Not all of us can make it out to Phoenix or down to Florida for Spring Training, but there another way to get a small baseball fix as we wait for Opening Day- a ballpark tour!

While I was in Los Angeles… or the OC as I was corrected, I took advantage of being near three MLB ballparks and hit them up with my friend Preston (the Minimalist Ballpark Art guy). We both love baseball and while he was eager to find new art angles, I was ready to bask in the glory of being a sidekick and hopefully find a little inspiration of my own.

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Before we went to the big league, we stopped over at Cal-Irvine to catch the NC Dinos in an exhibition game with the Anteaters. Preston assured me that the Dinos were the “New York Yankees of Korea” and since he’s of Korean descent, I took his word for it and cheered them on.

It wasn’t all that exciting of an exhibition, but it gave me my first in-person taste of international baseball… an idea I’ve been toying with since my vacation to Vieques, PR. I liked watching the subtle nuances of the Korean players and that they were playing with wooden bats. My major gripe with college baseball is the metal bat. That ping is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me!

After the game, the Dinos gathered behind home plate and tipped their caps and bowed to their fans, which I thought was cool. There were tons of Korean fans there and it was a nice acknowledgment and display of the Asian culture.

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Dodger Stadium  was next on our list though we didn’t do the official tour. Preston was delivering some of his artwork to a friend, so we got an abridged tour and spent some time at Top Deck near the new gift store.

My last visit to the park was in 2012 and it was nice to see some of the upgrades I’d read about last season. The retired number sculptures are an awesome addition… I might have hammed it up with them a bit. Just seeing Jackie Robinson’s number fills me with joy!

Dodger Stadium is my third favorite park and I loved having it (mostly) to myself. There’s something magical about an empty stadium, that I’ll never get over. It’s peaceful and a bit romantic if you ask me!

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Even though I know I don’t like Angel Stadium, Preston convinced me to visit the park again for a special season ticket holders event. Again we bypassed the official tour and for good reason in my opinion… this park is in my bottom three. But, if you like the Angels or want to form your own opinions on the ballpark, I highly recommend the ballpark tour! It’s actually really affordable- $7 for adults, $5 for kids. Note: tours are currently suspended until further notice. Check with the team before you head out to Anaheim!

There’s not much for me to say about this park and we were there just over an hour before we got bored and left for the beach (can you blame us?!). It was my third visit and I’m sorry, but it’s still totally basic to me. At least I can say the ushers have always been nice, it’s not overpriced, and most importantly there’s a buttload (my official means of measurement) of talent on this team!! Go for the baseball, stay for the…. baseball!!

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Honestly, I wasn’t planning on visiting San Diego on this trip, but once I was out there Preston and I started toying with the idea. Then my friend from the Padres offered up stadium tour tickets, so I decided that had to be a sign from God and we headed down for the day.

Petco Park was one of the ballparks that surprised me during my ballpark tour. It’s not super basebally if you will, but it’s so stinkin’ gorgeous you don’t care. I think I’d rank it as either my #4 or #5 ballpark. Safeco (Seattle) is up there for me too.

Before the tour, we walked around the Gaslamp District a bit and stopped in The Park at the Park to see the new statue of the late Tony Gwynn. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact he never struck out against Greg Maddux-not even once! It’s stats like that that one blow my mind and two give me a deeper appreciation for baseball.

The tour through Petco Park was interesting and since it was off-season we were able to stop in the visitors’ locker room which is usually closed to tours during the season. A fun little bonus I suppose! The field was a mess from Motorcross and a concert, which took away from the park’s charm. They’re in the process of rebuilding it, so no worries Pads fans for Opening Day!

At the end of our tour, we saw the infamous PETA brick, which was a cherry on top. I had read about it and looked for it briefly in vain during my last visit. Not that I’m a big PETA supporter, but I appreciate little park oddities. It was everything I dreamed of and more- haha! After the tour, we headed over to Lolita’s, another thing I missed out on during my previous visit. It. was. delicious! Definitely a great place to stop for a fish taco before or after the game.

This trip out to LA was just what I needed to get my baseball blogging juices rolling again. I was a little down after last season, so I apologize for the brief hiatus after Christmas. At the moment I don’t have any concrete plans for this baseball season. I know I want to get up to Cleveland and out to Wrigley to see their park updates, but other than that I’ll be playing it by ear. My best friend from college, Liz (you might remember her from my NY/Phillies posts in 2012) is getting married in Argentina this summer (hooray!!), so I’m saving up for that extravaganza!

If you head to any parks for tours, let me know and give me a review. I’ve been on tours of Petco, Fenway, and Old Yankee Stadium and enjoyed them all. Need to know which ones are equally awesome!

Bonus:

I visited the Rose Bowl because I am a huge college football fan as well! Couldn’t help seeing where the Bucks beat the Ducks in 2010!

Super Bonus:

We stopped at La Jolla on the way back to Irvine. Preston had a near “loose sealmoment. Arrested Development fans will get a good chuckle out of this:

Ninja seal!
Ninja seal!

 

 

 

 

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