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The Best MLB Ballparks to Visit

March 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Destinations, Features

April marks the start of another baseball season. No visit to the United States is complete without catching 9 innings of America’s national pastime. Though American football has caught baseball in popularity, baseball continues to be beloved throughout much of the country. For the best experience, watch a game at one of these great ballparks:

Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox)

Fenway Park is the home of Red Sox Nation. The oldest ballpark in the majors, Fenway was opened before World War I. The Red Sox won 4 World Series titles before being struck by the Curse of the Bambino (selling of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees). The curse left the Sox faithful with heartbreak after heartbreak from 1918 until 2004. The last few years, however, have seen the Red Sox return to World Series form making tickets hard to attain especially with fewer than 40,000 seats in the ballpark.

Do note that spectators are expected to sing Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline (good times never seem so good…so good, so good, so good!) at the top of their lungs before the bottom of the 8th inning. It may also be a good idea to leave your NY Yankees jersey at home.
fenway-park-boston-red-sox.jpg Fenway Park, Boston © JS Catty

Wrigley Field (Chicago Cubs)

Wrigley Field is the home of the Cubbies. With one of the most loyal fan bases in baseball, the Chicago Cubs have failed to win a World Series title since 1908. That was President Theodore Roosevelt’s last year in office. Despite the struggles, The Friendly Confines is still filled with passionate Cub fans waiting for a little luck to finally help their beloved Cubs. Together with the fun-loving supporters is a classic ballpark with an outfield wall covered with ivy.

Do note that the 7th inning stretch isn’t a time to run off to the restroom. It’s reserved for the best rendition of Take Me Out To The Ball Game in the majors. Be ready for the local version that is sung in unison by the crowd: “Root, root, root for the Cubbies, if they don’t win it’s a shame. For it’s one, two three strikes your out at the old ball game.”

Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Baltimore Orioles)

Camden Yards is the home of the Baltimore Orioles. It was opened in 1992 and represented a revolution in baseball stadiums. Oriole Park was a return to a baseball-only facility. The two decades before this ballpark saw a slew of multi-sport stadiums that were rarely aesthetically pleasing or ideal for seeing the field from the seats. After selling out every game for several seasons, Camden Yards has seen lots of empty seats for the last few years. The retirement of Cal Ripken, Jr. (record for the most consecutive games played) and a poor product on the field have been two factors for the lack of attendance.

Remember to bring your baseball mitt when sitting in the outfield seats as Camden Yards in known for allowing lots of homeruns.
att-park-san-francisco-giants.jpg AT&T Park, San Francisco © Scatterbrained

AT&T Park (San Francisco Giants)

The home of the Giants has undergone a number of name changes in connection with the recent move toward corporate naming rights for ballparks. It has been called Pac Bell Park, SBC Park, and AT&T Park. Built on San Francisco Bay, the ballpark has a beautiful backdrop. For years, fans cheered on Barry Bonds as he hit homeruns into the bay, which is better known to the Giants faithful as McCovey Cove. Though still a great place to catch a ball game, AT&T Park has lost much of its energy since Bonds broke the all-time homerun record. While most ballparks greeted Bonds with contempt for allegations of steroid use, Giants fans continued to love their slugger until he was not re-sign after the 2007 season.

When buying tickets for a Giants game, check the team’s pitching rotation. Select a game that’s being pitched by Tim Lincecum. Lincecum won the 2008 Cy Young Award, which is given to the league’s best pitcher.

Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles Dodgers)

Dodger Stadium is the home of the LA Dodgers. The recent host of the World Baseball Classic finals, Chávez Ravine is the third oldest ballpark in the majors. After decades of calling Brooklyn home, the Dodgers were moved to Southern California. A beautiful spot to catch a ball game, Dodger fans have witnessed 4 World Series titles in forty-seven years in Los Angeles.

Do note that unlike East Coast baseball, there is a very laid back atmosphere at Dodger Stadium. Don’t be shocked to see fans arrive late or leave before a game ends. Think zen of baseball as opposed to the Red Sox Nation’s living and dying with every pitch.
dodger-stadium-los-angeles.jpg Dodger Stadium © Kla4067

The Future and the Past

Citi Field (New York Mets) and Yankee Stadium (New York Yankees)

Two new ballparks opened in 2009 giving visitors even more things to do in NYC. It marks the end of an era for “The House That Ruth Built” in the Bronx. Yankee Stadium was home to 26 World Series championships. Yankee fan or Yankee hater, the ballpark had a special aura that will be difficult to top with their new park. That being said, hearing the chants of Bleacher Creatures including the daily role call of the starting players will ring true in any park.

Shea Stadium didn’t have the aura of Yankee Stadium, but it was home to the Miracle Mets of 1969 and the World Champs of 1986. Despite some great memories, Mets fans are eager to leave Shea behind for a state-of-the-art ballpark. Citi Field promises to meet even the highest expectations with superb sightlines within the context of a classic ballpark.

Read about the best NBA arenas to visit or the best NFL stadiums to catch some gridiron action.
___________________________________________________________________________________
gennaro-salamone-photo.jpgGennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing an article or photograph for publication.

 

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Comments

37 Responses to “The Best MLB Ballparks to Visit”
  1. Lee says:

    I’m excited for the new season to start. The Sox have another great team. And Fenway deserves to top that list. Nice lists. Agree with those ballparks. Other than Fenway, I love Wrigley Field. I like the Phillies park too. For football, it has to be Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

  2. Lisa says:

    Can’t wait for the new stadiums in New York. My boyfriend is a Yankee fan and I’m a Mets fans so we’ll go to some games at each. Both look good from the photos. My boyfriend wanted to keep the old stadium though. I’ve been to Boston for some games and it’s a great place for a game too.

  3. Gennaro says:

    @Lee

    Sox are looking good again for next year, but I’m not sure they can win a title without Manny. I like the Phillies park, but it’s a lot like Camden and recent copies. Not that unique.

    @Lisa

    Great baseball year for New Yorkers with new parks. Mets needed one badly. I agree with your boyfriend that the Yanks should have kept the old park. I understand the financial advantages, but that place was historic.

  4. Yen says:

    I have been two San Francisco and Oakland. The Giants park is much nicer to watch a game. Baseball is a great love in Japan too. The atmosphere is very different. A lot of fun though.

  5. Tim says:

    Baseball has lot me a bit in the last few years with all the steroids drama. Haven’t been to a game in a while. Have to agree with Fenway and Wrigley at the top. I would add St. Louis to the list. Great fans. They know their stuff and are into the game.

  6. Gennaro says:

    @Yen

    There are a handful of nations that adore baseball and Japan is certainly one of them. Add NIcaragua, Venezuala, and Cuba to that list with the U.S. too, of course.

    @Tim

    St. Louis is a top baseball town. Great fans too. Very supportive of their players. Mixed feeelings about their ballpark though. Definitely worth a visit.

  7. jen laceda says:

    Hi G, noticed I changed my domain name? Hehehe. My husband would absolutely love a “sports-oriented” trip (like most men, I suppose?). He loves ALL sports, knows all the modern Olympic cities/years, loves sports stats & trivia, and listens to Bill Simmons all the time! His ultimate dream is to score courtside (floor?) basketball tickets! Haha. I told him that was equivalent to me sitting beside Anna Wintour on an NYC fashion show! 🙂

  8. Hi Gennaro,

    I have been to all those parks you listed. Wrigley Field and Fenway Park are my two favorites. For some reason, those two struck me as being full of history and just seem so powerful because of that history. So many great players were at those two parks…maybe that is why.

  9. J.D. Meier says:

    Great rundown of best ballparks.

    What’s cool is how many dreams have been made and how many father-son bondings and memories.

  10. Gennaro says:

    @jen laceda

    I saw that change. Good idea. I think that would be a fair exchange for the two of you between the sports event and the fashion show 🙂

    @Nadia

    The history makes a big diffference to me too. Baseball has always been tied to history for me. They also take it seriously as a sport. Thought it was great that baseball integrated racially before the rest of the country.

    @J.D. Meier

    Thanks. So true. Lots of bonding going on in parks across the country.

  11. I’m a fan of the Skydome. Sure we don’t have sunny days often, and the grass isn’t real. But we have a pitcher’s mound that magically raises and lowers through the power of hydrolics. And that? That’s exciting.

    Plus – you know – it gets monster trucks too.

  12. Gennaro says:

    @previously.bitten

    Skydome was the place to be for a number of years. Lots of interesting features. Ahead of its time, for sure. It seems that fans have become lukewarm about the team of late.

  13. Yanks Fan says:

    Getting my tickets for Yankees games delivered this week. Great post.

  14. This post just reminded me that even though I’m from Georgia, I’ve never seen the Braves play at the stadium! I have, however, seen the DC Nationals play at the new stadium in DC and it’s very nice!

  15. Gennaro says:

    @Tabitha

    As a Mets fan, I can say that seeing the Braves is no joy anyway 🙂 Glad to see the Nationals get a new park.

  16. Brian T says:

    I would have stuck with the old Yankee Stadium, but I guess money talks. That would have been at least in the top 2. Other than that, I like Wrigley. Fun atmosphere.

  17. Lance says:

    Hi Gennaro,
    What a fun post! I’ve visited a few baseball parks – and one that would be cool to visit – Fenway!

    The one I’ve visited the most is Miller Park, in Milwaukee. There are many activities for all, and the retractable roof – for all the difficulties in installing it – has been a blessing for many a cold and rainy Wisconsin day.

    The atmosphere at a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game is also what makes that a fun park to visit.

  18. Gennaro says:

    @Brian T

    I’m very interested to see if the New Yankee Stadium can maintain that aura.

    @Lance

    I’d like to visit Miller Field. Lots of runs scored there. That roof is definitely a good idea!

  19. I was so glad to see Fenway listed first 🙂 I’ve only been to one MLB game and it was at Fenway. This was a looonng time ago – my grandfather was a huge Red Sox fan and we took him to see a game there. He was a kid when they won the World Series in the early 1900’s and unfortunately passed away in 1999 before getting a chance to see them win the World Series again.

  20. Gennaro says:

    @Kim Woodbridge

    Sorry to hear he didn’t get a chance to see the win in 2004. Magical season for the fans of the Red Sox. Of course, I was glad to see the Mets add to that long drought with a World Series win in 1986 over the Sox 🙂

  21. Gennaro says:

    @Susan

    I’m with you in terms of beating the Yanks. Then losing in the World Series to the Mets.

  22. SD FAN says:

    SAN DIEGO PADRES (PETCO PARK) BEAUTIFUL VENUE, THE SCENERY IS PERFECT. GOOD FRIENDLY FAN FEEL, GOOD PLACE FOR FAMILY ENVIRONMENT GREAT FOOD, AND BARS FOR DRINKING AND DINING IN THE BALL PARK. OVERALL RATING 10/10

  23. Gennaro says:

    @SD Fans

    A big improvement over their last ballpark. Tough to score runs there.

  24. Sire says:

    I reckon that baseball must be an acquired taste, sort of like our cricked. I much prefer the excitement from watching a good AFL game. having said that, I wouldn’t visit the States without taking in at least one baseball game, just to see what all the hype is about 😉

  25. Gennaro says:

    @Sire

    Definitely an acquired taste, but I was hooked at an early age. It’s a lot easier to watch AFL or NBA as a newbie. Going to a baseball game is a great experience, but the first few times it’s tough to understand. Same is true of cricket I imagine as I have no clue how it works.

  26. Sire says:

    Just as a matter of interest, have you ever watched an AFL game? It’s quite good considering that the guys don’t wear any protective clothing, apart from a mouth guard.

  27. Gennaro says:

    @Sire

    Yes, I’ve seen it. I’m very impressed by the toughness of the athletes in AFL. A lot like rugby.

  28. Sire says:

    Do they actually show them in the States or did you see it on cable or something?

  29. Gennaro says:

    @Sire

    It use to be on cable in the U.S. years ago. On a channel that no longer exists called Sports Channel. I remember it from that. Haven’t seen it for awhile now.

  30. Sire says:

    OK. Well lucky for me we get to see the games live most of the time and today my team is playing so with a bit of luck they will win and that will make my day.

  31. Missouri Mike says:

    Great list. Special shout out for AT&T Park in San Francisco. An absolute gem of a ballpark. Nothing more cool or exciting than a splash hit into McCovey Cove or watching the game for free thru the RF fence. Went to visit the New York parks in 2001 (2 weeks before 9/11) and looking forward to seeing the new versions sometime soon.

  32. Gennaro says:

    @Missouri Mike – Think you’ll love Citi Field and the new Yankee Stadium. Both are impressive. No McCovey Cove, but still pretty nice.

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