So now that baseball is down to its delightful dozen for the playoffs, fans and TV viewers will be paying more attention to their strengths and weaknesses. They’ll be analyzed ad nauseum. They’ll be dressed up for their moments in the sun, and if it rains their manicurists will be ready.
They are, of course, the stadiums. Before playoffs, ballparks attract attention mostly for how many of their seats are occupied…or not. I’ve watched games in 19 major-league parks. My favourite should get substantial air time this month.
I am neither particularly in love with the team nor its home park. The fact our oldest child saw his only World Series game there has nothing to do with it. Nor does the fact Linda Ronstadt sang the national anthem at a Series game there. They could have, but they didn’t.
Actually, I’ve never been particularly in love with any baseball stadium. They all have stories to tell, but they never talk. So they’re bad interviews. They’re also over-rated by romantics. Take Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. Please. I was at Fenway when Carlton Fisk hit his career dramatic home run in surroundings so old the catcher could’ve been Gabby Hartnett, who played 100 years ago. I was probably at Wrigley Field for more road games than anywhere, and always considered it a dump that had ivy growing out of its walls. The best thing about these legends of concrete is they are unique and, like Elton John, they’re still standing.
A baseball diamond is a baseball diamond is a baseball diamond, so why love a stadium? More comfortable seats? Better hot dogs? The game is played on the field,not where you buy beer or socialize with showboats impersonating avid fans.
Wrigley Field and Fenway Park are baseball’s heritage buildings, downtrodden and upgraded, with enough facelifts and tummy tucks to be current. Sort of. They’ve been around since the second decade of the century…the last century. Fenway’s the oldest at 111 and Wrigley is 106, and nobody else is close.
They’re so old they haven’t even changed names. In an age when naming stadiums goes to the highest bidders, they’re named after trust and software companies, or orange juice and beer. Fenway is after the neighbourhood of the same name, and Wrigley has always been about gum chewing, or gum-chewer magnates.
Has a ballpark ever been named after a ballplayer?Four had people IDs, to my knowledge, and none of them played baseball. The only two traditional team names are Yankee Stadium, which turned 85 before version 2.0 kicked in, and Dodger Stadium, built on the 400 acres Los Angeles gave the team’s owner, Walter O’Malley.
So why is Dodger Stadium my choice? Probably because it’s so scenic, especially when purple ice plant becomes a wall beyond the walls. Or because it’s always clean and neat enough that you could take anybody there without embarrassment. And maybe because when the first pitch was thrown it’s expected the last pitch will be, too (the weather is consistently warm and dry).
Now 62 years old, it likely won’t be a star in the 2023 playoffs. That may not be true for its team.