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Since 2012 my buddy and I have been on a mission to visit all 30 major league ballparks. You see, we really like baseball. It took seven years but as of July 8, 2018, we completed our quest: visiting 27 ballparks (we’d already been to games together at Fenway, Yankee Stadium, and Oakland Coliseum).
Our methodology was to arrive at least an hour before the game (we couldn’t do this in all cases), walk the entire stadium, sample the food, and then stay until the last out. Below are my completely objective rankings with the top three parks, along with the rest divided among three tiers. You may notice that there are not an equal number of teams in each tier. I don’t care. This is my post. So argue away.
Bottom line, any park is a good place to watch a baseball game.
Along the way we took in some other fun sights like the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City, the Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt State Park, California, the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona, Queens, the Reagan Presidential Library, the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, and stopping between Philly and Pittsburgh to spend a day at Gettysburg where the Blues beat the Grays in a hotly contested match not decided until the final inning.
Along with the ratings, I’ve included a sampling of the awards we made at the end of each trip. (If you are baseball nuts like we are, you can find a full account of each trip, with lots of photos at this link.)
Extra bonus feature: Read on to learn which park is best suited for you to survive a zombie apocalypse!
Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox, 1912) – Hey, I’m a Red Sox fan, what’d you expect?
AT&T Park (San Francisco Giants, 2000) – Views of surrounding area, sight lines to the field, and the food was all top notch.
PNC Park (Pittsburgh Pirates, 2001) – Views of the bridge and city. Good seating and food.
Wrigley Field (Chicago Cubs, 1914) – Some advice; don’t go to a June game on a sunny day if there’s a brisk wind blowing in from the lake, or at least sit in the bleachers where you are protected.
Petco Park (San Diego Padres, 2004) – Tied for best food with AT&T. Also like that factory facade built into the stadium.
Safeco Field (Seattle Mariners, 1999)
Kaufman Stadium (KC Royals, 1973)) – An older stadium with a nice feel to it. Very comfortable and open.
Coors Field (Colorado Rockies, 1995) – I may have been unduly influenced by the magnificent fireworks display at the end of the game.
Busch Stadium (St Louis Cardinals, 2006) – Great atmosphere, great fans, and food. And that’s even with us ending up in the last row of the third deck in left field.
Marlins Park (Miami Marlins, 2012) – A lot of folks don’t like this one but I did, except for the stupid statue in center field which they should blow up. Instead, they blew up the team.
Comerica Park (Detroit Tigers, 2000) – Much better than anticipated.
Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles Dodgers, 1962) – Great location, memorable history, but the park itself is looking old and tired.
Camden Yards (Baltimore Orioles, 1992) – The state of the art stadium when it opened, it’s now been surpassed by the competition.
Chase Field (Arizona Diamondbacks, 1998) – I’ve developed a soft spot for the park of my new hometown team. Decent in every category, plus you can buy a Paradise Valley Burger there. On the other hand, team management wants out of the stadium because of a dispute with the city over deferred maintenance.
Globe Life Park (Texas Rangers, 1994) – Interesting park to walk around with good vantage points. My advice: don’t get seats on the third base line for afternoon or early evening games in the summer. I left some skin.
Target Field (Minnesota Twins, 2010) – Fun place, right near downtown.
Great American Ballpark (Cincinnati Reds, 2003) – Like the river setting. Good BBQ in left field corner. So, do you think Joey Votto takes too many pitches?
Miller Park (Milwaukee Brewers, 2001) – Fun place to watch a ballgame. Importantly, the ballpark best suited for you to survive a zombie apocalypse.
Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia Phillie, 2004) – Like the promenade and food area around the outfield.
Citi Field (New York Mets, 2009) – If you go try to tie in a visit to the Louis Armstrong House Museum in nearby Corona, Queens.
Nationals Park (Washington Nationals, 2008)
SunTrust Park (Atlanta Braves, 2017) – We saw it last year when it opened. It left me cold.
Yankee Stadium (New York Yankees, 2009) – Yes, I hate the Yankees but hear me out. I’ve been to both the original Yankee Stadium and its 1970s replacement and thought highly of both of them. The new stadium, which I’ve been to several times, is a nothingburger, and a number of my Yankee friends agree.
Rodgers Centre (Toronto Blue Jays, 1989) – Nothing special in any way. Needs renovation. My view is admittedly colored by our seats behind the right-field light stands. Devoted fans, however. 48,000 showed up for a midweek game with the Tigers with neither team in contention.
Progressive Field (Cleveland Indians, 1994) – Impressed on my first visits to the stadium, but it had aged badly by my last trip in 2012. The field was renovated in 2014 and 2015 so maybe some of the old glory has been restored. I hope so.
Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (Oakland Athletics, 1966) – I was last there in 1972. I’m told it’s not gotten any better.
Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros, 2000) – Like watching a game in a shopping mall. Great scoreboard though. The team is not too shabby either.
Guaranteed Rate Field (Chicago White Sox, 1991) – Winner of Worst Name for a Ballpark award.
Angel Stadium (Los Angeles Angels, 1966) – Low-rated otherwise, but don’t miss the bacon and cheese sandwich which comes with a ton of bacon. This Trout kid may amount to something. Keep an eye on him.
Somewhere Between AAA and Major League
Tropicana Field (Tampa Bay Rays, 1990) – Like watching a game in a circus tent. It was so ridiculous I found it enjoyable, at least for one game.
Best Heads Up Play and Worst Fielding/Lack of Hustle Play: Alen Hanson/Anthony Rizzo/Javier Baez. In the bottom of the 5th, with the Cubs leading 1-0, Pablo Sandoval hit a weak ground ball on which Rizzo made an error catching the throw. The next batter, Alen (that’s really how he spells it) Hanson hit a grounder, forcing Sandoval at second. Hendricks made a pick-off attempt on which Rizzo made an error. Rizzo and Javier Baez showed a lack of hustle getting to the ball, allowing Hanson, who turned on the jets, to score all the way from first. Watch the play here. This cost Kyle Hendricks, who pitched splendidly for the Cubs, a 1-0 victory, and the Giants won in extra innings.
Best Drive: From south of Portland, Oregon to Petaluma, California (over two days). We drove through the Willamette Valley and then the mountains and valleys of southern Oregon on I-5 before turning off at Grant’s Pass and heading towards Crescent City, the northernmost town on the California coast, where we stayed overnight. The next day, we took Route 101 along the coast until it turned inland south of Eureka, got off for thirty miles to drive the Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt State Park, and then followed 101 to Ukiah and through the wine-growing valley to the south.
Jumbo Diaz Fielding Award: Jumbo Diaz of course!
As you can see, Jumbo is quite large and, as we found out, does not move well. He’s 33 and listed at 6’4″ and 278 pounds (that may be just a bit on the low side). With the game between the Rays and Orioles tied 3-3 in the 7th, Jumbo came in on in relief for Tampa with a runner on first. Over the next two innings, Jumbo gave up five hits and five runs of which three were bunt singles which he could not handle (to be fair the last one was more the fault of the Rays muffing coverage at first base). After the third bunt (and second in a row) we wondered if Buck Showalter was going to continue to do so until the Rays reacted. I guess he decided to have mercy on Jumbo.
Quickest Home Run: Giancarlo Stanton hit a home run against the Cubs that reached the left-field seats before we realized what had happened.
Best Food Actually Eaten: Chase Field. A hot dog smothered in mac ‘n’ cheese (Larry), Italian sausage with peppers & onions from Hungry Hill (me), and, at the insistence of my daughter: an ice cream churro dog shared by us all. We were comatose by the end of the game, which, given the quality of play, was probably a good thing.
Most Unintelligible Public Address System: Kauffman Stadium. Couldn’t understand a word.
Best Performance By A Player On His Bobblehead Day: Carlos Gomez of the Brewers who hit a long home run.
Best Adam Dunn Type-Performance: Adam Dunn, of course! As you may know, THC is fascinated by all things Dunn. Our hopes were fulfilled at the White Sox game when Adam delivered the Adam Dunn Cycle (Homer, Walk, Strikeout). And it looks like our presence and inspiration was responsible for The Adam Dunn Resurgence. Coming into that game, Dunn was hitting .156 with 13 homers. Since then he’s hit .400 with five homers, raising his average to .183
Best Infield Play: I’d never seen a 3-2-2 double play before. In the Tampa-Detroit game, the Rays had runners on 1st and 2nd in the top of the 3rd with one out when Fuld hit a hard grounder to first base on which Prince Fielder made a diving stop and threw to catcher Alex Avila. You can watch the rest of it at this link.
Torii Hunter, the veteran Tiger outfielder, said after the game:
As long as you’ve been around this game, you’re going to see something . . . I don’t care how old you are or how long you’ve been in the game, there’s always something new in this game. All these years, here’s something new. It was amazing.
Number of Coyotes Seen Crossing Roads: One (US 60 in Ohio)Published in