AT&T Park is a flat-out beautiful place to watch a baseball game. Looking out from the upper deck stands behind home plate, you see the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge beyond the left field wall and the San Francisco Bay water all around the outfield. A small portion of the bay just beyond the right field wall is called McCovey Cove. It's named after one of the Giants' most prodigious power hitters, Willie McCovey, who, as a lefty, would have hit many home runs into the cove had this stadium been open when he played. During batting practice and games, fans in kayaks wait for home run balls to come rocketing out of the stadium. One man, Joe, comes to almost every home game with a fishing pole and net to catch any "splash hits," the term for home runs landing in the cove. The outfield seats are situated below the outfield concourse, leaving views of the bay fairly uncluttered.
From my observations, every seat, infield and outfield, upper deck and lower, offers a great view of the game. The stadium design is quite similar to the retro modern style of Camden Yards. The green steel and red brick construction combined with the accessible downtown location and aforementioned water views make this stadium one of the most picturesque in baseball.
In this in-state competition between the Dodgers of Los Angeles and the Giants of San Francisco, the Dodgers came out ahead. Yasiel Puig hit three triples, a feat only achieved 15 times since 1950, and the Dodgers rolled to an easy victory.
Final Score: Dodgers 8, Giants 1.
From building materials to field dimensions, the O.co Coliseum is not quite like any other stadium I've seen. In part, this is because the coliseum is the only venue in America to currently host both NFL and MLB games. The Oakland Raiders play their games north to south, perpendicular to the direction of play for baseball, east to west. Given the field width (160 feet plus room for benches) needed to fit a football field into a baseball stadium, there is more foul territory in Oakland than in any other stadium. According to Park Factors, the foul territory makes O.co an "extreme pitcher's park," producing 78 home runs for every 100 hit at an average major league stadium. The liberal use of concrete, much of which is painted green and off-white, gives this stadium a funky, throw-back look few other stadiums have. In terms of building materials, the closest comparable stadium to O.co is probably Tropicana Field.
The game I shot was on a Thursday at 12:35 p.m. In general, weekday games played during the day are less well-attended because many fans work a traditional 9-5 schedule. This generality held true at the A's game and many of the fans I met were diehards who maneuvered their schedules to be at most or all of the A's home games. These fans' commitment to the A's was impressive. Below, along with shots of the stadiums, are images of some of the diehards I met at the game.
The A's dominated the Astros, never trailing in the game. Newly acquired pitcher Jeff Samardzija threw a gem of eight innings and one-run ball.
Final Score: A's 13, Astros 1.
In a word, Yankee Stadium is majestic. The lattice, arches, white stone, tall ceilings and humongous banners combine to create the feeling of being inside a baseball cathedral . The Yankees have more than double the number of World Series wins of any other team (27 to the Cardinals' 11) and it is fitting that the stadium design reflects their dominance on the field. Though the stadium is relatively new, it contains so many historical references to the great players who won those 27 championships that it would be easy for someone to confuse the age of the stadium. The dimensions are the same as the Yankees' previous stadium, also called Yankee Stadium, and while there have been significant upgrades to stadium accessibility, the design and location is largely the same.
This is Derek Jeter's last season and in this trip I will get to see him play four times (Chicago, Kansas City, Texas and New York). Seeing him at home, however, was truly special. As Jeter stepped into in the batter's box, a recording of longtime Yankee public address announcer Bob Sheppard introducing Derek Jeter played through the stadium speakers and the crowd gave him a standing ovation. Jeter has used the recorded introduction in all his home at-bats since Sheppard passed away in 2010. There are a million different ways to define "best," but I think Derek Jeter is the best all-around player of my generation, and his well-deserved reputation as a winner and leader both on and off the field qualifies him as one of baseball's sure-fire first ballot Hall of Fame greats.
Final Score: Yankees 2, Rangers 1 (14).
Used for the opening and closing ceremony of 1996 Olympics, Turner Field was converted into a baseball stadium for the Braves in 1997. It is one of only two MLB stadiums (the other, Dodger Stadium, was used solely for baseball in 1984) to house Olympic events.
The stadium the Braves played in until 1996, County Stadium, stood adjacent to Turner Field. It's now a parking lot, save for one remnant from the old County Stadium: the segment of the left-centerfield wall that Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th home run cleared. The wall surely remains preserved both as an homage to Henry Aaron's achievements and legacy and to highlight the impact his record had on American culture in the era of the 1970s.
While exploring the stadium, I met two people who were in the stands on the night Aaron broke the career home run record. One, Jere, was an infant on April 8, 1974. According to her parents, two amazing things happened that night: Aaron hit his record-breaking homer and she walked for the first time. Usher Walter Banks, who has worked for the Braves for 49 years, was working as an usher that night. He cites Aaron's homer as one of the defining moments of his career as a Braves usher. Photos of both Jere and Walter are below.
Final Score: Braves 8, Phillies 2.
Marlins Park is the newest stadium in Major League Baseball. The stadium design is a departure from the retro stadium style of the past 20 years. Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is a modern art collector and the stadium design reflects his taste. Around the stadium, there are various modern art pieces from Joan Miro, Roy Lichtenstein, Kenny Scharf and Red Grooms. The Red Grooms piece is the most prominent, a gigantic colorful piece in center field that spins whenever a Marlin hits a home run (photos below).
While there has been strong criticism of the stadium, I think it will grow on fans as its modernness becomes more common.
Final Score: Giants 9, Marlins 1.
With a low-hanging and non-retractable roof, there is not another MLB stadium like Tropicana Field. The roof is occasionally hit by batted balls and so there are special ground rules determining the outcome of the play. Pared with the low roof, the largely concrete construction inside the stadium creates a reverberating echo that I haven't heard anywhere else. As All-Star David Price delivered a great pitching performance the day before the All-Star break, I could hear the fans' cheers again and again as the sound waves bounced around the stadium.
In the center field concourse, there is a water tank with sting rays in it that fans can pet for free. Tropicana Field employees give a mandatory tutorial on where to touch the rays so as not to be stung. For a small fee, you can feed the rays too!
If you're a cigar smoker or enjoy the smell, Tropicana has the only in-stadium cigar shop in all of Major League Baseball. This is largely because of the historical connections that the city of Tampa, specifically the Ybor City neighborhood, has with Cigar Making.
Final Score: Rays 3, Blue Jays 0.
Citizens Bank Park offers fans a comfortable experience to watch a ballgame with a great, yet distant view of downtown Philadelphia. The scoreboard in left field, the largest video screen in the National League and 20th biggest in the world, frames the city well.
The stadium, both inside and out, is spacious, built as part of a sports complex in a less populous area of southern Philadelphia that also hosts football, hockey and basketball. Ashburn Alley, a street similar to Yawkey Way in Boston or Eutaw in Baltimore, opens before the rest of the stadium and offers fans a chance to learn about former Phillies greats as well as partake in a wide variety of food options, including Bull's BBQ, a restaurant co-owned by former Philly Greg "The Bull" Luzinski (photo below).
In the game, Jimmy Rollins homered twice and AJ Burnett pitched very well. The Phillies beat the Nationals 6-2. It was their fifth victory in a row but came after losing 10 of their previous 11 games. The Phillies have been unable to find consistency this year and I was lucky enough to see one of the games in which they were able to find success at the plate and in the field.
Final Score: Phillies 6, Nationals 2
Opened before World War I and the Great Depression, Fenway Park has unique architectural and design features that are no longer used in modern baseball stadiums. The two that most readily come to mind are The Green Monster, a tall and gigantic green-painted wall in left field that houses a manual scoreboard, and the precariously curved outfield wall near the right field foul pole, known as Pesky's Pole. Other aspects of the stadium, especially the exposed brick and green steel beams, have been copied many times.
The stadium, the oldest in the majors, gives fans an intimate view of the game. A first row view in this stadium feels closer than a first row view in most other stadiums. Additionally, Fenway has the smallest capacity of any MLB stadium.
It's hard to walk into this stadium and see the field without thinking about many of the players who played there. From Babe Ruth, who was famously traded from the Red Sox to the Yankees, to Ted Williams, this stadiums has played host to a great many stars over the years.
Final Score: Red Sox 5, White Sox 4
Opened in 2009, Citi Field is tied with Yankee Stadium for being the third-newest stadium. One of the most unique parts of the stadium is the color of the foul poles. The Mets are the only franchise in baseball to paint their poles a color other than yellow. You can see my photo below to figure out what color they paint it. Additionally, a giant retractable apple sits just behind the center field wall, an homage to a similar-looking retractable apple at the Mets' previous ballpark, Shea Stadium. The main entrance to the stadium is a rotunda that serves as a beautiful tribune to Jackie Robinson.
In Monday night's game, Mets pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka threw a gem, allowing no runs in 7 innings. The bullpen, as has frequently been the case for the Mets this year, gave up the lead the following inning. Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson boomed a home run to tie it at three in the bottom of the eighth. Neither team scored in the ninth the game went into extra innings, a first in my trip. In the 11th, Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada singled home Juan Lagares to win it.
Final Score: Mets 4, Braves 3
The Nationals are only 9 years old as a franchise in Washington, D.C. but they seem to firmly established themselves as part of the community. In walking around the stadium, I found the fan base to be much younger than that of most teams. Some fans said that the older generations of baseball fans who live in the D.C. area have maintained their allegiances to other nearby MLB teams, specifically the Orioles.
Architecturally, Nationals Park has rejected much of the retro ballpark movement I mentioned in my Baltimore Orioles post. This stadium incorporates much more glass and concrete than those designed in the retro style.
The Nationals annihilated the Cubs 13-0. After the game, I heard a police officer refer to the result as a "football score."
Final Score: Nationals 13, Cubs 0
Growing up a Cubs fan, my idea of a beautiful baseball stadium was Wrigley Field. With a retro warehouse, green-painted steel beams, brick arches and old-school streets passing through the stadium, Oriole Park at Camden Yards shares quite a few similarities with Wrigley. The retro architecture and atmosphere at Camden make it one of my favorite stadiums.
The retro ballpark design began in Baltimore and has been copied many times in the past 22 years to the point it has become cliché and "more derivative than it already was" as Reeves Wiedeman at The New Yorker puts it. While I can somewhat identify with such an assessment, Camden largely stands above the claims of being cliché and derivative because it was the trendsetter, the leader of the movement.
The Oriole offense was largely absent against the Rangers until the sixth inning when they scored three to tie the game at four. The Orioles scored another two in the following frame and a trio of Orioles relievers shut down the Rangers offense for a combined 3.1 innings. The game was delayed by rain for 98 minutes and it gave me my first opportunity in this project to document how people reacted to the delay. I had a blast and met some great fans.
Final Score: Orioles 6, Rangers 4
With all due respect to the other ballparks I've visited, PNC Park's sight lines are by far the best I've seen. The Roberto Clemente Bridge, a yellow suspension bridge that crosses the Allegheny River, serves as a transport for fans walking from downtown to the stadium and as a visual anchor to the picturesque views of downtown Pittsburgh afforded to those sitting in a southeasterly direction. Furthermore, the stadium feels like it's accentuating downtown as opposed to overpowering it.
The game was a thriller, with Arizona Diamondbacks starter Wade Miley taking a perfect game into the fifth inning and taking a two-hit shutout into the ninth inning. Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the ninth, the Pirates finally broke through and scored three to win in walk-off fashion.
Final Score: Pirates 3, Diamondbacks 2