Guaranteed to Have a Heck of a Day

Whenever I read sports journalism, I feel like 90% of the time there's a paragraph dedicated to the "sports home" of someone's childhood. Be it the writer or an athlete or whoever, there's at least a brief focus on how this person became who they are, and that always includes growing up attending games at [insert stadium here], eating [insert food here], gazing wide-eyed at [insert favorite athlete/idol here]. They'll go into detail about the stadium, the atmosphere, the food, and how all of this formed the basis of this person's childhood memories.

Well, I didn't really have that.

I read all these stories and think wistfully about going to so many games that security knew me by name, about having "my seat," about having more ticket stubs than I know what to do with. But that just wasn't my life. I grew up on Long Island so I certainly got to see my fair share of games; Mets, Yankees, Islanders, Knicks. I've been to all four Major League Baseball stadiums that have existed in New York in my lifetime, Madison Square Garden, Nassau Coliseum, and even MetLife Stadium (for a Bon Jovi concert back when it was still the New Meadowlands).

 Yankee Stadium
Citi Field

My parents want to see a game in every MLB stadium, and when I was younger I reaped the benefits of this goal. I've been to ballparks in Baltimore, Toronto, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Boston, Tampa and Washington, D.C. With the exception of Tampa (lol, sorry), they're all beautiful (though most of them were visited before my picture-taking days).

Nationals Park

I lived in Miami for four years, so I went to games in both Marlins Park and SunLife Stadium (before Marlins Park existed). The new stadium is top notch, while SunLife is... not so much.

Marlins Park
SunLife Stadium

Now that I'm in Colorado I've been to two games at Coors Field, and I'm actually shocked at how nice it is. There's also a brewery there, because... well, Coors Field.

Coors Field

But funnily enough, though I didn't spend my childhood growing up in a stadium, I still feel as though my "sports home" was Shea Stadium. It was where the Mets played before Citi Field came to be and it was, quite honestly, a dump. It was literally known for being a terrible ballpark. It was closed for good in 2008, and I've probably now been to more games at Citi than I ever went to at Shea. But I don't know, man, there's just something about those formative years. It's where I saw the giant Mets apple for the first time, where a red, white and blue ribbon was laid over the Twin Towers in the light-up skyline after 9/11, where Mike Piazza became my first real baseball hero. And Shea had these giant ramps between the seating levels all around the outside of the stadium; if you were a kid, you ran down them when you were leaving a game. You probably ran up them when you arrived, too, but when gravity was working in your favor it was all too easy to break into a sprint (and then wait for your slow parents when you reached the landing, obviously).

Look at the ramps! Ah, good times. (source)

It's so dumb. But that's why Shea has to be my favorite ballpark; running down those ramps with my brother, looking over our shoulders to make sure we didn't stray too far from mom and dad. That could've happened once in my life. Literally, I don't have any specific memories of doing this. I just know we did it, and I'll always remember it fondly as that one-of-a-kind sports experience. Shea had character, and for that I'll always be grateful.

(Also, if you're wondering about the title of this post, it's a reference to this jingle that's actually horribly embarrassing, please don't judge me for the franchise I root for. Thanks. )

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  1. I don't think that's a dumb reason to love a ballpark! it's such a sweet memory!! I'm a little jealous of all of the ballparks you've been to!! [read A LOT JEALOUS THANKS.]

  2. Yes, I remember those ramps well. Ah, memories.

  3. Aw, I love this! I can totally picture little kids running down the ramps, not even caring what happened in the game. The new stadiums are great, but when you have good memories associated with the old crappy ones...well, they're not that crappy.

  4. I, too, loved the Shea Stadium ramps as a kid! I hope to get to Coors Field one of these days (maybe this season?!?!?)…it looks beautiful!