John Royal's Top 25 Random Baseball Facts
There's this new list craze going around Facebook in which you list 25 random things about yourself. And the geniuses at the Big League Stew baseball blog got hold of this and made it into a list of 25 Random Things About Yourself As It Relates to Baseball. Thus...
1. I am happiest in a baseball stadium. I've got no fears, no problems, no troubles. The only thing that exists for me is the baseball game.
2. I worked for the Houston Astros scoreboard/video crew from 1988 through the 2001 season. And when the games were in the Astrodome, I had the best seat in all of baseball. Third level, above home plate. On the front row of a tiny booth. And the entire field was spread out before me.
3. Yet, in all of that time, and in a life of attending baseball games for over 40 years, I have never been at a no-hitter.
4. I have never forgiven my mother for being at Mike Scott's no-hitter against the San Francisco Giants in 1986,
5. I have been in the stands for a triple play. The location was the Metrodome in Minneapolis, and the Minnesota Twins were hosting the Seattle Mariners on May 27, 2006. The Twins got the triple play in the top of the eighth to bail themselves out of a big jam.
6. I survived an extra inning night game at San Francisco's Candlestick Park. I've never been colder or more miserable at a baseball game in my life, and I've sat in cold, raining games in Detroit and Cleveland.
7. That said, if I could choose my home baseball stadium, it would be San Francisco's AT&T Park. Great sightlines. Great views. Great food. Great city.
8. The closest that I've been to a no-hitter was on April 27, 1988 when the Houston Astros hosted the Philadelphia Phillies. Nolan Ryan was the pitcher for the Astros, and he was throwing a no-hitter into the ninth inning. The no-hitter was lost with one out remaining when Mike Schmidt singled. The Astros won the game 3-2 in the 10th inning.
9. The most memorable game I've ever been at was on June 3, 1989 when the Astros hosted the Los Angeles Dodgers. The game went 22 innings and lasted over seven hours before the Astros got the 5-4 win. Oral Hershiser pitched seven innings in relief for the Dodgers, and Fernando Valenzuela was playing at first base when the Astros scored the winning run. Bill Doran scored from second base when Rafael Ramirez singled over Valenzuela.
10. But my favorite day of baseball was on July 7, 2003. I was at Yankee Stadium for a day game as the Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 2-1. Then I hopped the subway and made it to Shea Stadium for a night game between the Mets and Atlanta Braves, which the Braves won 7-3.
11. I learned this little tidbit at that Yankee game (from a guy who had a brother who worked for Aramark): never, ever, purchase a hot dog from one of those vendors walking the aisles before the third inning, otherwise you'll be buying a hot dog from yesterday's game.
12. The best baseball player I've ever seen is Barry Bonds.
13. The best Houston Astro that I've ever seen is Jeff Bagwell.
14. The best baseball stadium that I've ever been to is Camden Yards in Baltimore.
15. There's nothing like studying for the Bar Exam while sitting in the press box and listening to the sounds of batting practice.
16. Then again, there's nothing like discussing literature in the press dining room with Larry Dierker.
17. I still haven't forgiven the Astros for firing Gene Elston.
18. On Memorial Day 1990, the Houston Astros were hosting the St. Louis Cardinals. I was working the DiamondVision slow mo that day. There was an Astros on third base, and one out. I had to cut to a camera of the running coming into score, so I did. I didn't pay attention to the play at first base where the umpire missed a call. The umpire didn't like it when Whitey Herzog came out to argue with him and pointed to the DiamondVision. We were shut down for the rest of the game.
19. I take a scorebook with me to every baseball game.
20. One of my most surprising days at a game was at spring training in 1999. For a lark I went to see the Detroit Tigers play the Toronto Blue Jays. I didn't have a ticket. I went to buy one, and this guy gave me his extra for free. I got to spend the rest of the day with the Mayo Smith Society, a hard core group of Tiger baseball fans.
21. But the most surprising game I attended was in May 7, 1993. The Astros lost to the Reds that night, but the scoreboard/video crew threw me a surprise party because I was graduating from law school that weekend.
22. Greg Maddux is the greatest pitcher I've watched. But the most dominating was Randy Johnson for those two months in 1998 when he was with the Houston Astros.
23. I despise Tommy Lasorda. One of my jobs was to prepare lineups for the DiamondVision. And just about every game Lasorda would turn in a lineup that would be distributed to us and the press, and just about every game, about ten minutes before the first pitch, he would change the entire thing.
24. I was surprised that I liked the White Sox' U.S. Cellular Field as much as I did. I had heard that it was an awful dump, but I liked it a lot more than I like Minute Maid Park.
25. Memo to ESPN, Fox, the MLB Network, etc.: the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees aren't the only teams in major league baseball.