God I love Baseball Parks.
Right? I mean just the smell alone when you walk through that turnstile and hopefully catch a sweet savory glimpse of that green grass would turn anyone into a believer. And you know what’s the best part? They are all different.
I had the pleasure of touring this country 4x on a bus (don’t ask me why but it was super fun) and I got to go to almost every single ballpark in the country. I remember walking up to the Metrodome in Minnesota and PNC Park in Pittsburgh. From old Yankee Stadium to the new one (the old one was so much better. Did you know that on opening day at the new Yankee stadium if you sat in the bleachers you might not be able to see a home run hit into left field because there is a MASSIVE CEMENT WALL THERE!? So what did those genius engineers do? They put up tiny TV’s so that right when the ball goes into the stands, and out of your view, you watch the culmination of the epic long ball hit by Hideki “GODZILLA” Matsui on a fucking television screen. Thanks, George Steinbrenner… but I digress.)
Football Stadiums aren’t really that different. Same dimensions, same field, same boring oval. Basketball Stadiums are essentially the same as well. Hockey stadiums are all the same too (they have to be because they all need the exact same dimensions) but BASEBALL said: “screw that shit we are going to make each ballpark the way we want it”. It’s kinda amazing, isn’t it? I mean every other sport the dimensions HAVE to be the same for fair play. Soccer, swimming, Tennis (I mean Tennis has clay or grass or that other crap but the dimensions are the same).
Golf is beautiful in that way too because all the courses are different (it’s really the only interesting thing about Golf… COME AT ME BRO!!), but baseball stadiums are stunning works of beauty.
I remember walking into Busch Stadium, buying a 40-dollar ticket, sitting 4 rows from Pujols as the sun set on the stadium behind the St Louis Arch in the distance and the shadow of it was also mowed onto the field. That’s perfection. Mainly because it was only 40 dollars, where in Yankee stadium they would ask for my pension.
I remember walking along the river and then going to Miller Park in Milwaukee (after going to the Safe House for dinner. You have to go. It’s a speakeasy in Milwaukee and you need to know the password to get in. I’m not telling! BEG ME!!!!). Watching Braun hit a home run all roided up and then watching that silly little bastard, Bernie the Brewer, slide down that slide in CF to celebrate the home run. I mean WTF. Then the SAUSAGE RACES!!! Ugh. Genius.
I love Dodger Stadium. I love those shitty ass dodger dogs (don’t listen to anyone, they are HORRIBLE but brilliant brand marketing) and looking out over center field into the ravine on the sunset while Kershaw flashes his brilliance (only in the regular season though. Guy BLOWS in the playoffs), while sitting next to LA people who haven’t watched a single pitch because they are doing 10,000 selfies to show others they are at the game. Never mind, dodger stadium makes me sad.
I loved going to Memorial Stadium to watch the O’s play as a kid and now to one of the top 5 ballparks in the country, Camden Yards. It’s so frigging gorgeous. Baltimore scares the shit out of me but going to the park is worth a possible death sentence. All that beautiful brick, and those Yankee fans that drive down from NYC to watch their beloved Yankees for much cheaper tickets? That’s America, folks.
Or going to “shitty” field to watch the Mets play. Walking over that silly little bridge near CF to shake shack is the best. Or watching that Paper Mache’ apple rise from the depths during the 7th inning stretch. I love going to Mets games and listen to Mets fans talk about Shea Stadium and how amazing it was… and realizing that Mets fans live in a perpetual dream world. Shea Stadium was a pit of nastiness and poop but it was THEIR pit of nastiness and poop. So I guess that counts for something.
Or going to a Padres game and watching the kids play in the sandbox in the outfield. I love how no one really cares about the padres in San Diego but they live in San Diego so they made better life choices than you or I…cause they live in San Diego. If the padres were good it wouldn’t be fair. You cannot live in one of the most stunning cities in the country AND have a good baseball team, the Gods wouldn’t allow it.
Or going to another top 5 park, AT&T Park, and watch the Giants play. This gorgeous beast of baseball is just awesome. From the beautiful brick, to the hippies walking up to the stadium with their beards and ganja smells, to the idiots in the bay with boats and nets trying to catch a home run ball. My favorite is that in the 7th inning all the seagulls come and sit on the top of the stadium because they know “take me out to the ball game” means the game is almost over and the leftover food is there. SEAGULLS INVADE!!!! But in the 9th inning the stadium plays a song where everyone claps to scare off the gulls back into the bay. It’s incredible that this has become a staple during games. Then a cloud comes in and the pitcher cannot see home plate so there is that. Top 5 stadium though… just breathtaking to watch a game there.
Or Coors Field. Where you can take a tour of the field and they show you where they keep the baseballs in a humidor so the balls won’t fly as far in the high altitudes. Seriously. They keep the balls in a humidor…. and everyone is high all the time now. That’s a non sequitur.
Fenway Park. Where the ceilings are crazy low cause Americans were crazy short way back when. They have that big ass green monster in LF and in right they barely have a wall to hold the crazy Bostonians from killing the Right fielder/. I remember when some d-bag tried to uppercut Gary Sheffield. Or the wonderful stadium where fans throw pizza at each other.
I also remember going there and sitting with some amazing fans and in the 8th inning they said “so which team is your fave?” and I said “Yankees” some guy got up walked away… came back 5 minutes later with a Red Sox hat, pin and pennant and said “welcome to Fenway.” we loved talking baseball with you and want you to remember your first time at the park as a great one”. Say what you want, but that was one of my fondest baseball memories… although I wish someone had thrown a piece of pizza at me, damn I want some pizza. DOMINOS APP!!!!!
Or Yankee Stadium. Yes, the old one was better. It had mystique, and smelled like puke and the walls were nasty, and the corridors were small, and the bathrooms had a constant layer of piss on the ground at all times. It also had championships, and history, and more seats for the common man, and the players would say “when you played there it felt like the fans were on top of you” cause they were. Those upper deck seats were so close to the action, but it also had generational history. One of my last games there I was upper deck behind home plate and to my left there was a young kid, his dad and HIS dad. I heard the grandfather say to his grandson “see that apartment building over right field…that’s where I was born, I would watch mickey mantle from there” and now he is seeing a game with his son and grandson. That’s fucking awesome. That’s why baseball is amazing especially in NY. Even if you HATE the Yankees, watching baseball in the Bronx is like a Christian going to Jerusalem. It feels like the birthplace of baseball….
Also why in the hell didn’t they just keep home plate where it was and build a new Yankee stadium around it. Tear it down, play at shitty Citi Field for a year and then come back. It would have been the same batters box as the Babe and Lou and the Mick…did no one think of that!?!? Ugh, I should have been consulted.
Another Yankee stadium story (new Yankee stadium) is one night the Yankees HAD to play a game before the regular season was over. It was raining and FINALLY, at 11 pm the game was going to start. A friend of mine is in marketing there and calls me up and says, “You wanna come to the game? Starts in 15 minutes. Only about 1000 people are here. Sit wherever you like… also all the food will be free bring whomever you want”. I live on the UWS of Manhattan so I call 3 people we race up there sit 2 rows from home plate and have the time of our lives. I could scream at every batter and they could hear me cause NO ONE WAS THERE!!!!! The game ended at 2 am. Got on the subway and went home. It was glorious. Felt like a minor league game in Yankee Stadium. NYC kicks ass.
I love baseball stadiums and I hope to see them all before I die. I have about 5 left so I am fairly sure that I will. I love that the dimensions are different, they serve different food, and they have different traditions and past times. I implore you all to go and see as many as possible, hang out with the fans there, ask them how they became fans. Did their dad or mom bring them to their first game? How is their bullpen this year, what does their farm system look like? It will be worth it.
Baseball brings people together. It’s like Luke and the Force. It binds us and makes us whole. The stadiums and their beautifully different architecture is a part of that…. Shit, I need to go to a game.