VISITING A BALLPARK TODAY means scrambling through crowded parking garages, maxing out your credit card at concession stands, and hoping the retractable roof doesn’t cave in.
So where can you go for some good old-fashioned baseball? Here are a few famous parks, as well as a couple lesser-known ones, that are sure to bring you back to the golden age of America’s pastime.
Photo: Jeramey Jannene
Wrigley Field (Chicago)
You can’t find a more nostalgic stadium experience than Wrigley. While the rest of Chicago has morphed into a cosmopolitan, Midwest answer to Manhattan, Wrigley Field and its surrounding neighborhood, known as Wrigleyville, remain intact.
The park’s ivy-covered fences don’t show any advertisements, and there’s something awesome about watching an outfielder collide with a wall of plant after chasing down a ball. If you want the real Wrigley experience, try to find a rooftop seat on one of the houses across the street.
Fenway Park (Boston)
You might need two trips to take in all of Fenway: one to watch the game, and one to visit all of its legendary landmarks. The stadium’s quirks include the Green Monster, the stadium’s 37 foot high outfield wall, Pesky’s Pole, the shortest home run porch in the majors, and the Lone Red Seat, which marks the site of the longest home run in Fenway’s history.
If you’re planning on visiting, you’ll need to either grab your tickets way in advance or rely on a scalper: since May 15, 2003, every single game at Fenway has sold out. If baseball’s not your thing, Fenway routinely holds concerts by artists such as Bruce Springsteen, The Police, and The Rolling Stones.
Bosse Field (Evansville, Indiana)
Okay, I might be biased, since I’m from this obscure little Indiana town. But if there’s one thing worth coming to Evansville for, it’s an Evansville Otters game at Bosse Field, the third-oldest professional stadium still in use. Built in 1915, it’s hosted a number of minor league teams, and was even home to the NFL’s Evansville Crimson Giants in the early 1920s.
However, Bosse Field is most remembered for its role in the 1992 film “A League of Their Own”, starring Tom Hanks, Madonna, and Geena Davis, which tells a fictionalized account of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League of the 1940s and 50s. Bosse Field was the home field for the team in the movie, the Racine Bells, and the grandstand is still painted with their name.
The Otters’ routinely sell out Bosse, and admission is less than 10 dollars at the gate. You can often catch local high school games at Bosse as well.
(New) Yankee Stadium (Bronx)
It may not be the “house that Ruth built,” but it’s definitely the house he would have built if he had 1.5 billion dollars. As the most expensive stadium in the world, the Yankees’ brand new ballpark, which debuted this year, is perhaps the biggest combination of history and luxury in sports.
The new Yankee Stadium’s exterior is made with limestone from the same Indiana quarry as its predecessor, and the stadium’s name is still lettered in gold above each gate. Inside, the ballpark doubles as a museum of Yankees memories and memorabilia, with hundreds of iconic photographs capturing the team’s history, and Monument Park, a shrine to the team’s most revered players.
Still, it’s obvious that the builders kept modern athletes and sports fans in mind. Each player’s locker has its own touch-screen computer, and the clubhouse has its own hydrotherapy pool and underwater treadmill. More than 1,100 high-definition televisions are placed throughout the stadium, so fans don’t have to miss a pitch.
If you have any cash left over after buying tickets–they start at just under eighty bucks–the stadium also has a Hard Rock Cafe, as well as over $10 million in baseball merchandise for sale.
Cardines Field (Newport, Rhode Island)
Originally built for unofficial sandlot games hosted by the nearby railroad workers, many claim that the history of Cardines Field dates back to the late 1890s, which would make it one of the oldest ballparks in the world.
Throughout the early twentieth century, Cardines was home to Negro League stars like Satchel Page and Josh Gibson. During World War II, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, Bob Feller and other players established the amateur Sunset League at Cardines while stationed in Newport Naval Station. Today, the wooden stadium still hosts a full season of Sunset League baseball, as well as high school games.
Doubleday Field (Cooperstown, New York)
Known as the “Birthplace of Baseball”, Doubleday Field has never actually been home to any one team–it’s home to all of them. Abner Doubleday is said to have made the rules for and played the first baseball game on the site in 1839, when it was still a cow pasture.
Today, Doubleday Field is used primarily for special commemorative games, like the Hall of Fame Classic. While you might not always be able to catch a game, making the trip to Cooperstown is an adventure in and of itself. With the Hall of Fame as its centerpiece, the entire town is devoted in nearly every way to the game, and just about any important baseball artifact ends up on display there.
Camden Yards (Baltimore, Maryland)
Built to resemble an older stadium, but with updated facilities, the Baltimore Orioles’ Camden Yards is all about making the game intimate between the players and the fans, and each one of the 43,000 seats feels close to the field. Since the park doubled attendance averages for Orioles home games, nearly every stadium built has modeled itself on Camden in some way.
Camden is located in downtown Baltimore’s inner harbor, and the city’s entire skyline is visible beyond the outfield and the old brick B&O Railroad Warehouse that sits just behind it. Baltimore is also home to Babe Ruth, whose father actually owned a restaurant where Camden’s center field currently sits.
AT&T Park (San Francisco, California)
AT&T Park’s brick construction, manual scoreboards, and large bleacher section make the San Francisco Giants’ stadium feel like a neighborhood ballpark. Every seat is facing toward home plate, and the diminished foul territory means that fans are closer to the field.
Outside the stadium, fans can watch from above the right field wall for free, or join the crew of canoers in McCovey’s Cove, the bay that lies immediately beyond the right field porch.
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