, Lake Michigan, and a bunch of other stuff I don't remember.
Gerry had County stadium all figured out--all we had to do was buy any tickets and then sit where we wanted. So, Gerry found three free tickets from an unlucky scalper and I bought a ticket from some kid for $1.40. With that we got inside and found our first seats behind home plate up in the shade. Gerry didn't think we'd get away with those, so we moved around to the third base side and stayed there for the rest of the game.
County stadium was definitely a unique experience with Bernie Brewer that slides into the beer on a Brewers homerun, the live sausage race, and "Roll Out the Barrel" during the seventh-inning stretch. To complete the experience, I had a brats with stadium sauce for lunch--just as Gerry suggested. Kevin wanted to drive back to Cincinnati Sunday night, so he was planning on leaving as soon as the game ended. Well, the game was still in the 4th or 5th inning by 3:00, so Kevin stayed an extra hour just watch the sausage race and then he was gone to start driving home.
The best part of the day was watching my San Diego Padres play the Brewers--I can't remember the last time I saw the Padres live. As I mentioned before, it was terribly long game and Gerry, Mark, and I had to leave for the airport at 5:00 when the game went into extra innings. The Padres eventually won 13-11--some 4.5 hours after the game started. By then we were on the way to the airport--Mark on his way back to the Bay Area and me flying back to Richmond. It was a long weekend, but I had a lot of fun seeing my friends and watching a little baseball.
2001 Unofficial BIB Visits From Gerry (April 10, 2001):
Even though I am last in total number of stadiums seen, I'm assuming I have jumped into the lead as #1 to see a new ball park opening day and the President! Miller Park is very cool and an engineering wonder. There was so much build up that I need to go a few more times to compare it to Jacobs Field or others. Besides the roof, one nice thing is the extra leg room and when someone in the middle of the row wants to get up (and go!) there is enough room that you don't even have to stand up to let them by!
And Bernie the Brewer is still there, but his slide is much nicer than the one at County Stadium.
By the way, the brat one the first sausage race. He wanted it 'wurst!!!!!
Kevin's Justification for the Crosley Visit (April 1, 2001):
Happy baseball season! Got my ticket for the season opener tomorrow at the newly "open-air" Riverfront ... er...uh...Cinergy Field. Oddly, the place looks better than it ever did before they took a slice out of the stadium. Got natural grass for the first time, a view of the river, and a centerfield wall that rivals the Green Monster (had to to provide a hitter's background when then opened up the stadium). It actually has a ballpark, rather than cookie-cutter stadium, look to it. The talk in Cincinnati now is that we don't really need a new ballpark after all. Too late - construction has already started just beyond the current outfield wall - very reminiscent of Miller Park going up beyond County Stadium's wall. I've been able to watch the whole project (including the initial construction of "Great American Ballpark" - to open in 2003) from my office window downtown.
All this reminiscing about my growing up with the Big Red Machine at Riverfront (Cinergy - my ass!) brought me to a realization this weekend that I've got a ballpark under my belt that hasn't been counted in the official BIB scrolls - Crosley Field. I was there for opening day, 1970 - and, yes, I do remember it - I've still got the baseball cards my grandpa bought me at the concession stand to prove it. So whaddya say, official scorers?
By the by, I don't think I passed along that my sister bought me a really cool book for Christmas - "The Ballpark Book" published by the Sporting News. It gives you guided tours of the history idiosyncrasies of current (and some of the old classic) ballparks. Highly recommend it! Remind me during your visit to Cincinnati to take you to the site of old Crosley Field. I can show you the small piece of the left field wall that is still standing.