THE BALLPARK BUG
This past weekend, I had a chance to take in my first game at Wrigley Field (though I had been outside the stadium to take pictures before). I'll go into more detail about that in my next post, but for now, I wanted to reflect on this ballpark checklist phenomenon that is just one more thing that makes baseball the great American pastime.
Baseball has steadily sunk away from being America's favorite sport, probably beginning its yield to football somewhere in the 1970s when the Super Bowl's popularity exploded and football became more watchable on TV. But baseball is older, has an heir of tradition that is unparalleled, and contains 30 of the greatest sports venues ever constructed -- all of the Major League stadiums.
Obviously, some great ones are extinct and existed long before my time (i.e. Ebbetts Field, Polo Grounds, Crosley Field, etc.) But of the parks that have been active within a generation of my lifetime, I've done well to pay my respects to all of these...I'm struggling to think of a word other than "edifice" or "cathedral" ...the hell with it: edifices. It seems that recently, I have really caught the ballpark bug, visiting Wrigley this weekend and will visit both Yankee Stadium and Dodger Stadium later this summer. In the meantime, here are a rundown of the "cathedrals" of sport I have visited in my life, distinguishing between the ones I have just "seen" and the ones where I have actually seen the sport played.
BALLPARKS WHERE I'VE ACTUALLY BEEN INSIDE AND WATCHED BASEBALL
Jacobs Field (Some corporate hacks might say "Progressive Field") - Cleveland
Cleveland Municipal Stadium - Cleveland
Great American Ballpark - Cincinnati
Fenway Park - Boston
Wrigley Field - Chicago
Chase Field - Phoenix
SAW THE BALLPARK FROM OUTSIDE BUT NEVER SAW A GAME THERE:
U.S. Cellular Field (a.k.a. Comiskey Park) - Chicago
Cinergy Field (a.k.a. Riverfront Stadium) - Cincinnati
SkyDome; toured the ballpark with parents in 1993 - Toronto
Turner Field - Atlanta; passed up a chance to go to a game there this summer and still regret it
Old Busch Stadium - St. Louis
AT&T Park - San Francisco
Feel free to leave your lists in my comments. If any of my loyal readers would like to go on a ballpark visiting vacation, they should let me know.