Okay friends and readers, I am writing a post here as a test. I want to write a book. This is a rough draft of chapter 1. The book will be about my quest as a commoner to see all major league baseball stadiums, but also hidden within is a story about growing up. Please read this objectively, and provide me criticism. If this were the first chapter of a book, would you read on? Even non sports fans should offer me their opinion. I can take harsh criticism if you have it. What did you like? What did you hate? Etc etc.
Toronto Blue Jays versus Boston Red Sox
Aug 7th, 1995
I didn’t know it at the time, but my quest to see a game in every major league baseball stadium started in 1995, in Toronto, Canada. I was living in the Toronto area then, and baseball was the farthest thing from my mind. It wasn’t even my idea to attend a baseball game, but accepted the invitation from friends as a last minute addition. Twelve years later, however, my baseball passion would ignite and my quest would launch.
I’ve had a love for baseball my whole life, and like most boys growing up in America, played little league ball with the local recreation leagues, and played twice as many pick-up games at the neighborhood “sandlot.”
Our sandlot, for most games, was a black-top residential “circle slash cul-de-sac,” playing in the street in front of the houses. Our teams usually consisted of 5 or 6 players on each team, depending on who had completed their homework, chores, or other checklists imposed on each of us by our parents. These teams were never the same. We divided up based on who was there, and each summer someone else in the neighborhood either moved in, or got “old enough” to join us. When I say “us.,” I mean everyone that played, but there were a core group of four or five that were seemingly always there.
We caught the train from North York to downtown Toronto, Ontario and made our way to the Rodgers Center, home-field of the Toronto Blue Jays. The trains were packed with fans, dressed in various shades of blue, sporting jerseys and t-shirts decorated with the Blue Jays logo. Blue Jays fans were still riding high from winning to back to back World Series in 1992 and 1993. In fact, the die hard Blue Jays fans even went on to claim 1994, since Major League Baseball had suffered a player strike part of the way into the 1994 season, and the World Series was cancelled for the first time since World War II. Since there was not a new champion named, the reigning champs must be the champs again right? If you were a Blue Jay fan it made perfect sense. I approved of the logic at the time, mostly because sports fans in Toronto needed something to keep their spirits up. Professional sports consisted of baseball and hockey, with basketball trying to sneak into the hearts of the locals. Following baseball’s strike in 1994, the National Hockey league also went on strike, delivering a combination double punch to sports fans all across the great white north.
We walked into the stadium and it was breathtaking. Crisp green grass, perfectly manicured a prepped for America’s past time. America’s past time, in Canada. The Red Sox were in town.
We took our seats high in right field, and watched the last few minutes of warm ups. Players that were previously only known to me from my baseball card collection were now coming to life right in front of me. I grew more and more excited as I began to recognize many of them from my cards: Wade Boggs, Jose Conseco, and “the Rocket” Roger Clemens. I knew these names well. Toronto had more recognizable names as well: Joe Carter, Al Leiter, and John Olerud. I was especially excited to see John Olerud play. He caught my attention due to his wearing of a hard hat while playing first base. I learned later that he had suffered a brain injury in college and took extra precautions for his own safety. Sadly, he went “0 for 4” on the day.
The Red Sox won the game, 5 to 4. A Blue Jays fielder named Devon White hit a three run homer in the bottom of the 8th to make it all tied up at 4, and got the crowd back into it after being stoic all game, but could not answer run scored by Boston in the top of the tenth, and lost the game.
So my quest began. One down, twenty-nine to go.