The Final Day of My Adventure

Trip Start Apr 02, 2011
Trip End Sep 29, 2011

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Where I stayed
Mom's House

Flag of United States  , Florida
Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Up at 8:30 and out the door with Mom and Donna by 9:00, heading to Miami for the Florida Marlins game on the last day of the 2011 baseball season and the last ballpark for me to visit. I chose this game on this date for one reason, it will be the final game played by the Marlins in that stadium, the old Joe Robbie Stadium, now called Sun Life Stadium.  Next year they move into a new ballpark in downtown Miami and will now be called the Miami Marlins instead of the Florida Marlins.  And they'll have a new manager, Ozzie Guillen.  80 year old Jack McKeon will retire (again).  He was brought back in mid season after firing Edwin Rodriguez in June.  

The Marlins have an interesting history.  They won the World Series in 2003 and then dismantled the team. You Cubs fans remember 2003...the Bartman ball and all.   The Marlins have a history putting together a good team and then having a fire sale for their players.  Interesting strategy. 
We drove the two hours over from Ft. Myers to Miami along I-75 which is sometimes called "Alligator Alley" because it goes right through the Everglades.  In fact, you go 50 miles with no services in one stretch.  Not much traffic today.

Made our way to Sun Life Stadium to buy tickets and found they were having "fan appreciation day."  All tickets were $10.  The guy who sold them to me said they'd probably make more money today than most games.  People stay away in droves from Marlins games.  I think they had an attendance at one game this year of 750 people.  Are you kidding me?  And how lonely did they look in a stadium that seats 68,000 fans...the Miami Dolphins play football here.  Later on I had a rum and coke at the Stadium...$10.  Yep, tickets, $10...rum and coke, $10.  Hmmmm.  

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  After getting the tickets we headed toward the ocean for some seafood.  I was looking for a place called Billy's Stone Crab Restaurant.  It was actually in Hollywood, FL.  When we got there we found out they were closed for renovation.  I turned into a parking lot to turn around.  Turns out, I pulled into another restaurant parking lot called GG's Waterfront Bar and Grill.  We took a look at the menu, a bit pricey, but right on the Intercoastal Waterway.  OK, let's eat.  Our table overlooked the water and boats of all kinds and sizes sailed past us during our lunch.  Mom had the grouper, while Donna and I had crab-stuffed shrimp which came with a side of linguini...simply outstanding seafood.  I had a bite of Mom's grouper and it was just as delicious. I like it when you try to go someplace and are foiled, but the alternative you wind up at is better...and that's what happened here.

We headed to the game...4:05 start time.  Got a great parking place thanks to Mom's handicapped pass.  Found our seats, but they were in the hot sun (looks like the Albuquerque curse didn't come to pass!), so we sat a few rows back until the sun went down further and our seats were in the shade.  Yea, they need a domed stadium.  Saw the Goodyear Blimp overhead as well!!!

Funny, I headed to the main souvenir store...almost all Dolphins stuff.  I asked a guy where I could get a baseball.  He said they were selling them at the gates along with programs (which I wanted too!).  I said, "We came in Gate G and I didn't see a vendor."  He said, "Well, that's not really a gate...(say what?)...try gate H." (Interesting.) I took the elevator up to the main level, walked over to the circular ramp and down to Gate H.  Yep, the guy had programs, but no baseballs.  He said, "Try Gate F."  Up the ramp to the main level, over to the circular ramp, down to Gate F.  Yep, he had both baseballs and programs.  But he didn't have a bag to put them in.  Where could I get one...the main souvenir stand at Gate G.  Up the ramp, over to the elevator and down to Gate G to get a dog gone bag.  Argh!!!  Are you as tired now as as I was then???   

Eventually got everything I wanted and headed back to our seats which were now in the shade.  

Sun Life Stadium is a great football venue, but very poor for baseball.  It's not a ballpark, it's a stadium in every negative sense of the word.  You could actually see the yard markers used for football on the outfield grass.  

Since it was the last Marlin's game to be played in this stadium, they brought back the person who sang the National Anthem at the first ballgame in that stadium.  She did a great job.  

I got to see the Washington Nationals' fenom pitcher, Stephan Strasburg.  He was the #1 pick of the Nationals in the 2009 draft, signing a $15M contract.  He regularly throws the ball 100+ miles per hour.  He was hitting 97 and 98 mph today.  I also got to see the kid from Springfield, (actually, Chatham-Glenwood), Jayson Werth.  And it was good to see Marlin's Manager, 80 year old Jack McKeon...I should live that long to manage a team at that age.  The only person older who managed a team was the legendary Connie Mack who managed the Phillies when he was 87 years old! 
At the end of the 4th inning the entire Marlins team went to left field to unveil the 0 on the left field wall, meaning the last game they would play in this stadium. Nice ovation.  

The Nationals won...3-1.  And I ended up 16-14 for the home team on my adventure.  

Mom and Donna had a good time during the game, even though it was a little slow.  

Interesting story, they sometimes come into the stands and tell you to get ready, this particular row is going to win a prize (this time an autographed baseball)...sorry to burst your bubble, but most of it is fixed.  They did that for the row in front of us.  There was a kid behind us who said to his Dad, "I am going to move into that row."  His Dad said, "Now, son, that wouldn't be real honest, would it ?"  He said no, and he did not go.  Then about an inning later, a lady sat next to the man and his son and asked the boy, "So, do you play baseball?"  He said, "Well, I did, but my dog ate my baseball, so all I have is a glove now."  My sister Donna looked at me and in essence said, "If you don't give this kid your baseball, you will be the boil on the butt of the baseball world for years to come!"    (She knew of my baseballs for kids campaign!)  And as we left the stadium, I gave him the ball...his mouth literally dropped and is father was very, very appreciative.  And I felt very good inside.

We drove back to Fort Myers, stopping at a Mexican restaurant along the way.  

I was content that I had succeeded in my quest to visit all 30 major league ballparks in one season.  

During my adventure, I have traveled thousands of miles by both air and car.  I have eaten some of the best food at some of the best restaurants in America.  I have stayed in great hotels, fair hotels and a couple of bad hotels.  I have visited and through their kindness have stayed with friends and relatives throughout the land.  I've seen some beautiful ballparks and also some that are not so beautiful.  I've enjoyed a full year full of baseball.  And hopefully, I've made some little kids happy by giving them a baseball.  

It's been a tremendous life experience for me.  One that I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life.  And I want to thank you for letting me share it with you.

Next year...I don't know...I'm thinking maybe Presidential gravesites...what do you think?   

Thanks for playing along and all the best to you and yours....Dave   
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Diane Edwards on

Dave, you have done something we would love to do and have enjoyed reading about your travels so much. Thanks for taking us along. BTW the crab placed was closed a year ago when we were there too. :)

Sandy on

David, congratulations on accomplishing one of the many adventures on your "bucket list." I've always been impressed with and a little envious of your ability to envision a dream and then make it happen. Your blog takes more than a little energy, creativity and perseverance. Thanks for taking us along.

Love, Sandy

Debbie on

I'm kinda sad your journey is over - no more blogs to read! I always looked forward to each entry and loved taking the trip with you. Let me know when you hit the road again! God Bless!

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