Being a Father

August 23, 2014 1 comment

Our quirky landlord said something to me the day Lydia was born.  “I learned once they come out, you can’t put them back in.”

Thoughts flooded my mind.  She, was our responsibility for the next 20 some years.  She is totally dependent on us.  She needed me now.  No more running down to the South Side for a Sox game.  No more pickup basketball games at Lombard Chapel.  (Actually marriage had somewhat eliminated some of these youthful pursuits of mine)  Will I be able to provide an adequate income to feed her/clothe her/house her/educate her/spiritually train her?  God, am I adequate for this?  He answered, yes of course, “children are a gift from the LORD” scripture says in Psalm 127:3.  If He, in His perfect wisdom gave me a child, wouldn’t He also give me what I need to carry out this overwhelming task as a father?

That day was 22 years ago.  Three more kids, three more moments of am I adequate?  More questions, boys?  I hear they’re a different animal. Where’s the instruction manual?

Thursday we took Jamie to college.  At least he’ll be close.  This morning we took John to the airport to go off to college for another year.  Lydia is a working adult, praise God, but far away too.  We do have Grace left for another two years unless she decides she would just like to live with her parents.  Everything was cool until I walked into what was the boys shared bedroom for most of their life.

The boys still have what I’ll call a bookcase of memories.  It contains trophies of athletics (go Antigo little league champion Red Sox!) academics, and some Awana trophies.  There’s a picture of a living (well dead) trophy largemouth bass John caught after ignoring my advice of where to dangle his worm!  There are souvenirs, a sharks tooth, dinosaurs made of clay, items that would never bring more than a few cents on one of those pawn shows but of great value in this house.  There’s a baseball, a game ball awarded to Jamie for “his first homerun”, a classic little league homerun on a batted ball that traveled 3 or 4 feet and then was thrown all over the park.

 

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The bookcase of memories

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The Gantz boy trophy case.

 

As I looked through the shelf a sense of nostalgia kicked in, but also a sense of satisfaction.  All those day of birth questions have been answered, or at least mostly answered.  God in His great and awesome strength had seen us through this process.  It’s been joyful, fun, hilarious, (“how bad do you have to go” we asked John in the car during hurricane season.  He replied, it’s a category 5 urinecane!)  a great adventure.   I know our job as parents never ends, but you know when we drop kids off at the airport and watch them fly away for the next 4 months, well, it’s mostly over!

So these thoughts have been rolling through my brain this week.  And then I watch the news, read the newspaper and thoughts of fathering shifts. It’s been a tragic week.  A 9 year old boy in Chicago, playing in his yard, shot.  A 7 year old boy riding in his car with his mom here in Baton Rouge, shot.  A five year old, also at home here, beat to death by his father.  Three boys no longer with us adding to their own bookcase of memories.

“How long, O LORD, must I call for help? But you do not listen! “Violence is everywhere!” I cry, but you do not come to save.”  These are not my words but of a little known prophet named Habakkuk.  He questioned God.  God answered him.  I will take care of the violence among you.  It will happen in a way you may not like, but I will take care of it.

Since my kids have been very little I have prayed for their protection.  I pray for protection from serious accidents, illnesses, harm at the hands of others and even protection from the ways of this world. But I have also prayed for God to give us His grace to comfort us and strengthen us should we need it in a case of extreme hardship regarding the children.

Please pray for children.  Not just your own.  Pray for the children who are in harms way in this dangerous world.  Better yet, get involved, particularly with children who don’t have a father, or a mother.  You probably don’t have to go far.  There’s probably kids in your church who fit this category.  Tutor if you’re able.  If you’re looking for something to do, go to your local elementary school or high school, and ask.  Counsel at camp. Look up the boys and girls club in your town and find out if volunteers are needed.  Coach if you can.  Teach Sunday School.

But don’t forget these children have parents.  When possible, come alongside them, not in an intimidating way, ie, “I’ve got it together and I’m here to help you”, but in a way that maintains their dignity, ie, “I’m a parent too, what do you do that works?”  Establishing relationships with people is a scriptural model.  Look at these words of Paul and tell me if this happens without relationships:  “We urge you brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”

As a father of children who are approaching adulthood, I now encourage them to do the same.

What’s Wrong with Baseball? (I’m taking a break from my usual topics)

August 3, 2014 Leave a comment

When my dad took me to the original Yankee Stadium in 1972 I was hooked.  What a memory!  I am still hooked.  I will forever be hooked, listening to crackling radios trying to catch a Sox score.  I used to own a scorebook and watched entire games keeping score of Cubs and Sox games.  I wouldn’t have the time to partake in such an activity these days.  No one has the time to watch an entire baseball game anymore.

Baseball is in the process of becoming irrelevant in American culture.  Just the other day I saw the ratings for a game of the week (on some Fox cable channel) was less than for an exhibition soccer match.  Here’s what’s wrong with baseball:

1.  The games are too long.  There’s a lot of reasons.  More commercials, record numbers of strikeouts (which chew up a lot of time), more time wasting batters, slow pitchers who stare at the catcher for a longgg time, and mostly, the overuse of relief pitchers.   A baseball game can end in 2 to 2 1/2 hours if they try, instead, games last on average almost three hours.  The Cubs played a 16 inning game the other night that took 6:27, which works out to 24 minutes per inning, dreadfully slow.  The next day the Sox played a 9 inning game that lasted 4:01, which works out to almost 27 minutes per inning.  Neither of these games were slugfests with lots of runs, hits, walks, etc.  

2.  It’s being shoved off the national stage.  Baseball has no one to blame but themselves for this.  Baseball is a TV sport.  It is currently the only major sport with parts of its regular season not being shown on free TV.  Fox showed some games on Saturday evenings, but now they have their Saturday telecast on FoxSports1, their cable channel.  If you don’t have cable and/or an exorbitantly priced team package, you’re out of luck.  As far as I can tell the next games on national free TV will be the World Series on Fox.  Why would Bud Selig (the commissioner who is much to blame for this) allow his sport to not be shown on free TV?  It’s continuing to contribute to the ruining of this great game.

3.  The national cable outlets that do show games favor east coast teams, and favor other sports.  I’ll talk about east coast bias for a minute.  There are three networks that show baseball games nationally, ESPN, Fox, and the MLBNetwork.  I would probably cash in on a bet that I’d be able to watch every Red Sox-Yankees game this year.  The Braves, Phillies, Nationals, Marlins, Orioles and Mets make regular appearances on these networks.  It’s to the point that I look forward to the White Sox playing the Yankees because I’m sure I’ll get to watch two, or maybe three of the games.  If I miss the action and want to watch Sportscenter to catch the highlights, I’ll probably fall asleep waiting while they cover all of the above mentioned teams.  

In 2004 the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time since1918. The media went wild.  Sports Illustrated put them on the cover three weeks in a row and then made their fans their sportsmen of the year.  A year later the White Sox ended an even longer drought, from 1917.  ESPN radio the next morning I heard the host a doofus named Colin Cowherd say he’s not going to talk about it because he doesn’t care about it.  Sports Illustrated put the Sox on the cover, albeit in a little circle in the upper right corner, while the cover featured Tom Brady, you know, the QB from Boston.  Don’t tell there’s no East Coast bias until you become a fan of a team that receives short shrift from the east media.

Baseball not only suffers from east coast myopia, but it also suffers from footballs ascendancy to the national obsession.  I do enjoy football, but prefer it more once baseball ends.  Football ends in February with the Super Bowl.  Spring training begins a week or two later.  What does ESPN talk about besides basketball (which I can’t get enough of, at least the college variety)?  The NFL draft, which is months away.  They talk about what each team needs, which stars and total no names might end up where.  They tell us about how fast some no name lineman ran, but rarely mention teams in spring training, except of course the above mentioned teams.  Bud Selig has let baseball be shoved to the curb by these media outlets and it’s nearly past the point of no return.   

4.  A system that favors large market teams.  I am amazed at the vision of the NFL to ensure that in an era of free agency small market teams like the Steelers and Packers can consistently compete for championships.  If they followed they followed the MLB model they’d have no chance.  Baseball does have an exception in St. Louis, a fantastic organization that churns out championships.  But small market teams like KC, Pitt, Mil, and a few others basically have existed as a farm system for baseballs richest teams.  This is unhealthy to say the least.

Bud Selig’s about to retire.  We need a commissioner who will fight like heck for baseball.  We need one who will tell Fox it’s not acceptable for you to stop showing baseball games when the pennant races are heating up.  We need a commissioner who will stand up and tell ESPN it’s baseball season now, stop talking about football for a minute and notice.  We need a commissioner who will tell the managers to stop changing pitchers 3 times for 3 batters and who will tell the umpires to enforce a new 20 second pitch clock that I am proposing.  We need a commissioner who will even the playing field so that every team has some hope that someday they’ll play on baseballs biggest stage.  

 

Anticipation

July 29, 2014 1 comment

The calendar reads August.  Teachers everywhere are resigned to the passing of summer and thoughts are filled with a mixture of relief- no more wasted days, my life has significance again!, dread- wake up at 5:30?, I can’t watch 11 PM episodes of Law and Order anymore because it’s too late?, fear- the kids just seem to get tougher every year, but how can it be tougher than last?, to excitement- staff meetings, and state standards!  And then we look at the calendar to the next vacation!

What I really left out of that list was the anticipation of the new school year.  All but the most calloused of us genuinely look forward to starting another year.  Lessons learned from last years challenging class will make this years challenging classes easier, right?  Maybe a different schedule is what we’re looking forward to, sure would be nice to have last hour for planning.  New colleagues, new administrators, but mostly new student’s.

Our hard working guidance department has the student schedules lined up as best they can. Administrators have worked out staff schedules. 

And on August 11 they’ll appear.  Into my classroom will walk approximately 150 students, some eager to learn, some not so, some not sure.  I believe they’re divinely appointed. They’ve been appointed to me by God. 

And here’s what I mean.  Through the years I have had numerous students who I have been blessed to be able to teach.  Students like a Frelisha and Brandie and Sherree and Michael and Travis, and Jonathan made going to work easier.  They truly touched my life as I watched them for a couple of years. 

There was Walter and Jamie and Topeka and Demond and Greg and LaDarrion who gave me street names and Terrance who said yes sir to me 1000 times, each and every time after I reprimanded him for some misdeed. 

Who will be the next Cinderella, who was absolutely as wonderful a young woman as her name sounded?  Who will walk in my door like Kerry who had a focus and determination to beat the odds and receive that diploma? 

Who will make me smile like Carter who copied a paper from a website that was written in German and turned it in?  (His severe reading issues were on full display that time). Or Jerome who thanked me for my teaching him with a line I use now, “If you ever need a kidney let me know.”  Who will grab me around the neck with his tree trunk sized arms like Big Nick and tell me to give him a better grade? 

I want to go on, there’s so many good memories of these children who have enriched my life these last 8 years.  Who will be the next Leondell whose infectious smile reflects his love of the LORD and his love and respect for you as a person?  Who will be the next Jericho or Terry to laugh at my jokes? 

What hour will another Lavar or Shaniqua, or Karry come in and push me to work hard for them so that they will also work hard like they did?  When will my next David or Erwin appear and express like they did how much they appreciated their school and my class? 

I’d guess in no class ever again will I have three students named Arnesha, Ernesha and Ernisia like I did one year in my 3rd hour.  But I hope I have students like them who will give back like they did. 

So who will be next?  Obviously I’ve left out a couple of names, a couple have been changed.  Frankly, I can’t remember a lot of the names, even of those who had a significant impact on me and what I do.  I only pray that in the coming year I will be used by God to be a teacher who touches students in the way that I’ve been touched by them. 

Update:  It’s been happening for a week now!

My Jubilee Birthday

The couple was growing old together. Routines were settled long ago. They knew each other like their favorite movie. One night she asked him to get her a piece of toast from the kitchen. He went to the kitchen, and brought her back a plate of bacon. She looked at him like he’d lost his mind and said, “you’re getting so old and forgetful, don’t you remember I asked you for a dish of ice cream?”

The old person jokes are getting more frequent at my expense. My students, I guess because of my ‘distinguished’ graying hair frequently think I’m in my 60’s, or even 70’s or 80’s! A friend today commented my age has caught up with my hair!

After an enjoyable day of reflection, old man jokes, just a youngun comments from my older friends, not to mention my free birthday sundae at Culvers, phone calls from family, and letting my family cater to my every need (Janice says this happens every day), I finally am sitting down to ponder a little bit of what turning 50 means to me.

I don’t take it for granted. Like everyone, I’ve known people who’ve died well before their normal lifespan would allow them to live. One of the realities of where I work is that I have more conversations than I’d like with students whose parent, or sometimes even parents are no longer living. The news is filled with stories of death worldwide from all sorts of causes. Why hasn’t this been a reality for me? I’d like to say it’s God’s love, or grace, or mercy, but his love, grace and mercy have been dispensed in equal amounts to dear brothers and sisters who had heartbreaking losses in their own lives or families. And yet it is very true that I am here today, my fiftieth birthday because of His love, and grace and mercy.

Israel used to have a law that was supposed to be practiced. It was called the jubilee. You’ve probably heard about it, and like me, never given it much thought. We have a different economy and culture than what the Jews practiced 4000 years ago. Yet, as part of scripture, we can’t brush it off as some sort of old law that Christ fulfilled (which He did by the way!). We have to apply this living and active word to our lives today.

So in my knowledge the jubilee is the only mention of 50 years in scripture. On my 50th birthday, I’m looking at it as a jubilee of sorts. The jubilee was a law of justice in Israel. You can read all about it in Leviticus 25. The key part of jubilee law was the return of property to people who had lost their property in settlements of debts. Since land was inherited and passed down, the ownership of this land was important to the Jews. The jubilee was designed to prohibit the accumulation of much wealth and also prevent the fall into intergenerational poverty that plagues our world today.

A second aspect of the jubilee was the freeing of servants, sometimes referred to as slaves. This was in no way an American style slavery system. God would never permit such an atrocity to happen. Instead, sometimes people, when becoming poor, would become servants, or slaves to pay off debts. At the jubilee, the slaves were to be freed.

When Jesus died on the cross, he performed the work that the jubilee accomplished. People in debt to sin, enslaved to sin, were set free by that singular act. Praise God for that!

So on my 50th, my jubilee birthday if you will, how do I make this a year of jubilee? Well, to start with, my debt has been paid. My eternal inheritance is secure (I Peter 1:4). So how can I be the one doing acts of jubilee for others?

I imagine, when/if the jubilee law was followed (and there’s some evidence it never really was practiced in Israel) that those receiving their land back, their property, their freedom must have had quite the celebration with their restoration. It must have been an emotional time as people realized what was rightfully there’s being returned. Slaves coming back freely to their families and friends had great reason to celebrate, much more than I celebrated today!

So in my 50th year, I can help bring about the thrill of debts settled by being a witness of Jesus to others. It’s a thrill to be with someone who is making a decision to accept the jubilee that Jesus represents and enter a new life as a eternally secure person. Note to self, pray for others who need Christ. Pray for spiritual sensitivity to the strangers I also meet along the way

In many ways the recipients of the jubilee were given fresh starts. Maybe some who were in poverty were there because of foolish decisions being made. How can I, as a school teacher, be in position to give others a fresh start? Forgiving others is one way. Encouraging others who have been burdened by some sort of struggle is another way. It’s going to mean being more intentional in the way I live.

Thanks to all of you who read this and have made the first 50 years of my life truly wonderful!

March Madness, Gladness and Sadness

March 23, 2014 Leave a comment

March Madness is basketball.  Awesome amazingly fun games.  Too many memories to bore you with here but two Kansas championships are the highlights!

March gladness.  We are to be glad as Psalm 100 has instructed us.  “Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.”  

March sadness.  I lost two grandparents in March.  But there is gladness in knowing that with each day I am getting closer to a time that we will be reunited.  This is the hope of resurrection spoken of in I Corinthians 15.

March madness.  School teachers scramble to prepare students for high stakes testing next month.  Here, teachers are evaluated partially on how well those students perform on the test.  Madness is when a new student arrives in my classroom from Vietnam.  He does not speak English, but he must take the test and when he inevitably fails the state will say I failed in teaching him.

March gladness.  Although it’s late this year in Louisiana, it means Azaleas.  Never thought I’d look forward to the blooming of flowers but it is a sight to see!  Come on down friends and family and check it out!

March sadness.  A former student of mine is in the news for the third time since I had him a year ago.  Involved in two shootings, one fatal, and then the other day he got shot.  Sadness for his life, for the lives he’s affected, and for the life lost in the shooting this past week.  A 17 year old is on the run from that shooting, the brother of another student I’ve taught.  Who will stand in the gap as Ezekiel 22:30 put it:  “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.”  

March gladness.  Psalm 30:11-12  Hear, O LORD, and be gracious to me; O LORD, be my helper.” You have turned for me my mourning (sadness) into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

 

 

 

 

Why didn’t I think of that?

September 17, 2013 Leave a comment

Have you ever had the experience of seeing something for the first time that has been right in front of you for many years?  I lived in a pink bedroom for a year once and didn’t notice it until my wife mentioned she was surprised I’d tolerated a pink bedroom for that year, granted it wasn’t hot pink, but I was still oblivious.

This has been happening to me a lot lately it seems.  In Louisiana we have these wonderful little creatures called Anoles, they’re a small lizard.  I’ve enjoyed watching them, getting them out of the house, once with his squirming little tail still left in my hand.  As I’ve watched them I’ve seen them do things that I’ve never stopped and said ‘Wow’!  Anoles are like chameleon’s.  They change color!  They can instantly change to blend into the background of where they are.  I’m not sure if they’d gotten into our pink bedroom that they would have had that ability.  Another amazing ability of the anole is what you can see in the picture.  The anole is ‘standing’ on the ceiling of our front porch.  I guess hanging is the more appropriate term.  Not sure what he’s hanging on.  The vinyl is very smooth.  If I’d reach up it’d scurry away upside down and change red as it hits the red brick on the house.  What we take for granted is truly amazing.  God, I believe, had designed these amazing little common creatures to confound us, and I’m sure many have as they ponder how they ‘adapted’ these abilities.

100_3236In case you’re not too impressed try hanging upside down from the ceiling in your living room!  Be sure to comment with video included in the comments section!

Something else I’ve not thought of lately is the lyrics of words that are on the radio.  I recall just out of high school I was driving with some of my high school buddies.  A song came on with a chorus of “feel like making love”.  Needless to say it wasn’t Christian radio, and really to that point in my transition to adulthood I sure hadn’t thought of what these words are really saying.  Well, it’s still happening to me with songs on the radio, now with Christian radio, or songs about Christianity on the radio.   A few years back it was a song with a line “I am a flower quickly fading”.  Well I hear something about me being a flower and I’m tuning out.  Give me songs with words like “Onward Christian Soldiers”, “A mighty fortress…” and my attention is fully engaged, but not some flowery song.  Well at youth group this song pops up on the powerpoint.  I listened in awe of these words.   The song is called Who Am I?  Here’s what the song says:

Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt.
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart.

Not because of who I am
But because of what You’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done
But because of who You are

What had been background noise on the radio as I scurried around in the car was enlightened by the Holy Spirit in my mind as I watched a roomful of junior highers sing these tremendous words.  How could I have missed this for years because I hear something about flowers and tune out?

Well I didn’t learn my lesson.  It happened again Saturday night.  We attended the last session of a wonderful conference called the CCDA.  The Christian Community Development Association is an organization that works with underserved and oppressed peoples around the world.   The CCDA has some family connections and is at least partially responsible for us moving to Baton Rouge.  One of the highlights of the conference are the times of joyous worship.  We sang another one of these radio songs Saturday night.  Just on in the background of my trips around town or in the house, I never stopped to hear the words.  But listen to these!

“Your Great Name”

Lost are saved; find their way; at the sound of your great name
All condemned; feel no shame, at the sound of your great name
Every fear; has no place; at the sound of your great name
The enemy; he has to leave; at the sound of your great name
 Jesus, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us, Son of God and Man
You are high and lifted up; that all the world will praise your great name
All the weak; find their strength; at the sound of your great name
Hungry souls; receive grace; at the sound of your great name
The fatherless; they find their rest; at the sound of your great name
Sick are healed; and the dead are raised; at the sound of your great name
Jesus, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us, Son of God and Man
You are high and lifted up; that all the world will praise your great name
Redeemer, My Healer, Almighty
My savior, Defender, You are My KingYou can watch it here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCg3HU1jhVAWhen will I learn?  I wonder how many times I’ve heard this song before singing it Saturday night?  Probably more than 10.  A song that extols the amazing love and saving grace and might of Jesus Christ is just background noise?  I pray this won’t happen again, although it probably will.

One last realization I’ve recently had.  I am beginning my 20th year of teaching students in many challenging settings.  20 years, the number struck me.  God has sustained me for 20 years.  20 years ago I would have said I could not do this for 20 years.  I’ll just do my time for a year or two so that I can brag that I taught some tough kids for a couple years, then move on to one of the Glenbards or Wheaton schools and settle in for a nice comfortable career.  Except that’s not what happened.  Now I have acknowledged God’s role in all of this before this 20 year benchmark, but it struck me the other day.  20 years, not by my strength, but by His.  I know I can’t go on for another year doing this, but I do know that He will empower me to go on for many more years!  I’m young!  And I’m learning to see what He wants me to see!

Baseball stadiums ranked

August 2, 2013 Leave a comment

A lot of guys like me dream about doing a baseball park vacation.  I want to see multiple baseball stadiums.  I don’t want to see multiple football stadiums or basketball arenas.  Sure they’re nice, but the uniform rule book for those sports leads to most stadiums in those sports looking relatively the same.  Not baseball.  Dimensions vary widely,   The seating arrangements are different.  The fields look different.  Oakland has acres of foul territory, Wrigley and Fenway have very little.  The Polo Grounds in New York had a 258 foot right field wall and a 475 foot center field wall and a 290 foot left field wall.

I’m going to rank the stadiums, my viewpoint, debate me if you’d like.  Your favorite should have been 25th instead of 28th?  Tell me why!  So here goes.

#1  Wrigley Field.  Those who know me know this is also my least favorite baseball team.  But it’s a gorgeous place, great views of the city from certain viewpoints, the ivy, bleachers, daytime baseball more often than not.  The bleachers, the hand operated scoreboard, the organ.  Hard to say anything bad about the place.  Pictures are my cousins and high school friends. Permission to use pictures not granted, I’ll ask them someday.

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Image# 2 on my list is Pittsburgh’s beautiful PNC park.  Family ties make me a little partial to Pittsburgh but they did a great job building this stadium.  Classic design with a view of Pittsburgh right across the river.  The view is the thing there no doubt.  Like McCovey cove beyond San Francisco’s park, the Allegheny River flows directly behind the right field wall.  Just like the streets outside Wrigley fans hang out there either on foot or in the water hoping for a souvenir. The baseball’s finally catching up to the park and it hopefully will become a familiar site on tv during the playoffs and world series.  Thanks to cousin John for this view!

Image#3 is a tough call.  I’ll go with tradition and make Fenway the next on my list.  The green monster with the hand operated scoreboard, the generous home run wall down the right field line, the left field foul wall caroming balls crazily into left field, the smallest upperdeck in baseball, and the sunsplashed right field bleachers all make for a memorable park that is high on my list.

#4  ATT park in San Francisco.  Beeeyouteeful.  San Francisco doesn’t deserve such a great stadium because they have so much nice going on there, weather, bridges, mountains, fog, etc, but they sure have one.  The above mentioned McCovey Cove introduced kayakers into the web of major league fandom.

#5  Comiskey Park.  I won’t call it US Cellular.  I actually don’t like the place but of all my sports allegiances, the Sox are the team I absolutely couldn’t live without!  The park is ok, doesn’t hold a candle to the old park.  The food is very good, but I can’t afford it.  I do like the exploding scoreboard, the kids area in left field which actually offers a great view of the park.  The center field dining area with tables above the hitters backdrop is a nice touch too, but alas, the cheap seats are upstairs and they guard the lower deck from the riff raff better than Fort Knox.  I’ll keep going when I can and cheering on the 2005 World Series champions!

A few pics from a visit back on 08ImageImageImageThe city view is from the balcony outside the upper deck.  Now why didn’t they build this park with that as the view?

This is where the list gets tougher.

#6  Busch Stadium  in St. Louis Another stadium built to look old that somehow makes you think the traditions have been there all along.  I’ve walked around the stadium and it’s neat that you can see into the stadium from the sidewalk.  I’d imagine the view gets blocked during games.  The arch mown into the grass is a cool touch, and it seems they’re always playing October baseball so you get to see it a lot.

#7  Comerica in Detroit.  Like Pittsburgh it brought the view of downtown into the stadium.  (Why couldn’t the Sox have done that?)  Don’t know much about the park, but it is nice to look at.

#8  Dodger stadium  An old stadium.  I like the zigzag roof above the outfield seats and the see through fence behind homeplate which makes fans look like they’re sitting right on the edge of the field.  Big and spacious, it’s a park I’d like to see someday.  Picture of my friend Sean and his family.

Image#9  Yankee stadium  Really did a great job of repicating the old stadium.  Of course it’s debatable whether they needed to rebuild it.  My first baseball game, way back in 1972 was in old, old Yankee Stadium.  I won’t post pictures of all these parks but this shows the classic touches put into the park.

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#10  Kauffman  Nice ‘older’ park that has a mallpark feel to it that actually works well.  It’s a pretty place to watch a game, the fountains in center are what it’s best known for.

#11  Coors in Denver.  The nod to the Rocky Mountains in the outfield is a nice touch, and goodness do those baseballs fly far in that thin mountain air.

#12  Angels stadium  Outfield is interesting with the rocky landscape beyond left field where Paulie homered twice in the 05 playoffs.

#13  Camden Yards Baltimore.  Should be higher on this list because of the unique park it was when it opened.  It was the first retro park.  The large warehouse that looks like a giant red monster type wall in right is what it’s known for.  Would really like to visit this park.

#14  Great American Ball park.  Cincinnati’s palace on the Ohio River is intriguing with some nice views.  Great name for a park!

#15-27  All the rest.  Some are retro parks which look beautiful but just joined the trend towards retro.  Some have nice touches like the train on top of the wall in Houston or the trains that roar outside the wall in Seattle.  Bernie the Brewer sliding into the beer mug is classic as are the sausage races, but the stadium is pretty nondescript.  The hill in Houston’s center field is interesting too as is the tomahawk chopping Chick Filet cow on the roof of Atlanta’s Turner field.  I like Cleveland’s toothbrush looking lightpoles and the centerfield backdrop at the Rangers home has always intrigued me.  Phoenix has a very cool looking path between the pitchers mound and home and a swimming pool in center field but that doesn’t save it’s otherwise drab interior.  The Twins did good by ditching the dreadful Metrodome and I’d rate their digs closer to 15 on this list.

#28  Rogers Center Toronto  Large retractable roof stadium which saw a lot of very good baseball in the 80’s and 90’s, but there’s not much to remember that place for.  Watch Joe Carters historic homer in ’93 into some hallway and you’ll understand how bad this park is.  Home runs should land in bleachers, not some formless void.

#29  Oakland Coliseum  A football stadium doesn’t work for baseball.  Ugly.

#30  Tropicana Field Tampa  The worst for so many reasons.  It’s domed and ugly.  No one goes there even though the Rays win more than 90 games every year and could win the World Series this year.  It has wires on the roof that interfere with balls in play.  But worst of all, this horrid stadium is what the White Sox threatened to leave Chicago to inhabit.  Oh my, I’d never recover from that happening!

Any major league park would entice me to go and watch a game.  They’re special places, even the bad ones have their own charms I suppose.  But some of these baseball palaces stand out.  Time for a road trip!

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