05/28/2008 2:46 PM ET
The Bigs List: Best stadiums
For folks across the nation, a home away from home
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
Choosing a favorite ballpark is a very personal decision. We all like what we like, and the most convincing arguments sometimes won't sway our often-sentimental beliefs.
We at The Bigs List try to steer away from petty partisanship, and while it's been tough in compiling this week's list of the nine best Major League stadiums, we went ahead and did it anyway.
Controversy will surely brew with this topic, but we had to throw it out there sooner or later, before they build any more stadiums that The Bigs List hasn't yet visited. Here they are, and let's all try to still be friends:
1. Fenway Park, Boston Red Sox: Built in 1912, it's the oldest Major League stadium and all of its quirks and oddities are displayed with pride for the nightly visitors to revel in. There's the Monster, the Triangle, the Lone Red Seat, Williamsburg, Pesky's Pole, and if you have to ask what any of those terms mean, you haven't been to Fenway. There's also a party outside the joint every game day, with the shops and food carts along Yawkey Way. Whether or not you like the Red Sox shouldn't matter when you go to this stadium. It's a living landmark, a vibrant museum of Americana, and it's still going strong as it nears the century mark.
2. Wrigley Field, Chicago Cubs: The oldest stadium in the National League, which opened in 1916, comes in a close second to Fenway. What it lacks in quirkiness it makes up for with fun. The ivy along the brick outfield fence that was planted in 1937 by wacky team owner Bill Veeck still grows, as does the cost of the rooftop seats on the nearby buildings that give this old yard its archaic charm. The stadium also scores points for its neighborhood, known as "Wrigleyville," with bars, restaurants and shops all dedicated to everything Cubs.
3. Yankee Stadium, New York Yankees: It's not the original House That Ruth Built, which makes it No. 3 instead of No. 1. And while the 1970s remodel hasn't exactly aged well -- it's still the same field all those legends played on -- there's still Monument Park with the busts of the Yankee greats and the largest collection of retired numbers in the game, and there's simply nothing like the electricity of 55,000 obsessed fans. Witnessing the energy of this ballpark in October is like nothing else in sports.
4. PNC Park, Pittsburgh Pirates: This newer park gets our vote as the best of the recent constructions because of the fantastic views of downtown and the yellow bridges crossing the adjacent Allegheny River. That alone almost makes you want to get an upper-deck seat. Where else can you say that? Outside there's a poignant statue honoring the most legendary Pirate of all, Roberto Clemente, and around the block is the Andy Warhol Museum. Already PNC Park has attracted a Major League All-Star Game. Here's hoping a few more will be on the way in the coming years.
5. Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles Dodgers: Everything about this Chavez Ravine gem screams, "baseball." The construction of the stadium is old-school and the setting in the verdant hills above downtown makes you think you're getting away from the hustle and bustle of Tinseltown for a few hours. The recent return to the original 1962 pastel-colored seats, the ever-present Dodger Dogs, the unique outfield pavilions and, yes, the mother of all parking lots make this classic a must-visit.
6. Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore Orioles: When it opened in 1992, Camden Yards signified the ushering in of the new era of ballpark architecture: marrying new-age accoutrements to an old-time feel. Over 15 years later, it's still among the best of that lot, and it's mostly because of the brilliant idea of having the former B&O Warehouse in a prominent position behind the right-field wall. Otherwise, you've got significant history here in the form of Cal Ripken Jr.'s record-breaking 2,131st consecutive game played on Sept. 6, 1995, and you've got the succulent smoke of Boog's Barbecue rising into the air every night. Need we say more?
7. AT&T Park, San Francisco Giants: The simple fact that this park was designed so players could hit baseballs over the right-field wall and into the San Francisco Bay is cool, and so are the freebie opportunities to watch the game for an inning or two through the fence beyond right field. The huge baseball glove in left is interesting, as is the big Coke bottle, but that's nothing but old-time baseball marketing. On a clear day you can see the Oakland hills from a lot of the seats, and being about 40 degrees warmer than Candlestick on a lot of spring nights isn't a bad thing.
8. Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City Royals: We can't wait to see the renovations, but we like this comfy park the way it is. The fountains and grassy knolls beyond the outfield walls are beautiful, the huge neon KCR crown sign is a neat touch, and just about every seat in the place offers great sightlines in one of the more intimate settings in the Major Leagues.
9. Comerica Park, Detroit Tigers: This beautiful newer park makes the list because of the nod to history beyond the left-field wall in the form of a series of statues honoring Al Kaline, Charlie Gehringer, Hal Newhouser, Willie Horton, Hank Greenberg, and, of course, Ty Cobb. And don't forget the retired numbers on the brick wall beyond left-center, although Cobb doesn't have a number because he didn't have one when he played. There's also a statue of beloved Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell and the amenities are top-notch, with a tiger-themed merry-go-round for kids and a deck-chair section for those balmy Michigan summer afternoons. The monstrous scoreboard in left field looks a tad out of place, but hey, who's complaining?
Doug Miller is a Senior Writer for MLB.com/Entertainment. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.