Tag Archives: no longer in use

Cooper Stadium, Columbus, Ohio

Cooper Stadium, Columbus, OHIO

Number of states:  17
States to go:  33

First and last game:  July 25, 2006 (Columbus Clippers 9, Durham Bulls 1)

(Cooper Stadium is no longer in use for baseball as of the 2009 season.)

(Click on any image to view a larger version.)

To be sure, there were quite a number of issues with Cooper Stadium.  Its age shows, and not gracefully.  I dislike the ancient PA system, the charmless pavilion, and the less-than-understated Carmina Burana playing

as the team takes the field.  However, this July evening turned into a marvelously fun evening with loads of friends–an evening I was pleased to have.

Rob, Yolonda, Michelle and I made it to Cooper Stadium after a day at South Point, Ohio (near the tri-point of Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia).  Buddies Joe and Alison gathered loads of friends and led us to the tenth row behind the third-base dugout.  As happens so many times when I get together with buddies for a ballgame, there were many bizarre and memorable events to pass along.

For starters, the whole bunch of us nearly died in the second inning.  The Clippers’ Jeff Karstens pitched to the Bulls’ Elijah Dukes.  He must have fooled him very badly on a pitch, because as Dukes missed for strike two, he released his bat and it went flying behind him.

And right towards us.

Right the hell towards us.

Even if I had wanted the bat and been foolish enough to reach up for the bat, it likely would have just hit my forearms.  So I joined all of my friends in ducking down very low.  I did not want to get hit by a flying bat. 

As buddy Joe (wearing the Orioles hat in the photo) put it, “I’d prefer to go the rest of my life without the little voice in my head saying ‘you’re not ducking deep enough’ ever again.”

As we dusted ourselves off and made sure all of our appendages remained, and as we confirmed that the people a couple of rows behind us were also unhurt, we missed Dukes grounding out to third.  We also missed Dukes being ejected by the home plate umpire.  This ejection led the Devil Rays to finally get so fed up with Dukes (in part because he had earlier said that “the major leaguers shower in Perrier while we get sewer water”) that they suspended him for the rest of the season.  I appreciate the D-Rays’ priorities.  Only AFTER he threw a bat at me did they toss him.  Indeed, perhaps

the D-Rays knew that I was a sports official–in the year when Delmon Young chucked a bat at the home plate umpire, I would merely be the latest official a Durham Bull threw a bat at in 2006.

When I wasn’t in danger of dying, there were a few things I liked about Cooper Stadium.  They did a fine job respecting the Clippers’ history, which, as of 2006, meant New York

Yankees’ history.  I love ballparks that have lineups from past years on display, and Cooper Stadium had artists’ renditions of lineups from every year from the Clippers’ history as a Yankees’ affiliate.  The mixture of all-time greats with who-the-heck-is-thats is one of my favorite parts of being at a ballpark, and Cooper Stadium does it well.  As of the end of the 2006 season, the Yankees ended their relationship with the Clippers.  I do hope that they keep the old Yankees’ pictures up; when I’m at a minor league ballpark, I want to see the local minor league team’s history, not the history of the major league team.  Wichita, Tulsa, and High Desert all celebrate past minor leaguers from who played at that park even after affiliate shifts.  We’ll see if the Clippers have that same sense of history, or if their new parent club orders the relics of recent Yankee history taken down.

No other aspects of the ballpark blew me away.  I was a little taken aback by the fact that a cemetery is visible beyond the outfield fence.  When my mind and eyes wander during a Clippers’ game, they wander to headstones. A particularly massive home run at Cooper Stadium would not impress the fans so much as remind them of their mortality.  The pavilion is typically dank and dull.  They try to make it up with a miniature golf course.  I’m not a big fan of such unnecessary distractions from the baseball–any fan who’d prefer golf to

baseball isn’t a fan at all–and on top of that, the mini-golf course is so poorly and hastily assembled that it’s actually worse than it could be.

This is also my second visit to a Yankees’ affiliate, and the second time that the team played “New York, New York” after a victory.  I hated that just as much here as I did in Battle Creek.  We’re not in New York, and these aren’t the Yankees.  Let’s keep that music special for Yankee Stadium.

Occasionally, it’s a close race to actually be a charming old ballpark–the old, covered seating with beams obstructing views is a blast from the past–but I’m afraid that there are just too many negatives.  Nevertheless, I’ll probably be back. With so many friends so close by, I’ll certainly be back to see if they do any upgrades–and if those upgrades will maintain the current sense of history.

BALLPARK SCORE:

Regional feel:  7/10
The ballpark’s strong sense of Clippers’ history earns points here.

Charm:  2/5
Not much.  Old in and of itself does not mean charming, and Cooper Stadium demonstrates this.

Spectacle:  3.5/5
Not bad for the triple-A level, although the promotions they had were occasionally annoying.

Team mascot/name:  3/5

Joe, me, and Krash the First Mate.  Not pictured:  Lou Seal.  Nothing offensive or impressive about any mascot-related matters.

Aesthetics:  2.5/5
Sort of old and dusty–and the view is of a cemetery, which is creepy.

Pavilion area:  1.5/5

Scoreability:  3/5

Fans:  5/5
Great friends.  I look forward to going to the new place with them.

Intangibles:  2.5/5
I had a fun night, but in the end, this place didn’t leave me with a positive impression.

TOTAL:  29.5/50

BASEBALL STUFF I’VE SEEN HERE:

The Clippers rough up the Bulls’ Doug Waechter for four first-inning runs.

Columbus’s nine runs include five unearned runs off of four Bull errors, including a pair by B.J. Upton.

B.J. Upton and Bronson Sardinha homer.

Jeff Karstens pitches 7 innings of 1-run ball.

(Written August 2006.)

Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome

Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Number of Games:  1
First Game:  June 13, 1993 (A’s 7, Twins 6)

(The Metrodome is no longer used for baseball as of the end of the 2010 season.)

The Metrodome is the best among all of the domed stadiums I’ve seen, which is a little like being the tallest mountain in Rhode Island.  I like its location settled in so close to downtown Minneapolis, and I’m sure that Vikings fans (and, for that matter, Vikings) appreciate the protection from subzero weather in December and January, but I certainly wish that I could have been out in the sun on the Sunday afternoon I began my 1993 Erotic Love and Baseball Stadium Tour.  I drove the sixty minutes up from my sister’s college graduation from Carleton and settled into a month of crashing on friends’ floors.  (Which means, on Jennifer’s poster, the Tour begins with my sister’s name.  Sick, I know, but I didn’t know any other women in Minnesota, so my sister will have to do.)

First, a pleasant surprise:  my seat was in the second row, just a bit to the third-base side of home plate, about even with the edge of the foul ball netting.  Not too shabby…I had spoiled myself with the best seat of

the trip on the first game.  I was close enough to the action that I noticed some things I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed:  Dave Winfield is an exceptionally large and athletic man…way more impressive in person.  Also, Kirby Puckett’s chubbiness is just as evident from up close.

A couple of the Twins, including Winfield, were chatting with a sixty-ish woman in the front row, best seat in the house.  A season-ticket-holding married couple nearby told me what her story was.  She was an 81-game season-ticket holder who never, ever missed a game.  She worked as a nanny over the winters, but was finished by the spring so she could devote her summers to the Twins.  She was the most knowledgeable woman the about the Twins out there.  “She knew Hrbek was going on the DL before the media did,” they told me, amazed.  I was fairly amazed too.  Working six months out of the year to spend the other six in a dome?  I mean, Fenway, sure, but a dome?

Which leads me to a fairly obvious question, and the first thing I thought of when I saw the artificial turf.  If you had a room in your house that was as big as an indoor stadium, would this be the color of the carpet you choose?  Green grass, well, that’s pleasant.  Green carpet–that’s annoying.  Is there a rule that says the carpet in an indoor stadium has to be green?  Can we select some other color?  I suggest black–it’d be easy to pick up the ball and the foul lines, and teams could save money by cleaning and vacuuming it less often–but that might take away too much light.  Boise State University’s football stadium has blue astroturf. 

While blue is a fine color, on the rare occasions I see highlights on ESPN, I don’t think “gee, how different and daring,” I think “man, I need to adjust the tint on my TV.”  A dull red might work, but would blend in with the dirt cutouts around the bases.  Does anyone have a more attractive color than green for the few remaining astroturf fields?

One other lesson I learned…always pay attention.  I had my glove, needless to say, as I was in prime foul ball territory (and on an aisle, allowing for greater maneuverability).  Between innings, though, there was a pitching change, and I was focused on my scorepad to close the book on the previous pitcher, when–WHACK!–the side of my seat was hit by an errant throw from, I believe, the third baseman trying to get the ball back to the dugout, or maybe a left fielder. I’m proud to have been focused on the scorebook, but if I’d been looking at warmups, I surely would have seen the ball coming in, and for goodness sakes, I was wearing my glove–I should have led off the trip with a souvenir.  But I wasn’t, and I didn’t.  Buzzard’s luck…but I try to stay more focused now.

The game itself was quite fun…the first six players for Minnesota reached base, four scored, and they had a 4-1 lead after one inning before losing the lead in the top of the 6th, tying it up in the bottom, then giving up two runs in the top of the ninth and only responding with one.  Shane Mack hit two home runs.  I believe that a home run, especially a long one, looks most dramatic from behind home plate…you can really see the trajectory and respect the distance more from as close as possible to where the ball was hit.  I also have some kind of sense that, as much as I hate domes, home runs may look more dramatic indoors than out.  Something about the ball going almost all the way to the other end of a huge building is impressive…outdoors, the ball is really competing against the size of the world, or maybe against infinity.

Oh–this was the second game I ever tried to score…and the last I ever tried to score in pen.  I got a notion that it would be cool to score the whole trip with the same Minnesota Twins pen I bought at the Metrodome…but my scorepad is such a mess that I’ve used a pencil on all 100+ games since.  (Except one where I couldn’t find a pencil to buy.  Safeco Field let me down.)

I got on a plane that night…I had a game in St. Louis, where I’d left my car with relatives, the very next day.

***May 2005:  There is now a taller mountain in Rhode Island.  I like Tropicana Field more than the Metrodome.  Barely.

BASEBALL STUFF I SAW HERE:

Shane Mack hit two home runs.  This is especially impressive since he only hit 10 during the entire year.

Eddie Guardado starts in his first major league appearance of what is, to date, an 11-year major league career.  Lasts 3 1/3 innings in a no-decision.

Goose Gossage pitches a scoreless 1 1/3 for Oakland.  I am surprised to see him still alive and well with a 2.53 ERA (that will balloon to nearly five by the end of the season).

Dennis Eckersley gives up Mack’s second homer, deep to straightaway center, but still gets a save.

(Written August 2001.  Updated July 2005.)