Growing up as an enormous baseball fan, it had always been a life long dream to visit the stadiums that encompassed the greatest players of all-time. To sit down in the stands at Fenway Park, “Old” Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field, or Tiger Stadium, I could propel myself back to a time when Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio battled one another for baseball’s MVP or Ty Cobb spiking a third basemen trying to leg out a double into a triple.
Today, I can only read about places like Ebbets Field or the Polo Grounds in New York, so when the San Diego Padres visited the Colorado Rockies this past weekend, Coors Field marked my seventeenth Major League Ballpark that I visited since embarking on a quest that started back at the Houston Astrodome in 1998 to not let these cathedrals of baseball go unvisited in my lifetime.
Since starting this adventure throughout the country, I have managed to visit such historic fields as Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. In addition, I have also had the chance to embrace the aesthetics of these newer ballparks like Busch Stadium in St. Louis and Jacobs Field in Cleveland.
Each of these ballparks offer up something uniquely different that has enabled me to be a part of history when looking back at them 40 years later. It can be the smallest things from the taste of hot dog, the price of beer, or the name on the scoreboard. These visits enable me to live a dream that began when watching Tony Gwynn play right field at Jack Murphy Stadium back in the 1980s.
In comparison to other stadiums, Coors Field offered up an amazing fan experience from the taste of their Rockie Dogs to views from the grandstand. However, how did it rate with those other stadiums that I have managed to cross off my list?
Without a doubt, the two most iconic places have been Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. When walking through the gates around Kenmore in Boston and Addison and Waveland in Chicago, it impossible to not feel the power of what makes this game America’s pastime when seeing the Ivy or Green Monster.
The history of these two venues overshadows those other stadiums on my list, but it does not detract from the different aspects that makes them still an amazing place to visit. Despite the highest prices for concessions, the fans of the St. Louis Cardinals are one of the most dedicated and passionate to watch a game around.
Being one of a handful of Padres’ fans watching the game on that hot September afternoon, it felt like a playoff game. Every pitch mattered to Cardinal fans and every play brought you closer to the action. It’s these type of experiences that make travelling around the country the opportunity of the a lifetime.
However, some of these visits have also left me wondering what the architect was thinking when they designed the ballpark. The Chicago White Sox and US Cellular provides little for a visitor to rush for a return to the South Side of Chicago. Its unappealing aesthetics and lack of detail on the scoreboard constantly left me checking the program.
Yet, Dodger Stadium fit that same image as US Cellular but it’s historic view of the Hollywood sign and legendary Dodger Dog does not discredit another return, especially if the Padres are making a pennant run.
With the opening of Petco Park in 2004, the San Diego Padres have given fans a ball park that caters to every sports fan. It’s reasonable prices of hot dogs and drinks along with seating provides fans a true baseball experience. However, the one thing San Diego lacks is consistency in attendance. San Diego fans can be one of the most passionate fans in baseball, but the team’s lack of success and inconsistencies year-after-year keeps attendance low unless its giveaway night. There is nothing more electric than 42,o00 Padres’ fans cheering on a NL West Championship.
Yankee Stadium was no doubt the place that Ruth built, but it’s those memories created in these baseball cathedrals that make baseball uniquely American.