It was so green. Those are the first words that I use to describe my first memory of Tiger Stadium. The bright contrast of the green grass and blue seats as I emerged from a dark tunnel is the first and most enduring sensory experience I remember at a major league game. Listening to others describe their first experiences, many stick to the same theme. This isn’t just true of Tiger Stadium, but other parks as well. But if you were to attend your first game now, I have a hard time believing the reaction would be the same. New stadium construction and better TV have probably dimmed some of the vividness.
Back in 1982 when I attended my first game, all I’d known was the game on a TV screen. Watch ESPN Classic for any sporting event from the 80’s, and once you stop laughing at the clothes and the graphics, look at how washed out the colors were. The transmission was poor and the TV sets weren’t much better. Now with games being broadcast in HD, it is crystal clear and just as bright as being there in person.
I think the other thing that will impact this is the trends in all the newer stadia. ‘Back in the olden days’ many stadiums were closed in and concourses were tucked back underneath the seats. You didn’t see the field at all until you came up through the tunnels. And when you did get your first glimpse the grass was contrasted by the backdrop of the stadium itself. Now fans get to enjoy open-view concourses and outfields that open up to reveal rivers, bays, and cityscapes.
Now none of these innovations are bad things. I love the crisp clear picture on TV. With 2 little kids, being able to see the game while venturing out for more concessions is wonderful. I just wonder when today’s kids reminisce about their first game, what enduring memory will they have?