Friday, May 2, 2014

Ok, so this website was more or less made for me

I go to a lot of baseball games. This isn't exactly a secret to most of you out there, but perhaps some of you don't grasp the scale on which I do this. Perhaps I don't grasp it either. Some of you may recall back in 2009 when I was attending a Mets game at Citi Field and I came across an older gentleman who was seated in front of me and told me of his travels. I noticed how on that day he was attending the 6,226th game of his life.

Ladies and gentlemen, that's a lot of baseball. I have a hard time imagining I will ever reach that level of baseball attendance no matter how many games I make my way to -- and I plan on making my way to a lot of them -- but it might be nice if there was some way to keep track. In my life I've seen more baseball games than the average Joe, and keeping ticket stubs is a minor obsession, so a place to track and log it all without having to mark down my own home-made scorecard would be pretty sweet.

Wait, what's that? It exists now?

Last night I returned home from my third baseball game of the year after watching the Seattle Mariners double up the New York Yankees (I may have been more interested in my Lobel's Steak sandwich for a part of the evening), and I tooled around on the internet for a bit only to come across Hardball Passport on the Twitters. It's a website that enables you the check in and log every Major League Baseball game you've been to since 1975 (and every minor league game since 2002), which once filled provides you with a remarkable array of statistics regarding your baseball past.

After stumbling upon this last night I did the only sensible thing anyone with my irrational interests would do, and spent two hours going through every baseball ticket stub I still have in my possession to backlog my history. All you have to do is search for a team, stadium or season and click the button next to that game notifying that you attended. What's that? I saw the Yankees beat the Brewers on June 7, 1997? The Twins beating the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on April 21, 2001? Oh, and I've apparently seen this "New York Mets" team like 110 times? Sure. Trying to track down nearly all of the games I've seen is of course dodgy. After all, I know I went to my first game on June 24, 1990 due to photographic evidence, but I have no ticket stub to be found. Other memories linger strongly, like the first-ever Subway Series rubber match on June 18, 1997, which I attended after my mother took me out of school to go, but of which there is no stub lying around. I still recall other games, like a midsummer-night's Mets-Astros affair my father took in at Shea Stadium in which we snuck in for BP and usurped box seats on the field level despite being ticketed for the mezzanine in 2000, but I can't seem to find that stub either. It's entirely possible that these ticket stubs are stuck in piles in my childhood bedroom, and as I'm due to pay my old home a visit next weekend, I will do a hard target search to track them down, but to the ends it can with reasonable limitations, this site pretty much provides you with any tool you could ever need.

I do wish that the public profile allowed one to witness more information. People can see that I've been to 153 Major League games (that I can verify) and 26 Major League stadiums, but the truly fun stuff is the categoric lists of games seen, completely linked through to box scores and with a handy map of your ballpark adventures. The best thing to sift through, beyond your individual game history, is almost certainly the stats page, which breaks down your entire history into lists of which teams you've seen the most, what record every team you've seen has in games you've attended (the Cardinals must love me), and the top offensive performances and pitching outings you've ever witnessed in person. Apparently the best offensive show I ever saw was Cory Patterson's 4-for-6, 7 RBI, 2 HR afternoon against the Mets on Opening Day in 2003, a game I remember all too well because Weg and I put in an absurd amount of effort to get the tickets, Tom Glavine was making his first start for the Mets and it was utterly freezing. The best pitching performance? Without having it verified for me I could have told you that was when my sister and I saw R.A. Dickey throw a one-hitter against Baltimore in his Cy Young season two years ago, but apparently now I have proof. Want to find something quirky? Apparently the 20th best offensive performance I ever saw came from slightly-above-average pitcher Jason Maquis, who went 1 for 3 with a HR and five RBI against the Mets on Sept. 22, 2008.

Obviously I could spend an eternity fishing around this thing, though I do wish I could also register last year's All-Star Game or the Mets' two pre-season games against the Red Sox in 2009 to open up Citi Field (Or even that New Jersey Cardinals game in 1994 when I got my first ever jersey, but that's a whole other blog post). The only thing it's truly missing beyond a publicly viewable version of your gaming history is an app for your phone that allows you to check in as you attend or possibly upload pictures from the scene itself. Don't worry, though, apparently that's on the way, as are versions for football and hockey (basketball already exists). I'll have to put all of that together at some point, too.

The only maudlin thing about all of this aside from realizing how many hours and dollars I've put toward the effort? The site's Twitter feed brought me to this picture of ticket stubs in a drawer as a photo illustration of most of our empty desks. How do I know it's not someone's actual collection of memories? In the lower right-hand corner is an unmistakable Mets logo on a ticket to the 2008 World Series as can be seen by the year-specific World Series logo. As we all know, in real life that didn't actually work out so well.

Not everything works out.

Either way, the experience of tracking it all down brought back a flood of memories. It is remarkable how many ticket stubs I came across where I could instantly recall that I saw Joe McEwing homer off Randy Johnson that day in 2000 or that the Mets honored their 40th anniversary team that night in 2002 while Dodgers' pitcher Odalis Perez threw 6 1/3 perfect innings. Literally dozens of these games were instantly verifiable in a way that isn't healthy. In fact, remembering all of these things probably isn't all that healthy for several reasons.

But hey, it's better than smoking, right? If nothing else, I won't drive myself too crazy recounting my memories anymore. I'm no longer the only one keeping track.


  1. Thank you for the kind words, David!

    1. Thanks for giving me a way to keep track of my life. Lord knows I needed it.