Like most baseball fans I hope to (some day) visit every major league baseball stadium. I don’t need to explain this desire to the baseball fans reading this. For those of you who are not really into baseball, let me just give you three quick reasons why it’s fun to visit new ballparks:
- Each park is unique. (Literally, the outfield dimensions are slightly different everywhere you go)
- Each park has its own sort of micro-culture created by its fans. (Ever talk with a true-blue Red Sox fan on the subway into Fenway Park? Try it and you’ll know what I mean.)
- Each park is filled with old stories about the game. (My favorite part. Like drinking nostalgia from a firehouse.)
I’ll keep this list updated each season as I slowly make my way around the country, seeing new ballparks.
Angel Stadium, “The Big A” – Home of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
This is one of my favorite stadiums. It’s spacious and everything is easy to access. It’s a great place to walk around with a little kid who is having trouble sitting through 9 innings. Just the way a ballpark should be. I took my son to his first major league game here.
AT&T Ballbark – Home of the San Francisco Giants
I’ve not attended an actual game at this park, but I did get to take the tour one afternoon. I was attending a conference in San Fran for work. Because of a busy schedule I had only one opportunity to make it to the park during my trip. So, shortly after my plane arrived I took a cab to my hotel, checked in as fast as I could, and half walked/half ran to the ballpark in an effort to make the tour in time. I didn’t even stop to change out of my dress shoes at the hotel. My feet and legs hurt when I arrived at the park, but at least I made it.
Comerica Park – Home of the Detroit Tigers
Comerica Park is my home-state ballpark. I’ve been there many times and cheer on the Tigers every season. Of the games I’ve been to I can’t think of any that really stand out. In fact, I think I’ve seen them lose more at Comerica Park than I’ve seen them win! (Dumb luck, I guess.) It’s odd, but most of my great Tiger memories happened while watching them on TV (the 2006 ALCS, Justin Verlander’s first no-hitter, the All-Star game in Detroit, and others). However, if you ever get to go make sure you check out the front entrance and take pictures. The tiger sculptures at that entrance are impressive. Also, don’t miss the hall-of-famer statues in the walkway beyond right field.
Dodger Stadium – Home of the Los Angeles Dodgers
I took my wife to her first big league game at this park. It’s a beautiful place to watch a baseball game. One of my favorites, for sure. We saw the Dodgers beat the Giants that night. I also saw the Reds take a real beating there once. I remember that they loaded the bases twice against Brad Penny, but were unable to bring any runs in. During that game they showed famous people in attendance on the big screen: Tommy Lasorda and Bill Buckner were there, sitting together, chatting, and Pete Rose was there too. He wasn’t sitting with them however.
Fenway Park – Home of the Boston Red Sox
The day I went to Fenway Park the Red Sox were out of town. My wife and I took a ballpark tour though, and as I mentioned before, it was like stepping back in time. The seats are so small and made of wood, everything is dripping in history and story, and very little has changed since it was first erected. Our tour guide took us on top of the Green Monster, showed us the original Fisk foul pole, let us hang out in the press box. Very cool. Still hoping to see a game there someday.
Great American Ballpark – Home of the Cincinnati Reds
I’ve been to Great American numerous times now. It’s home to one of my favorite teams, the Reds. If ever you go be sure to get some La Rosa’s pizza (it’s the best in the city) and make sure you visit the Reds team store. They have one of the largest I’ve seen and they even have their own Reds-only Hall of Fame on site. Also, don’t be afraid to sit up high in that stadium. There are no bad views in the house, and the higher you are the more of the Ohio River you’ll be able to see. It’s a beautiful backdrop for a baseball game.
One funny memory: I attended a game at which the 1990 World Champs were honored. Lost of players from the past were there for an event after the game. Then MC Hammer had a concert right on the infield. Why Hammer? Evidently that team played “Can’t Touch This” in the locker room after every win that season. Hammer sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch and also did a short pre-game on a walkway in right field. Unfortunately he did not play “Can’t Touch This” in that set and since we didn’t stay for the after game show we did not get to hear the one Hammer song I know.
Miller Park – Home the Milwaukee Brewers
Miller Park is easily one of my favorite venues for watching a baseball game. What makes it unique actually happens outside the park: tailgating. I’ve never been to another major league park that does this. Milwaukee fans love their brats, cheese, and beer which is the perfect food for a tailgater. I’ve attended a couple of games with friends and each time we’ve tailgated it’s been a blast.
Also, the park is sort of high and steep, so there really aren’t any bad seats. Combine that with a retractable roof for rainy days, and sausage races during the game and you’ve got a great ballpark. Highly recommended. Go early. Grill. Relax.
Nationals Park – Home of the Washington Nationals
I just recently attended my first game at this stadium. It went into extra innings, finally resulting in a Nats win. The energy in the stands was fantastic.
What I love about this stadium is the effort they have put into connecting the Nationals with the history of baseball in Washington D.C. All over the park there are commemorative plaques and other displays that detail the career of the Washington Senators (who later became the Texas Rangers) and from the old Negro League, the Washing Grays. There are also statues in honor of the best players from these teams in a large, open walkway behind the outfield. This is a spacious, beautiful stadium that reminded me of Angel Stadium. Amid all of the other fascinating sites in D.C., don’t miss this one.
Orioles Park at Camden Yards – Home of the Baltimore Orioles
The day I went to Camden Yards was the day the Baltimore Orioles unveiled a statue outside the stadium in honor of Jim Palmer. Jim said a few words before the game. Cal Ripken Jr., Al Kaline, and Eddie Murray were all in attendance. It was cool to see such a great player be honored that way. The game we watched was against the Tigers. It went into extra innings and ended with a loss for the Tigers. Our bullpen blew two save opportunities. It was ridiculous. Because our toddler was starting to unwind we left after the 11th and I watched updates on the rest of the game on my phone. If you ever go I highly recommend the fresh squeezed lemonade. It was near 100 degrees on the day we were there and that lemonade tasted like it was squeezed in baseball heaven.
Petco Park – Home of the San Diego Padres
I have only been to Petco Park once. It was early in the 2006 season. We sat way up in the upper deck and the wind chilled us. We purchased a Padres plush blanket that was terribly over-priced. I remember that it was the Padres first homestand of the 2006 series and they were crushed in this game. The pitcher gave up something like 5 runs in the first inning. The stadium is beautiful. I love the building that juts into left field and the small ball diamond out beyond the outfield wall.
Turner Field – Home of the Atlanta Braves
On yet another trip for work I found myself in Atlanta with a free afternoon. My buddy and I grabbed a cab and went to Turner Field for a tour. It was not baseball season at the time. If ever you get a chance to I highly recommend this tour. It’s the best ballpark tour I’ve ever had. Because Turner field was built, in part, to house events from the 1996 Olympic Games many of the stories about the ballpark revolve around the Olympics. I thought it was fascinating. They also have a great team store there a lot of old Braves memorabilia. Highly recommended.
U.S. Cellular Field – Home of the Chicago White Sox
This is my least favorite major league ballpark, and it’s not just because I don’t like the White Sox (though, admittedly, I don’t like them at all). It’s loud. I attended a Tiger game there and they played loud, heavy music constantly throughout the game. It killed the feel a baseball is supposed to have. I felt like I was in a big cement prison in which prisoners are forced to listen to blaring music all day. Yuck.
Wrigley Field – Home of the Chicago Cubs
Going to old places Wrigley Field (and Fenway Park) is the closest thing (aside from a good memory) that we have to time travel. I honestly felt like I’d stepped into the past when I went to Wrigley. The stadium, the food, the fans, all the hype you’ve heard is for real. It’s a great place to watch a ball game. My wife and I attended a Reds game there with another couple who are lifelong Cubby fans. The Reds got crushed that day. If I remember right they gave up 7 runs in the 7th inning. It was a horrible loss, but still a fun day. We sat along the third base side behind a pole. We couldn’t see deep left field, but that didn’t matter. I can’t wait to go back.
Lakefront Stadium, “The Mistake by the Lake” – Former home of the Cleveland Indians
A close friend of my mother’s, and a woman who was like a third grandma to me when I was young, is also an avid Indians fan. Her name is Eleanor Taylor. When I was in elementary school she took me and my younger brother to a game at this stadium just because they were going to tear it down at the end of that year. She wanted us to experience baseball in her favorite park, watching her favorite team. She bought us commemorative souvenirs and told us stories all day long about the great games and the great players from Indians history. Ms. Taylor’s favorite player is Bob Feller. I know that because she talked about him all day and continues to talk about him to this day. Now if that’s not how baseball should be passed down from one generation to the next, then I don’t know what is. Thanks, Ms. Taylor.
Riverfront Stadium – Former home of the Cincinnati Reds
I know I attended at least one, but maybe two games at this ballpark. My parents took the whole fam when I was very young. I don’t remember much except that my parents explained, “the good guys are in the white uniforms, the bad guys are in the gray ones…the ones that look sort of dirty.” Both teams had red hats on, so, as best we can figure, it was a Reds vs. Cardinals game.
Shea Stadium – Former home of the New York Mets
I attended a game at Shea Stadium once when I was in elementary school. It during my first big baseball card collecting phase. The Mets were my team, and Daryl Strawberry was my favorite player. I ever wore a T-shirt with his picture on it to the game. Daryl didn’t play that day however. It was at that game that my dad explained to me that sometimes baseball players get traded to other teams. I remember that at first I just didn’t really get that. “What do you mean Daryl Strawberry isn’t a Met?” The Mets lost that day. I went home, climbed up to the top bunk where I slept, laid out all my Mets baseball cards individually and said, “What happened guys?”
Minor League Ballparks
Fifth Third Ballpark – Home of the West Michigan Whitecaps
This is my hometown ballpark. It’s a great little place just north of Grand Rapids. I’ve been here numerous times. A few quick highlights of the various games I’ve been to: 1) Meeting Ryne Sandberg during his first year as a minor league manager. I had him sign a baseball and told him how much I appreciated his Hall of Fame acceptance speech. In typical Ryno style, all he said in reply was, “Thank You.” 2) Seeing Homer Bailey pitch against the Caps on the night of my bachelor party. I didn’t know it then, but the Dayton Dragons starter would eventually become a starting pitcher for the Reds. 3) Seeing Kenny Rogers pitch up close during a rehab stint with the Caps. 4) Eating the Food-Channel-famous Fifth Third Burger with three other guys.