I have a secret that I usually keep to myself unless I need a cosmic trump card while arguing with a baseball fan: I have seen a Major League Baseball game in 34 different stadiums at the ripe age of 21. Since I'm unashamedly nostalgic, I will list every Major League game I have attended in order, with personal memories of each stadium as best that I can remember. Some of the names have long gone and some have passed away, but damn if they aren't ingrained in my memory forever based upon one game.
My First Major League Game Ever: June 5, 1995 (Oakland Athletics 11, New York Yankees 5)
I remember next to nothing from this game except my father's anecdotal memory helped me place this game in a proper context. McGwire hit a home run (one of seven in the game) and Ron Darling would only win two more games in his career after this game. This was also Derek Jeter's 7th career game.
#2: June 23, 1995 tenative (Baltimore Orioles 7, Red Sox 5)
We stayed in a hotel right by Camden Yards and my father dropped me off with my mother during a pitching change and was able to get back into the game. Or so he tells me. I was 4 and I don't remember anything but the date seems ripe for my parents' favorite type of vacation by virtue of them both being schoolteachers: one right after school ended. If you see a lot late June dates, that is why.
#3: June 24, 1997 (Red Sox 9, Toronto Blue Jays 6)
Nothing yet again, but trust me this does get better. There's nothing from this game I remember but my father does have the stub (he collects them in a jar from each game he has attended).
#4: June 6, 1998 (Mets 1, Red Sox 0)
I drove up the night before with my uncle and two cousins to see my aunt who lived in nearby Cambridge. We arrived at 1 am, and the game was slated to start at 1 pm. My 7 year old self was tired as anything, but yes, I did go see the Mets and Red Sox in this Fox nationally-televised game. Al Leiter had beaten Pedro the night before, and the following day Bobby Jones beat Tim Wakefield on an unearned run to win 1-0. I remember John Franco clinching the save and buying a Red Sox bear from the gift shop (yes, still in my stuffed animal phase back then, but that bear has long since been given to goodwill). I also remember making an off-color remark to my uncle on the ride home, who threatened to drop me off in Harlem by myself if I didn't watch my mouth.
#5: June 30, 1998 (Tigers 3. Pirates 0)
This trip was interesting. It had to be postponed because my father screwed up his back playing in a faculty-student game two weeks prior, and I spent the first night of this trip vomiting in a Pittsburgh hotel room from whatever ailment I had. The Friday night deal for this game was 4 upper deck seats, 4 hot dogs, and 4 drinks for like ten or fifteen bucks. I still remember my father laughing his face off when after a Jason Kendall double, it displayed on the Three Rivers Stadium jumbotron "That's a double man!" with an excited parrot exulting those words. Jason Kendall went 4-for-4, the rest of the Pirates went 1-for-27 as Brian Moehler threw a complete game shutout.
#6: July 11, 1998 (Mets 8, Expos 4)
Most of you will remember this as Todd Hundley's return from the DL (and I do remember him playing left field that night), but this game was notable because it was Bag Night and had that goddamn thing not lost its ability to zip, it would still be in use today. This was a late 8th birthday present for me, and I remember listening to my father's "Fields of Gold: The Best of Sting 1984-1994" the whole trip, both ways. John Olerud hit two home runs, and I remember during the course of the game an impromptu "Yankees Suck" chant began and I really don't remember why. I looked around with glee and just before I could utter the first syllable "Ya--", my father looked at me and said, "Don't you dare say it." with such sternness I stopped right there and never gave it another thought.
#7: August 23, 1998 (Diamondbacks 4, Mets 3)
Saw this game with my friend Scott and his dad along with my father. It was hot as Hell, and Matt Williams got ejected. However, my most vivid memory comes from after the game when I couldn't hold it in any longer on the Queens-to-Scotch Plains trek and ended up, er, doing business on the side of Route 78 right in front of the barbed wire fence of Northern State Prison in Newark. I was so terrified, half of my pee ended up on my shorts because I just wanted to get the hell out of there. Lovely.
#8: May 28, 1999 (Diamondbacks 2, Mets 1)
After a third grade class trip earlier in the day to Crayola Place, my father somehow got a work friend's season tickets and we sat in the mezzanine for the first and last time at Shea. Benny Agbayani was in the process of becoming a Met folk hero and came into the game with a line of .500/.545/.950. He managed to hit yet another home run, but Andy Fox's second-inning triple held up as the Mets couldn't solve Omar Daal.
#9: July 27, 1999 (Pirates 5, Mets 1)
Yes, the Mercury Mets game. I remember receiving a velcro-backed hat as part of a promotion sponsored by Century 21. I still have that hat somewhere in my closet and I assume my neighbor Chris does as well. Christ, what hideous uniforms those were. I remember each player had their own mutated photo of themselves on the DiamondVision (Orel Hershiser had a weird R2D2 thing if I remember correctly) and Jason Isringhausen channeling his inner "Pistol" Pete Maravich, had a jersey composed only of his nickname. Al Martin hit Orel Hershiser's second pitch of the game over the left-center wall for a home run and future Met cuckold Kris Benson threw a complete game six-hitter in a pretty uneventful loss considering the gawdy pomp and circumstance.
#10: August 13, 1999 (Indians 6, Orioles 3)
I still to this day have no idea how my father got tickets for this game. This was during the streak where the Indians sold like a million home games out in a row at Jacobs Field and somehow my father scalped tickets 20 minutes before game time. I had no idea how much the tickets were and my naive 9-year-old self said, "Wow, what a nice guy to give you tickets for a sold out game." My father said, "Oh I paid for these things, and he's not that nice of a guy." Cleveland Enemy of the State Albert Belle drove in all three runs for the Orioles, but Manny Ramirez hit two balls of Scott Erickson which I believe are still in orbit somewhere over Lake Erie. Postgame fireworks as we drove back to our hotel via I-77.
#11: August 15, 1999 (Angels 10, Tigers 2)
I saw a four strikeout inning! Or would have, had I not been enticed by a copy of MLB 2000 and a PlayStation in a designated kids area. Oh, the fleeting moments of a child of the 90s. We sat in the left section fully covered, and my father and I got a drink, a hot dog, and a seat for $10 total. Justin Thompson got throttled and Chuck Finley struck out twelve to get the win. I remember after the game standing outside Tiger Stadium with my father, and the neighborhood in which it was located was not the greatest and when the Tigers game ended you got the hell out of there. Well, we had to wait about twenty minutes for my mother to navigate her way from Dearborn after she saw the Henry Ford Museum. I didn't know any better, so I just waited patiently as my mother eventually drove up to Trumbull and Michigan to whisk us away back to our hotel.
(I welcome and implore you to tell your tales of games you have attended and particular memories you may have of them, the more minute they seem the better. This was an immensely fun post to write and it jogged tons of wonderful moments I have had with my father.)