Last month, I covered the Orioles series at Miami’s Marlins Park. I’ve now been to all 30 major league parks. Lots of writers have done that, but then I started adding up the older parks, the ones no longer in use, and I found that I’d been to 53.
That’s 23 that either no longer exist or host major league baseball.
Many fans I meet have a goal of visiting all 30 parks. It’s a great goal, though not an easy one to attain.
Here’s some advice:
Don’t try and visit all 30 ballparks in one summer.
If you’re a teacher and have the entire summer off, it can be tempting. There’s too much rushing around, and one of the fun things about visiting new ballparks is exploring new cities, and it’s more fun if you spread your adventure around and savor it.
Planning a trip is harder than it may seem. Put lots of thought into it.
Let’s say you’re an Orioles fan, and you’re determined to see the six West Coast ballparks in August.
The Orioles play at Oakland Aug. 3-5, at Anaheim Aug. 7-9 and Seattle Aug. 10-12.
That’s three, but you’re going to have to miss some Orioles games and stay an extra day to see Dodger Stadium, AT&T Park and Petco Park.
That’s a lot of travel to try and get six parks in 10 days. But, you can do it.
Enjoy the sights and the food.
I’m not talking about the ballpark food. Try the barbecue in Kansas City at Jack Stack’s or Oklahoma Joe’s. Eat some real Mexican in San Diego, some clams in Boston and the ribs at Cincinnati’s Montgomery Inn.
If you think that visiting all 30 is unrealistic, which ones do you have to see?
If you’ve already seen games in Baltimore and Washington, you need to see the rest of the East.
On many ratings, Yankee Stadium ranks low. On my scale, it’s one of the best.
It feels intimate, the fans are involved, and the sound system is clear, if a bit loud.
If you see the Yankees and Orioles on Thursday July 23, you can take the subway to Citi Field for the Mets and Dodgers that night.
While Citi Field is kind of forgettable, Yankee Stadium isn’t.
Fenway Park is old and cramped, but with the Red Sox playing poorly, tickets are now easy to come by.
Don’t miss Philadelphia. Citizens Bank Park is pretty, easy to get to and has lots of good food options.
I’m often surprised how overlooked PNC Park in Pittsburgh is. It’s one of the best ballparks in the country. You can see downtown Pittsburgh from the ballpark, and it’s only about four hours from Baltimore.
Any I can miss?
Oakland and Toronto are on everyone’s list of most forgettable stadiums, but I’d add Milwaukee’s Miller Park to the list.
I love eating German food at Karl Ratzsch’s and eating the Commish, a roast beef sandwich named after former commissioner Bud Selig at Jake’s Deli. But, Milwaukee leaves me cold.
I’m not a fan of retractable domes or parks built on parking lots.
Milwaukee missed a great opportunity to build something special, and they didn’t.
What are the most underrated parks?
While everyone justifiably rates Oriole Park, AT&T Park, Wrigley Field and PNC Park highly, don’t forgot about Target Field in Minneapolis.
It’s got the best scoreboard I’ve ever seen with lots of pertinent information on each batter including his Twitter handle.
Comerica Park is in downtown Detroit, and while the skyline isn’t inspiring, the ballpark looks great, and the fans are wonderful.
I haven’t been to Seattle for a number of years, but I have fond memories of Safeco Field.
Many have Petco Park on their favorites list. I didn’t dislike it, but thought it was pretty unoriginal. Lots of ideas from other parks cobbled together, but its location in downtown San Diego is terrific.
And, the weather isn’t bad, either.
You say that you’ve been to 23 ballparks no longer in existence. That seems hard to believe.
Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium, Veterans Stadium, Municipal Stadium (Cleveland), Tiger Stadium, Qualcomm in San Diego, Candlestick Park, Comiskey Park, Three Rivers Stadium, Cinergy Field (Cincinnati), old Busch Stadium, RFK, County Stadium (Milwaukee), Arlington Stadium (Texas), Fulton County (Atlanta), Sun Life (Miami), Olympic (Montreal), Memorial Stadium (Baltimore), Astrodome, Exhibition (Toronto), Mile High (Denver), Metrodome and Kingdome.
Sadly, my father refused to take me to the Polo Grounds in the two seasons the Mets played there because as a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, he despised the Giants, and the Polo Grounds was where they played.
But, instead my first game was at Yankee Stadium in 1963, and I got to see Yogi Berra play.
Fifty-three ballparks later, I’m still counting.