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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Exhibition Stadium, Toronto

10-09-1980: Toronto Blue Jays 6 New York Yankees 7 (American League East)

Ticket Stub

Way back in 1980 – and on my way to Chicago to visit a work colleague - I flew to Toronto planning to take a Greyhound Bus from there onto the mid-west a few days later. The journey from Toronto's Pearson International Airport to downtown Toronto took me past the Canadian National Exhibition Stadium outside of which a billboard advertised a three game series between the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Yankees. Baseball!, that’ll keep me amused for an evening I thought and so the following day I walked back out to the stadium to get myself a ticket. Little did I realise at the time that this would be the first of some thirty plus games that I would watch over the next five years.

So armed with my ticket I headed back out to the stadium again (this time using the city's excellent tram system) and had just parked myself in my seat when it was time to stand up again as the American National Anthem, closely followed by that of Canada, rang out around the stadium. The first of many customs and idiosyncrasies of watching sport in North America that I would be getting used to over the coming years.

Exhibition Stadium, Toronto
Exhibition Stadium

What followed - over the coming nine innings - was all a bit mystifying at the time, no more or less so than introducing someone from the USA to cricket I would guess. Can’t remember the result from the night but as American sports fans love their stats that’s not a problem and www.baseball-reference.com tells me it was 7-6 win for the visitors watched by 23,031 fans.

I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and would be watching another game very soon (four days to be precise) at a stadium that would soon become a regular haunt for baseball and soccer matches - the old Comiskey Ball Park. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The NY Yankees are, behind Manchester United, probably one of the best known sports franchises in the world, the Blue Jay’s though, considerably less so. 1980 was their fourth year of operation, and also their fourth at the Exhibition Stadium which continued to be their home for a further eight years.

BMO Field, Toronto
BMO Field

Wikipedia tells me that the Exhibition Stadium was actually the fourth stadium to be built on the same site since 1879. Opened in 1959, Exhibition Stadium played host to football as well as baseball, conversion for the later including an Astroturf* pitch. The Blue Jay's moved to the purpose built Skydome - in the shadow of the cities iconic CN Tower - in 1989, while the Exhibition Stadium was later demolished to make way for the BMO Field, home of Toronto FC of the MLS. The fifth stadium on exactly the same spot - surely some kind of a record.

*The official astroturf site makes for a interesting read although their claim that Manchester United play on Astroturf I think is a bit wide of the mark

posted by chevblue at 5:07 pm






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