JD’s 2015 Ballpark Tour; Detroit, Michigan

Part XI: Comerica Park

(AKA: Tigers, Tigers Everywhere)

This portion of my trip seemed so long ago, but I loved it. I will keep this post super short because I do need to catch up on my blog entries and get to the next portion of my solo travels. Mike and I made the long drive to Detroit, but the experience I had was a fantastic one that I won’t soon forget. Also, with a pair of free field level tickets thanks to my credit card’s great perks, we had a great view of a high-octane offense.

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Ballpark 25: Comerica Park, elevation 570 feet

The game: Blue Jays @ Tigers on July 5, 2015
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JD’s 2015 Ballpark Tour; Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Part VII: Rogers Centre

(AKA: Canadian Hospitality At Its Best)

The previous three ballparks I went to weren’t exactly the cream of the crop. Combined with the humid weather, I was ready to begin a new phase of my travels. I got my passport and was ready to head back into Canada. I had been looking forward to returning to the Great White North since my last trip to Montreal which you can read about here. I was also looking forward to visiting Toronto because I had never been there, and I was visiting a long-time friend, television’s Ryan Vickers! Additionally, I had been previously contacted by the Toronto Blue Jays after they were so kind to replace my Montreal Expos hat from the visit to Stade Olympique. The Blue Jays organization already went above and beyond to replace the hat. They were so kind before, how could they possibly top that?

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The events leading up to this day were something else. First off, I had been featured on MLBlogs, and because I was e-mailing back and forth someone named Sydney from the Guest Experience Team, my blog was starting to see some consistent traffic. Plus, Sydney mentioned sharing my blog with others from the team! So while I was excited to meet the people from the organization, I was happy to see the formerly-named SkyDome in all its glory. I should mention that Ryan showed me the best of what Toronto has to offer. I went to the 360 Restaurant at the top of the CN Tower, the Hockey Hall of Fame (which was a huge highlight for me), and Steam Whistle Brewery! The day was capped off by a great baseball game at an underrated stadium.

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Ballpark 21: Rogers Centre, elevation 90 metres

The game: Red Sox @ Blue Jays on June 30, 2015
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JD’s 2015 Ballpark Tour; St. Petersburg, Florida

Part V: Tropicana Field

(AKA: Under the Dome)

(AKA: Witnessing Near Perfection)

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After an off-day in Columbus updating the blog, writing entries, and having great coffee, I took the long bus ride to Tampa, Florida. I said my goodbyes to my cousin and left Columbus very early in the morning. I arrived late in Tampa in the middle of a severe thunderstorm, so my arrival time was delayed by a bit. I guess that’s why they call their NHL hockey team the Tampa Bay Lightning, right? My friend, Justin, picked me up from the bus terminal in the middle of this storm… and thank goodness he did because that was one of the longest bus rides I’ve ever taken. It was something else… but I’m now in south Florida ready to have some fun and visit a new ballpark! A new ballpark that has been panned so much in the recent past…

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Ballpark 19: Tropicana Field, elevation 38 feet

The game: Blue Jays @ Rays on June 24, 2015
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JD’s 2015 Ballpark Tour, Montreal, Quebec

Part I: Stade Olympique

This visit was possible thanks to the Toronto Blue Jays, so I want to thank them publicly. Also, they have some of the best people working for their organization… more on that later. After last season’s journey, I waited patiently for the regular season schedule to come out so I could start planning for the other fifteen ballparks. Additionally, I took a peek at the pre-season schedule and saw something that piqued my interest. The Cincinnati Reds and Blue Jays were to play two exhibition games at the old Olympic Stadium in Montreal! This wasn’t a ballpark I ever made it out to, and I quickly asked the masses. Would this count as another stadium to see a ballgame in despite the fact the team that used to play there is now in Washington, DC? The answer was a resounding “YES!” That meant I would be visiting 16 other stadiums during this season instead of 15. Plus, with the usual games at Los Angeles and Anaheim, I would visit 18 different ballparks in one season. This was beginning to get really insane as I saw that this trip was not only possible, but a very strong possibility. Visiting this many ballparks in a span of five to six months may seem like an insurmountable task to the vast majority of baseball fans out there. However, with a great group of supportive friends and colleagues, this was looking like I could actually do this.

Planning for this was a bit difficult because of the hockey season and my work schedule. Luckily, I had a vacation around that time and could take a couple additional days off. Even more lucky, I would be able to revolve this around other work I already had going on and would just mosey to Montreal on the back end of an East Coast trip that was mostly planned. All the dominoes were falling into place.

Fast forward months later, and after a great trip to New York, I took the train up to Montreal on April Fool’s Day. This train ride was no joke, the scenery was that beautiful looking outside. Snow-filled woods surrounded me on a breathtaking train ride. Ultimately, I’m glad I took the train instead of a plane because it saved me money and gave me time to catch up on some writing and e-mails. I had arrived in Montreal armed with a fluency of the French language and quite a bit of Canadian money. I was ready for this short trip.

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Ballpark 16: Olympic Stadium in Montreal, elevation 30 metres

The game: Reds @ Blue Jays on April 3, 2015

The buzz around this game was very real as soon as I arrived in Montreal. First off, half of the TV stations were in French, and even some of them were talking about the upcoming games at Olympic Stadium. When I arrived, it was Wednesday. I attended a Montreal Canadiens game on Thursday, and one of the guests of honor at Centre Bell was former Expo, Vladimir Guerrero. He got a very loud standing ovation and is considered one of the finest players to ever put on a Montreal Expos jersey. Another fantastic story to come out of there was the return of Russell Martin to his home town of Montreal. He was also at the hockey game and got another standing ovation. Apparently, he stayed with his family while he was there and painted the town blue, as it were. In fact, he rode the Montreal subways around town just like when he was a kid.

After the hockey game, I looked ahead to Friday’s big game at “The O” where over 40,000 fans were expected to watch a pre-season game. Because of the recent snow, walking around was a bit tough. But, I left with enough time to buy myself a Montreal Expos hat, get my scorebook stamped from Olympic Stadium, and take a good look in and around the stadium.

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