A weekend made for baseball

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Three guys. Three days. Three stadiums.

Lots of baseball and lots of fun.

Gene Momyer thought it might take some careful planning to hit three major league stadiums in a single weekend, but once he looked through the schedules there really wasn’t much of a choice—not if he was going to do it by driving.

To see Detroit, Cleveland and Cincinnati all at home, there was the choice of August 9, 10 and 11 or Labor Day weekend.

Gene announced the plans to his son, Eric, and future son-in-law, Joe Castillo, and the trio headed off for Detroit’s Comerica Park on Friday afternoon, Aug. 9. It turned out be a rare treat for Tiger fans: Detroit won.

Comerica Park

This was Eric’s favorite stadium of the tour. It’s the newest park and there’s a lot to see. Statues, lights, carnival-type rides, fireworks.

“There are a lot of cool things to look at,” he says.

“It would be great for a family,” Joe said. “There are a lot more things to do than the traditional baseball game.”

Perhaps too much for Gene.

“It’s a nice stadium, but I could do without the Ferris wheel,” he said. “For me, you either go to a baseball game or you go to an amusement park. But the peanuts were good.”

Even Gene was impressed with the deal the Tigers give to fans. For the price of a ticket, you get good seats, a free drink and a free hot dog or piece of pizza.

“We got $9 worth of food on an $8 ticket,” he said.

However, that pizza came with a price, Joe noted. There were long lines in their part of the stadium.

“We missed two innings getting our pizza.”

Every game ends with an impressive fireworks show shot out in centerfield, but it does get to be a little much. Management doesn’t believe in pacing the action.

“It’s a 20-minute show,” Joe says, “but it’s like the grand finale right from the start. After about 10 minutes it gets a little tiring.”

Eric concedes that there are some bad seats at Comerica—in the corners where you can’t see a lot—but the good seats the trio landed led to a satisfying experience.

“We had a good time there,” Gene said, “and we watched a good game.”

Seats: Right field above the bull pen

Score: Detroit 3, Baltimore 0

Attendance: 26,000

Jacobs Field

A 1:05 p.m. game in Cleveland Saturday afternoon was next on the agenda.

“This is a really nice stadium,” Gene said. “It’s similar to Detroit but it’s more back to the old look on the outside. They have friendly ushers, too.”

More likely it was a matter of a kindly stadium worker willing to listen to Gene, the boys suggest, but it was a great experience and an excellent game.

Jacobs Field was easily Joe’s favorite stadium. It’s not just what happens inside the park that won him over.

“The atmosphere outside the park makes the mood even better,” he says.

There’s plenty of activity to watch on the walk up to the stadium, creating a festive feel to the day.

Cell phones are checked at Cleveland, but not at the other two stadiums. Fans aren’t allowed to take in bottled water, but once inside, everyone gets a free, large cup of water (“You needed it, too,” says Joe). Sign up for a credit card and get a free Indians t-shirt and a free Indians bobble-head.

Gene had trouble cheering for the home team, but he was impressed with Karim Garcia—a former Tiger, of course—who won the game.

With two Rangers on base in the top of the ninth, Garcia made a spectacular catch as he crashed into the outfield wall to end the Texas assault. Then, in the bottom of the ninth, Garcia drove in the winning run.

At 4:30, the three headed south for Cincinnati.

Seats: Upper deck, right field

Score: Cleveland 4, Texas 3

Attendance: 37,000

Cinergy Field

Lying between two of Ohio’s largest cities is the capital, Columbus. There’s an important landmark there, according to Gene.

“I had to take the boys through Columbus to show them where the real team plays football. They weren’t impressed.”

“It took about three hours to find it,” Eric said.

“We were going south out of Columbus and Ohio State’s on the north side,” Joe said. “I was holding the map upside down.”

Cincinnati’s Cinergy Field (once known as Riverfront Stadium) offers a different baseball experience. It’s an “old” stadium, so to speak, since it was built in 1970.

“It’s the old style,” says Gene. “We about fell out of the upper deck. It’s steep!”

Joe walked up about 10 rows to the top of the stadium, then turned to walk back down and the dizzy feeling hit.

The rows are really narrow without a lot of leg room, and it’s a challenge to get out for a trip for food or the bathroom.

“Everybody has to stand and fold up their seat so you can get through,” Gene said. “It’s like tightrope walking.”

Your feet are at head level of the next row down, Joe said, and he accidentally kicked a couple people. But stay in your seat and the view is great.

Food is fairly similar from stadium to stadium, but there are some differences. Cincinnati, for example, sells cheese conies. However, they make a big deal out a small item, Joe noted.

“It’s actually a four-inch hot dog,” he said. “It’s like two bites and it’s gone. A rip-off.”

Michigan sports fans might be accustomed to McDonald’s, Little Ceasar, etc., in stadiums, but that isn’t the case in Cleveland and Cincinnati. But no matter who’s doing the serving, food is an important part of the experience.

“A baseball stadium is the only place I want to eat a hot dog,” Eric said. “I don’t even like hot dogs, but I wanted to have one.”

In Cincinnati, hot dogs are occasionally shot into the stands via a compressed air cannon.

“Joe and I cheered for Cincinnati,” Gene said. “Eric cheered for San Diego because he always goes with the opposite of what I do.”

The Padres roster read like a former Tigers listing, Gene said, including Alan Trammell who fills a coaching slot.

“You can see former Tigers all over the major leagues and they seem to do pretty well,” he said. “But being a Tiger fan, you get used to that.”

Morenci’s three travelers headed out of the stadium in the ninth inning with a 7-7 tie. A thunderstorm was moving in and a delay seemed likely. Leaving early proved to be a good decision. There was a 90-minute rain delay and the Reds didn’t win it until the 12th inning.

“We laughed a lot, talked a lot and goofed around a lot,” Gene said about the successful weekend. “If you like baseball, you would have a lot of fun. We hope to do something again next year.”

And who knows, maybe Eric will come through with his threat to run naked across the field.

Seats: Upper deck, behind home plate

Score: Cincinnati 9, San Diego 7

Attendance: 28,000

    –  Aug. 21, 2002 
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