Watching Baseball at the Ballpark

Milwaukee County Stadium 2000

Source

Watching Baseball at The Ballpark

How I miss going to the ballpark to see Major League baseball! It has been years since I last saw a baseball game. Although I have watched many games on television and on the Internet, the experiences have not been the same as they have been at a live game. There always was something magical about going to see a game in person. From the size, smell, sounds, and sights of my first game at old Milwaukee County Stadium to the adventure of rooting for my Milwaukee Brewers at old Baltimore Memorial Stadium, attending a ballgame was a very special and enjoyable outing. From the perspective of a long-time fan, I make my case in this article that Major League baseball is better at the ballpark then seeing it on TV or the Internet.

Baltimore Memorial Stadium 1991

Source

At The Ballpark You Can See And Almost Hear Everything

By watching a televised baseball game, you will always get an excellent view of the pitcher, catcher, and batter. What you are missing, however, is what the other players and coaches are doing when the pitcher is throwing to the catcher, After a ball is hit, it is often impossible to follow the exact flight of the ball from the bat to the player who fields it. If you attend a game live, you can see and almost hear the following:

1. Positioning of All Players And Coaches on The Diamond

In most modern day ballparks, any seat will give you a panoramic view of all players and coaches positioned on the field during the game. The best seats obviously are elevated and in the vicinity of back of home plate. From a vantage point here, you can see the positioning of all infielders and outfielders while the pitcher is delivering the ball to a hitter. The positioning of infielders and outfielders will obviously change from batter to batter.

2. Players in The Dugout, Bullpen, And On-Deck Circle

The dugouts are the places where the players sit when they are not on the diamond. The managers, coaches, bat boy, and ball boy also occupy the dugouts. In a few older parks like Wrigley Field in Chicago, you will also be able to watch relief pitchers warm up in the areas of the right and left field corners. In the two on-deck circles just off of and behind home plate, you can see the on-deck hitter taking practice swings while another hitter is at the plate.

3. Coaches Flashing Signs to Players

A few yards off of the first and third base foul lines near the bases there are coaching boxes. Coaches stand in these areas and give signs to players when they are either hitting or running the bases. The signs will usually include when to swing away or take a pitch, when to try to steal a base, and when to stop and not take an extra base when running.

4. Players and Coaches Chattering And Hollering

During a game it is natural for players and coaches to give each other encouragement. If a manager, coach, or a player disagrees with an umpire's call, he will sometimes vociferously dispute the call on the play. These arguments which aren't heard on TV can be very loud at the ballpark.

Bryce Harper Gives a Fan a Bat at Great American Ball Park in Cincinatti

Bryce Harper Signing Autographs at Turner Field, Atlanta

Pre-Game Activities at The Ballpark

Many fans and I like to arrive at the ballpark very early so that we can take in and enjoy the following activities:

1. Tailgate Partying

In tailgate partying, a group of fans usually traveling together to the game by car will set up a portable grill in back of their vehicles in the parking lot of the ballpark. They will then barbecue and eat ribs, chicken, or hamburger before an evening or afternoon game. In addition to the food, there will also be a lot of beer to drink.

2. Buying From a Vendor Outside The Ballpark Gates

Whenever I arrived at Memorial Stadium, I would always buy a program and scorecard from a vendor after buying my ticket. The vendor also sold pennants, baseball jerseys, and ball caps of your favorite team. I never purchased these because I always wore my Brewers cap and jersey to games.

3. Finding and Getting to Your Seat

After I purchased my ticket at the gate, it was always an adventure making my way to the assigned seat. This was especially exiting when I had to scale several ramps to my upper deck nosebleed grandstand seat high off of the first base foul line.

4. Watching Batting Practice

I always arrived at the park early with my glove when I wanted to watch batting practice which started two hours prior to game time. The best seats were in the left field and right field bleachers if you wanted to catch a home run hit during batting practice. It was also possible to get close views of the outfielders and sometimes talk to them.

5. Watching Infield Practice

After batting practice concludes, both teams take infield practice. Coaches hit grounders to all of the infielders who then throw the ball to the first baseman. At times it was amusing seeing this when catchers like Johnny Roseboro were taking grounders at the shortstop position.

6. Watching Fungo Hitting

In fungo hitting, a coach stands behind the first base or third base foul lines and hits high fly balls to all of the outfielders. I remember Frank Howard as a coach of the Milwaukee Brewers hitting some real towering flies at a game in Milwaukee in 1978. During fungo hitting, other players are usually playing long catch or doing sprints on the outfield grass.

7. Getting Close to Players Signing Autographs

A few players from both the home and visiting teams will sign autographs before games. At a game between the Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles in 1990, I can recall seeing Ruben Sierra of the Texas Rangers signing his autograph to scorecards and baseballs.

8. Watching The Grounds Crew

After infield practice is finished, a member of the grounds crew of usually 5-10 persons operates a small tractor which pulls three or four drags to smooth the infield dirt. Individual grounds crew members will also smooth the dirt on the pitcher's mound and also the dirt around the home plate area. Other members will chalk out the batters' boxes and also put chalk down the the first and third base foul lines. Still other grounds crew members will water down dusty areas or dry grass areas.

Sausage Race at Miller Park

Watching Baseball at the Ballpark

What do you like most about watching baseball at the ballpark?

  • You can see and hear almost everything.
  • Pre-game activities
  • Fan activities during the game
  • Post-game activities
  • Other
See results without voting

Fan Activities Experienced During a Game

During a game, you can only experience the following activities which wouldn't be possible watching at home on TV:

1. Cheering For Teams or Individual Players

A ballpark can be an exciting and electrifying place when you have tens of thousands of fans cheering for their team players as they are being introduced prior to the game or as they come to bat during the game.

2. Making Special Cheering Noise During a Game

When I attended my first Milwaukee Braves game in 1953, many people would bring cow bells and ring them often during the game. Fans would also stamp their feet in unison in the stands when the Braves were mounting a rally. At old Cleveland Municipal Stadium, there was a man who would continually beat a drum during Indians games. The most electrifying noise I can remember came from Baltimore Orioles fans when Wild Bill Hagy would stand on the Orioles dugout and lead cheers with body movements spelling out O-R-I-O-L-E-S during the Orioles magic years of 1979-1983.

3. Doing The Wave

The wave first became popular at football games, but was later done at baseball parks starting in the 1990s. I remember doing it at Miller Park in Milwaukee during a game in August of 2005.

4. Going After A Foul Ball Hit Into The Stands

If a person sat along the first or third base side of the field, he or she would have a chance at a foul ball hit into the stands. I had a chance when I watched the Orioles play the Rangers in 1990. It was very frightening, though, because Julio Franco fouled off a fastball thrown by Curt Schilling, and sharply lined it like a bullet to a spot right in front of where I was sitting. I was lucky I wasn't hit by the ball.

5. Seventh Inning Stretch

It is said that the seventh inning stretch in which the home fans stand before the start of the bottom of the seventh inning originated with President William Howard Taft in 1910. The story goes that Taft who was watching a game in Washington got up to stretch his legs. Fans who thought he was leaving the ballpark got up as a sign of respect to him. While Harry Caray was announcing Chicago Cub games, he would lead Cub fans in singing "Take Me Out to The Ball Game" during the seventh inning stretch.

6. Watching Bernie Brewer

One can only experience this at a Milwaukee Brewers game. After a Brewers player hits a home run, Bernie Brewer, Milwaukee's mascot, will go down a long slide and into a mug of beer.

7. Sausage Races

If you take in a game at Miller Park in Milwaukee, The Brewers management will provide you with sausage races once a game. Three people decked out in bratwurst, sausage, and hotdog outfits will race around the bases after the sixth inning, I believe. If you haven't had a bratwurst at the ball park, you don't know what you have missed.

Although the shots of pitcher, batter, and catcher are great on TV, nothing can compare to seeing a major league baseball game in person. There is so much excitement before and during the game that this must be witnessed by everyone at least once during their lifetime. I haven't been to the ballpark since taking in a game with my brother and sister in 2005. The Brewers are a better team now, so I plan on seeing another game at Miller Park very soon.




Watching Baseball at the Ballpark

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© 2012 Paul Richard Kuehn

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Comments 20 comments

HughC profile image

HughC 4 years ago from New York's beautiful Hudson Valley

Agree, Paul. I can't smell cigar smoke outside without remembering days spent at Yankee Stadium in the 50s and 60s. No cigar smoke anymore in the big ballpark and I can't go 2-3 times a week, like the old days, but there's nothing like it.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Since I am a life-long baseball fanatic, of course I agree with this hub. :)


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Paul....I enjoyed this so much...got a chuckle over the enthusiasm. I DO love baseball. Probably, my favorite of all the major sports games. Isn't baseball compared to Apple Pie in terms of how very AMERICAN it is?

I agree with you for sure, about being in the park as opposed to sitting in front of the tube. Actually, little comparison and hard to argue with this fact!

I played on a girl's team as a kid......3rd baseman......lightening runner in my day. LOL.....forget that now!

Thanks for this FUN hub.......I like this kind! UP and shared


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

HughC,

Thank you very much for reading and your great comments. Oh, yes! That cigar smoke in the 50s and 60s was something!


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

billybuc,

Thank you very much for stopping by and your great comment.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Paula,

Thank you so very much for reading and sharing! I appreciate your great comments. Yes, baseball as America's traditional pasttime is as American as apple pie. Were you a very good hitter on your team?


BLACKANDGOLDJACK profile image

BLACKANDGOLDJACK 4 years ago from Blitzburgh area

Take me out to the ballgame, buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks.

I’m thinking of writing a hub on the stretch run this season, which is going to be very exciting with some tight division races and the battles for wild card spots.

I went to a half dozen Pirates games this season. Totally different experience at PNC Park now with a good team and a whole lot more fans. I usually go to a couple Red Sox v. Indians games at Cleveland, but didn’t make it this year. I’ve been to Fenway and the old Yankee Stadium a bunch of times.

Nothing like being at the park on a beautiful summer day, or night.

I’ve been watching quite a few Dodger games in the past couple weeks via the computer. I sure would like to fly out to L.A. and catch one or two. Wow, that game yesterday. Gonzo hit a walk-off double in the last of the 9th and the players and fans went nuts. I also love Vin Scully.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

BlackandgoldJack,

Thanks for reading this hub and your great comments. I envy you for being able to get some Pirates games this year. I've never been to Fenway or old Yankee stadium, but when I was younger I saw games at both Memorial Stadium and old RFK. When I was stationed near San Francisco, I caught a few games at old Candlestick Park and the Oakland Stadium. I like Vin Scully,too. How long has he been broadcasting?


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Paul...as a youngster & teen, I was very athletic, coordinated, strong and fast. I loved playing baseball, basketball and volleyball......and I would guess I was pretty good, based on my stats.

At 64.....HA! I now hold on to railings and take one step down at a time. I'm not stupid!


BLACKANDGOLDJACK profile image

BLACKANDGOLDJACK 4 years ago from Blitzburgh area

Hey Paul,

Vin Scully called the Padres v. Dodgers game last night on MLB channel. I could listen to him all night even if it was a lousy game. But it was a terrific game. Dodgers tied it in the last of the 9th on a homer by Andre Ethier and then won it in with 2 out in the 11th when Ethier scored on a hit by A.J. Ellis.

Vin Scully is older than dirt (actually 84) but he looks terrific. The Dodgers had some sort of celebration for him recently. He has a bunch of grandchildren and they were all out on the field with him. His voice is still as smooth and steady as ever.

Scully called the only Dodgers World Series win in 1955 and Don Larsen's perfect game against the Dodgers in 1956.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

I liked basketball and volleyball too when I was a kid. The problem was that I was too short and couldn't shoot or rebound the ball. You're still younger than me!


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Thanks for the information about Scully. When I was a kid in the 50s Ioved listening to Harry Caray out of St. Louis on KMOX.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

I totally get why you want to see baseball live, because there is a ritual to it which is wonderful and loads is going on as you describe. Living in the UK, I subscribe to ESPN America so that I can watch baseball on TV, which is as close as I will get for now since it is the most minority sport in the UK. I would love to see a proper game at a ballpark, preferably at Fenway Park or Wrigley Field (I love those old historic parks). I am visiting Canada in 2014 so I think my first experience of a ballpark will be to see Toronto Blue Jays. I can't wait!


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Jools,

Thanks for reading and your great comments. If you see the Toronto Blue Jays play, you will be going to the Skydome which is very near the Chinatown of Toronto. I visited there once but didn't see a game. There are so many restaurants and other venues of entertainment in the Skydome. I'm sure you'll have a great time there!


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Very interesting read,Paul. Though we don't have baseball in our country but cricket as its alternative, the frenzy and enjoyment of the game is better at the cricket ground than on TV. And, you relate why it is so with baseball; I certainly agree.

The perspective of a live view is totally all encompassing as opposed to a projected view on tube.

Voted up, interesting, pinned and shared.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

rajan,

Thanks for stopping by and commenting on one of my favorite sports! I have seen clips of cricket matches, but I have never watched a whole match and don't know the rules. Are the rules similar to baseball? I appreciate your comments and sharing of this hub.


uniknews profile image

uniknews 2 years ago from Everywhere. Seriously!

Voted up and Interesting. I am also out of the country now. It brought back some good memories of watching baseball. Thanks a lot for helping me relive them!


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 2 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

&uniknews I will be back in the States for a couple weeks in July and really would like to see a game if I can get away from my sister's farm. Thanks for the comments!


Wednesday-Elf profile image

Wednesday-Elf 2 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

I love baseball and agree that it is exciting to actually be at a ballpark. The only Major League stadiums I've ever been to (several times) are Busch Stadium in St. Louis and Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, but grew up attending the Rochester (NY) Redwings games at their Triple A ballpark, and now enjoy a Single A ball park here in my retirement location in Savannah Georgia on a regular basis. Did get to see a St. Louis Cardinals game at Busch Stadium this past June while on a visit to my daughter. Hope you got in a baseball game on your state-side visit in July.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 2 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

I haven't been to a MLB park since I saw the Brewers play at Miller Park in Milwaukee in August of 2005. On my last trip to Wisconsin, I was so busy helping my sister on her farm that I didn't get a chance to see my sister play. Next time I go to the States, I'll see a game for sure. Sorry for the long delay in answering your comment.

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