We may not be able to visit our favorite ballpark right now, but we can dream about it and how much better it is than the other 29. Right?
SI's MLB staff weighs in with its five favorite ballparks around the majors (and one minor league stadium). Sorry in advance for snubbing your favorite place to catch a game.
1. Wrigley Field: At its finest for a summer day game. It was designed to evoke a public park, and still succeeds as a green gathering place for families.
2. Fenway Park: Every game looks great in person and on television. The best sightlines and acoustics in baseball. The crack of the bat, the pop of the mitt, the murmurs and roars of the crowd have not been killed by the artificial noise and bad music played way too loud that other parks think are “cool.”
3. Oriole Park at Camden Yards: It began the modern ballpark building boom and nobody has topped it yet, though the ones in San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Seattle and San Diego came close. Ballparks should be places of welcome. The best ballparks have intimacy and charm. Camden fits the bill.
4. Oracle Park: Nobody beats the setting. I love that it welcomes triples (though less so with a current reconfiguration). The fans are terrific. They watch the game, even from the expensive boxes, and don’t need to be prompted when to “make noise.”
5. Dodger Stadium: As you go higher the views improve: the San Gabriel Mountains and Mount Wilson Observatory beg your attention. I love that the seat colors of each tier invoke the sun, sand, sea and sky of Southern California.
1. Oriole Park at Camden Yards: This, to me, is the platonic ideal of a ballpark. It feels like one of the old jewel boxes but lacks the cramped seats and bad sightlines. It offers genuinely good crabcakes in the concession stand. The warehouse is a great backdrop. The home run markers on Eutaw Street are a delightful touch. This place is a great time.
2. Fenway Park: I am a sucker for history, and I grew up going here. I'm also 5'4", so I recognize that taller people have a much worse experience here than I do. But I contend that the clam chowder is the best concession in the sport.
3. Wrigley Field: Another vote for history. The concessions are almost impressively bad for such a great food city, and the video boards have ruined some of the ambiance, but there's nothing quite like taking the El to a day game here.
4. Dodger Stadium: Dodger Stadium looks exactly how I imagined L.A. would when I was a kid. It's all sun-washed colors and mid-century modern fonts. The PA system is weirdly loud and there are two elevators in the whole place, but watching the sun set over Chavez Ravine while a tall lefty takes the mound is about as good as it gets.
5. Minute Maid Park: I was tempted to take Oracle Park here, but three straight Octobers in Houston have converted me. It's prettier with the roof open, but it's electric with the roof closed and José Altuve rounding second on a ball that bounces off the Crawford Boxes. And those weird angles make for some very exciting plays.
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1. Oracle Park: I'm as much of a sucker for a park on the water as I am for garlic fries.
2. Oriole Park at Camden Yards: So many parks tried to lean into the retro revival movement after the Orioles kicked it off here in 1992, but there's still nowhere that's done it better than Camden.
3. Fenway Park: It's cheesy, but just thinking about the history of the place can still give me chills (and convince me to see features like cramped seating as charming rather than dated).
4. Wrigley Field: See the above!
5. Durham Bulls Athletic Park: For the last one on my list, I'm dipping down to Triple A, which has one of my favorite parks for reasons both sentimental and aesthetic. I went to college in Durham (after growing up in Charlotte, which, I have to note here, has its own fantastic minor-league ballpark) and Durham is the first place where I got used to going to games alone, buying cheap tickets just to keep score and soak in all the little details of the park. From the "Hit Bull, Win Steak" sign to the Blue Monster in left field, it's just a wonderfully charismatic stadium.
1. Oracle Park: Garlic fries, Willie Mays and views of San Francisco Bay. Next.
2. Oriole Park at Camden Yards: There's some kind of modern-retro-timeless feel to the ballpark that's hard to explain. It's more than just the aesthetics of the place. The team may not be worth a trip to Baltimore, but the ballpark certainly is.
3. Wrigley Field: Nowhere else in baseball to watch a Friday afternoon game. Literally, nowhere else. Go when the ivy is green for maximum Wrigley Effect.
4. Petco Park: True to the locale, it's the most relaxing park in baseball to watch a game. Not to mention its unmatched beer and food selections.
5. Kauffman Stadium: As someone who's spent all his life on one coast or the other, The K is a gem of the Midwest. Everything about it just feels true to the area and baseball history. Apologies to Fenway, Target Field and PNC. It was close.
1. PNC Park: The first stop on the ballpark road trip I did with my dad for my 10th birthday, PNC Park is the most aesthetically pleasing of the 19 stadiums I've attended. Jason Bay threw me a baseball between innings. Treat yourself to a day game there, with the sun shining behind the Roberto Clemente Bridge that crosses over the Allegheny River.
2. Wrigley Field: Going to Wrigley Field is about more than just seeing the game; you get the atmosphere of a community gathering in the middle of a neighborhood. Catching a midweek afternoon game there in the heart of summer is about as traditional as Major League Baseball can get in the 21st century.
3. Yankee Stadium: My dad and I had season tickets for the inaugural season of the new Yankee Stadium in 2009, after also being season-ticket holders for the last five or so years of the old stadium. Really, it's not the most beautiful stadium, and everything is far too expensive. But it's the stadium that helped shape my relationship with baseball and my dad. I also covered my first MLB game at Yankee Stadium.
4. Busch Stadium: My dad is a huge Cardinals fan, so he and I went to the old Busch Stadium in its final season and then went to see the new Busch Stadium a few years later. I love the Gateway Arch hanging over the stadium and how the whole city seems to turn out for a game.
5. Comerica Park: Perhaps an underrated pick, I went to Comerica Park on another ballpark road trip with my dad, and it was just a great time. I enjoyed the design around the stadium, with Tigers sculpted into the building. The on-field product still leaves something (read: a lot) to be desired.
1. Coors Field: Perhaps childhood nostalgia clouds my judgement a bit, but Coors Field is a legitimately delightful place to watch a game. The Rocky Mountains cast a shadow over left field, and the ballpark's design pays homage to Ebbets Field. A summer day at Coors is as good as it gets.
2. Wrigley Field: Arguably the best fans in baseball and a truly unique design sets Wrigley apart from any ballpark outside of Fenway. And no stadium has a better 7th inning stretch.
3. Oracle Park: The Giants' home provides lovely views of the Bay Area, and its food options are unparalleled throughout MLB. It may wait a while for playoff baseball to return, though.
4. Citi Field: Terrific sightlines and plenty of homages to the Brooklyn Dodgers make for a nice day at the ballpark. If you can only choose one New York stadium to visit, Queens is the move over the new(ish) Yankee Stadium.
5. Minute Maid Park: Recent renovations have made Minute Maid a state-of-the-art ballpark, and the team is pretty darn good, too. The playoff atmosphere in Houston has been legitimately electric in recent seasons.