Earlier this month I saw this tweet from the Angels:
As big as it gets here #AtTheBigA!
— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) January 11, 2015
“WHAT? MONSTER JAM? BUT WON’T THAT DAMAGE THE FIELD?” I thought to myself.
It made me recall a question I’d asked myself earlier in the offseason: What sort of things are baseball stadiums used for when not being used for baseball?
These are gigantic structures that are only used to host baseball games 81 days a year (give or take a few, one way or the other, for playoff games and rainouts). Certainly it would be a waste for them to sit unused for the other days in the year when there’s money to be made and amusement taxes to be collected (in order to pay off the debt incurred by the municipality for feeling obligated to build the thing in the first place, but that’s another conversation for another time).
Baseball stadiums have frequently been used to host other sporting events. The NFL and MLB have a long history of sharing stadiums, and to this day (though maybe not for much longer) the Oakland A’s and Oakland Raiders share O. co Coliseum. Up until 2003, Wrigley Field had hosted the most NFL games ever, and the Chicago Bears moved out of Wrigley after 1970.
The NHL has started hosting more outdoor games in the Winter Classic and Stadium Series. Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Citizens Bank Park, Dodger Stadium, Yankee Stadium, and Nationals Park have all played host to outdoor hockey since 2008 (TCF Bank Stadium and Coors Field will both host games in 2016).
Then of course there are concerts. On their two American tours (one in 1965 and the other in 1966), the Beatles played at Shea Stadium, Fulton County Stadium, Comiskey Park, Metropolitan Stadium, Municipal Stadium, DC Stadium, JFK Stadium, Crosley Field, Busch Stadium, Dodger Stadium, and Candlestick Park. Every year some artist will go on tour and end up playing a bunch of baseball and football stadiums, often squeezing in performances during off-days and road trips for the regular inhabitants.
But it is not just sporting events. Numerous non-baseball events I have experienced include the Pope, ski jumps, and, yes, monster trucks.
I started thinking about this at the beginning of the offseason, and once the BttP Facebook group got off the ground I posed the question and requested submissions on folks’ favorite non-baseball experiences in baseball stadiums, either professional or minor league.
My primary memories of non-baseball things at baseball stadiums have actually been concerts: Wilco at Coveleski Stadium in South Bend, Indiana in 2010; and Bruce Springsteen at Wrigley Field in 2012. The Wilco show was almost a disaster since I ran into traffic somewhere in Indiana AND I forgot that there’s an hour time difference, but I still made it in time for Yo La Tengo’s opening set! The Bruce show was the first non-baseball event I had ever attended at Wrigley Field. No “Glory Days” that night but it didn’t even matter because the encore run of Thunder Road > Born to Run > Dancing in the Dark > Jungleland > Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out > Twist and Shout was everything. This year I’ll return to Wrigley, for Cubs games of course, but also for Foo Fighters.
Scott Kushner (@SL_Kush) instantly became the envy of the group by revealing that he GOT MARRIED in a ballpark DURING A GAME, WITH A CROWD, and then, along with his wedding party, got to be the hype/promo team for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs pics included):
All I wanted was a wedding that would be unique. Honestly. I didn’t really care where or why or how it would be unique, just that it would not blend with the endless gauntlet of weddings every late 20’s couple experiences. So, when my future mother-in-law sent me information about a wedding contest being held at the local minor league ballpark, I jumped on the chance because it fit my “unique” criteria, not because it was at a baseball field…though that didn’t hurt. Again, let the record show – this was not my idea – I did NOT force my poor wife to get married on a baseball field against her wishes.
After a grueling application process that included writing an essay, wrestling with fax machines, an inquisition, and a surprise media blitzkrieg, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs dubbed my then-fiancé and me as the winners of their inaugural wedding giveaway.
The wedding was a perfect blend of heartfelt wedding moments and kooky minor league mayhem. The ceremony was fairly standard, with the reciting of vows, exchanging of rings, and swapping of spit – even if it did take place on the infield of Coca-Cola Park in front of a few thousand strangers.
My brother/best man lost the ring on the way out to the field. We were frantically searching for it in the infield grass while my wife was being escorted down from the stands by her father. I couldn’t exactly retrace our steps to look for the ring, since a few thousand people would think I was bailing on the wedding, so I was mentally preparing to pantomime the whole thing. Finally, my brother found that the ring had somehow snuck its way into the jacket lining of his tux. He discreetly ripped the jacket to shreds just as my wife crossed into fair territory.
Once we were hitched, however, any semblance of tradition and decorum went out the window.
At the risk of being overly self-indulgent, I’ve included some pictures (who doesn’t enjoy looking at a total stranger’s wedding photos?) to better capture the scene. [Ed. note: click through the slideshow, there’s some great stuff here]
Joseph Garcia (@JosephGarciaIII) had a good one: he saw one of the best, Michael Jackson, at Dodger Stadium:
One of my favorite memories as a kid was when my dad took me to see Michael Jackson at Dodger Stadium. At the time I was six years old, the Thriller album had just come out, and Michael Jackson was my favorite musician. My dad didn’t tell me we were going to the concert until the night of, and to say I was excited would be an understatement. We finally arrived at Dodgers Stadium and found our seats, which were floor seats. My dad lifted me on his shoulders as I waited with glee to see my idol.
The spotlights hit the stage with some creepy music as these weird-looking creatures hit the stage and chased people around. I was very scared at this point and wrapped my arms around my dad’s face like I was a BJJ black belt. My dad told me to relax and that we’d be safe. At what seemed that exact moment, a man dressed in a chain mail-like suit with a mask comes on the stage and battles the monsters, eventually chasing them off the stage. The man looks at the crowd and takes off his mask to reveal himself as none other than Michael Jackson himself. I cheer wildly as the music of Thriller starts and Michael starts to sing and dance like nobody else could at the time. It was the best times of my life as a kid and a memory that I will never forget.
Bennett Aikin (@benstate) first caught the “running” bug at the Pirates’ annual 5k charity race:
I hadn’t done much earnest exercising since I was in high school when I decided to accept a work challenge to sign up for a relay team for the Pittsburgh Marathon. That basically amounted to a couch-to-10k program. As a tune up for that event, I decided to sign up for the Pirates’ 5k for charity race. That was the first organized run I’d ever taken part in. The race began on the Clemente Bridge, wound around the North Side of Pittsburgh and concluded with a lap around the warning track inside PNC Park and across the finish line at home plate. As my first experience running in a race, I was somewhat intimidated to start. But I ran well, had fun, and never lost the running bug. It’ll be five years this spring since that relay and I’m contemplating signing up for my first half marathon. I continue to use the Pirates 5k as my bellwether race each year to take stock of how my training is coming along. It even comes with a free ticket to the game on that day!
How about you? Do you have any non-baseball memories in baseball stadiums? Feel free to share below or hit us up on Twitter @BanishedToPen.
Follow the contributors on Twitter: Scott Kushner (@SL_Kush), Joseph Garcia III (@JosephGarciaIII), Bennett Aikin (@benstate), and Brandon Lee (@bleeinternets)Next post: Rob Manfred and I Are Not Starting Off on the Right Foot
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