Mar 10, 2023

The Ballpark On Hank Aaron Drive

Municipal Stadium
755 Hank Aaron DriveWest Palm Beach, FL
Earlier this week, I found a video on YouTube from a series called the Low Mileage Tour which chronicles an adventure that was taken in 1991 by Bill Craib and Sue Easler, who were the first people to ever attend a baseball game at every active minor league ballpark in a single season.

By the time the '91 season was over, Bill and Sue had been to 199 games at 178 different ballparks over a span of 209 days.  The 50th ballpark that they visited was the place where I attended my first game - Municipal Stadium in West Palm Beach, Florida.

The couple brought a video camera with them to document each of the ballparks that they stopped at.  Their visit to Municipal Stadium took place on May 25th, 1991 to see a game between the affiliates of both Canadian MLB teams that existed at the time: the West Palm Beach Expos and the Dunedin Blue Jays.

This video was shot just a month before I saw my first game at this ballpark, so it looks exactly as I remember it.  Seeing this brought back a flood of happy memories of times that my dad and I spent here.

Tickets to a West Palm Beach Expos game in 1991 cost $4 for reserved box seats and $3 for general admission.  It was a cozy little ballpark without a bad seat in the house, so we always got the three dollar tickets, and we always sat in the same exact seats - the top row in the corner of the first base side.

The thing that looks like a tent roof that the arrow is pointing to in this screenshot is the fastball game.  Here's how it worked:  You would pay a dollar and you'd get three baseballs to pitch to a backstop area.  There was a radar gun set up that would tell you how fast each of your pitches are.  You'd throw the first two and see how fast they were.  After that, you had to guess the speed of your third pitch and then throw the third ball.  If you guessed correctly, you won a plastic souvenir helmet.  It was a pretty nice prize to win for a buck.  They were large enough to fit on my head, but they're made from thin plastic so they wouldn't provide any actual protection like a proper batting helmet would, but they looked nice sitting on the dresser in my bedroom.  I didn't win every time, but I know that I won at least three times because I had a Phillies, Expos and Marlins helmet.  In fact, I still have the Marlins one.  It's still sealed in the bag with the gold MLB 125th Anniversary logo on it, which means that I must have won that one in 1994.

One more happy memory I wanted to mention was the West Palm Beach Expos mascot.  He was an orange dancing gorilla that shared the same initials with the city that he represented: Willie P. Bananas.  Seeing him on the video led me down a rabbit hole of research that warrants a post of its own, so I'll write more about him another time.