On my geas to visit all of the Major League Baseball parks in the U.S. and Canada, I have some rules, one being to eat local food. Well, my dad just sent an article from tomorrow's New York Times that suggests I should always eat at the park:
Hot dogs and peanuts still rule the food court, but I spotted signs of progress almost everywhere on my road trip. There were concessionaires that served humanely raised meat from the fashionable purveyor Niman Ranch. Phillies fans drank beer from biodegradable cups made of corn, and a few might even have filled their cars with biodiesel made from the park’s used fryer oil after the game. And dishes from other baseball-loving cultures have made inroads, like tonkatsu, Japanese fried pork cutlets; sweet-fried plantains from Latin America; and pressed Cuban sandwiches.
Yesterday, though, I had a dog and—it still pains me to think of it—Miller Lite. That's what my hosts served, so that's what we had.
It had to happen some time. Tonight, though not officially part of my 29-park geas, I attended a, well, that is, I went to, um, you see, I was invited to go to a White Sox game. So, yeah.
If you're not from Chicago, you may have trouble understanding why this felt so odd for me. I grew up on the North Side. I'm a Cubs fan. In 37 years I've never taken the El below Cermak Road. And yet, tonight, I went to the Cell.
The upside: I can now actually go to all 30 parks that Major League Baseball accepts as their own, including the unfortunate one at 35th and State. But let me tell you, it wasn't easy, not least because the home team won.
Via Time Out Chicago, Northwestern Univ. senior lecturer Pamela Bannos has created an art project chronicling Lincoln Park's development—and how the city "forgot" an entire cemetery which still exists under its fields.
I finally found the box containing my mother's journals and appointment calendars from 1971 to 1976, 1980 to 1982, and 1990 to 2004. I already had 2005 and 2006, so this fills in a lot. (She stopped writing in late 2006 because she could no longer hold a pen.) Somewhere there's one more box, I hope, but this is by no means certain.
The contents are mostly mundane. One interesting nugget: I finally found the date I first took an airplane flight. On 19 April 1974, at age 3½, I flew from Chicago to Los Angeles with my dad. I'll have to do the math later, but it looks like I've spent about 11 months of my life in L.A. altogether, which is about what I figured.
More later. It's hot, and I'm running late for dinner.
What a day in Chicago. Since this time yesterday:
These are just some of the reasons why this city rocks.
Since my dad lives outside San Francisco, I took him to the second park on my 30-baseball-park geas. He hasn't been to a professional baseball game in years, despite working walking distance from AT&T Park. Something about preferring football. I have no idea why.
So, yesterday, I dragged him kicking and screaming to see the Padres play the Giants.
San Diego won 5-1, which is the sort of thing that happens when the visiting team goes through the entire lineup in the first inning. Pat Misch pitched the whole game, mainly because after his horrible first inning he actually held the Padres off until the 9th:
I liked the park. And I had local food: one of the concessions serves Chinese, so I had some orange chicken on rice. First time I ever ate anything with chopsticks at a baseball game. AT&T Park also had some very good local (or at least California) beers, including Lagunitas IPA and Mendocino Brewing Co. Red Tail ale.
Next up, U.S. Cellular Field back home. I had thought of visiting all 29 other parks and calling the quest complete, as living my entire life without ever seeing the White Sox in person sounded like a good idea. However, a business associate invited me to his company party at the Cell next Friday, so at least I can live my entire life without paying for a White Sox ticket. (If you don't live in Chicago, you may not understand that I'm only half-kidding.)
 I visited five parks before making plans to see all of them.