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Will Goodwin

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The boys of summer are back. And with them comes every baseball fan’s urge to soak in the sun in one of the many beautiful ballparks around the continent (couldn’t leave you out, Toronto). With temperatures rising, summer vacation approaching, and unused PTO sitting and waiting to be burned, it’s the perfect time to plan a stadium tour. Baseball stadiums are undoubtedly the crown jewel of American sports venues: the expansive green grass, quirky outfields, skylines, and geographical landmarks are just parts of what make these American sports cathedrals magnificent and charming.


Not all ballparks are created equal, however: some need to be renovated, some should be burned, and some will go down in history as great American landmarks. Let’s put these parks in their place. 

 

30. Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay Rays

Let’s just get this one out of the way. The worst place on earth to play any sport.

 

29. RingCentral Coliseum, Oakland Athletics

There’s a reason that there has been talk of moving the A’s out of Oakland. They play baseball in a football stadium that is no longer home to a football team. 

 

28. Rogers Centre, Toronto Blue Jays

Slightly better than Oakland and Tampa simply because there’s a view of the CN Tower from the 3rd-base line. Everything else about it is forgettable. Points for having a completely symmetrical outfield?

 

27. American Family Field, Milwaukee Brewers

You’ll notice a trend: retractable roofs and indoor stadiums will suffer on this list. Formerly known as Miller Park, this ballpark looks more like a corporate building. Not much to write home about. The best part is probably the left-field slide that Bernie Brewer slides down after a Brewers home run. 

 

26. LoanDepot Park, Miami Marlins

What is the statue thing in left-center field? It’s cool and big, but this place looks like it was built to be a Miami hangout spot rather than a place to watch baseball. 

 

25. Globe Life Field, Texas Rangers

They built a stadium with a retractable roof and artificial turf in Arlington because it got so damn hot in the summer time that it was borderline dangerous to play and watch baseball in the Texas sun. At that point it’s probably just time to move the team. 

 

24. Minute Maid Park, Houston Astros

Don’t be fooled by the team’s recent success as a measuring stick for the ballpark’s charm. The train tracks in left field are cute. But from the Chick-fil-a signs on the foul poles, indoor-feel (even with the roof open), and train-depot aesthetic, it’s just kinda meh. 

 

23. Comerica Park, Detroit Tigers

It’s the 8th wonder of the world that Miguel Cabrera hit 500 home runs while playing primarily in this massive ballpark. The view is subpar, unless you like industrial buildings; and the cars out in center field are a little awkward. As if they need to remind you that you’re in the Motor City. 

 

22. Chase Field, Arizona Diamondbacks

It has a beautiful feel to it, despite its stuffy, indoor nature. The contrasted, striped grass is fresh, and it has the perfect antidote to that desert sun: the right-center field pool. 

 

21. Guaranteed Rate Field, Chicago White Sox

It’s an average ballpark with nothing special about it. A fine place for a ball game. I have always wondered what those candy cane things are out in center field. 

 

20. Nationals Park, Washington Nationals

Any place that is home to a recent World Champion and also sits in the nation’s capital is going to get some love. Unlike some of the new-age parks built in the last few years, the Nationals didn’t try and do too much when they built this beauty in 2008. Simple and sweet. 

 

19. Progressive Field, Cleveland Guardians

A solid place to play ball, although it is in need of renovation.The wall in left field is trying to be the Green Monster, but the trees in center are a nice touch. 

 

18. Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati Reds

Catch a game here on a sun-soaked afternoon and you won’t be disappointed. The view of the Ohio River and Newport, KY hills are breath-taking. A calm, peaceful place to watch a pitiful team.

 

17. Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia Phillies

The coniferous trees behind the short wall in center field next to the zig-zagging tall wall in left-center, the right-center field bell, and the distant skyline provide real charm.

 

16. T-Mobile Park, Seattle Mariners

The best of all the retractable-roof parks by far, this venue is the only hybrid stadium that truly has an outdoor feel. The grass just seems greener than most (probably because all it does is rain in the Pacific Northwest). The only downside is how much magenta is plaguing the architecture since the T-Mobile rebranding.

 

15. Citi Field, New York Mets

The blue and jagged outfield walls, orange foul poles, and Home Run “Big Apple” out in center field are all unique aspects that provide an individuality to this 21st-century park. A true upgrade to the old Shea Stadium that could seat about fifteen people in the outfield bleachers.

 

14. Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles Dodgers

It’s got history, it’s been the home to mythical teams with all-time great players. But nostalgia only counts for so much. It’s a relatively standard design without many distinctive qualities. And that storage-like batter’s eye in center field is an eye sore. The beautiful canyon that it sits in is what saves this park from not being lower on the list.

 

13. Yankee Stadium, New York Yankees

How dare I place this so low on the list. The reason it’s this high on the list is out of respect. First off, the field dimensions are atrocious. A lazy fly ball in almost every other park is a home run in left or right field. The skyline view is sorta meh considering it’s in New York. Most of all though, this is like owning a copy of the Declaration of Independence for your classroom. There is no history to this ballpark. It’s not the “House that Ruth Built”; and sorry, the “House that Jeter Built” doesn’t have the same ring. You’re welcome for not putting you lower, Yankees fans.

 

12. Truist Park, Atlanta Braves

Atlanta did it right when they moved from Turner Field in 2017. Built into the beautiful Battery district, its simple design wins in an era of over-architected stadiums (talking to you, Miami). The brick wall beneath the Chop House provides a variable that complicates things just enough for visiting right fielders. 

 

11. Petco Park, San Diego Padres

Nestled in-between shimmering skyscrapers in downtown San Diego, Petco is a glorious place to witness a Major League game. The historic Western Metal Supply Co. building built into the left-field line is unlike anything else in the sport, while the minimal center-field architecture allows for a beautiful view of the city; the palm trees out there don’t hurt either. 

 

10. Coors Field, Colorado Rockies

Location, location, location. The mediocre Colorado baseball franchise has one of the best ballparks in the land in large part because of its Rocky Mountain backdrop. I suppose the team is adequately named. The pine trees and greenery in the center-field batter’s eye and rocky streams in the right-center-field bullpens make it actually feel like you’re in the mountains.

 

9. Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore Orioles

A beautiful home for an abysmal baseball team. The historic and repurposed B&O Warehouse behind the right-field porch, (which rivals the quirkiness of the Western Metal Supply Co. building at Petco Park) and the great skyline view provide pretty things to look at since Oriole fans need to look away from their pathetic team every so often. The new left-field wall design is bad, and frankly dangerous for any left-fielder trying to cut off a ball deep in the gap.

 

8. Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City Royals

The crown jewel (get it?) of the lower Midwest. The crown on the center-field jumbotron. The waterfalls and fountains in the right-center field. It’s quite the picture. Only downside is that it feels a little dark there during night games.

 

7. Oracle Park, San Francisco Giants

There may not be a more unique place in the league. The giant (yes, the Giants did this intentionally) Coke-bottle slide and old-time four-fingered glove behind left field are just odd. And what’s the deal with that car-shaped bulge in the left-field fence? But the sneaky-big outfield, right-field garages and short porch backing up to the Bay are special. Don’t forget the kayak wars.

 

6. Angel Stadium, Los Angeles Angels

The grassy hills behind the left-center- and center-field walls would be highlights in most stadiums, but the rocky waterfall takes the cake here. It’s even more picturesque when Mike Trout is pulling a home run back in front of that waterfall. The massive Angels hats in front of the entrance are almost hilariously large and unique. 

 

5. Target Field, Minnesota Twins

If a Twins fan tells you they want the Metrodome back, just ignore them. Thank goodness that retractable roof idea was dismissed. There are many subtle aspects to Target field that make it unique. There’s the one-of-a-kind “living wall” batter’s eye sitting above the grassy berm behind the center field fence. The flower boxes behind the left-fence are a nice touch for a state that loves their summertime gardening (great photo ops here, too). If you’re going to play right field at Target Field, you’d better be ready for the four different surfaces to contend with: the Minnesota limestone overhang, the padded wall, the non padded section under the limestone, and the scoreboard. The skyline view with Minnie and Paul in the foreground is the perfect way to watch night fall on Minneapolis. 

 

4. PNC Park, Pittsburgh Pirates

Something with this franchise and Ps. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better view in baseball. The Clemente Bridge crossing the Allegheny River, with the majestic skyline behind it is hard to beat. The variable outfield wall with the “PIRATES”-sculpted hedges behind center field are just quirky enough to make the park itself unique.

 

3. Busch Stadium, St. Louis Cardinals

Now this is a baseball stadium. Everything about this place just pops. The vibrant green grass, the “arch” mowed into the outfield grass, the red bleacher seats. The Old Courthouse historical landmark peeks out from behind the left-center field wall, bringing majesty and history to an already historic franchise’s home. What really brings this one home is the shimmering St. Louis Arch towering behind the center-field Budweiser sign. I’ve never understood the whole Big Mac Land thing, though.

 

2. Wrigley Field, Chicago Cubs

About the only negative things I can say about Wrigley Field are that it gets a little dark and shadowy at night (probably because they didn’t have permanent lights until 1988) and that playing outfield has to be about as dangerous as getting tackled by Ray Lewis. I wouldn’t have any interest in crashing into a brick wall covered in ivy to catch a flyball. The outfield basket is an oddity that must drive outfielders nuts. It’s got charm. It’s been around forever. It’s simple. There’s a reason it’s on every baseball fan’s bucket list.

 

1. Fenway Park, Boston Red Sox

The oldest ballpark in the Bigs, Fenway is the weirdest place to play baseball. The massive Green Monster is so close to home plate that singles off the fence are nearly as common as doubles. The short right field fence is just flat out dangerous. The triangle and garage doors in center field cause all sorts of problems. Oh and don’t forget Pesky’s Pole: a hitter can hit a lazy fly ball down the right field line that ends up a home run (and would very likely be a foul ball in 29 other stadiums). The Citgo sign is to Fenway as PB is to J. These quirks and its history are second to none. Congrats Boston, another thing to puff your chests out about.

 

Honorable mention: Field of Dreams, Iowa

Yes, it is heaven. Commissioner Manfred needs to seriously consider adding a 31st team in Iowa solely for the fact that there can be Major League baseball played in this haven 81 nights a year. I may start a petition for the All-Star Game to be held here every summer. You simply can’t beat it.


Check out my other unique sports content at the Bad Loser Blog; covering basketball, football, baseball, and the human side of sports.

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The newer style, outdoor ballparks are simply better places to watch baseball.  Admit it: Vietnamese Egg Rolls are always better than Chinese Egg Rolls (even though the Chinese version has a longer, more storied history in America).  The Vietnamese recipe is simply a better way to make them.  Similarly, the new Post-Camden outdoor parks are a better way to design ballparks.  So the worst of this best type of design is better than the best of the others - despite any “storied history”.  
I agree that the retractable roof ballparks generally lack the charm of always outdoor venues   

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Nice ranking. I’ve been to every yard except Tropicana, and my rankings would likely have the parks falling in to the same spot as yours, juxtaposed a spot or two either way. 
 

To be personally hypercritical, though (cuz, let’s face it, “lists” are fodder for the “how dare you?” comments), I’ve gotta say that nothing screams ORANGE COUNTY more than the staid, perfectly adequate, colloquially dubbed, BIG A; felt a bit too pure & squeaky clean, minus the pure. Except, let’s face it, any ballpark that hosts Mike Trout 81 days a year will rank 5-10 spots higher because of him. 
 

More than a worthy effort. Good stuff, and the tops of the top is where it should be; Fenway Pahk. Because baseball pairs well with a dozen shades of green. 

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1 minute ago, Zoilo said:

Nice ranking. I’ve been to every yard except Tropicana, and my rankings would likely have the parks falling in to the same spot as yours, juxtaposed a spot or two either way. 
 

To be personally hypercritical, though (cuz, let’s face it, “lists” are fodder for the “how dare you?” comments), I’ve gotta say that nothing screams ORANGE COUNTY more than the staid, perfectly adequate, colloquially dubbed, BIG A; felt a bit too pure & squeaky clean, minus the pure. Except, let’s face it, any ballpark that hosts Mike trout 81 days a year will rank 5-10 spots higher because of him. 
 

More than a worthy effort. Good stuff, and the tops of the top is where it should be; Fenway Pahk. Because baseball pairs well with a dozen shades of green. 

Great first post and welcome to Twins Daily!

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Just now, Zoilo said:

Nice ranking. I’ve been to every yard except Tropicana, and my rankings would likely have the parks falling in to the same spot as yours, juxtaposed a spot or two either way. 

To be personally hypercritical, though (cuz, let’s face it, “lists” are fodder for the “how dare you?” comments), I’ve gotta say that nothing screams ORANGE COUNTY more than the staid, perfectly adequate, colloquially dubbed, BIG A; felt a bit too pure & squeaky clean, minus the pure. Except, let’s face it, any ballpark that hosts Mike trout 81 days a year will rank 5-10 spots higher because of him. 

More than a worthy effort. Good stuff, and the tops of the top is where it should be; Fenway Pahk. Because baseball pairs well with a dozen shades of green. 

Welcome to the board!

As for the Big A, I loathe that stadium. I lived in Long Beach for nine years and saw more games in that park than I can count. On top of it being boring and stale, it's a football stadium and all the seats face the wrong bloody direction. I'm pretty sure I have permanent neck damage from sitting in the stadium with my head craned left/right for three hours a night.

But yeah, Trout and Ohtani are pretty much the best things going in baseball right now.

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8 minutes ago, Zoilo said:

Nice ranking. I’ve been to every yard except Tropicana, and my rankings would likely have the parks falling in to the same spot as yours, juxtaposed a spot or two either way. 
 

To be personally hypercritical, though (cuz, let’s face it, “lists” are fodder for the “how dare you?” comments), I’ve gotta say that nothing screams ORANGE COUNTY more than the staid, perfectly adequate, colloquially dubbed, BIG A; felt a bit too pure & squeaky clean, minus the pure. Except, let’s face it, any ballpark that hosts Mike trout 81 days a year will rank 5-10 spots higher because of him. 
 

More than a worthy effort. Good stuff, and the tops of the top is where it should be; Fenway Pahk. Because baseball pairs well with a dozen shades of green. 

GREAT post!

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Just so I'm not called out as ageist, I love Fenway, and personally think Wrigley is a dump. Yeah, it's on the bucket lists, and I've been there myself, and overall, the experience is great, especially getting to, and hanging outside the park. And as a longtime Metrodome attendee, I can even say I enjoy the troughs, but you know, the sightlines are crap, the place is 100 coats of paint over rust, it just doesn't cut it.  Best part of Milwaukee is their tailgating arrangement.

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Wrigley is a dump.  Take in the history...sure, but the actual ballpark is utterly unremarkable.  And since that's the case...it's hard to ignore all the absolutely awful components of it.  Sightlines along first and third are atrocious.  The wind off the lake there can make even a warm summer day uncomfortable.  Venders are few and far between.  The bathrooms are gas station level.  The food isn't much better.  And there isn't really much "traditional" in the experience either.  

I'd much, much rather hit a game on the south side.

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Good stuff with solid rationale. Personally, I would probably put PNC, Camden and Target Field ahead of Busch Stadium, but there are still many other ballparks I haven't seen firsthand.

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I'd have PNC park, T-Mobile, Fenway, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Oracle, Kauffman and Coors field ahead of Wrigley. Wrigley is a dump. One game I was there it only smelled like beer and urine. 

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Busch Stadium a bit overrated, as is (gasp) Oracle Park, in my opinion. I've been to about 20 total parks (some now retired), working on getting to all of them.

Oracle Park is beautiful to watch the game from your seats, but I absolutely hated the concourse. To the point it is the main thing I remember about it, zig-zagging all over, and you can't see the game from it (I knock stadiums a lot for lacking open concourses around the infield, is why I'd have Busch lower, too).

Really want to check out PNC next.

Agree with others, Wrigley Field is a dump. Great neighborhood and atmosphere, but like Fenway, you know the stadium is 100+ years old. The changes they made in the outfield a few years ago were good, but you can't do anything about the interior infrastructure. 

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The Honorable Mention is my favorite.  There was nothing like being on that field.  Digging into the batter's box to take a swing at a pitch thrown by my dad.  To (yes it's cliche as heck, but you have to do it) go into the corn to see what's "on the other side."  It's an experience every baseball fan should do if they have the opportunity.

 

PS: I live in Chicago.  Wrigley is trash.

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