August 1994 - Been There, Done That

I can finally claim to have achieved my Big Goal in Life. I have seen a game in every Major League ballpark. During the ten years I pursued this goal, they were building them faster than I could get to them. As a result, I've attended games in 32 MLB venues, seeing more than one game in all but nine. Along the way, I've seen the Red Sox play in 11 different parks, as well as World Series games in three, and an All-Star Game.

I'm a ballpark aficionado, partial to the history, architecture and atmosphere of the older fields. Not one to just show up for the game, I'm one of the first through the turnstiles. I explore high and low, snapping off a couple of rolls of film along the way. I try to get the flavor of every one.

Here are some of my impressions:

5. Dodger Stadium - Christened in 1962, Chavez Ravine holds the best of the "new" parks. Great sightlines and True Blue atmosphere, even if they do leave early. Still looks brand new.

4. Yankee Stadium - "The House That Ruth Built." Big, loud & dangerous, just like New York. Regardless of your feelings about the Bronx Bombers, if you're a baseball fan, you gotta appreciate this place.

3. Wrigley Field - The Friendly Confines have a special spot in my heart. I snagged a foul ball at my first MLB game there (a mere 14 years ago.) Destiny? Maybe. On another visit, I met Bill Veeck under the bleachers. He graciously posed with his arm around my shoulder, but sadly, the picture didn't come out. The addition of lights was a heartbreaker, but the brick and Veeck's ivy maintain a strong tradition. Great fans, great atmosphere. Sit in the bleachers.

2. Old Comiskey Park - "The Base Ball Palace of the World." A real shame we lost this one. From the glass bricks to the signature arches, the picnic area and Veeck's exploding scoreboard, this jewel lived up to its motto.

1. Fenway Park - "A lyric little bandbox of a ballpark." Okay, I'm prejudiced. I've seen some 300 games there, so I know it the best. Enjoy it while you can -- dastardly forces are already at work to tear it down. Will the Red Sox ever realize that the ballpark is one of their biggest stars?

* Tiger Stadium - Tied with Fenway for the oldest park in the Majors. The most scared I've ever been outside a ballpark, but a Yankee Stadium experience comes close.

* SkyDome - Astroturf and domes tarnish any field, but this place is something to see. All 3 games I saw there had the roof closed - I'm sure it's a totally different experience with it open. Hope to find out someday.

* Cleveland Municipal Stadium "The Mistake by the Lake." A true product of The Great Depression. Everybody should experience an MLB game surrounded by 74,000 empty seats at least once.

* Olympic Stadium - Scoreboards, announcers & vendors are all bi-lingual. Take a radio & listen to the French broadcast, buy a "chaud chien" (hot dog).

* Candlestick Park - Night games can be as cold and windy as they say, but day games can be exquisite. Recent improvements have added a great deal, but The Stick remains funky in its own right. Sophisticated fans in a sophisticated city.

* Oriole Park at Camden Yards - Sorry, but I'm not on this bandwagon. As with all the new parks, they try to manufacture nostalgia here. While it's a nice place to watch a ball game, I'll take the real tradition and history of Fenway any day.

* The Metrodome - From the "baggies" that serve as outfield walls to a ceiling that is the same color as a baseball, this place is an abomination. Yuck!

So, I'm savoring my achievement. But it will be short-lived. A new ball park opens in Denver next year. I'm already making plans for Number 33.

©1994 - 2007 Douglas T. Dinsmoor


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