If you're a baseball fan, or a sports fan of any kind for that matter, you've probably thought of what it might be like to go to a game in every single baseball stadium across the country. That's exactly what Retro Brand fan, Wes Milligan from Collierville TN, has done. I caught up with him to get some details of the sights, sounds, highs & lows of what living one of the ultimate sports fans dreams come true was like.
Andy: You have fulfilled a fantasy that many sports fans dream of – attending at least one baseball game in every Major League Park. Can you tell us what was your favorite and least favorite parks are and why?
Wes: When fans learn I’ve attended a game in all 30 ballparks, plus seven old ones, they immediately ask me which one is my favorite – so I had to rank them (See list below)! Number one has to be PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Every seat has clear sight lines of the field and downtown Pittsburgh. The pedestrian Roberto Clemente Bridge adds to the experience, the club section is the best in baseball, and concession prices are very reasonable (cheap beer!). Words really don’t do it justice. My least favorite is the Oakland Coliseum (sorry A’s fans). It’s not even a ballpark. Baseball is just played there. I really hope Major League Baseball allows the team to move to San Jose. I must say, however, Oakland has the cheapest field-level tickets, the fans are very supportive of the players, and vice versa, and how can you not love an MC Hammer bobblehead giveaway?
Andy: Aside from the cheap beer, surely you had to have had taken notes on cuisine. Any comments on the best hot dog, beer, or other foodstuffs that you thought stood out?
Wes: The garlic fries at AT&T Park (San Francisco), pulled pork at Boog’s BBQ in Camden Yards (Baltimore), and Schlafly Pale Ale at Busch Stadium (St. Louis) top my ballpark cuisine list. But the best ballpark cuisine is grilling local bratwurst while tailgating outside of Miller Park in Milwaukee. Oh, and Dodger Dogs are way overrated.
But the best ballpark food I’ve ever had was during a Philadelphia Phillies spring training game. I still dream about the sliders with grilled onions, along with a tall can of Yuengling beer, at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla. The Hooters ball girls didn’t exactly hurt the atmosphere either.
Andy: Can you describe a little bit about how you traveled, scored tickets, lodged (always a hotel, or friends house, your car, etc.?) and set up the schedule from the get go?
Wes: My ballpark “quest” started when I drove from St. Louis to New York to watch the Cardinals play a three-game series at the old Yankee Stadium in 2003. After seeing that ballpark, I needed to see them all. Planes, trains and automobiles sum it up. Plus, it gave me an excuse to visit my friends who lived across the country. I have my ticket stubs from every ballpark proudly displayed in my home, and each one has a fond memory attached to it.
I’ve attended four MLB All-Star Games and Home Run Derbies (2004, 2009, 2011, 2012), and cheered on my St. Louis Cardinals from the stands during the 2011 World Series (Games 1, 2, 6 and 7). I’ve also been to the revered Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, and cheering on Team USA at the 2013 World Baseball Classic was recently crossed off my baseball bucket list.
Andy: Did you get to meet any players, celebrities, and/or crazy fans when all was said and done? – describe.
Wes: When I attended my first game as Nationals Park (Washington, D.C.), St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday threw me the third-out baseball in the bottom of the seventh. It’s one of my favorite souvenirs, especially when I met him the next year and had him autograph it. I’ve seen several fist-fights break out at Yankees vs. Red Sox games (surprise, surprise), nothing beats watching the Clydesdales round the warning track at Busch Stadium during Opening Day – and I cherish seeing Stan Musial.
Andy: Do you have any plans to do another trip – Minor League Parks, Pro Football, SEC, etc.?
I’m an alumnus of the University of Missouri, the newest member of the SEC, and I would like to watch the Mizzou play football in each SEC stadium. So far I’ve seen the MU Tigers play football at South Carolina and Tennessee, and Ole Miss and Vanderbilt are on deck next year. I’ve also flirted with the idea of knocking out the AAA Minor League Ballparks, because I’m a huge fan of the Memphis Redbirds.
Andy: Yes, do the Minor League Parks! How’d you hear about Retro Brand and what do you like about our shirts?
Wes: A friend who is an alumnus of Oklahoma State introduced me to Retro Brand when Mizzou was still in the Big 12. I really liked the throwback designs and 50% Polyester, 38% Cotton, 12% Rayon blends, and quickly purchased Missouri Tigers, St. Louis Blues and Memphis Chicks shirts. My favorite Retro Brand is definitely the gray Memphis Redbirds shirt I purchased after my first game at AutoZone Park. I’m looking forward to buying another one on Opening Day!
You can find out what Wes will be planning for his next trip by following him on Twitter @wesmilligan
1. PNC Park – Pittsburgh Pirates
2. Petco Park – San Diego Padres
3. Miller Field – Milwaukee Brewers
4. Coors Field – Colorado Rockies
5. Target Field – Minnesota Twins
6. AT&T Park – San Francisco Giants
7. Comerica Park – Detroit Tigers
8. Safeco Field – Seattle Mariners
9. Busch Stadium – St. Louis Cardinals
10. Camden Yards – Baltimore Orioles
11. Yankee Stadium – New York Yankees
12. Wrigley Field – Chicago Cubs
13. Citizens Bank – Philadelphia Phillies
14. Progressive Field – Cleveland Indians
15. Ballpark at Arlington – Texas Rangers
16. Nationals Ballpark – Washington Nationals
17. Citi Field – New York Mets
18. Kaufman Stadium – Kansas City Royals
19. Fenway Park – Boston Red Sox
20. Dodgers Stadium – Los Angeles Dodgers
21. Chase Field – Arizona Diamondbacks
22. Minute Maid Park – Houston Astros
23. U.S. Cellular Field – Chicago White Sox
24. Angels Stadium – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
25. Marlins Stadium – Florida Marlins
26. Turner Field – Atlanta Braves
27. Great American Ballpark – Cincinnati Reds
28. Rogers Centre – Toronto Blue Jays
29. Tropicana Field – Tampa Bay Rays
30. Oakland Coliseum – Oakland Athletics
Old Ballparks (7)
· Old Busch Stadium
· Old Yankee Stadium
· Old Comiskey Park (Chicago)
· Shea Stadium (Mets)
· Metrodome (Minnesota)
· Dolphin Stadium (Marlins)
· Veterans Stadium (Philly)