MLB Ballpark Guides
The First Professional Baseball Team
I’ve always known that Cincinnati was the home of the first professional baseball team, but until I visited the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum, it always puzzled me how the Red Stockings could be the first baseball team…because how could there be just one team? Wouldn’t they need someone to play against? Did they just stand on the field practicing until another team filled out all of the legal forms? Maybe they signed the contract for their ballpark the day before the Phillies did or something?
I wouldn’t say it kept me up at night, I knew there had to be an explanation, but it was just one of those things that puzzled me a bit.
But now I get it…one less thing to waste brain power pondering.
The Reds Hall tells the story—that the Red Stockings were the first professional baseball team because they were the first team whose players were actually paid to play baseball. Other teams’ owners balked at the idea of ballplayers being professionals (some things never change), but the Red Stockings were willing to pay players. And by doing so, they attracted some of the best talent around. No doubt radio show hosts in other cities began demanding that their team owners start paying players.
This all-star team of professionals went on a tour in 1869 and won everywhere they went, finishing their first ever season unbeaten and actually drawing some crowds on the road. (I think hot dogs were $1.50 back then.) This was back in the days before gloves and catcher’s masks and the DH, proving that people will play baseball for money even if they’re risking life and limb.
Their second season was marked by dissolution and player bickering (that didn’t take long), despite that the team resumed its greatness, winning all but one game against the Brooklyn Atlantics, in an 11-inning affair. Eventually some players moved to Boston, as did the Red Stockings name—now the Red Sox, of course.
The team disbanded, and then a new Red Stockings team joined the newly formed National League in 1876. This team was banned from the National League for…get this…serving beer at ballgames. Nowadays a team might be banned from the league for not serving beer.
Finally in 1881 another Red Stockings team (they loved that name for some reason) joined the rival American Association, and in 1889 they moved to the National League, replacing the bootlegging Red Stockings team that had been booted. In the move, they changed their name to the Reds, probably to save on stitching costs.
So the current incarnation of the Cincinnati Reds that we all know today wasn’t exactly the first professional baseball team, but you could argue that Cincinnati simply hit a few bumps in the road to become America’s first iconic baseball town.
There is a great deal of history when it comes to Cincinnati baseball, and it’s as good a place as any for a team to feature a Hall of Fame and Museum that is a microcosm of baseball’s Hall in Cooperstown.
The Reds Hall of Fame is definitely worth the visit if you’re coming to Great American Ball Park, if only to learn how there could only be one “first professional baseball team”.
But of course, there’s a lot more to know about Great American. Especially if you’re visiting for the first time.
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Is PNC Park The Best Ballpark in Baseball?
Asking the question “Is PNC Park in Pittsburgh the best ballpark in baseball?” doesn’t offend too many people. At the stunningly beautiful home of the Pirates, you will often see signs around the ballpark proclaiming it to be “The Best Ballpark in America”. As far as I know, there’s no outrage about this from fans of other ballparks.
What if the Cubs put such signs around the outside of Wrigley Field? Might Red Sox fans sneer a little bit? And vice versa, if signs appeared around Fenway Park proclaiming it to be the best ballpark in the country, would that not get a reaction from Cubs fans? Just a thought.
As someone who has visited a few ballparks but not all of them, I can say that while the question of whether PNC Park is the “best ballpark in baseball” may be debatable, one wouldn’t have too much trouble making the case.
So What Makes PNC Park The Best Ballpark?
There’s a lot of obvious things to love about PNC. The view, for one.
From almost any section in the ballpark there is the stunning vista of the downtown Point area of Pittsburgh, linked to the ballpark itself by the Roberto Clemente Bridge painted in Pirates/Steelers/Penguins gold, crossing the Allegheny River.
And the approach to the ballpark from downtown is as classic baseball as it gets—a walk across the Clemente Bridge past vendors hawking snacks and apparel, with the open air and dark blue seats in full view while crossing the Allegheny River by foot. Few ballparks if any could match that.
Then there’s the ballpark itself—Kasota limestone on the outside; the statues of Bucs greats Clemente, Stargell, Wagner and Maz; the rotunda in left field with views of the ballpark and the city; and the intimacy of just 38,000 seats, painted dark blue in homage to Forbes Field.
And there are some not so obvious things too. There’s the matter of the price of tickets, which may not be a fair attribute to discuss given that the Bucs didn’t secure a winning season there until 2013.
But poor performance on the field didn’t stop the Cubs from charging a chunk of change to get into the ballpark for many years. From the most to least expensive seats, Pirates games are competitive in price with any team in baseball.
The architects of PNC Park did a tremendous job building intimacy into the place. The ballpark was not only built with a small amount of seats, it was done without raising the upper level to nosebleed height as it is in many new ballparks. The Pirates brag that the highest seat is only 88 feet from the field, and there’s no question that you’re still on top of the action even in the upper deck. This is something that no ballpark built since has achieved, at least none of the ones that I have visited.
Don’t pay PNC Park prices for Pirates gear and souvenirs!
Order your essential Pirates items before you go at Amazon.com, pay far less than you would at the ballpark, AND get free shipping on orders over $25…click here!
There’s food selections of all kinds, from the venerable Pittsburgh favorite Primanti Bros. to Chickie’s and Pete’s fries to the BRGR burger joint. You may not necessarily love the idea of a pulled pork sandwich with pierogies on it, but you can’t deny the Pittsburgh-ness of that. And there’s Iron City beer…nothing makes a ballpark like a bad local beer.
I’ve been to ballparks with better food and better access. But PNC is pretty easy to get to by car, and you have the option of using a bus, train or even a boat. Heck, you could ride a bicycle there along the Riverwalk and that would be pretty cool.
But to this observer that isn’t all that important. It’s not easy to get to Wrigley Field, but I don’t care once I see the ivy and ancient scoreboard. And when in Fenway Park, a Fenway Frank tastes as good as any gourmet meal anywhere else.
I have yet to see AT&T Park, Safeco Field, Target Field or Coors Field, all of which have been touted as the best in America. Of the ballparks I have visited, I’m partial to Camden Yards, Wrigley Field, Fenway Park—and without doubt, PNC Park in Pittsburgh. On almost every level, PNC is as good as or better than all of them.
So if you ask the writer of Ballpark E-Guides whether PNC Park is the Best Ballpark in Baseball, my answer is: if you think so, I won’t argue with you.
Keeping Up With Baseball Joe
I first met Baseball Joe Vogel on June 12, 2016, while meeting up with friend and fellow baseball road tripper Dan Davies and his group of traveling friends, who invited me to join them in Pittsburgh. He’s become a good friend and I always meet with him when I’m in Pittsburgh.
It was a picture-perfect day at stunning PNC Park, as the Pirates prepared to battle the Cardinals in a late afternoon matchup.
On this day, though, baseball isn’t the only thing on the mind of the Bucs faithful.
Sidney Crosby and the Penguins are in San Jose this evening, set to seal the deal on a fourth Stanley Cup for the city. Which they would, a few hours after the ballgame ends. Penguins jerseys, tees and caps can be seen in large numbers for a baseball crowd.
At one point during the game, a young fan brings out a mock, almost-life-size aluminum foil Stanley Cup and parades it proudly around a section in the right field corner. It gets a round of sustained applause from the excited fans sitting in the area.
But despite being a Pittsburgh native from birth, Joe Vogel is having none of this.
Without warning, as if duty calls him, he springs from his chair in the right field cove and disappears into the concourse. Seconds later he can be seen roaming the section where the Cup-carrying fan was. To the great amusement of his buddies in the cove, Vogel spends several minutes determinedly searching for the fan, who by this point is long gone.
The laughter in Vogel’s section grows louder as his determined search continues well beyond the amount of time one would think the situation warranted. Because after several innings of sitting with this character, they know exactly why he is seeking out the proud hockey fan.
It was to shame him. To frown on him. To educate the young lad on priorities.
Because as Baseball Joe Vogel will always let you know, only baseball matters. Every other sport is a waste of time.
Baseball Joe is deaf and mute from three debilitating strokes. He communicates through gestures and hand signals, with a small keyboard, or on a folded piece of paper with the alphabet on it.
He lives in an apartment in downtown Pittsburgh, a short walk across the Clemente Bridge from PNC Park. Baseball, Pirates baseball, is his life. It has been since he was a young boy. He proclaims himself the “biggest baseball fan anywhere”, and thus far in my near half century of existence I haven’t met a bigger one…which, if you knew my father, is saying something.
The Pirates know him well. He occasionally plays catch with manager Clint Hurdle and even advises him at times via e-mail. Courtesy of a team that loves his dedication, he has season tickets and attends every game in the covered handicapped section in right field, underneath the right field bleachers. He can’t be in the sun for too long. He may be the only fan in PNC Park who doesn’t care about the picturesque city backdrop.
Sitting with him, it’s almost impossible to pay attention to the game, especially as opposing hitters tee off on Pirates pitching as the Cards would that night. Baseball Joe is every bit as entertaining as the action on the field…constantly having conversations with bystanders in his own way, patiently communicating with his keyboard or well-worn piece of paper when people have difficulty understanding his gestures.
He carries a baseball that he frequently tosses to passing ushers, who nonchalantly toss it back to him, knowing the routine. Throughout the game, other team employees stop to greet him. He constantly collects souvenirs and seems to have a never-ending supply of the large soda cups, one of which he shares with me.
Throughout the evening loud laughter is heard in the section at both his knowledge of baseball and his chastising of fellow fans for their comparatively insufficient reverence for the game.
At one point, he asks me if I like any other sports. Forgetting his disdain for the hockey fan, I tell him I like NASCAR too, and he shakes his head. He pretends to be driving a car, and then frowns at me and does the shame symbol with his fingers. He then holds up a baseball and makes a circular motion with his finger. By this point it’s understood. Baseball, year-round.
All night long, it never stops. With his keypad, he fires baseball trivia questions at his buddies…like “Name two players in the Hall of Fame that have the same first and middle names.” A wiseacre in the group replies, with great bombast as if he’s sure of the answer, “Ken Griffey Senior and Ken Griffey Junior!”
As the rest of the group laughs, Joe smiles, turns to me and informs me: Henry Louis Aaron and Henry Louis Gehrig, or Joseph Paul DiMaggio and Joseph Paul Torre.
Later Dan, who took Joe along with his group to several ballparks and the Hall of Fame, told me the story of his wiping up the floor with an interactive trivia game at the Hall. If there was a baseball edition of “Jeopardy”, Baseball Joe would be Ken Jennings.
Baseball Joe holds the distinction of being the first fan to ask for my autograph, at least as an author of baseball books.
At the Pirates game, he asked me to send him the PNC Park E-Guide…and to autograph it for him. He also gave me firm instructions…make sure I sign my full name, middle name included, and do it neatly, which I am not accustomed to doing with my usual chicken scratch of a signature. He’s a stickler, this one, especially when it comes to matters baseball.
Joe loved the E-Guide and raved about it to me in an e-mail…a badge of honor…but he also had a few suggestions: elaborate more on seating, include some photos in the whitespace, and maybe talk more about food and such. He is the first fan ever to complain to me that there isn’t enough information in a Ballpark E-Guide.
He has been repeatedly asking me to send him guides for Wrigley and for Busch in St. Louis, should I ever write that one. I will. I’m always happy to have an audience.
A few days after the Pittsburgh experience, I met up with Baseball Joe and the group again, this time in Citizens Bank Park in my hometown of Philly. I found them a free parking spot and sat with them in the upper level for the evening. Throughout the evening, Joe kept me entertained, once again more often than the action on the field.
I tell him I am an Orioles fan, and he holds up fingers…first seven and then one. I immediately get it. 1971 World Series. Pirates over the Birds in seven. I was three.
Then he makes a “7” and a “9” with his fingers. 1979. The Pirates, led by Pops Stargell and rallying around the passing of manager Chuck Tanner’s mother, come back from 3-1 to once again beat the O’s in seven games. My response is to hang my head and to pretend to rub tears from my eyes, illustrating the heartbreak of the 11-year-old Orioles fan that year. “I still NEVER dance to ‘We Are Family’”, I inform him.
He nods, understanding. He does the eye rub himself when he brings up the Pirates’ long stretch of down years.
He asks me who my favorite player is, and when I say Cal Ripken Jr., he quickly replies on his keyboard with a stat for me: “Lowest batting average of any player with 3,000 hits”. Sigh.
When I show Joe a picture of my daughter posing with baseball-themed stuffed animals that I’ve brought home for her from my travels, he briefly types on his keyboard and shows me. “You so blessed,” it reads. “Me haves no family.”
I instantly feel both sad for him and guilty about the occasional dissatisfaction I feel with my own life. He’s right. I am so blessed. I not only have two beautiful and healthy kids, I still have time for the only sport that matters.
Long after the crowd has filed out of Citizens Bank Park that night, Baseball Joe manages to make a few ushers uncomfortable with his refusal to leave the seating bowl before collecting as many souvenir cups as he can. You can see clear agitation growing in the ushers’ eyes as they anticipate a confrontation. Joe seems oblivious to the approaching ballpark police, but he exits the seating bowl at what seems the exact moment before the ushers turn snooty. He’s a pro at this.
Back at the hotel where the traveling fans are staying, Baseball Joe and I pose for a picture, and he surprises me with a huge bear hug. Apparently I’ve made a good impression. I’m grateful that he’s not upset with me for showing him family photos.
Joe and I e-mail each other frequently. In his e-mails to me the subject line is almost always “Baseball 24 7 366”—making sure he’s covered in leap years. His e-mails are usually brief but always thoughtful…wishing my family a great holiday season, asking me to send along more E-Guides when I can, and sharing his thoughts on the Pirates’ fortunes. Shortly after the Pirates failed to make the playoffs in 2016, he sent me an e-mail with the words “Pirates eliminated – me cry” in it. For 33 years and counting, this Orioles fan has known the feeling.
I’m always grateful to hear from him. Because whenever I reflect on it, he’s right. Other sports are a waste of time.
And Baseball Joe knows as well as anyone that our time is too valuable to waste.
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Great Gifts For Cubs Fans + Wrigley Goers
Even if you don’t live in Chicago, you probably have a few Cubs fans in your life. Rooting for the Cubs is a universal sentiment for millions of Americans everywhere. And for any Cubs fans are on your list, I’ve compiled this superb list of ideal gifts for Cubs fans – especially for when they’re headed to Wrigley Field for a ballgame.
Full disclosure here: Ballpark E-Guides is an Amazon affiliate, so if you use the links in this post to purchase an item, this website earns a commission…at no extra cost to you. So thanks for your support!
Gifts For Cubs Fans, Part 1: Staying Warm at Wrigley
No Chicago native needs to be told how chilly it can get in the Friendly Confines…there’s a reason (cool Wrigley tip coming!) that April games feature the cheapest tickets (that’s the tip!).
But more importantly, fans need to stay warm when this team is playing in October.
So here’s a few gift suggestions for comfort at the Friendly Confines…
First, let’s not take leg warmth for granted. They make some truly cool Cubs socks, so click here to see all of the styles available.
Ever have your feet get cold at a sporting event? All the time, right? I think sneaker slippers are a pretty cool idea! Great for keeping fan feet warm on those chilly October nights at Wrigley, and they actually look pretty cool too. Check them out here.
Next to leg warmth, neck warmth can be overlooked too…so check out this selection of Cubs scarves.
The Cubs fan in your life will love this hooded sweatshirt. And this championship hoodie is pretty cool too. It’s only been a few years since the glorious triumph of 2016 for Cubs fans…short enough to still celebrate the ending of a century long drought, but also long enough that championship gear is available at a pretty nice price.
If we’re talking hoodies, I like this one too…a cubby bear flying a blue W flag with ivy. One simple logo capturing multiple elements of being a Cubs fan at the Friendly Confines.
You’ll need a windbreaker if you’re sitting in those shaded Terrace Reserved seats (I speak from experience), especially in the early months of the season when the stiff wind blows in from Lake Michigan. This nice looking one from Majestic includes fleece lining and it can even be financed!
And while we all wish cooler heads had prevailed when a fan reached for a foul ball, it’s still a smart thing to keep your head warm at Wrigley. Here’s a nice selection of a few knit hats for the Cubs fan in your life.
Gifts For Cubs Fans, Part 2: Showing Your Cubs Fan Allegiance
A sea of blue in the stands at Wrigley does not happen without each and every Cubs fan contributing that individual effort. When the Cubs fan in your life is visiting their favorite home for baseball, accessorizing is a must.
Let’s start with the obvious…caps, jerseys and T-shirts.
This here Cubs cap is my favorite style, and I own one myself…the big red C with the walking blue cub. In the interest of honesty, I will tell you that I found mine cheap from one of the ubiquitous outside vendors at Wrigley…but this version is still cheaper than what you’ll pay inside the ballpark.
Stop paying ballpark prices for your Cubs gear and souvenirs!
Order your essential Cubs items before you go at Amazon.com, pay far less than you would at the game, AND get free shipping on orders over $25…order your Cubs swag today!
As far as jerseys, Amazon’s prices are much better than the MLB shop…check out this away Cubs jersey here and here to see the price difference (Prices are subject to change, but the difference was close to $40 as I wrote this.)
That said, MLB Shop does have a far better selection regarding jerseys…so far be it for me to tell you to not check that out here.
But again, there’s considerable savings on these things on Amazon, and you can probably find a very cool jersey for the Cubs fan in your life here. I even checked the free shipping box for you!
For lady Cubs fans, what’s a better gift than jewelry? Maybe it’s just me, but MLB team earrings totally works for me. Check out this pair and this pair, equally cool.
Finally, there’s no better way to bring out the awww factor than bringing a tiny new Cubs fan to their first game at Wrigley Field…wearing a Cubs fan onesie of course. (You can tell I’m a dad, knowing what a “onesie” is.) And of course, be sure the baby is wearing a bib for their Old Style milk.
(Yes, I know Old Style doesn’t make milk. Do not think for a minute I’m suggesting filling a baby bottle with Old Style anything.)
Gifts For Cubs Fans, Part 3: Other Wrigley Accessories
The proper attire isn’t the only thing a Cubs fan needs to bring to Wrigley Field on game day. As regular readers of this site know, you can bring your own food and non-alcoholic drinks into Wrigley Field. (Read more about that here.)
Your favorite Cubs fan will need something to keep all that cheap grub in, right? Be sure to equip them…and let them know about that little loophole the Cubs offer if they weren’t aware already.
This cooler makes a great compartment, even though you can’t bring in alcohol. Store your Subway sandwich or El Burrito Mexicano carry out in it and keep it warm, or grab a couple of bottles of water and keep them cold.
This lunch bag is on the pricey side, but it’s ideal for storing sandwiches or drinks.
Or ladies can use this tote bag, to carry other stuff as well…like any souvenirs they’re buying at the game.
If none of those work for you, here’s a larger selection. But definitely consider a cooler bag for anyone who makes frequent trips to Wrigley. Nothing against the extremely impressive Wrigley Field food selection, but BYO is a big money saver.
OK, so now you’ve got your gear and your goody bag, just a couple more things…remember there’s no retractable roof at Wrigley, so if you’re in the bleachers especially, you could be scrambling in a rain delay to find a covered spot. Or you could sit under this fine umbrella. Sweet, huh?
Speaking of enjoying the Wrigley bleachers, this seat cushion can make life a little easier on the back of your favorite Cubs fan.
And needless to say, every Cubs fan needs to be prepared to wave the Blue W following a Cubs victory…so here’s a perfect stocking stuffer gift for a Cubs fan: a Blue W flag!
Gifts For Cubs Fans, Part 4: Winter Reading
OK, maybe it’s not something to take to Wrigley, but your favorite Cubs fan still needs to pass the time until baseball season. What better way to do it on a snowy Chicago day than some great Cubs reading? Here’s a few I recommend…
I confess to not yet having read The Chicago Cubs: Story of A Curse, but judging from the reviews it’s very good, and I would certainly get it for a Cubs fan in my life.
I did read the next two, and while Cubs fans are no longer waiting until next year for the end of the lifelong misery, they are still both great reads:
Waiting For The Cubs is from my friend Floyd Sullivan, an exemplary Cubs fan, about the promising and ultimately deflating 2008 season. (You can read my review of Waiting For The Cubs here.)
And The Cubs Fan’s Guide To Happiness is from the authors of The Heckler, a Cubs fan magazine. I lent this one to a Cubs fan friend of mine, and he handed it back to me with one word: “Hilarious!”
Gifts For Cubs Fans, Part 5: Because Neon.
Finally, not much to say about this one…nor is it something you bring to a ballgame, but I saw it and decided this sign would be an essential mancave item for a Cubs fan. It is just so…Christmas. (Not the sign in the picture below…if that was on Amazon I would own it!)
There you are my friend, a helpful list of gifts for Cubs fans, especially the ones you see in Wrigley Field from April through October.
By the way, I’m full of other great tips for Wrigley visitors and regulars…I’ve got 1*10^6 ways to save money and enjoy a better experience. Get some great tips for Wrigley and other ballparks by clicking here!
Great Gifts For Red Sox Fans + Fenway Visitors
So you’ve got a Red Sox fan in your life, and you’re thinking about something that would make a super gift? As a ballpark guy, let me give you my best advice in gifts for Red Sox fans: give them something for their next game at Fenway.
Tickets obviously make a great gift, so here’s an excellent primer on how to find deals on Red Sox tickets for your loved one. But the Sox fan needs other equipment when visiting their favorite place on earth.
Stop paying ballpark prices for your Red Sox gear and souvenirs!
Order your essential Sox items before you go at Amazon.com, pay far less than you would at the game, AND get free shipping on orders over $25…order your Red Sox swag today!
Full disclosure: Ballpark E-Guides is an Amazon affiliate, so if you use these links to make a purchase, this website earns a commission at no extra cost to you. So you’re not just buying a super gift for a Red Sox fan, you’re helping baseball fans everywhere!
So thanks. Now then, Red Sox fans know about sitting in a chilly ballpark…
Gifts For Red Sox Fans, Part 1: Staying Warm at Fenway
Bundle up kids…Fenway Park can be a very cold place, especially in April…and October! So be sure that you look into some of these accessories as possible gifts:
This one is really really cool: sneaker slippers! I mentioned these in my gifts for Cubs fans post, but they’re made for Red Sox fans too: check these out here.
These footie slippers would look great on a lady Sox fan, and they’ll keep her feet comfortable and toasty on a cold game day.
There’s nothing like a knit cap to show your allegiance on a chilly evening at Fenway, and this particular edition is not only the nicest looking but also comes at the best price.
Amazon has a nice selection of hoodies and sweatshirts here…
(This one is my favorite, in case you’re thinking of getting one for me.)
And this sweater would be nice for the lady Sox fan in your life.
Scarves are underrated as necessary April/October baseball fan apparel at Fenway, and I think this decorated scarf makes a fantastic looking gift.
And a nice pair of gloves would go great with the scarf. (Are you starting to enjoy the image of your favorite Sox fan decked out like this?) This pair is Amazon’s choice and the price is great.
Finally, if you can manage to bring this fleece blanket into the ballpark on an April evening, you’ll be very glad.
Gifts For Red Sox Fans, Part 2: Essential Game Day Apparel
You’ll need a cap at a Red Sox game of course, and they’re much cheaper on Amazon than they’ll be at the ballpark (and that may even include the outside vendors). Here is their selection, including a cool green St. Patty’s Day cap.
As far as caps go, I prefer the red cap to the dark blue one, and this is likely a better deal than you’ll find inside the ballpark.
As I’ve stated on the Cubs fan gift post, there’s a much better selection of jerseys in the MLBShop.com store (maybe I should become an affiliate), but if you can find something on Amazon, it will probably be cheaper.
There is a very cool selection of Red Sox earrings on Amazon…a great gift for the lady Sox fan. (or hey, a progressive guy Sox fan). Check out this pair, or this pair…they’re both great.
And what goes better with Red Sox earrings than a decorated bow? This one is surprisingly affordable…and you’re working it now, buddy.
You can find some really cool tees here (I even checked the free shipping box for you)…
But this one is amazing looking, and I say this as someone who’s not a big tie-dye or Grateful Dead fan.
Then there’s the Citgo logo tee, the reason for which is obvious to any Fenway dweller.
And of course, your tiny young new Red Sox fan needs to show his colors early.
As far as fandom and showing allegiance, do you want to be one of those really weird fans that stands out even in a Red Sox-apparel adorned crowd? Then this suit is for you…go for it! (I’m not sure I would give it as a gift though.)
Gifts For Red Sox Fans, Part 3: Necessary Fenway Accessories
If the Red Sox fan in your life is going to Fenway and is planning to sit in the bleachers, listen up…they are going to need sunglasses! Take it from this Fenway Park expert…
Here’s a very cool pair of Red Sox branded sun frames for those bright bleacher afternoons.
Other essential Fenway visitor items include cooler bags, because as you may know, you can bring your own food and non-alcoholic drinks into Fenway. (Read more about that here.)
Seriously, share this knowledge when you hand the Red Sox fan in your life their Red Sox cooler bag.
You can easily fit your sandwich from the Sausage Connection into this thing…
And this cooler bag will just as easily store your sodas and bottled waters (and it’s cheaper).
Obstructed views aren’t the only problem with Fenway’s Grandstand seats. They’re also small and hard to sit on. A Red Sox seat cushion makes a great gift for anyone who likes the Grandstand seating.
If you’re out in the bleachers, or in the Green Monster seats, you’ll want to be prepared if the rains come. Check out this ultra-cool umbrella.
If you’re paying the considerable price for a beer at Fenway, keep it cold. This.
Gifts For Red Sox Fans, Part 4: Car Décor, Books, and the Best Yankee Hater Gift of All
If the Red Sox fan in your life is driving to the game, at least help him or her decorate the car accordingly, with championship accessories…here’s a particularly nice license plate holder, and here’s a car flag…two excellent and affordable stocking stuffers!
OK, maybe it’s not Fenway necessary gear, but while your lucky gift recipient is waiting for the baseball season, they will need some Red Sox reading material.
I confess to not having read all of these, but they are recommended in posts that I’ve read…
This is a best seller from the very popular Jerry Remy, currently a Red Sox broadcaster. I would check somehow and make sure your Red Sox fan doesn’t have it…you can’t go wrong with a Jerry Remy book for a Sox fan.
Stewart O’Nan is a terrific writer, and I don’t need to tell you who Stephen King is. They decided to chronicle an entire season of Red Sox baseball together. In 2004. Again, check and make sure your fan doesn’t already own this one…
Here’s another subject that’s always a winner with Red Sox fans.
Finally, I had to include this book just for the title. It’s almost worth the price for a Red Sox fan just to have it on display in your home.
And while I don’t know if you can buy it anymore, what Red Sox fan wouldn’t want to use this?
There you go my friend…some fantastic and useful gifts for Red Sox fans, especially for their next trip to see the Sox at baseball’s most historic and storied ballpark.
Speaking of, be sure to get the Red Sox fan in your life to check out some great Fenway Park tips…have them start here!
Great Gifts For Yankees Fans and Stadium Visitors
If you’re struggling to choose gifts for Yankees fans in your life, I’m here to help.
Well, at least with the part about what fans need visiting Yankee Stadium. Tickets make a great gift obviously, and I’ve written a short primer here about finding deals on Yankees tickets.
But fans need other stuff too. Check out the very cool gift ideas for Yankees fans below…especially the truly awesome Hawaiian shirt!
Stop paying ballpark prices for your Yankees gear and souvenirs!
Order your essential Bronx Bombers items before you go at Amazon.com, pay far less than you would at the game, AND get free shipping on orders over $25…order your Yankees swag today!
So you know, I’m including Amazon links here, and Amazon is an affiliate of mine. If you make a purchase using one of these links, this website earns a commission, at no extra cost to you. (Thanks for your support!)
So here we go…
Gifts For Yankees Fans, Part 1: Staying Warm in October
As every baseball fan knows, the Yankees play in October a lot, and cooler weather does hit the Big Apple. Make sure that your Yankees fan gift recipient is prepared for playoff events at the Stadium.
Hoodies make a great gift, and Amazon has a decent selection of them. This one is my favorite, but check out the rest of the selection here.
If you’re going formal, say, attending a game in a suite, you’ll stand out in this fine sweater…
Here is a pretty nice Yankees scarf, at a pretty nice price. Or try this one…(Amazon’s choice!)
I love these sneaker slippers, which have been featured on Shark Tank. (They have Cubs and Red Sox editions of these too)…
And these footie slippers would look great on a lady Yankees fan.
The Yankees fan in your life will need this knit cap if they’re headed to the Stadium for October baseball…it’s on the pricier side, but what the heck, it’s a gift. Actually this one is pretty nice too, and a little cheaper.
Stocking Stuffer Alert! Here is a pretty nice pair of gloves for a Yankee fan, because you thought of it!
Gifts For Yankees Fans, Part 2: Essential Stadium Items.
There are some tools you need when you visit Yankee Stadium…not just caps and tees and gear.
As I’ve noted here, you can bring your own food into Yankee Stadium…this is a perfect way to take advantage of that Stadium loophole and save mucho cash at the game!
If you’re going to pay ballpark prices for bottled beer, at least keep it cold with a sleeve. Try this fine set…
I’ve stated in my astoundingly helpful Yankee Stadium parking post that the Stadium isn’t very conducive to tailgating…but Yankees fans travel, right? So get this for your traveling Yankee fan’s next trip to Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago or Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay…
If your beloved Yankees fan is a Bleacher Creature, they’ll need an umbrella for rain delays, and this one is large and colorful.
Stocking Stuffer Alert! And of course, you’ll need a pen to keep score.
Gifts For Yankees Fans, Part 3: Gear + Accessories.
The Yankees fan in your life needs to blend in with a sea of navy and white in the Stadium, and any extras are a bonus. Check this stuff out for gift ideas…
This outstanding Yankees Hawaiian shirt is on the pricey side, but if you’re willing to shell out a few bucks, it makes a killer gift for those warm summer afternoons at the Stadium.
If you’re looking for something for your Yankees fan dad, this tee is perfect.
Here’s a cool tee for Aaron Judge fans…
And Mariano Rivera fans will love this eye-catching tee.
Bringing a little one to the game? Would anything look more adorable on your little new Yankees fan gift recipient than these sneakers?
Here’s Amazon’s choice, an essential MLB ‘47 Yankees cap. Great price too.
But here’s a fine selection of other hats, including some nice white and pink ones. (I even checked off the free shipping box for you!)
Stocking Stuffer Alert! For the lady Yankees fan in your life, check out this selection of earrings! There’s so many great ones I can’t choose a favorite.
Gifts For Yankees Fans, Part 4: Car Items + Other Stuff.
It’s not all about going to the Stadium…Yankees fans love good baseball reading, and reveling in rooting for the most successful team in sports.
Does your favorite Yankees fan drive to the Stadium? You can order a seat cover, a license plate frame, a car flag, and even seat belt shoulder pads!
Here’s the classic reason why people hate the Yankees.
Stocking Stuffer Alert! Yankees fans, of course, love to talk rings…and this ring makes a great accessory, especially at this unbelievable price.
For some off-season Yankees reading, here’s a great tome from my late friend Harvey Frommer. Perfect coffee table size.
Some trivia knowledge never hurts to start a conversation in the Stadium…
Even though this book is very dated, I’m adding it because I loved it myself so much…Sparky Lyle is a very funny guy and this fantasy novel is one of my all-time favorite baseball books.
Finally, you can’t bring this to a ballgame, but it makes an outstanding mancave addition.
There you go fans, some great gift ideas for the Yankees fans in your life. Be sure to send them to this blog for more great Yankee Stadium advice!
Citizens Bank Park Parking, Subway + Taxi Crab Guide
I have tried just about every method to get to Citizens Bank Park: driving my car, using the PATCO-SEPTA transit combination, the Chickie’s and Pete’s Taxi Crab, you name it. In the end it is simple. Just drive. Citizens Bank Park parking is ample and easy enough.
But here’s some things you need to know, whether you’re driving or using some other method to get to a Phillies game…
The Best Way to Get to Citizens Bank Park
The Bank is located on Pattison Avenue near Broad Street, convenient to both I-95 from north and south, and from I-76 (called the Schuykill or Sure-Kill by Philadelphians) from the east or west. South Jersey fans can use I-76 from the Walt Whitman Bridge.
Several exits off of both interstates are considered “Sports Complex” exits, but these get backed up as game time nears, especially when the Phillies sell out. You can use these but from about an hour and a half before game time till about the third inning, you may run into stopped traffic, not good.
My favorite best way to get to Citizens Bank Park is to use one of the Penrose Avenue exits from either interstate, and turn onto Pattison Avenue. This will take you to the ballpark from the less congested west rather than from the east and north like everyone else.
The Phillies have their own lots, and Lincoln Financial Field also has plenty of parking too. Here are a few of my favorite choices as team lots go:
Lot G: Lot G is my default choice at Phillies games, for several reasons. It’s in the path when coming from Penrose Avenue, it’s close to the ballpark, and it’s an easier out than the lots north of Pattison. Lot G, like all lots south of Pattison, is legal for tailgating and it’s close to Xfinity Live! if you enjoy such things.
Lot K (Lincoln Financial Field): If there’s rain in the forecast, try Lot K at the football stadium…there are solar panel roofs over many of the spots, making tailgating possible even in less than ideal weather. The Linc is also right across the street from the ballpark and an easier out (not as easy as Lot G, though).
Lots W and X: I don’t usually arrive from Packer Avenue, but when I do and want to be close, I use one of the lots north of the ballpark. It’s a pretty nice approach from 10th Street; you actually see the inside of the ballpark rather than the exterior, as it was meant to be. Also an easy out onto Packer.
All of the Phillies lots mostly cost the same, but here are a few cheaper choices.
Book your ideal Phillies parking spot ahead of time…with my friends at ParkWhiz!
Citizens Bank Park Parking – Cheaper Options
Again, finding Citizens Bank Park parking for a Phillies game isn’t terribly difficult. Saving money parking at a Phillies game can be a challenge, though. So here are three decent and less expensive alternatives to the official Phillies lots.
Citizens Bank Park Parking, Cheaper Option #1) The Jetro Warehouse. You have to go south of the warehouse to get the cheap rate, but it’s significantly less. It’s a bit of a walk and not pretty to look at, but good if you want to save a few bucks.
There’s a small breakfast and lunch eatery here called the Stadium Grille, a place that gets good reviews for their cheesesteaks if you want a cheap meal before the game.
Citizens Bank Park Parking, Cheaper Option #2) The Church Lot on 10th Street. I don’t know the name of this church or even if it is a church (Google Maps is no help), but it looks like one so I’m running with it. This lot is on 10th Street, north of Packer Avenue and just north of the I-76 overpass. It’s across the street from a football field.
It’s a little further away, and you have to cross Packer Avenue, but the walk isn’t too bad and you can see the inside of the ballpark as you approach. It’s also an easy out onto Packer.
Citizens Bank Park Parking, Cheaper Option #3) Free Parking! Okay, I’m sharing a couple of secrets to park for free at Citizens Bank Park here, keep them to yourself.
You can, if you’re early enough, park on the west side of 7th Street, north of Packer Avenue; you’ll see signs where you can’t park. Just stay out of that zone. It’s a walk, but it’s free. Phillies ushers do this.
Some streets north and west of the ballpark, like Bigler Street, appear to have free spots; I’ve seen people park on Hartranft Street west of the ballpark, which is almost as close as an official lot. I don’t know if I would do these for night games, though. It’s not a terrible neighborhood, but it isn’t great either.
Don’t try parking on South Lawrence, unless you want to risk a $50-plus ticket.
Those are some less expensive alternatives for parking at Citizens Bank Park, but you have other options to get there, like the Broad Street Line.
SEPTA to Citizens Bank Park
While most people drive to Phillies games, a fair amount of people do take SEPTA to Citizens Bank Park, with the Sports Complex station located just a few steps away. There are times when the Broad Street Line is preferable to driving…say, when another event is happening in one of the Philly sports venues, you’re arriving via Amtrak or Regional Rail, or if you’re staying in the city without a car.
So here’s a few things you should know about taking the SEPTA Broad Street Line to a Phillies game:
SEPTA to Citizens Bank Park, Tip #1) Use The Express. The SEPTA Broad Street Line stops at the Sports Complex at the southern end, making it easy to know which train to use and which direction to go. But you will definitely prefer the Sports Express trains, both before and after games.
The Sports Express skips a number of stops, but most importantly it bypasses everything from Walnut-Locust to the Sports Complex, and coming back especially this is much nicer. If you’re using PATCO from New Jersey to get to the Broad Street Line, the Express means a straight ride with no stops to and from Walnut-Locust.
If you have a choice, definitely use the Express. You’ll thank me.
SEPTA to Citizens Bank Park, Tip #2) Bring Your Own. If you’re using the train to save money, or even if you’re visiting without a car and staying in Center City (that’s downtown for you non-Philadelphians), take advantage of the street grub shops and get peanuts and stuff to bring in. The Phillies allow this, you just can’t bring in alcohol or projectiles. It’s a great money-saver.
My favorite pro tip for using the PATCO-SEPTA combination from South Jersey is to stop at Nuts To You on Walnut Street, which is in the path from PATCO to SEPTA on street level. They have outstanding still-warm bags of roasted peanuts and any other snack you can imagine. I love sesame sticks, and Nuts To You has them in multiple flavors. The place is a true gem.
SEPTA to Citizens Bank Park, Tip #3) Consider Regional Rail. The Regional Rail lines spread a web over southeastern Pennsylvania (hence the SEP in SEPTA), and they’re comfortable and smooth commuter trains.
The Regional Rail is a nice alternative on summer weekends. Traffic on I-76 can be hellish on Friday nights especially, as what seems the entire region’s population heads to the Jersey Shore. Park somewhere along the Regional Rail line cheaply and ride the train to Suburban Station instead…it’s a two block walk transfer to the Broad Street Line, but that beats sitting in shore traffic in my opinion. Be sure to check the schedule and know that you can get a ride back though.
If you’re bringing the family on a weekend, check out SEPTA’s Independence Pass. For a price that is likely cheaper than gas and parking, the whole family can ride on the train to the ballpark and back. That one’s good for Sunday games.
SEPTA can be a decent money saver over parking and bridge tolls coming from NJ especially and it’s an alternative to city traffic if you’re staying in Center City (downtown for you non-Philadelphians).
If you’re looking for another alternative to driving to the ballpark itself, check out Chickie’s and Pete’s Taxi Crab.
Chickie’s And Pete’s Taxi Crab to Phillies Games
If you want to know where you can get a meal and/or inexpensive brew near the ballpark, the Taxi Crab from Chickie’s and Pete’s offers the best of both worlds.
Ballpark beers are running $8 and up these days, and we all know how much ballpark food is. At Chickie’s and Pete’s on Packer Avenue, you can get their famous crab fries and a beer to go with it, cheaper than in the ballpark and in a climate-controlled eatery. And they’ll give you a ride to the game in the Taxi Crab shuttle with its cool paint job.
The shuttle is free; unfortunately you have to pay to park at Chickie’s and Pete’s. It costs a bit less than parking at the ballpark though, and your car is valet parked.
In addition to a better deal on parking and an easier exit, you can enjoy a meal at a popular local institution. It’s especially great for visitors for that Philly experience.
So you know, Chickie’s and Pete’s has a stand in the ballpark for their famous crab fries, but they’re much more expensive at the game (they charge extra for the necessary cheese sauce even). You can park at the restaurant itself, order crab fries to go, and get a ride to Citizens Bank Park’s front door.
Besides the fries, Chickie’s and Pete’s has good grub at reasonable prices. You won’t save too much money eating here over eating at the game, but there’s a decent selection of food and a long list of quality beers. It’s a big place, so you can probably land a seat.
So there are several benefits to the Taxi Crab: cheaper crab fries, less post-game traffic hassles, and a less expensive place for a drink before or after the game. Worth a shot for something different.
There’s your helpful guide for how to get to Citizens Bank Park; it’s relatively simple. But I highly recommend that you plan your route in—and out. Citizens Bank Park is surrounded by lots, and you’ll want to be sure that you’ll have as little trouble as possible exiting, because it can take a while.
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Derek Jeter’s 3,000th Hit – An Unlikely Witness, Part 3
In Part 2 of this mini-series, yours truly shared how I managed to somehow secure a $30 ticket for the July 9 game at new Yankee Stadium, just hours before gametime, on a day with higher demand than many playoff games. As miraculous as it was, it turned out things weren’t so rosy after all.
After landing a ticket with what could only be described as ridiculous luck, Gary and I took a walk over to the nearby McDonald’s to meet up with both Michael Casiano (the King of Royalty Tours) and Gary’s cousin Andy, who was celebrating his birthday with a Yankees game.
We blended in with the pre-game crowd, buying water bottles and picking up sandwiches at the takeout restaurants. With the ticket quest apparently over, I could finally relax, and soak in the scene of hundreds of fans clad in Yankees gear and of outside vendors selling snacks and drinks.
Ballpark E-Guides Tightwad Tip #5: Before Yankees games, there is (or used to be, anyway) a gentleman who sells very large and ice cold bottles of water on 161st Street east of the Stadium, for $1 each. You can’t miss him; listen for the “one-dollar ice cold water, one dollar water”, punctuated with a periodic “Why you pay five dollar inside!” It’s baseball at its best.
And yes, you can bring them into the Stadium (so long as they are sealed), and save mucho cash.
About an hour before the game, we head towards the ballpark, with Gary promising to take me through the Royalty entrance and avoid the mob scene at the gates. Having written the book on how to get around the Stadium, I knew about this, but in fact I’d forgotten about it.
We reach the double secret entrance, and sure enough there is no line at all. The Ticket Scanner Guy scans Gary’s and Andy’s tickets and sends them through. Then he scans mine.
Beep-beep-beep! Invalid barcode.
He tries again. Beep-beep-beep! Nope.
Scanner Guy looks at the ticket, and then shows me that it’s for the September 22 game, the makeup game for the Friday game that was rained out. Someone behind me shouts, “Oh boy, one of those guys!”
Scanner Guy tells me to take it back to the box office. Gary, witnessing this from the good side of the gate, has a look of distressed shock on his face. I tell him not to worry, even though I expect I’m probably really screwed now.
Heading back to the box office, I’m asking for Divine Help now, because my company’s reputation could be on the line here. “God, I know there are bigger problems in the world, so it’s okay if I don’t make it inside. But any help from up there would really be appreciated!”
I arrive at the ticket agent’s window and explain. I deliberately am as nice as can be, knowing that this was just a mistake.
The ticket agent already knows, apologizes and gives me a refund. I somehow work up the nerve to ask if there is anything now. The ticket agent punches it up, and amazingly, finds another standing room ticket, this time on the lower level, for $60. I hand over my credit card.
And then, in a moment of chutzpah that I am not often known for, I change my mind, ask for my credit card back, and request that the agent keep checking for something under my rigid $40 price. The agent promises to keep trying and asks me to wait against the wall.
Twenty minutes pass. On the television in the office, the starting lineups are announced. I can hear the crowd at the announcement of Jeter’s name. The national anthem is played.
I stand and wait, along with several others, wondering if they are in my boat and I’ll end up in a bidding war that I would surely lose. Other agents–who had previously been shouting that $375 tickets were all they had–begin to pull down the shades on their windows. The game is now absolutely, unquestionably, really, really Sold Out.
My agent gets up and walks away. I am actually worried now that this doesn’t cause the agent heart trouble, because I understand it was just a mistake and I knew going in that this was a very long shot.
Five more minutes pass. The agent returns and motions for me to come to the window.
“OK. I’ve got a standing room, field level on the third base side. Looks like someone just turned this in on StubHub.” I prepare for the price and wonder what I am going to do.
And the agent says: “No charge.”
I can’t believe it. “Really?” I nearly shriek. “Yeah”, the agent says. “I screwed up, and you’ve been really patient about it, so no charge.” I thank the agent profusely, and stick my hand as far as I can underneath the tray so he can give me five on my fingers, which gets a smile.
Ballpark E-Guides doesn’t deal in intangibles. An E-Guide isn’t going to tell you how to suck up to your boss or befriend someone you ordinarily wouldn’t because he has season tickets. But this is something I should share. If a ticket operator or agent makes a mistake, by all means try to stay cool and be as understanding as you can.
Many New Yorkers might have loudly fumed obscenities at this agent, not because they are bad people but because they live in an expensive city filled with scam artists, and they often have to be on guard about being ripped off.
If you can manage to hold it together and not get upset, a person used to the opposite reaction may just go the extra mile for you. Or the extra ten miles.
I have done it again. Every single stupid, arrogant, unreasonable gamble has paid off. I head over to the nearest gate now, hearing that the game has begun. I scan the ticket at the turnstile.
Beep-beep-beep! Invalid barcode. I try again. Beep-beep-beep!
The usher tells me to try at the next gate over, but given recent experience I know this won’t work. The ticket’s been used or something and the barcode has been voided. If there was any doubt before, there can’t be any left that I’m done now.
I head back to the agent’s window and explain what happened. The agent laughs in disbelief, takes the ticket and walks away.
Five more minutes pass. The agent returns and says “The ticket is still valid, it should be good, all I can tell you is try again.”
I walk over to the same gate again, and try to scan the ticket.
Again, the usher tells me to try the next gate over. At this point, I have nothing to lose, and I move over one turnstile. Another usher looks at my ticket and says “this is standing room”. He scans the ticket with his handheld scanner. Beep!
I float into Yankee Stadium, and make it to a standing room spot just in time to see Derek Jeter crack a base hit into left field for hit number 2,999, and share in the moment with delirious Yankees fans.
I found Gary later and shared the whole story. He was, as he said in his blog post about the day, impressed.
After all of this, it turns out I would be handed one more piece of good luck: it turns out Derek Jeter hits Tampa Bay pitching pretty well. He not only clouted a mammoth shot for his 3,000th hit on the first pitch of the next at-bat, he went 5-for-5…scoring number 3,001, 3,002, and 3,003—which turned out to be the game winner. I thought he might hit 4,000 that day.
Well done, Captain.
I went to New York City on July 9 with a modest goal: to demonstrate the money-saving benefits of a Yankee Stadium E-Guide to potential customers and hopefully gather some pictures and helpful tips. I came back to South Jersey someone overwhelmed by an astonishing lesson in faith, patience, and perseverance. Everything imaginable seemed to go wrong—and somehow turned out right.
If you had told me the night before, the hour before, or even the minute before I walked through the gate that I would not only make it inside Yankee Stadium on that day of all days, but that I would do so for free, I would have pronounced you certifiable. I still would. I still can’t believe it.
In the ninth inning, Mariano Rivera comes running in to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”—another Hall of Famer, another great tradition—and shuts out the lights on the Tampa Bay Rays. Yankees win.
And Ol’ Blue Eyes’ voice booms through the PA singing “New York, New York”. As Sinatra sings, I suddenly realize that, for one day at least in New York City, I have Made It There.
Damn, I love baseball.
Derek Jeter’s 3,000th Hit – An Unlikely Witness, Part 2
Previously in this narrative, I shared the story of seeking cheap Yankees tickets online for Derek Jeter’s 3,000th-hit game at new Yankee Stadium, to no avail.
But despite my lack of success, I decided to get on the Boltbus to New York City and further push my luck. As documented, yours truly at least managed to get to New York City inexpensively, in no small part by avoiding parking at Yankee Stadium.
But the larger problem of needing a ticket to enter remained.
Upon arriving in Manhattan, I decided to try Modell’s in Times Square. Modell’s and the Yankees have jointly found a way to unload some unsold seats, by offering them at half price on game day. (This tip is included in the Yankee Stadium E-Guide.) They are based on availability, however, meaning my chances of landing a ticket for under $40 were, of course, slim.
As I reached the ticket counter, someone was signing the credit card slip for tickets he had just bought. As soon as the transaction was completed, I asked the gentleman behind the counter, “What’s the most inexpensive ticket you’ve got?”
Before he could answer, the customer informed me: “One hundred and eighty-five dollars.”
Well, at least I got a picture.
Yankee Stadium Tightwad Tip #3: The Modell’s in Times Square does indeed have Yankees tickets available on game day, even for prime games, but you will not often find the lower priced seats. But, if you do want the premium seats, there will probably still be plenty available, and at half of the extensive price. For that, Modell’s is worthwhile.
Plan C now. I took a walk over to 6th Avenue to board the D train, the weekend express train that flies north to the 161st St.-Yankee Stadium station. I exited the subway and there the gorgeous monument to baseball dynasty stood.
Already people were setting up shop…parking signs were being put up, hot dog carts were already peddling, and the beautiful hot morning already had the air of a day of baseball.
The first stop was at the game day window at Gate 4…or more correctly the line for the game day window, which stretched a good half a block to Jerome Avenue. Evaluating the situation, I decided that this was not worth the risk, and that there were other avenues that needed to be exhausted first. Which they would.
By this point hunger was setting in, a condition inexpensively cured with a sandwich and a knish from the Court Deli, a couple of blocks east of the ballpark on 161st.
Somewhere around this time a new camera card became a necessity, and following the directions of some nice Bronx folks, I was able to locate a nearby Target and fix the problem, while finding some less expensive parking I hadn’t noticed before. All a plus, at least for my readers…
So while passing the time I took a photo-op at the 153rd Street-Yankee Stadium Metro-North Station, which was built along with the new Yankee Stadium to provide a rail option from northern suburbs. The new station is impressive, with a great view of the Stadium, and is just a short walk through Macombs Dam Park to the House That Jeter Built.
Unfortunately, fans had not yet started arriving on this route. I thought this might be my best chance to find unhardened suburbanites eager to rid themselves of extras, but found only a few folks headed to the game. Still early.
At the bottom of the platform exit stairs were two attractive women representing Stan’s, the nearby sports bar that is a favorite of ballgame goers. They handed me a card advertising their specials– $3.00 drafts during the 7th and 8th innings of the game. All well and good, I said (actually I think my exact words were “Woo-hoo!”), but does Stan’s have extra tickets?
The ladies wordlessly turned their heads in the direction of a scalper standing right there. Who, of course, seized on the opportunity to skin the vulnerable dreamer alive, showing me a ticket he just happened to have for sale.
The correct date, a decent seat, and he made sure I recognized that this was a valid ticket. The face value was $45. “How much?”, I asked, solely to get a sense of the market.
“A buck and a quarter.”
For a second I was tempted to pull a dollar bill and a quarter out of my pocket, the same way Mel Gibson does in “Lethal Weapon”, acting like an incredibly stupid drug buyer. Instead I just chuckled and walked away over his loud objections: “How much were you expecting to pay?” “It’s only gonna be more closer to the stadium!”
Well, at least he was looking out for me. That was thoughtful of him.
Ballpark E-Guides Tightwad Tip #4: Try to find someone looking to get rid of extras before you patronize scalpers. Scalping is illegal in most states, so you shouldn’t be doing it anyway, but people with extras are far less likely to gouge you.
The scalpers in NYC especially are professionals, they do this every night, and they know exactly what they can get for a ticket from an eager fan. Someone with an extra usually just doesn’t want to eat it, so offer a fair price for it…don’t insult them. They may be doing you a big favor.
Now at least I knew where the market stood: three times above face value, and not likely to go down before the game started.
The next order of business was to do a lap around the Stadium, every so often shouting “anyone got an extra?” in as inoffensive a manner as I can manage to folks beginning to pour in. No luck. But I did find some free street parking nearby. (Shared in the E-Guide!)
About this time I met up with my good friend Gary Herman, he of Royalty Tours USA. Gary has seen an average of 350 sporting events a year for many years now, and he documents his experiences on his blog, including sharing some helpful tips that have found their way into E-Guides.
If there’s a Guinness record for this kind of thing, Gary has to be a candidate, and most amazingly of all, he pulls all this off while working a full time job and not being independently wealthy.
By this time, somehow, the game day window crowd was separated from the exchange window, and now the line was down to only about 20 people. Gary stood with me in line, both of us knowing that it was a long shot for me to get a ticket. Gary promised me he could get a ticket for me next time if I need it. I didn’t doubt that.
I arrived at the window in short order, and asked the agent what the most inexpensive ticket was. Brief punching of keys on the computer. “I have a wheelchair seating ticket, on top of the batter’s eye in center field. One hundred and twenty-five dollars.”
Before I could begin working on Plan D, Gary taps on the window and pesters the agent a bit. “I just saw two kids leaving with 30-dollar tickets. You don’t have anything?”
The agent tries again. The clouds part. The sun shines through. Choirs sing. “OK, this just came up. Standing room, upper level in the left field corner. Thirty dollars.”
I am ecstatic. I gleefully hand over the credit card, take the ticket, sign the receipt, thank the agent profusely, and Gary and I leave the window and head for the food joints on 161st, ear-to-ear grin on my face. I’ve won.
Nothing could go wrong now…right?
Uh-oh…what’s with the ominous tone at the end of what should have been a triumphant victory for the tireless author of Ballpark E-Guides? Did Kurt get carsick? A hangnail? Second thoughts? What could have gone wrong?
Click here for the third and final episode of Kurt’s Derek Jeter Day Adventure!
Derek Jeter’s 3,000th Hit – An Unlikely Witness, Part 1
Some time ago I announced on my website that I was going to illustrate the benefits of a Ballpark E-Guide with the new Yankee Stadium Challenge…meaning finding cheap Yankees tickets, cheap Yankees parking (or other cheap means of arriving at the ballpark), or cheap food at the shiny and expensive new Yankee Stadium. No, I didn’t plan for that to be the day of Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit.
Wait, what? Cheap at Yankee Stadium? Am I being serious? Yes, I am.
As I stated, you don’t often hear the word “cheap” associated with anything baseball, Yankees or New York City. Most people groan at the thought of what it will cost them to see a game at baseball’s majestic home of the most successful team in North American sports history.
Yankees tickets can be over $1,500 for one game, parking at Yankee Stadium as of this writing is $35, and a beer will run a fan as much as $11. And that’s not counting having to drive on Turnpikes and to cross bridges that often require ridiculous tolls, if you’re coming from anywhere but inside the city limits.
Most fans just think they need to accept this or maybe think that it’s worth it to see the Yankees. For all of this supposed gouging, the seats and parking lots are still full, and there’s still lines at the concession stands.
But I decided to take on the challenge of seeing a Yankees game as cheaply as possible, using tips from the Yankee Stadium E-Guide and on the Ballpark E-Guides blog.
Little did I know what a challenge it would really turn out to be.
I picked the absolute worst game of the season to try this. The challenge was actually planned months ago. Sometime in April, July 10 became the date, which I then revised to July 9 for family matters.
And as you all know, on July 9, Derek Jeter clouted a home run to etch his name on the 3,000-hit list that day, the first Yankee to do so.
Folks, long story here, but it’s a great story, and it includes a lot of advice, so stay with it and I’ll try to make it worth your while.
A few days before the game, I had not yet bought a ticket, not having anticipated that the Captain would be returning to the lineup and closing in on history. Even so, I was following Ballpark Savvy’s advice, and waiting until just before game day to buy a ticket.
Generally this works fairly well; as game day approaches, the supply increases and the price usually comes down. But as stated in the E-Guide, you can’t count on this, for precisely this reason.
I decided $40 would be as high as I would go for a ticket. On Friday afternoon a ticket became available on StubHub for $41.
I was encouraged by the drop, but refused to pull the trigger. Then, as I thought might happen, late in the afternoon people began coming home from work and buying, and tickets below $60 disappeared.
Then Friday night’s game was rained out and postponed, leaving Jeter stuck at 2,998 hits, and me now really in a bad way. Ticket prices for Saturday’s game soared. StubHub’s cheapest ticket was now $90 for standing room and even more for obstructed view, and would remain at that price all night.
Yankee Stadium Tightwad Tip #1: When using StubHub or other third-party broker, set a realistic low that you want to pay, and when you see something you can live with, grab it. For high-demand games, expect the price to rise in the evenings, when folks are home from work and online.
Well, okay. Here I am, ticketless. I’ll get back to that. But now let’s talk about actually getting to Yankee Stadium on the cheap, also no easy thing.
If I were to drive straight to and park at Yankee Stadium, coming from South Jersey, I would have used I-295 to exit 7A of the New Jersey Turnpike, and then crossed the George Washington Bridge into the city. That route is, according to Mapquest, a 118-mile drive from my front door.
The bridge is $8 (free into NJ). Turnpike tolls total $12.50. Gas would be about $45, assuming no traffic…ha ha. Parking at Yankee Stadium is a whopping $35. That’s over $100 for round trip and parking.
So if I try taking the NJ Transit train from Hamilton to Penn Station, that at least takes out the absurd parking fee.
This is just a 50-mile ride, with no Turnpike tolls. Parking at Hamilton Station is $7, and the train to Penn Station is $30 round trip for an adult. From there the B or D train to the Stadium (or the E to the B/D, which is a free transfer) is $4.50 round trip. So with gas being about $19 now, that’s a total of just over $60. Much better.
Fortunately there are cheaper bus options, most notably Megabus and Boltbus.
Both services offer great fare prices to get from one big city to another; Megabus is a bit cheaper and has a wider reach, but for some reason Yelpers seem to think Boltbus is better about service. I can’t say, but I do know that I saw two Megabuses show up while waiting for the Boltbus, so they can’t be that bad.
The Boltbus I used was $23 round trip, including the booking fee. Add to that about $7 for gas getting to a train station in New Jersey, and $7 for the round trip train ride that took me to the bus stop. Then the $4.50 for the E-D train brings the total to about $42…not much more than parking at Yankee Stadium, and less than half what the original plan would have cost.
Believe it or not, people do pay twice what they need to.
Yankee Stadium Tightwad Tip #2: If you’re coming to New York City (or Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, etc.) from out of town and you’re close to another metropolis, by all means look into Megabus or Boltbus. The savings are large, and it’s not a bad ride at all.
Now, obviously this wouldn’t work as well for more than one person; if you want other options for getting to the game, there are plenty in the Yankee Stadium E-Guide. You can save money bringing others, too.
So of course now you’re thinking, Kurt, this is all fine and well, but what good is getting there cheaply if you don’t have a ticket for the game?
Did our hero make it inside Yankee Stadium? Was he able to witness in person a first in Yankees history? Did he finally cave in to reality and go deeply into debt for a once-in-a-lifetime experience?
Click here for Part 2 of Kurt’s Amazing Yankee Stadium Story!