In Praise of the Oakland Coliseum

I get it, the Oakland Coliseum isn’t the best place to watch a baseball game. There have been sewage leaks. The stadium is surrounded by parking lots, chain-link fences topped with barbed wire, and no place to hang out before or after the game. The seats are far away. Nothing about it screams like a good place to watch a game.

But there’s no accounting for the novelty of it. And the people there are second-to-none.

I went to my first game at the Coliseum in May of this year. I came in with zero expectations, and the BART ride through Oakland did nothing to increase that. Hoping off at the Coliseum stop left me wondering what the heck I was doing. To get to the stadium, you have to go down and out of the station, back up some more stairs to an open-air concrete skywalk topped by a chain-link fence to the grey Coliseum. Combine it with an overcast day and well, you get no visual stimulation.

20180722_000635

The only break you have from grey are the green and gold banners as you make your way to the stadium.

But along that walk to the stadium, I had my first encounters with A’s fans. In front of me, a couple were bringing their two young sons — who were all clad in A’s garb — to the game. Halfway through the walkway, a picnic table was set up by a local Little League team selling baked goods to support their organization. $2 for a cupcake designed like a baseball? You better believe I bought one (and it was darn good).

I went through security, which was a breeze considering it was still a couple of hours before the game, and shared a joke or two with the ushers and guards who were there.

My seat was behind home plate and I entered through centerfield, so I decided to do a lap of the stadium before heading to my assigned spot. The walk takes you through all the various stages of the 52-year-old ground. There was the old with the wide ramps and blocked off concourses. More modern were some of the suites and restaurant that provided a nice view of the field. They even had a social hangout spot for my fellow Millenials to grab a drink and chat while at the ballpark.

20180525_173445.jpg

For whatever reason, the view down the right-field line really struck me.

After I got my fill of the different views, I went to my seat — Section 217, Row 4, Seat 5. Right away, I was struck by how good the view actually was. I didn’t feel too far away from the action. Sure, Mt. Davis isn’t a great but hey, in a way, it’s become iconic.

20180525_183641.jpg

The views of the hills would have been better, but in a way, Mt. Davis has its own charm.

Seeing the monstrosity that is Mt. Davis awakened something in me. Yes, it isn’t going to help the Coliseum’s case as the best place to catch a game. Yes, there is way too much foul territory down the lines. But looking around at the field, it all hit me — this is the home to so many successful Oakland teams. I’ve watched countless playoff games from there on TV (with most involving my Yankees). There was a sense of history that you can feel that is hard to get with the newer stadiums.

Read more: My trip to Comerica Park

You walk around the stadium and it feels like you’ve traveled back to the ’80s. There’s something to be said about walking around in those concrete halls and the large seating sections that can’t be found at other stadiums. It’s really become a novelty and part of baseball history.

Maybe it was because I watched ‘Field of Dreams’ on my cross-country flight to the Bay Area, but once I was out there, I had nostalgia for ’80s baseball even though I’m a ’90s kid. And really, there’s no other place in baseball where you can get that. And what’s baseball without a sense of history?

Now, I’m not saying that the Coliseum should be the A’s permanent home. I would venture it’s not a great place to go for 81 games a year. But if you’re a baseball fan, especially a younger one, it’s definitely a place you need to go before it closes for good.

By capacity, it’s the seventh-largest stadium in the MLB with 47,170 seats, but can hold more that would make it the largest in the league.

It’s also the fourth-oldest park still in existence and second oldest in the MLB. And while it was built in 1966, it’s the ’70s and ’80s that still live nearly 40 years later. Heck, even the PA system still has that echo-y tone that makes you feel like you’re at a small high school football stadium. There’s just something neat about that.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t give some of the credit to the A’s fans, too. Their wackiness from the horns you’ll hear throughout the stands to the giant waving flags in the corner outfield is something that I haven’t seen to that magnitude at other places. A majority of them were wearing some sort of A’s sweatshirt and/or jersey with a fine mix of current and former players. I’ve always considered them among the best in the MLB and going to a game just cemented that notion in my mind.

For their sake, I do hope the A’s get a nice, smaller ballpark sometime soon. As an Atlanta resident, I’ve seen the improvements that a new stadium can make to a gameday experience.

But the notion that the Coliseum is just a dump and has no place in baseball is just wrong. I don’t know if I’ll ever get back there, but I certainly will always appreciate my trip there.

Support this blog by browsing through all my cards I have for sale. I’m on COMC here. You can check out my baseball and hockey ones here, while football and basketball are located here. For entertainment and various sports ones, check out this eCrater site.

Review: Photo Tour of Comerica Park

The general consensus among baseball fans is that PNC Park and AT&T Park are the two nicest stadiums in baseball today. Where things get interesting is when people name their third-favorite park.

After visiting Comerica Park in Detroit, I would be hard-pressed not to put it in that third spot.

Get your Detroit Tigers baseball cards here.

The first thing you notice when arriving to Comerica Park is that you’re definitely at the home of the Tigers. Sitting right next to Ford Field, the home of the Lions, Comerica is chock full of tiger status and tiger heads on the outside of the stadium. And it’s really well done.

Make sure to spend some time before the game to walk around the field and see all the different gates. Each one is designed slightly different, and there are plenty of places where you can tailgate or get a pre-game drink at one of the many bars around the park.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Getting to Comerica early gives you plenty of time to explore the various attractions at the park, and to get some great views of the field and city.

If you have young kids, you can take them to the Ferris wheel and merry-go-round that inside the park. You can also teach them about Tigers history — and maybe learn some facts yourself — with the pillars on the concourse that host some memorabilia, and highlights key players in Tigers history.

If you want even more history, venture out to the outfield. The two brick walls in that go along centerfield feature the retired numbers and honored names in Tigers’ history, and there are statues dedicated to most of them out there too.

From centerfield, you can also venture down to front row and get a good view into the bullpens. I also found myself staying there for a couple of innings, and watching the action from the railing above the shrubs in center. It gives you a great view to catch all of the action.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Once the game gets going, it’s hard to find a bad seat in the house. As mentioned before, the view from center is highly recommended and it may be hard to go to your assigned seat once the game starts.

Related: Is Justin Verlander a future Hall of Famer?

My ticket location was up in Section 338, a little past third base in the upper deck. There, you’ll get a fantastic view of the action, and can see the Detroit skyline. Even if you don’t have a ticket for that area, make a venture over there to check it out. Plus, there’s a section cut out of the seats on the other side, allowing you an ever-present view of the Fox Theater sign. That’s a nice touch.

The view from behind the plate allows you to see it all: Ford Field towering over the stadium by the left-field foul pole, the Detroit skyline, all the action going on in the bullpen. Right field has a more limited view of the skyline (which is one of the best features of having a ballpark in the city) but it is still pretty neat to have Ford Field as a constant in your sightline.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Getting to and from Comerica Park is easy too. I was staying a little north of the city, and there was minimal traffic getting to the park on the Saturday evening when I went. I parked in the Ford Field parking deck for a very reasonable $15. Was only a couple minute walk to get to Comerica too. Even though the game ended around 12:30 a.m., it was a nice and easy walk back to the parking deck, especially with the sports area being one of the best districts in Detroit. Getting back on the highway was easy too, as it took maybe 2 minutes from the time I left the deck to getting back on the interstate.

And if you want to continue to hang around the park, there are plenty of bars and restaurants for you to grab something to eat or wet your whistle.

All in all, Comerica is a must-visit for any baseball fan, and a good time for all.

Support this blog by browsing through all the baseball cardsfootball cardshockey cards, and digital cards that I have for sale at my eCrater store.