By Clay Giese
America is a country of baseball cities, and every baseball city is going to tell you they’re the best.
But with so many cities, where does the baseball sightseer begin? Here’s a short list of major-league stadiums that every true fan needs to visit. Whether it’s this summer or a season down the road, these five ballparks are worth the trip for anyone who enjoys great food, refreshing drinks, and good baseball.
Coors Field, Denver: Home runs, high-scoring games and craft beer – that’s Coors Field. The ball travels 9 percent further in Denver due to its mile-high altitude and thin air, making Coors a prolific offensive ballpark, great for fans who like seeing their favorite players hit the long ball. Bright purple seating and a beautiful red-brick exterior give Coors a sharp look that blends well with the hip surrounding neighborhood, while the Rocky Mountains float in the background, setting the stage for some of the finest sunsets in the majors.
Microbreweries inside baseball stadiums are more common than they used to be, but Coors was there first with the Blue Moon Brewing Co. – and it’s Blue Moon, so you know it’s good. (If you’re wondering why a stadium with the name “Coors” would allow a microbrew like Blue Moon inside its walls, it’s simple: MillerCoors owns both brands. And the Miller and Leinenkugel’s sold within Milwaukee’s Miller Park.) The “Rockpile” seats are also a fan favorite. This massive set of bleacher seats start at $4, and give fans a great centerfield view. Finally, the new “Rooftop” area features 38,000 square feet of flat, deck-style seating. It’s open to all ticketed guests, has three bars/eateries, and offers stunning views of the Rocky Mountains and downtown Denver.
Fenway Park, Boston: Red Sox fans waited 86 years for their team to win a World Series, and through all the suffering, Fenway Park was their pride and joy. A place for fans who appreciate baseball’s simple and traditional side, Fenway is the oldest major-league stadium still in use, and features the original 1912 architecture and hand-operated scoreboard. The most famous part of that architecture is the “Green Monster,” a 37-foot-tall left-field fence that is indeed green, and a monster, and adds a twist to the game for hitters and outfielders.
The Monster notwithstanding, Fenway is actually one of baseball’s smallest stadiums. Boston is a die-hard sports town and Red Sox fans are among the most loyal in sports, so they don’t need a big, flashy stadium. They care more about history and atmosphere. Also, don’t be alarmed if you’re at Fenway and the entire stadium starts singing “Sweet Caroline” in the 8th inning; that’s a tradition at every Red Sox game. (By the way, if you see the movie Fever Pitch, you’ll be even more convinced you need to visit Fenway.)
AT&T Park, San Francisco: The Giants have a perfect location to go along with their three World Series wins in the past five years. AT&T Park is tucked into San Francisco Bay, where home runs routinely leave right field and splash into McCovey Cove (named after former Giants great Willie McCovey). Fans wait on boats in the cove, then dive into the water to retrieve their souvenirs. Ferryboats also take fans across the bay to the stadium. It’s the perfect way to see the bay and the city, parking-hassle-free.
If the game gets long, stretch your legs and check out the “Fan Lot” in left field. It’s a fun place for the whole family, with a 50-by-50-foot mini ballpark where running and hitting Wiffle Balls is actually encouraged! You’ll also want to check out the 80-foot replica Coke bottle with four slides and multiple viewing platforms. When mid-game hunger sets in, AT&T Park offers West Coast foods and local favorites like Crazy Crab’z, Orlando’s Caribbean BBQ, and Public House, known for its seafood and craft-beer selection. Additional fun facts: the right-field fence is 24 feet high in honor of Willie Mays, who wore No. 24 for the Giants. Also, Kanye West rented out the entire park for his proposal to Kim Kardashian. Wait — is that really a fun fact?
Wrigley Field, Chicago: Up on Chicago’s north side, in the neighborhood that bears its name, is Wrigley Field, Major League Baseball’s second-oldest stadium. Initially called Weeghman Park, the park’s name changed in 1921 when chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. bought the Cubs. Wrigley is steeped in baseball history and tradition, from its ivy-covered outfield walls to the “Goat Curse” to Bartman to one of baseball’s most unforgettable moments: The “Called Shot.” In 1932, during game 3 of the World Series, the Yankees’ Babe Ruth responded to merciless heckling from the Cubs bench by pointing in the direction of center field … and hitting a home run into the centerfield bleachers on the next pitch.
Wrigley’s restaurants deliver a perfect taste of Chicago. Decade Dogs is famous for its Chicago-style hotdogs, while Giordano’s provides the deep-dish pizza fans love. And don’t forget about Wrigleyville. The streets, restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues surrounding Wrigley are quite the hot spots, especially after a Cubs win. And if you’re fortunate enough to get two days at Wrigley, try a rooftop for your second game – like the Goose Island rooftop, with plenty of its signature brew on hand in case of thirst.
Yankee Stadium, New York: The New York Yankees have won 27 World Series and know better than to mess with tradition. Accordingly, when the new Yankee Stadium was built in 2009, the stadium name, limestone exterior, shape, and outfield distances remained exactly the same. The new location is just a block away from the old stadium, which has since been demolished and turned into Heritage Park, where you can stand in the footsteps of Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Derek Jeter, and so many others. In addition to Heritage Park, the new stadium honors Yankee legends with Monument Park, an open-air museum in centerfield with plaques of past Yankee players; and Yankee Museum, on the second deck in right field, with its collection of priceless Yankee memorabilia. Hope you arrive hungry; restaurants include Hard Rock Café, NYY Steak Steakhouse, and Brother Jimmy’s BBQ. It’s the most expensive stadium ever built, and there’s plenty to do and see — just like the city itself.
Every team and stadium has its appeal, but these are the classics. And you have to check out the classics.
Clay Giese is part of the marketing team at Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection.
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