Doesn’t even have to be MLB. Could be college or even high school? What was the memory?
The first time I played on Mahaney Diamond in Orono, Me as a teenager. It was the first time I had ever seen a ball bounce true on dirt and grass. It seemed like we were cheating. Until that point, we only played on crap fields. We got a new HS field in Brewer, Me around the same time where I played Legion ball. We had the best field in the league. I have enjoyed great experiences at Fenway Park, Boston; Camden Yards, Baltimore; and McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket.
Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. It’s a bandbox if there ever was one. Not much with the amenities, but the personal appeal for me is the intimate nature of the fan to player relationship.
The bullpens are nothing to look at - just a spread of grass, no bullpen phones, wooden slotted boards for backing behind the catchers, and so on. The seats for the fans are Spartan at best, and the souvenirs have that local flavor with a two-for-one sale for the cost-minded shopper.
But the best thing that sticks in my mind are the youngsters, leaning over the weather beaten wooden fences, full of expectations of “being there some day.” Then there’s the ball signing by the players that aren’t that far
removed from the youngsters in the bleachers.
The smells of a bandbox are the memories that I like. Gray gravel, cinders and trap rock in the parking lot, that dust that sparkles just above the ground when the cars leave at night, and the smell of mustard that lingers around the 55 gallon trash barrels after a game. I use to sit by myself along the third baseline, on a wooden bench all carved up with initials and graffiti. I knew, there would be a time, when I wouldn’t make it back. I knew the snapshot in my mind would give way to vague memories - and it happened.
I’m sure there are countless Wahconah Parks all over this country. Treasures of an era that found countless moments of emotions and relationships that lasted a life time. It’s sad that time has passed most of them by. Shadows of progress, life goes on, and generations that aged with those parks.
LaBatt Park in London Ontario
My favorite ballpark? No question—the original Yankee Stadium. I used to go every chance I had, and I got to see the likes of the Keller-DiMaggio-Henrich outfield, the incredible plays made by Phil Rizzuto and his double-play partners, Yogi Berra about whom it was said that the only way to pitch to him was to throw the ball under the plate—and the pitchers. Oh, the pitchers. And there was one whom I will never forget, and a day which I will never forget—“The Day Of The Slider”, September 17, 1951, the day I played hooky from school to go to the game because I was burning up with curiosity about a pitch called the slider. And my question was answered in a most unusual and unexpected way after the game, when I caught up with winning pitcher Ed Lopat and asked him about it: he drew me aside, away from the mob at the clubhouse door, and taught me how to throw a good one. What followed was nearly four years of some of the best pitching instruction one could ever hope to get, and for this I will remember him and that gigantic ballpark for all time. And, as the old song goes, “They can’t take that away from me.”
Goddess of the Slider
Nothing original or unique about my entry.
Had a Johnny Bench HR ball bounce off my hands in CF when I was about 10 years old. Went to a couple games with my very busy and hard driving uncle…one of the few times I saw him really relax. Went to several games with my father. Garvey, Lopes, Russell, Cey…these men were like super heroes to me as a kid.
My dad explaining some subtle aspects of the game to me while watching games is a great memory and why I love baseball differently than any other game. Its why I “bleed blue” to this day and why they just kill me every fall it seems. When I was 8 or 9 we took a trip to LA. All the kids were excited about Disneyland…I wanted to cancel Disneyland to go to another Dodger game.
To this day on the rare trips to LA during baseball season a Dodger game is included if at all possible. Last time out I was sitting a few rows up, third base side. I was explaining to a couple of young guys who barely spoke English what it meant to hit for the cycle and I thought I had sort of come full circle.
Anyway, love the place.
FENWAY. Drops microphone walks off stage…