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Paul’s Minor League Baseball Stadium Page
in which Paul begins a new quest: to attend a minor league baseball game in all 50 states.
A new quest, a new big list! This one began in the summer of 2003, as I noticed I only had a few more years left in the original goal to get to all the major league ballparks. At the time, even with new ballparks imminent in San Diego, Philadelphia, and anywhere-but-Montreal, it looked like I would be done with all the major league ballparks within three or four years. After finishing off the original goal (and after only 15-ish years!), I was due to be done with my quest. And what happens after that–after I finish a life goal at age 36 or 37? Frankly, nothing but alcohol and despair. (Kidding.)
But seriously, folks, what should come next? Go to them all again? Well, if I’m in town, sure, or if new ones open, but otherwise, why bother? The answer of “minor leagues” is easy–too easy. There are hundreds of the suckers…that would be completely unattainable. (Even Charlie O’Reilly has missed a few, and he’s the most hard-core guy out there…he makes me look like a Sunday driver.) Ah, what to do, what to do? At some point, it occurred to me: my quest would be to attend a minor league baseball game in all 50 states.
As I’ve gone to major league ballparks, one of the things I’ve liked best is noting the regional differences. The strip-mallization of the country isn’t as noticeable in ballparks as it is elsewhere. Sure, every MLB ballpark has many of the same stupid promotions, blooper shots, and even (among those built at similar times) architecture, but I’ve found that each stadium still has its own unique regional–and even local–feel. Going to a game in all 50 states should tell me a little something about each of the states. In fact, with uber-local promotions and fewer people traveling from out of town to see a ballgame, I predict I’ll gain a little more of a feel for our country and baseball than I have through my major league travels (which, of course, will continue).
If I go to enough minor-league games for enough ballclubs’ affiliates, maybe I can get lucky and see somebody really famous really early in his career.
I like baseball even at this level. Plus, I can see a lot more passed balls, ways to commit an error, taken fastballs for strike three, balks, and otherwise bizarre moments the major leaguers won’t give me. It’s a good way to challenge my scoring abilities.
I enjoy rooting for the later draft picks even while knowing I’ll have to keep my eye open for the earlier ones.
I’m going to buy a souvenir mini-bat for every minor league team I see. Eventually, I’d like them all to be on my wall, possibly superimposed on a map of the US. We’ll see.
What makes for a good minor league ballpark?
I am so glad you asked. Look here for my criteria/scoring system and how those I’ve seen so far rate.
–The quest officially began on July 4, 2003.
–The states in which I had seen minor league baseball prior to 2003 (Colorado, Illinois, and Washington) must be revisited. It hardly matters for Washington, where I live, which became the first state crossed off the list anyway. Since the stadiums I’d seen minor league ball in Colorado (Denver’s Mile High Stadium) and Illinois (Peoria’s Pete Vonachen Stadium) have both been destroyed, I’ll have to head back to see another ballpark anyway.
–When available, I will see an affiliated minor league team, to increase the chances I’ll catch a rising star, a diamond in the rough, the rose among thorns, and whatever other cliché I’m looking for in the minor leagues. As of 2003, there are eight states that do not have an affiliated minor league club: Alaska, Hawaii, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and South Dakota. In those states, I’ll find independent or semi-pro ball to watch (unless, of course, they get an affiliated team in the intervening years). Update 2005: Mississippi, Missouri, and New Hampshire have since gained affiliated teams.
–I will score each game, but will score them in a different book from the major league book–they have to earn their way to the major league book. To make it easier to find who has made it to the majors later on, I will write the players’ entire first and last names rather than the first initial and last name that are customary in my major league scorebooks.
–I will create a page for each ballpark, describing what I saw there and attempt to rank the ballparks I have attended.