Oakland/Alameda County Coliseum/McAfee Coliseum, Oakland, CA
Number of Games: 3
First game: September 16, 1995 (A’s 6, Twins 1)
Most recent game: July 4, 2011 (Mariners 2, A’s 1)
Oakland County Coliseum was temporarily renamed Network Associates Coliseum. As of the 2005 season (and for my second visit in 2006), it was called McAfee Coliseum. In 2011, as of my third visit, the name had changed to the o.co Coliseum.
(Click on any image to see a full-sized version.)
They were in the midst of remodeling Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum when I was there, so my concerns may have been alleviated, but I still have a couple of complaints about the stadium. First–and this is a problem in quite a few two-sport stadiums–there is so much foul territory that, no matter where you’re sitting, you’re about a mile and a half from the play. I thought the grade in the lower deck was so gradual that I felt even farther back than the foul territory originally made it seem. The place was more or less charmless–again, the construction dust may have added to that. And maybe there was a problem with me watching two teams that were out of the playoff hunt in mid-September. But I don’t have too much of a positive impression of this stadium. I wasn’t able to go back there on my 2000 West Coast Swing. Maybe sometime down the road, when I next visit friends in the Bay Area, I’ll get a chance to return and willfind it more to my liking.
Good old Kristina, longtime friend and sometime crush (I never told her so…until now, of course) lugged me around the Bay Area for an entire wedding weekend, and accompanied me to the ballgame on top of everything else. She was a trooper. At the ballgame, she scored for me while I bought her a hot dog…but there was something bad in the hot dog, and Kristina got sick. Damn that Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum! They made Kristina sick! Anyhow, she has since married, and she, her husband, and their new baby daughter live in Sacramento. We remain in sporadic touch…she and her husband even volunteered to host me on my last baseball trip. So that’s what I remember Oakland for–we were far away from the game, I was hanging out with a good friend, and she got sick from a hot dog. Not the greatest ballpark experience in history.
I missed Oakland on my West Coast Tour 2000…I was due to stay with Kristina and her husband, but an sudden, severe illness in her family prevented that, and I truncated the trip instead of spending many dollars I didn’t have on a stadium hotel. Bless her heart, Kristina still offered to let me to stay with her. “I’ll be at the hospital a lot, but my husband and I really want to see you…” Next time, Kristina. The three of us will go to the ballpark together. I’ll even sneak in our own food.
REVISIT 2006: I made it back to Oakland’s ballpark with my wife and my buddy Rob in 2006. When I wrote the above, I wrote it in 2001, recalling a 1995 game. I now can give a better review–the construction was finished and the ballpark is fresh in my mind. The ballpark has the same problems as most dual-purpose stadiums…massive expanses of unusedseats and large amounts of foul ground. My recollection that the stands’ slope felt gradual was reinforced on this visit: even in the front row of the second deck, I felt very, very far away from the action. The players looked smaller than they do at most other ballparks. The team made the wise decision to close off the third deck in 2006, which enables them to cover it with decorations, retired numbers, and World Series title commemorations. This closure makes the concourses a hotbed of activity, since literally all of the spectators are shoe-horned into one concourse, which winds about 270 degrees around the ballpark.
The funny thing is that these old, unfortunate characteristics–the concrete slabs above the concourses, the vacant upper decks, the possibility of a lousy seat–have become the new retro in stadiums. Tiger Stadium, Wrigley Field, and even Fenway Park) have been imitated in the new wave ballparks (more or less anything built in the 1990s). There aren’t many of the 1970s multipurpose ballparks still in use: this one, Shea, Skydome/Rogers Centre (to an extent), and the Metrodome (for a few more years, anyway). None of these are great ballparks, but none of them are modern carnival/theme parks, either…baseball is central here. The old crappy and dull has become the new retro, and it’s fun to get to a ballpark like this while we still can, to enjoy a lousy seat, less-frequent horrible promotions, and even the kitschy-retro dot races instead of the whatever-can-be-sponsored-locally races on the ballpark screens at so many other ballparks. It’s not a great ballpark, but I’m glad I went back, and I’ll do it again if I have the chance.
BASEBALL STUFF I’VE SEEN HERE:
Mark McGwire homered in the 1995 game.
In 2006, I saw one of the most dramatic pitching performances I’ve ever seen. The Diamondbacks’ Miguel Batista threw 6 2/3 innings of a perfect game. The game remained scoreless through 6 before Arizona blew it open with 6 runs in the top of the seventh. This meant there was no doubt as to the outcome of the game, but that there was a lot of drama as to whether Batista could get nine more outs consecutively. He retired the Jason Kendall to lead off the seventh. Then, second baseman Orlando Hudson made an absolutely incredible stop on a grounder up the middle to retire Mark Kotsay for the second out. I whooped with glee. About 50% of the Oakland fans–they’re hard-core, remember–were cheering, but I got a few major glares from A’s fans. Would that great play propel Batista the rest of the way? No. He walked the next batter on four pitches, and then surrendered a huge home run to Frank Thomas to surrender the no-hitter and the shutout. Batista finished with a three-hitter, and in the process gave me one of my biggest ballpark thrills…the deepest a player has ever taken a no-hitter in my presence, just beating out Roger Clemens’s one-hit gem in the ALCS at Safeco Field in 2000.
Another big pitching duel highlighted my family’s July 4th visit to the newly-named O.co Coliseum in 2012. Mariner Michael Pineda got the best of Oakland’s Brandon McCarthy, combining with two relievers on a 3-hitter. Josh Bard’s 6th-inning homer tied it and Justin Smoak’s 7th-inning double won it. (Smoak is pictured up in the body of the entry, fouling off a second-inning pitch from McCarthy). The highlight of the day might be this photo of my elder son, which might be the greatest image in recorded history: