by – D.J. Wilson
“Take Me Out to the Ballgame” is a favorite tune of sports fans throughout America. The chorus is traditionally sung during the middle of the seventh inning of a major league baseball game. Fans cheerfully sing-a-long and often replace the words “home team” with their favorite team name. This “Tin Pan Alley “song was written in 1908 by Jack Norworth, who was inspired by a sign he spotted while riding on the subway which read “Baseball Today – Polo Grounds.” The words were later set to music by American songwriter Albert Von Tilzer and appeared in Vaudeville acts. Then, in 1934, it was played at a high school ballpark in Los Angeles. By the 1940s, the song made its way into the major leagues and gained popularity. Today, the catchy tune serves as a non-official anthem of North American baseball and beckons all to “root root root for the home team.”
Here are 10 of the finest baseball Major League ballparks in America:
- PNC Park – Pittsburgh, PA – Baseball fans flock the Steel City to watch the Pittsburgh Pirates in this scenic stadium. Opened during the 2001 MLB season, the park features a natural grass playing field and cool skyline views of downtown Pittsburgh. PNC Park is located in the North Shore neighborhood of the Allegheny River. Historically, it was the stadium that almost wasn’t. Mayor Sophie Masloff proposed a new stadium in 1991, near Three Rivers Stadium. Little progress took place and the future of the team appeared bleak with talks of relocation. The team was ultimately purchased under new ownership. With financing in order, the project moved through. Today, Fans enjoy the success of PNC Park. The Roberto Clemente Bridge leads up to the classic and limestone façade stadium and adds to the park’s on-the-river ambiance. For a pre-game meal, visit the Riverside Concourse featuring a large variety of hip restaurants. Post-game fireworks over the river lend excitement to the scene.
- Yankee Stadium – Bronx, NY – Replacing the original Yankee Stadium is a newer ballpark, constructed across the street from the 1923 stadium site. It was the original dream of owner George Steinbrenner, who campaigned as early as the 1980s for a newer stadium. Built at a whopping price tag of $1.5 billion, it is the most expensive baseball stadium ever built. This state-of-the art facility, opened in 2009, preserves the ambiance of the previous stadium, going as far as to mimic its prior field dimensions. The interior of the stadium features hundreds of photographs capturing Yankee History and blends old traditions with newer amenities. Ideas for creating a retractable roof were scraped to save construction costs. During the building, a construction worker and ardent fan of the Red Sox placed a “hex” on the Yankees by hiding a Red Sox jersey under the visitors’ dugout. It was exhumed and donated to a charity began by the Red Sox. Despite intense rivalry amongst teams, both teams remain focused on their craft. Watch the Yankees play amidst this baseball cathedral, the modern house that Ruth Built.
- Fenway Park – Boston, MA – A step into the stadium is a step back in time at MLB’s oldest ballpark. Opened in 1912, the park has undergone renovations and expansions to result in unique features like the famous ‘Green Monster’ in left field. Fenway Park is located in the Fenway-Kenmore Neighborhood of Boston and is home of the famed Boston Red Sox. It’s unique exterior made Roger Clemens once mistake the stadium for a warehouse. Former pitcher Bill Lee has called Fenway Park a shrine. In 2012, the park was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Fans agree, making it one of the most famous sports stadiums in America.
- Wrigley Field – Chicago, IL – Famous for its ivy covered brick wall outfield, Wrigley Field is home of the Chicago Cubs. Built in 1914 for the Chicago Whales, it is the oldest National League ballpark and the second oldest baseball stadium in the majors. It was the last of the Major League parks to have lights installed for playing after dark. Located in the Northside community of Lakeview, the field is also dubbed “The Friendly Confines” thanks to Hall of Famer Ernie Banks. See the iconic marquee which hovers over the main entrance and the hand turned scoreboard. Join the “bleacher bums” to see the Cubs take advantage of the breezes off Lake Michigan in this windy city stadium. Today, visit area surroundings including bars, restaurants and the vibrant Wrigleyville neighborhood.
- Citizens Bank Park – Philadelphia, PA – Citizens Bank Park is part of the South Philadelphia Sports Complex and is home of the Philadelphia Phillies. Locals call it “The Bank” or simply “CBP”. This newer stadium replaces the multi-use Veterans stadium and features and exterior primarily made of multiple colored red brick with green roofs and copper finish. The park boasts a natural dirt and grass playing field. Family friendly features at the ballpark include a unique entertainment area with games, the Kids’ Corner, a Phanatic Fun Zone, a plethora of eating options. Grab a Philly cheesesteak and sit back in your seat as you cheer on the Phillies with the city of Philadelphia serving as your backdrop.
- Dodgers Stadium – Los Angeles, CA – Enjoy a trip to this third oldest continually used park in Major League baseball. Considered one of the most picturesque stadiums, it is situated on the hillside of Chavez Ravine and overlooks downtown LA and the San Gabriel Mountains. Opening day of this uniquely designed stadium was in 1962. It is earthquake resistant and designed so that each entry is at grade. There are 21 terraced entrances on the six different seating levels. Renovations took place throughout the years, including the return of stadium seats to the 1962 color scheme of yellow, orange, turquoise and blue. Among a list of enhancements are the addition of box seats and high definition video boards. Required changes were also part of its history; including lowering the pitcher’s mound and removing significant foul territory to render the ballpark fair. Catch a game at this unique stadium game. Come hungry and fill up on tasty Dodger Dogs.
- Oriole Park at Camden Yards – Baltimore, MD – This is the current home of the Baltimore Orioles and is situated downtown, several blocks west of the Inner Harbor in the Camden Yards Sports Complex. Oriole Park opened in 1992 and is known for having sparked a newer trend in fan-friendly ballparks. It is here where Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig’s record of 2,130 consecutive games and hit a homerun during that game. Eddie Murray also hit his 500th homerun at the park. Camden Yards was once a rail yard for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s Camden Station. Some of the views of the stadium are of the former B & O Warehouse, an important reminder of the past. Other seats offer great views of the downtown Baltimore skyline. Unique features of the stadium include a two-tiered bullpen area and picnic area, bronze sculptures of six players whose numbers were retired, an outfield wall made up of straight wall segments and all green seats except for two, marking Cal Ripken Jr.’s and Eddie Murray’s milestone home runs.
- Safeco-Field – Seattle, WA – The building of the stadium was funded with public money and naming rights were granted to Safeco who paid $40 million to have its name on the stadium of 20 years. Safeco Field offers sweeping views of the Seattle skyline and the Puget Sound. This proud home of the Seattle Mariners was built in 1999 in the SoDo neighborhood of Seattle. The stadium is uniquely designed to offer outstanding views from all angles of the field. Its retractable roof prevents rain delays and rain-outs and is only used when needed. Other superior features of the ball park include natural grass field, excellent sightlines, attractive brick façade, luxury suites, extensive restaurants and food venues and more. Be sure to stop by this retro-modern stadium to watch the Mariners in action.
- Coors Field – Denver, CO – This baseball venue is home field of the Colorado Rockies. The Coors brewing company purchased naming rights before the field’s completion in 1995. The park is two blocks from Union Station and LoDo, Denver’s Lower Downtown. Initial building plans called for a smaller stadium, but a decision was made to add seats to the right field upper deck to accommodate more fans. All of the seats are green, except for one purple row to mark the exact spot where the ballpark is one mile above sea level. The center field bleachers are popularly called “The Rockpile” and features reasonably price seats which are elevated above the batter’s backdrop. While exposed to the elements and wind, the seats offer the best views of Denver’s skyline. The stadium was built to focus on the game of baseball, with less attention given to the surrounding mountains and city views. The park has a friendly reputation of service. There’s a microbrewery/restaurant behind Right Field Stands operated by the Coors Brewing Company. The stadium was designed with outfield fences placed at a curiously far distance from home plate. Their reason for designing such a large outfield is due to the low air density at high elevation, which makes balls travel farther than they would in other parks. Drier air, too, contributed to more home runs. The situation was “helped” by storing the balls in a room-sized humidor. Breaking balls are also affected by air density, leading to fewer strikeouts and more difficult pitches. If you wish to see pitchers face challenges, Coors Field is your park.
- Busch Stadium – St. Louis, MO – Busch Stadium was built in 2006 and is considered a retro-style downtown ballpark. The stadium is the third to carry the Busch name and replaced Busch Memorial Stadium. The ballpark faced roadblocks, but resolved financing issue by securing private bonds, bank and county loans, and with money from the team owners. The development of stadium cost $365 million. The current stadium is titled after Anheuser-Busch whose naming rights extend until 2026. Offering vintage charm, the newer stadium kept the old Busch Memorial scoreboard standing along the first base side of the lower concourse. Use of integrated LED video and scoring systems, natural turf grass and other desirable amenities, the stadium boasts high attendance. The addition of Ballpark Village, a newer district designed as an extension of Busch Stadium, is designed to cover ten acres and seven city blocks of retail shops, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Ballpark Village centers on Busch Stadium and heightens the experience of fans. Expect to see a “sea of red” in the stadium on game days, reflecting the vibrant sprit of Cardinal fans.
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