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My Turn: Visiting every major league ballpark was a winning experience

Paul Rossi, right, and his son Mike visit

Paul Rossi, right, and his son Mike visit Safeco Field in Seattle in 2018. It was the final ballpark on their journey to visit all the major league ballparks in the United States. Photo Credit: Paul Rossi

Nearly two years ago I wrote about my journeys with my son Mike to major league ballparks over the past 10 years. The goal was to complete the last two ballparks in 2017, but health issues delayed our visits to Toronto and Seattle.

It happened that I started to lose balance and fall quite often, and pain grew in my back and legs. After visiting many doctors, I had three major back surgeries, the last in May 2018. Even after those surgeries, it was determined that I would need a left hip replacement and possibly a left knee replacement after that — so the trips to Toronto and Seattle were planned. (And I finally had the hip replacement in late 2018.) 

The first trip was a car ride to Toronto in late August 2018. Realizing that my walking would be limited because of my knees locking up, I brought along a cane. The trip went smoothly, though my walking was severely limited.

Nevertheless, we took in the sights when we visited Toronto, where the highlight was the CN Tower, a main tourist attraction in Canada. It is a 1,400-foot tower that has elevators to a restaurant on the top.

The real thrill of the CN Tower is EdgeWalk, during which you walk the outside ledge of the tower, with the city nearly 1,200 feet below. You can lean out and do the hands-in-the-air routine with nothing holding you except the straps!

Mike, of course, did that and received a certificate that said he was the 14,256th person to take the EdgeWalk since the tower went up. Lucky for me, you’re not allowed to take the walk if you’ve had surgery within six months. Otherwise, I would have done it — or not!

After visiting Toronto, we took a month off for my legs to regain strength. Then we flew to Seattle to visit Safeco Field, the last ballpark on our list. We found it to be one of the friendlier cities and ballparks we visited.

First-time visitors to the field are directed to customer service, where they give you an authentic Mariners hat and a certificate attesting to your first visit. When we told the staff that Safeco was the last park on our 30-park tour, however, they gave us certificates stating the date and that we had completed a major league ballpark tour. Since the Mariners were out of playoff contention, tickets in the lower box were only $10 to $15.

Safeco was the only ballpark that supplied a hat and certificate commemorating a person’s first visit. I could imagine that happening in New York: Every day the line of people saying that it was the first day at the ballpark would probably be a mile long — with many of the same people from the game before!

We took the Duck Ride in Seattle, as we had in every city that offered it. Mike did the Space Needle, erected for the 1962 World’s Fair, and the largest open-air market in the world without me because of my leg issues.

After completing my bucket-list item of visiting the 30 ballparks, I offer my favorites and not-so-favorites:

Favorite ballparks

1. San Francisco’s AT&T Park: Tremendous views of the San Francisco Bay; excellent selection of food; friendly people.

2. Pittsburgh’s PNC Park: Extraordinary views of the skyline at night and the river outside the park; food choices are excellent; seats are close to the action.

3. New York’s Citi Field: Many food choices; nice setting; we are Mets fans!

Least-favorite ballparks

1. Toronto’s Rogers Centre: Outdated; small seats far from the action; food choices were limited to hot dogs, burgers and pizza.

2. Washington, D.C.’s Nationals Park: Atmosphere feels like they just threw it together; music made me feel like I was at a carnival; fans and even the police we encountered could have been friendlier.

3. Chicago’s First Cellular Field: Less said the better; just a mass of steel; cold exterior and interior.

My odyssey with my son Mike completed, I recommend this adventure to all.

Next up? Route 66 road trip.

Paul Rossi,

East Northport

YOUR STORY Letters and essays for MY TURN are original works by readers that have never appeared in print or online. Share special memories, traditions, friendships, life-changing decisions, observations of life or unforgettable moments for possible publication. Email act2@newsday.com, or write to Act 2 Editor, Newsday Newsroom, 235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville, NY 11747. Include name, address, phone numbers and photos if available. Edited stories may be republished in any format.

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