Sashin: Baseball buddies spend 25 years on the ‘dead stadium’ tour

From Daphne Sashin at on March 30, 2014, with mention of SABR member Gary Gillette:

Robert Ondrovic was at Shea Stadium for the Mets’ first season there in 1964, and he was there for its last in 2008.

He’s first to tell you it was one of the worst ballparks in America.

“Shea was outdated within four to five years. Everyone got tired of sitting in a concrete doughnut,” said Ondrovic, 53, a New York lawyer and die-hard Mets fan, having grown up in Queens. “The pitch of the upper deck seating was too steep, and the concession areas and ramps beneath the stands were dank.”

To a true fan, even the poorly designed venue offers an adventure when there’s a chance to be part of baseball history.

Ondrovic has become something of an expert on past-their-prime parks. Nearly every baseball season for the past 25 years, he and three buddies from law school and college have taken in a major-league series at an “endangered” ballpark. They call it the Dead Stadium Tour.

The four baseball junkies, of whom Ondrovic is the official archivist and photographer, have visited 18 now-defunct Major League parks. They’ve seen Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Tiger Stadium in Detroit, the Seattle Kingdome and many spots in between.

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Originally published: March 31, 2014. Last Updated: March 31, 2014.