Monday, August 18, 2008

The Worst Seats At The Game

The previous post has me thinking about the best and worst seats in which I've ever had the fortune or misfortune to sit. The best? Either right behind home plate or first row, upper deck, first base line at Tiger Stadium. The worst: first base line, Municipal Stadium in Cleveland.

It was October 3, 1993, and the White Sox were in town for the last baseball game ever played in the old joint. I had been there a couple of times before when less than 10,000 showed up, but on this day over 72,000 were crammed in to say goodbye to the place hardly any them had patronized during baseball season. My buddy Ethan snagged three tickets so he, his little brother Ben, and I got in my 1987 Cavalier RS and drove up to Cleveburg to catch the game, armed no doubt with a nice assemblage of cassette tapes for the 135 mile journey.

Our seats were way back in the lower deck along the first base line. The upper deck hung low above us, and the backside of some more recent-vintage luxury boxes hung lower still, a few dozen yards in front of us. The effect of all of this was that any ball hit higher than, say, 15 feet in the air was completely obstructed from view, requiring us to watch the fielders to see if we could guess where the play was going to be. It was simply atrocious.

The only upside to these tickets was that we got to see Bob Hope up close and personal as he made his way from his luxury box down to the field to sing "Thanks for the Memories" after the game. When he ambled along the walkway running behind the boxes, the whole section cheered, overjoyed to actually see something interesting. As his wobbly version of his signature song attested, Hope was already circling the drain in 1993, but he lifted up his cane, smiled and gave us a bit of a wave.

The next season Ethan and I took in the third ever game at Jacobs Field. Again, we sat along the first base line, but this time the seats were primo, and the David Cone-Dennis Martinez duel was even better.

What are the worst seats you've ever had?

30 comments:

Grant said...

Upper deck at the Trop, probably. What a miserable stadium.

Jay said...

Yankee Stadium, Sec 36, Row S. Out in left field, upper deck, about 3 or 4 rows from the top. The bottoms of our feet were probably 20 feet above the tip of the foul pole.

--or--

Fenway Park, Patriot's Day 2004, Sec 18, relatively deep in the section. If I sat all the way back in my seat, one of the support beams perfectly blocked my view of home plate, so depending on whether the batter was right or left handed, I spent the whole game leaning one way or the other.

Anonymous said...

About 1 out of 4 seats in Shea is like the seats you describe at the old Cleveland Stadium. They are called "back rows" and are generally $10. In addition to being obstructed, they face centerfield (where the 50 yard line would be for a football game). As such, you can ONLY see groundballs up the middle. My brother had playoff seats there for the "Grand Slam Single" and missed the whole thing because everyone stood up.

This stadium was built in 1964!

Good riddance.

tHeMARksMiTh said...

Back row of lower deck in left field of Cinergy Stadium. Couldn't see a damn thing.

Ethan said...

I'd totally forgotten that Bob was up on the luxury box catwalk right above us before he went out on the field for his schtick. I totally remember that after he starting driving around in the golf cart and singing somewhere about 450 feet from us while a bunch of Clevelanders stood around in awe that Something Was Happening in their town, you and Ben and I looked at each other, said, "it's not gonna get any better than this, and the traffic will suck" and blew town. We were probably 80 miles down I-71 before the last grumpy Lumina driver was out of that endless stadium parking lot.

Tracy said...

Sitting in the back of the lower deck at the original Comiskey Park was a pain because you couldn't follow foul balls, but you were right on top of the game.

The worst seats I remember were in what is now US Cellular Field - the last row in the right field corner of the upper deck prior to the renovation. You felt like you were closer to the Sears Tower than the game on the field.

Alex said...

Last year my buddy got seats in the first row behind the Nats dugout at RFK. I had my feet up on the dugout for much of the game, and before the game one of the Nats' coaches tossed me a ball. I was also decked out in Braves gear, and was directly mocked by the Nats' mascot while he was dancing on the dugout. I firmly believe Chipper heard me yell "Big fly Chipper!" before knocking one out to left field. Needless to say my friends were mortified by my antics. I found out later these were James Carville's season tickets.

My worst seats ever were probably also at RFK -- way up in the RF side of the upper deck. We were behind the video board, and couldn't even see Francoeur steal a homerun (I assume that's what happened, but I'll never be sure).

The Common Man said...

Great question. My worst seats were definitely at the Metrodome. Upper deck in right field. You can't see much past the first baseman because of the precipitous drop at the bottom of the section. To make matters worse, you're so high up that you get a close-up look at the dome itself, in all its ugly beige glory, just praying for a gust of wind to rip the top off so you can see blue sky.

Mike said...

My worst are the same as yours. I was even at the same Bob Hope finale game. However, those seats under the overhang at Municipal Stadium were also my family's season tickets, so I saw many games from there in '92 and '93. Not good times.

Alex said...

i have to agree about shea...those are the worst seat ever.

Craig Calcaterra said...

Ethan -- thank you very much for not mentioning the fact that I keyed one of those Luminas for parking too close to the 87 Cavy.

Mike -- I hope that you at least got good season tickets at the Jake for having endured two years of Municipal.

Peter said...

In the late '90s, when the Indians were selling out every game, my family drove up to Detroit to see the Tribe play the Tigers at Tiger Stadium. We had bought tickets right behind home plate, quite a few rows back, and couldn't see anything beyond the infield.

Luckily, the place was completely empty so the ushers let us move around.

Craig Calcaterra said...

Peter -- I was spoiled. I had an uncle with seats that were maybe five or six rows back, so it was a great view. I realize that overhang probably screwed a lot of people.

Osmodious said...

I'm a tall guy...not ridiculously tall at 6'3", but a few inches taller than average...so my answer to the 'worst seat in a stadium' quesion is, invariably, "All of them." Went to a Broadway show on Saturday (hey, it had to happen sooner or later...I didn't pay, so it was fine), and it was even worse there...thank heavens I was on the aisle (though sitting sideways for 3 hrs wasn't great).

At the theater I said the same thing I said last time at Yankee Stadium (in $300 seats 15 rows behind home plate)...when are venue designers going to recognize the fact that Americans are LARGE people? I know, I know...smaller seats means you can cram more of them into a given space, but at some point people just stop going because it just plain sucks to be that uncomfortable.

Some of the newer stadia have that 'stadium seating' thing, where each row is much higher than the last (especially in the nosebleed seats)...but with many of them you wind up kneeing the head of the person in front of you, if you have long legs.

So, I guess for me, the worst seats I experience these days are those over other peoples' houses...where I can't claim sole possession of the remote control!

Osmodious said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Osmodious said...

Had an opportunity to beat Jason to the punch with a one liner, but had to launch into my 'I hate being cramped' monologue...

The one liner: The worst seats at a baseball game? The ones behind some Red Sox fans!

(sorry for the religious humor there, I just couldn't resist though...actually, now that I think about it, the view and the comfort level aren't the only factors that impact the enjoyability of a stadium experience. The concessions, parking, trek to your seats, and co-spectators DO factor in as well. I was at a minor league game once where there was great baseball being played, but the apathetic fans in the packed house (why were they even there?) really ruined the whole experience.)

Dre said...

All the old ballparks have the obstructed seats or the seats underneath the upper deck where you can't see any ball that gets up in the air. Wrigley has at least 10k pretty worthless seats if you're going to actually watch the game.

Daniel said...

Upper deck seats on the first base side at US Cellular in Chicago. Not only did the seats feel like they were miles away, but we couldn't get on the lower levels to even look around. I understand not letting you go down into the seats if you don't have tickets, but we couldn't even walk around the lower concourse and see the rest of the stadium. Worst stadium experience I've had, and I've been to 14 of them.

Michael said...

Way back lower deck in front of a pillar at Wrigley when I saw a Cubs-Sox game in 2003.

Anonymous said...

APBA Guy-

Dodgers at Pirates, ca 1960 Forbes Field. Upper deck, left field line, went with my uncles. I was about 7, and there was one seat behind a support beam. Guess who got that seat?

Couldn't see anything but the rain, but I remember Jonny Podres beat the Buccos. My uncles were furious, but quietly I was very pleased.

Of course, the Pirates won it all that year.

But my personal lesson was to never sit behind a damn beam, and as an adult, I've always spent a little extra to get better seats.

Loztralia said...

At Loftus Road, home of my football team - QPR - in London, the front half dozen or so rows of seats in the main stand were actually in front of the furthest extent of the roof, meaning that in wet weather they had no shelter at all unless the wind was blowing from behind the stand.

Which isn't of itself especially bad, but if it was raining and there was no wind at all, one unfortunate row also received the benefit of all the run-off from the poorly drained roof. I once spent two hours perched on the very edge of one of these seats while a steady flow of water cascaded down behind me, splashing my back and - if I relaxed for a second - falling down the back of my neck.

Matt Mitchell said...

Top row, farthest seat from the aisle, farthest section from home plate, upper deck, third base line, Wrigley on a cold, windy day.

Mr. Thursday said...

My worst and best revolve around a single game at Fenway a couple of years ago. I unwittingly bought this exact seat (and the one next to it):

http://cache.boston.com/bonzai-fba/Globe_Photo/2005/06/17/1119017844_3356.jpg

Upon learning that, I managed to switch out to some outfield seats. However, the Sox were getting killed, and the game suffered constant rain all night, so the home fans cleared out, and the fiance and I moved into the third row from the Sox batters box. Outstanding.

The Vet, in Philadelphia, was fun in that there were literally no good seats. The lower level featured obstructed views on flyballs (thanks to the balcony), as well as wildly expensive seats that still seemed super far from the action closer to the ground. The upper deck required a radio to tell you what was going on, because falcons can't make out a game at that height. Of course, if you were 15 and just trying to kill off a summer afternoon, you can do worse than following the shade around the upper deck for 3 hours.

Joe said...

Wrigley Field: OBSTRUCTED VIEW. You know what that means.

John said...

Back in the heat of Fernandomania the Dodgers came to Chicago, and I had - HAD - to experience the experience. Got lower box, some section, seats 12 and 13. I wondered if I had been swindled, since at the time seats in those sections only went from 1 to 12. But no, the seats were legit, if not good. In the absolute corner of left field there was room for one extra seat due to the angle - seat 13. I got to pound the foul pole for fun the entire game.

ribender said...

Third row from the top of the right field upper deck in the last seat of the row at the Cell (I used to call it new Comiskey, but that does a disservice to the old one). Had I moved over three feet, I would have fallen a good 150 feet. Far enough away that on a grounder to short, the crack of the bat could not be heard until the ball got to the infield dirt. And the only reason I knew the ball got to the infield dirt was because of the small cloud of dust that flew up when the ball hit the dirt -- too far away to actually see the ball.

drpaisley said...

The worst seats I've had happened this season at the K, Section 146, row R. Right field foul pole directly in front of us. Companion NPulsifer complained loudly that he couldn't see Mark Teahan's ass when he was in the field at 1st base, and he was not happy. We went to get beer while the ladies were moving over a section to an empty row. When I came back, they were staring in horror at a scene a couple of rows in front of them. I asked what happened, and they said that one of a group of 20-somethings had had "an evacuation incident."

"The blonde?" I asked, and they confirmed it was a young woman I had seen stumbling down the steps earlier, barely able to remain upright while clutching her friend.

About that time, an usher and a cleanup crew came by, and he said we could move over to the next section (real seats, as opposed to the former general admission; you could tell by the cup holders) if we wanted, and so we wound up with decent seats after all.

Ken Arneson said...

I went to the first game at Pac Bell Park, a preseason game against the Milwaukee Brewers. I had tickets in the upper deck, left field corner.

When I got to my seat...um...there was no seat. It hadn't been installed yet.

Eventually, an usher managed to scavenge a folding chair for me to sit on.

That Bootleg Guy said...

On the first night of a business trip to Denver (from San Diego), I decided to make the long, glacial drive down the I-70 for a summer night of Rockies baseball. It was there that I discovered…in some parts of the country…it actually rains in August. My $4 “rock pile” ticket scored me a seat atop the moistened metal bleachers out in centerfield, but by the first pitch, me and the other eleven people out there had some…uh, company. Several cheerleading troupes of 10-year-old girls, I’m talking busloads of ‘em, filled the emptiness around us. And, for the rest of the night, they “cheered” the Rockies on…in unison…in the most nasally prepubescent harpy shrills you’ll never want to hear. I stayed three innings.

Anonymous said...

On Sunday, September 14th I was in Section 36, Row X seat 11 next to my 4 year-old daughter in seat 12. These are the last 2 seats in Yankee Stadiums left field - People passing by on the 4 train have closer seats. But, honestly, I would not have missed it for the world - I will miss the place!