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On Stadiums

(Originally posted on February 17, 2000 and re-posted to the new URL on December 10, 2008)

I’ve waxed poetic before about Yankee Stadium, and well, I’m about to do it again. Yankee Stadium embodies, for me, the Platonic Ideal stadium. If my baseball history is right, it was the first three tier stadium, as well. Add to that the fact that it is The House That Ruth Built, and the tremendous amount of baseball history that has been made in that park, and, well… I could go on and on. (But won’t.)

It does occur to me, though, that my views on Yankee Stadium are a bit skewed by the fact that, well, I’ve never really been anywhere else. There was one year when the stadium was being refurbished in the seventies. I remember going to Shea for a Yankee game that time–but most of what I remember about it was that it poured rain. And I do mean poured; Niagara-like spouts of water were shooting from the upper decks. We arrived home sopping wet and wringing out our clothes. I was probably about seven years old at the time.

So, not counting that one soggy trip, I was at Shea for a concert in the 1980s (was it 1983?)–The Police, Joan Jett, and R.E.M. I don’t think that counts either.

And I’ve been to Fenway Park only once, despite the fact that I lived a block from the place for five years, and it was to see a high school World Series game in around 1995.

Admittedly, most of what I remember from that trip to Fenway was how exciting the game was–and it was. We of course didn’t know any of the players or any of the teams, but what a thrill to see a seventeen year old player blast a home run over the Green Monster! I don’t know that kid’s name, but I gotta wonder if he went on to the big leagues, or if he finished college somewhere and is now working a desk job somewhere…

So, this year will be the first time I really see a big league game somewhere other than Yankee Stadium.

In fact, it looks like I’ll see more of the Yankees at Fenway than I will in New York. I scored tickets to June 19, June 21, and September 8 here in Boston, whereas I’ll probably only see a game in April and a game in August in New York. (OK, maybe I’ll see two games in August, and that will even things up.)

And then there are the five spring training games I’m going to see all over Florida: Dunedin, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Winterhaven… (and if I get really, really lucky, the Yanks/Sox game in Fort Myers. But it sold out before I could get tickets.)

But back to stadiums. Now every time I have a road trip planned, I look at the baseball calendar to see if there’s a game going on nearby. I’m still kicking myself over not going to see a Yanks/Mariners game last August at Safeco Field, when I was in town there, which turned out to be the bench-clearing brawl game…. (Then again, maybe it’s just as well I wasn’t there…. )

If I have my way, in the next five years or so, I’ll see a bunch of the other stadiums that are out there. Everyone raves about Coors Field and Camden Yards. Will the new PacBell Park be less windy than Candlestick?

And then I’ll come back, and tell you that Yankee Stadium is still the canonical stadium.

(Addendum: Since this post was written in 2000 I’ve visited so many ballparks it’s gotten difficult to count: Fenway, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park in Philly, Nationals in DC, Dolphins/LandShark Stadium, Tropicana Dome, Comiskey/US Cellular Field, The Metrodome, Jacob’s/Progressive Field, new Busch Stadium, Turner Field, The Ballpark in Arlington, Coors Field, BankOne Ballpark, Safeco Field, Pacbell Park, Dodger Stadium, Edison/Angels Stadium, Oakland Coliseum… I think that’s it. In 3 of the above I didn’t see a game, just took the tour or it was a rainout.)

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