In my last installments, we had visited San Francisco and Oakland during the summer of 2000. After this, another short break for the birth of kid number two was in the works. Once our quest resumed in 2002, we were off to Toronto to see the Blue Jays play two games in SkyDome.
After dropping the kids off at Grandma and Grandpa’s in northeastern PA, we pointed the car north towards Canada. Instead of making the whole drive in one day, we stopped off in Buffalo to take in a minor league game, and then stopped for the night at Niagara Falls (on the Canadian side – there is much more to do on that side, for some reason). After a little sightseeing the next day, we continued on to Toronto.
Once again, we had not made advance reservations, figuring it couldn’t be that hard to get a hotel room in a major city on a summer weekend. Everybody goes away for the weekends, right? Except that there was some sort of event going on that had everything booked up, and we ended up taking an interior room with no windows. I will never do that again! It was like sleeping in a crypt, it was so dark. You would think we would learn from these things.
The first game we saw was on August 2, against the Baltimore Orioles. Scott Erickson was on the mound for the Orioles, and Esteban Loaiza was pitching for the Blue Jays this night.
Neither pitcher would get a decision in this game. Erickson gave up 7 runs in three innings before being taken out. Loaiza left after 5 2/3, with a 8-3 lead. The Jays’ bullpen proceeded to cough up 6 runs, while the O’s pen had only given up one run. Final score, 9-8, with the win going to B.J. Ryan, and the loss to Kelvim Escobar.
[B.J.?? According to Retrosheet, his given name is Robert Victor Ryan. My mind is going places it really shouldn’t.]
From our seats, we had a great view through the open roof of the CN Tower next door:
Looking toward the outfield, you can see the massive Jumbotron, which at the time was the largest video display in any ballpark. The inside of the open roof is still very imposing, and there are also hotel rooms that overlook the field! The Renaissance Hotel is attached to the stadium, and there are about 70 field-view rooms. There have been a number of instances in which the activity taking place inside of one of the rooms was much more interesting than the activity taking place on the field below. Remember to close your drapes, people!
The next day we took a trip to the top of the CN Tower, located right next to SkyDome. On a clear day the views are spectacular, and we got a neat bird’s-eye view of the closed roof. Boy, is it blindingly white! The shadow of the tower adds an interesting touch:
We went to a second game later that day, again against the Orioles, but since it was a last minute decision as to whether or not to go, we bought the cheapest seats available, way up in the upper level in left field. But since the crowd was a relatively sparse 17,534, it was no problem to wander over behind home plate to get a shot of the entire field:
Chris Carpenter was pitching for the Jays, and Travis Driskill for the Orioles. Carpenter did not have a very good day, giving up 7 runs in four innings. Driskill got the win, and Carpenter the loss, in a 8-4 Orioles victory.
In yet another casualty of corporate naming, SkyDome is now known as the Rogers Centre. Note the spelling – “centre”, not “center”. Remember, we’re in Canada!
After this trip, there would be a three-year dry spell with no new stadiums visited. No, there weren’t any more kids being born! I don’t think there was a specific reason. Anyway, next time we will visit Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (they hadn’t been exorcised yet).
(all photos mine)
In June of 2000, we had planned to take another organized baseball tour, much like the one we took in 1997. But not with the same tour operator! So we put a deposit down on a West Coast tour with Broach Tours. The tour was scheduled to hit all the West Coast ballparks, if I remember correctly. Unfortunately, a month or so before the trip, we received a call telling us that the tour was being cancelled due to a lack of interest. Aargh!! (we did at least get our deposit back)
So since we’d already planned on that vacation time with our respective workplaces, we decided to just take a trip to San Francisco, and see the Giants and the A’s on our own.
2000 was the first year of the brand-new Pacific Bell Park. So as much as my husband sometimes dislikes ordering tickets in advance, we realized we would have to if we wanted to get into any games at Pac Bell. Of course, there were no single-game tickets to be had. But then we noticed that the Giants had a feature on their website that allowed their season-ticket holders to resell any tickets they weren’t going to be able to use. Perfect! So we searched available tickets to find ones that weren’t being offered for an arm and a leg (just a forearm 🙂 ), and sat through the interminable wait while our dial-up internet service submitted the information, then submitted our credit card info and mailing address, only to be told at the end of the whole process that, due to the laws in certain states, Pennsylvania being one of them, that we couldn’t buy the tickets.
Outrage! Shouldn’t they have stated this rule up front?
Then I had the bright idea to try and have the tickets sent to my husband’s brother in New Jersey. Maybe they didn’t have that law! Apparently the Giants’ system was not set up to realize that the billing and mailing addresses were different, and it went ahead and processed the transaction. Yay! Then my husband made sure to warn his brother that he would be getting something in the mail from the Giants, but not to throw it away, because it would be our tickets.
The first of the two games we attended was on July 16, an interleague contest against the Texas Rangers. The weather this day was cool but comfortable, and a bit overcast. Most mornings we woke to thick fog, which would eventually burn off, though this day it kind of lingered.
Our seats were down the right-field line, about 15 rows back from the field. Not too bad! This was our view [Sorry Rays Renegade! I don’t know what it is about these giant Coke bottles everywhere!]:
In the foreground is Texas starter Esteban Loaiza, warming up prior to the game. Shawn Estes would be on the mound for the Giants.
Midway through the game, a foul ball came down the line, aimed directly at my husband. According to him, he would have caught it except for some knucklehead who stuck their hand in front of him. Yes, that knucklehead was me. If it’s any consolation, my pinky hurt for the rest of the game. The ball, by the way, deflected off my pinky and ended up a few rows in front of us.
J.T. Snow and Rich Aurilia each hit home runs for the Giants this day. The Giants won, 6-4, with the win going to Estes and the loss to Loaiza. San Francisco closer Robb Nen got the save, coming in to pitch not the ninth inning, but the:
Four days later, on July 20, we were back for our second game. This time our seats were a little further back from the field, but closer to home plate (still on the first base side). The San Diego Padres were the visitors today. This was a much sunnier day. A statue of Willie Mays stands outside the main entrance gate:
Kirk Rueter was the starter for the Giants, and Woody Williams for the Padres. Rueter’s nickname is “Woody”, because he resembles the character Woody (the cowboy doll voiced by Tom Hanks) from the Toy Story movies. So this game was a Battle of the Woodies.
My husband got another chance at a foul ball, off the bat of Rich Aurilia. This time I wisely kept my hands to myself, and he made a barehanded catch of the ball while it was on the fly. The elderly women seated in front of us thanked him for saving them from injury – they were ready to duck and cover had he not caught it. Here is a picture of Aurilia:
Woody Williams hit his first career home run in this game. He would end up with a ******** total of 4 in his 15 year career.
[OK, that word is supposed to be wh-pping, with an ‘o’ in the middle. Since when is this considered a bad word???]
Of course, you-know-who was playing for the Giants back in 2000:
Barry Bonds. This was when he was merely annoying, and not yet the pariah he is now. Odd, he looks like he’s actually smiling and interacting with the fans.
Jeff Kent and Russ Davis would homer for the Giants, to help lead the SF “Woody” to victory. Rueter got the win and Aaron Fultz the save in a 7-3 Giants victory; Williams took the loss for the Padres.
Pacific Bell Park is no longer called Pacific Bell. In less than 10 years of existence, it is on its third name. It is now AT&T Park, after going by SBC Park in the interim. This is why I hate corporate naming! Frequent name changes, and the name has no real tie to the team or its location. AT&T Park could be located anywhere! Aargh!
Nonetheless, it is one of our favorite ballparks that we have been to so far. The location is amazing, with great views of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco Bay beyond the outfield. And there were these really yummy garlic fries at the concession stand! Definitely a ballpark I would go back to!
Fun non-baseball things to do in San Francisco and vicinity: Ride the cable cars. Go to Napa for a day and get a buzz off the free wine tastings. Drive up the coast to Muir Woods and marvel at how tall the redwood trees are. Visit Alcatraz. Go to Ghirardelli Square and eat so much chocolate before lunch that you decide the chocolate is your lunch! (yes, we did do all this)
In my next entry, we venture across the bay to Oakland, and visit Network Associates Coliseum.
(all photos mine)