Fan Follow Friday puts the spotlight weekly on one of my readers, as they share their favorite ballparks and baseball memories. Hope you enjoy hearing their stories!! This week we take a trip to the minors with Michael David:
Name: Michael David
Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI
Favorite Team: West Michigan Whitecaps
Blog/Website: Minoring in Baseball
How did you get into baseball?
I honestly can’t remember any time in my life without baseball. I’ve been playing since before I can remember. I played Little League every summer I could, then on to high school and summer leagues. After that, I played softball, and now coach my kids in Little League, and serve on the local leagues Board of Directors. As a kid in the 80’s, I loved the Detroit Tigers and collecting baseball cards. I loved all the team names, logos, and uniforms. It was such an innocent hobby at the time, not a business like it is today. My love for Minor League baseball came in 2005. It was my dad’s idea to see some games in Battle Creek, MI, where we still have family. All it took was the first game of the Southwest Michigan Devil Rays winning in extra innings, and I was hooked. We then attended a Whitecaps game on our way home. Later that summer, I was sent down to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in southern Georgia, and they drove` us to see the Savannah Sand Gnats and the Jacksonville Suns on an almost weekly basis. Since then, we’ve taken our baseball trip every spring, exploring different regions of the country and the Minor League teams there.
Favorite Ballparks (and why):
Wow, there are so many ballparks out there that I’m really fond of. Personally, I appreciate the more ‘classic’ parks more than the new, modern models, but that’s just my opinion. I’ve always loved Historic Grayson Stadium in Savannah. You walk through the gates and feel the ghosts of baseball past within those brick walls. Another ballpark I really fell in love with is McCormick Field, home of the Asheville Tourists. You can see the field toward the end of the movie ‘Bull Durham’, as it’s where Crash hits his historic home run. It’s also a very historic park, with a great baseball atmosphere. I highly recommend it to any baseball fan that is in that area. As far as the larger Triple-A stadiums go; I really enjoyed Victory Field in Indianapolis, Louisville Slugger Field, and the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Least favorite Ballparks (and why):
Well, I really don’t like to bad-mouth any ballpark, because all of them are better than having nothing, which is what I have where I live now. If I had to pick one, it would be New Britain Stadium, home of the New Britain Rock Cats. Parking was an absolute nightmare. The stadium itself was very basic and had very little personality and almost no atmosphere. With the exception of Coca-Cola Field in Buffalo, none of the stadiums in upstate New York did much to impress me, either. I still had a very fun time and enjoyed the games; just the ballparks themselves were very basic.
Top ballpark memory (and why):
This is another tough one. I’ve had so many great memories, had so many fun times with family, met so many great baseball fans, and have seen so many top prospects; it’s difficult to narrow it down to just one. I’m going to have to go with meeting Ryne Sandburg when he was managing the Peoria Chiefs, though. He was one of my favorite players growing up, too, and it was great meeting him and getting an autograph. Trevor loves the Cubs, so it was a special day for him, also. We’ve been lucky enough to have met former big leaguers and future stars like Mike Trout.
Advice for fans visiting your home ballpark:
If you plan on attending a game a Fifth Third Ballpark, then bring your appetite. They have some great food there. The Fifth Third Burger is huge, and if you can eat it all, then you get a free t-shirt and your picture on the wall of fame. Last year we tried the Baco (a taco with a bacon shell), and that was very good, also. Going on a theme night is always fun, too. We never miss Star Wars Night, and the Whitecaps bring a great show. There’s also nothing wrong with going to the ballpark on a weeknight with a smaller crowd, and simply enjoying a game of baseball.
****Would you like to be my next Fan Follow Friday?? Just email your responses to the bold questions and a couple of pictures to me at email@example.com. Don’t worry you don’t have to be a baseball blogger, just a baseball fan!!!
Past Fan #FF:
3/21/14 Bryan Mapes, Atlanta Braves
3/28/14 A.J. Martelli, New York Yankees