US Cellular Field – August 2006
‘The Cell’ was a welcome surprise. My youngest, Maddy, was born a few months earlier, so any time I joked about seeing a game I would get a dirty look from my wife. Unlike Dodger Stadium, where I somehow worked an opportunity to go down to LA for a few days while my wife stayed home with our 4 month old, I didn’t want to press my luck. When the moment was right, I got the “OK”, and I was going to Coors Field! I know what you’re thinking. Wait. This entry is for ‘The Cell’. Well, as luck would have it, I got the call that I had a training meeting in Chicago days after I made my reservations to go to Denver.
My first impressions of the park weren’t great. First things first, there’s nothing to do around the park, which is wildly different than Wrigley. When I was in the park, it was really clean, but not terribly exciting. It just didn’t have any ‘pizazz’. The only thing I really thought was all that nice about the park was the brick around the inside concessions, which I found out later that they added after so many people complained about how sterile the park was.
The funniest (and lamest) part of the trip was the complete cluster leaving the park.
44,000 people in the park. How many take the “L” home? Yeah, I’m betting over half. So picture 20,000 people rushing to the train station and only 8 lonely turnstiles. What a complete logistical nightmare. Surprisingly, I was on the train in under 10 minutes, so it really wasn’t that bad, but the picture is worth a thousand words.
I met Reggie Jackson (Mr October) at the airport on my way home. He was passing through after a scouting trip. (I thought he had been there for the Yankees game, but he was actually scouting for the Mets.) I talked to him for a moment then excused myself, extending my hand. Reggie looked at it for a moment before shaking it. I don’t know if he was ‘too good’ to shake it, or if he was just shocked I wasn’t going to hassle him. (What I really wanted to do was see if he wanted to get a beer while he waited for his flight.) Who knows, Reggie Jackson has always been different.
Years later, ESPN released their mini-series, “The Bronx Is Burning”, adapted from the book “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning” by Jonathan Mahler. I was shocked to see a scene where someone went to shake Reggie Jackson’s hand, but he didn’t shake back. I had experienced that first hand. (No pun intended.) I still have the autographed boarding pass. To me, his Reggie always looks like Lizzie.
Coors Field – 2006
I went to Denver to see a new park and an old buddy. Chandler used to work with me at Sears before moving to Denver and getting a job at Coors. Chandler is one of those guys that doesn’t have Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram, or even a non-work email, but he’s younger than me. His name, Chandler B**s, was so close to Chandler Bing on Friends, that people would always joke about that. But Chandler was no Chandler, Chandler was 100% Joey, a great guy that was often unintentionally funny, and could have slayed it with the ladies if he knew how to use his Joey looks.
I was going to buy the tickets since he’d be showing me around, but then he reminded me that he worked for Coors and would see if he could get freebies, so instead of buying tickets, we spent the game in one of Coors’ personal luxury boxes. (The game I went to solo the next day I saw for $4. F-o-u-r, then sat 20 rows up from 1st base.)
There were a ton of places in Denver to go before and after the game, and I was sure to have my obligatory ice-cold Coors at the game to celebrate. Lucky for Chandler, his girlfriend, roommate, and friend, I don’t drink much and was happy to DD for the night.
The next day I checked out the in-park brewery “The Sandlot” where I had a Sandlot Red and a prime rib sandwich. I had to call Amy – I was having a beer for breakfast – And I made sure to send a pic over to my friend Neil, who was stuck in a work meeting while I was in Denver seeing a ballgame. He was a true gentleman and was sure to show the picture around to the other poor saps that had to work that day too.
I really liked Coors Field. It you took out the top deck, it felt like a Spring Training park. Very intimate, and a truly beautiful city and area. I’m shocked that I haven’t made the time to go back!
As a side note, this was the last group of parks that I wrote about well after the fact. The majority of my ballpark journals after are much more in the moment, so expect more about the city, some locations, along with some great food! Everything that inspired Blocking The Plate in the first place!