The Best MLB Ballparks to Visit
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 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 © JS Catty
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.”
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.
AT&T Park, San Francisco © Scatterbrained
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 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 © Kla4067
The Future and the Past
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 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.