Spending Monday through Friday in New York to attend a couple of conferences brought a couple of benefits a little afield of work: catching up with old friends and crossing another ballpark off my list.
With Thursday’s visit to Citi Field, I’m now up to 11 current ballparks, plus six defunct stadiums. The ones still in use, sorted by how often I’ve been there and, for the places I’ve visited only once, oldest to most recent attendance:
- Nationals Park: In three words, my baseball home. It’s not the best looking ballpark, but it works well. And it’s been amazing to see the neighborhood grow up around this place. Now if I could just be in the stands to watch the Nats win a postseason series instead of lose one…
- Camden Yards: I don’t know exactly how often I’ve been to Orioles games here–I don’t have dates for the visits in the ’90s before I kept a digital calendar. Anyway, it’s a great ballpark, aside from having concourses without a view of the field.
- Fenway Park: Seeing the Red Sox beat the Yankees here in 2002 remains one of my better baseball memories, and that experience also finally got me to start paying attention to standings and box scores.
- Pac Bell Park: No, I’m not calling it “Oracle Park.” Three renamings in 16 years is weak, and Oracle’s abuse of intellectual-property law is grotesque. Aside from that, lovely place.
- Wrigley Field: My wife and I saw the Nats beat the Cubs 5-4 here in 12 innings during the magical first half of the 2005 inaugural season.
- Progressive Field: My uncle got some amazing seats for an Indians-Yankees game in 2007–so good that my friend Robert Schlesinger, watching at home, noticed somebody wearing a Nats cap behind first base and then recognized me. Thanks, Uncle Jim.
- Dodger Stadium: We were in the stands here in 2012 for Bryce Harper’s second game as a Nat.
- Coors Field: On the first day of Free Press’s National Conference on Media Reform, I decided to ditch the afternoon events and scalp tickets so I could see my second home opener in a week.
- T-Mobile Park: My wife and I caught a game at the then Safeco Field in June of 2013. Good job on the ballpark, Seattle.
- Rogers Centre: I had a ballgame-sized hole in my schedule the day I arrived in Toronto for the Collision conference last month, so I bought a ticket and saw the Red Sox thump the Blue Jays 12-2. Sadly, the long security lines outside prevented me from getting in before the first pitch and hearing two national anthems.
- Citi Field: This is another good retro ballpark, but the absence of development nearby makes it an outlier among ballparks.
And here are the defunct ballparks I’ve visited, listed in the same order:
- RFK Stadium: My fondest memory of this concrete donut will always be watching the Nats bring baseball back to D.C. in 2005.
- Veterans Stadium: The first major-league baseball game I ever attended was at the Vet, which probably explains why the baseball gene didn’t activate until years after that childhood outing to Philly.
- Astrodome: This should come with an asterisk, as I definitely remember going to the Astrodome during the year my family lived in Houston but can’t swear under oath that it wasn’t a rodeo.
- Three Rivers Stadium: My brother and I saw Barry Bonds play for the Pirates here in the summer of 1991. As I recall, the Pirates lost.
- Yankee Stadium: I wore a Red Sox cap in the bleachers in 2005. Let’s just say I felt like quite the minority at this Yanks-Jays game.
- Shea Stadium: I saw the Nats edge the Mets here in 2007 and kept thinking of how much the place reminded me of RFK, but with a lot more air traffic overhead.
As for ballparks I haven’t visited, PNC Park tops the list by a considerable margin. (Anybody know any tech conferences in Pittsburgh?) Petco Park probably comes next; I could have crossed that off the list last summer had I flown into San Diego two days before a family wedding there instead of one. After that? I’ll leave that up to where travel takes me and if it leaves ballgame-sized gaps in my calendar.
Pittsburgh’s ballpark is the best thing about that city. Normally, that’d be a backhanded compliment, but what makes it so great other than smaller scale is that it showcases the city. The rivers, bridges, skyline, hills are a part of the scene. It’s just wonderful.
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