We’re going out to the park with the roundtable question this week, which is very straightforward. I asked the staff what their favorite baseball park they’ve ever been to is. That could include major or minor league parks. The only rule I gave was that they could not pick Fenway. My hot take is that Fenway wouldn’t have been my pick anyway, but I figure most if not all of the rest of the staff would’ve picked that, which wouldn’t have been very fun. So, let’s see the responses.
Outside of Fenway Park (which is objectively the best place to take in a game, especially if you are in the front row on top of the Monster) I’ve been to 3 other parks: Camden Yards in Baltimore, Angel Stadium in Anaheim, and Hadlock Field in Portland. Of them, my favorite non-Fenway locale is Camden Yards.
The reasoning here is that not only is Camden beautiful, but the general atmosphere was more pleasant, even though it’s the home stadium of a divisional opponent. Camden’s seating felt more comfortable on the whole, the food tasted just slightly better, and the fans were more chill/less annoying from my recollection.
The big thing though is what the field is like, and Camden really is just a beautiful place to sit and watch baseball.
I’ve been to six major league ballparks: Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Veterans Stadium, and Shea Stadium. The two that are now destroyed, the Vet and Shea, were dumps. Wrigley was kind of cool, but too basic in many ways. Since I can’t pick Fenway the choice is between Nationals Park and Camden Yards. I lived in Washington, D.C. for over seven years so I became very familiar with these places and I like them both, but if I have to give it to one, its Nationals Park.
The first time I went to Nationals Park it was 2009 and the team and park were both basic and bland. The Nats only interesting player was the then 24-year-old Ryan Zimmerman or if you were interested in veteran boppers—Josh Willingham and Adam Dunn. Amenities at the park matched the roster: Basic. Your choices were mostly Aramark fare and uninteresting beer. Fast forward to today, the team is crazy good and interesting, not to mention World Series Champs, and the park has improved greatly.
As one of the few U.S. cities with a Michelin Star Guide here is what was new for 2019. The great food selection goes on with DC staple Ben’s Chili Bowl (which was open when I first went in 2009), along with Shake Shack burgers, tacos, bbq, fried chicken, ice cream, bao bao, lobster and more. For beers they have DC Brau, Port City, Atlas and 3 Stars just to name a few locals. The park itself gives mostly great views and more importantly the team and park are constantly improving.
Outside of Fenway of course, my favorite park I’ve visited has to be Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. I had the pleasure of watching a Sox-Rangers four-game series in the Lone Star State, and was in awe of the park. The view behind home plate is beautiful, and their singing of ‘Deep in the Heart of Texas’ in the middle of the 5th inning rivals the Red Sox’ Sweet Caroline. Sadly however, the Rangers are moving to a newly built Globe Life Field starting this season, but the original stadium will always have a special place in my heart.
My favorite baseball park I’ve visited is easily Camden Yards in Baltimore. When I was younger, my family would take a day trip up to Baltimore to visit the city and watch a game. This was the closest major league park to me as Washington did not have a team at that point. The park itself is beautiful and you even have a great view from the cheap seats. My husband and I spent part of our honeymoon in Baltimore and we caught a few games. I can still hear the fans shouting “O!” during the anthem and smell the barbecue at Boogs and Old Bay seasoning on Crab Cakes.
I traveled to Pittsburgh and visited PNC Park almost exactly two years ago and that is one fine baseball establishment.
Favorite ballpark is a tough question, even without Fenway Park included. I’ve made it to almost a third of the league during my life, with a few torn down parks chipping away at my progress (Shea Stadium? Not great) and they’ve all had something unique and worth favoriting. But my overall favorite outside of Boston is Oracle Park in San Francisco, home of the Giants.
It’s an urban ballpark just a stone’s throw away from the commuter rail that’s cramped into an off area that makes for an extraordinary “how did they fit that?” moment when seen from above. The garlic fries are everything you could want in a ballpark speciality. McCovey Cove is always just lurking there for a home run to hit the water. And the fans get into the game. It’s a new park with a retro design and it’s an enjoyable place to watch a game.
One warning: even in the summer it can get cold. Best to bring a sweatshirt for night games.
I haven’t gotten around too much, but I have been to Fenway, Citi Field, Camden Yards, Olympic Stadium, Rogers Centre and Citizens Bank Park. I can decidedly tell you Olympic is not the answer here. Even 10-year-old me knew that place was an absolute disaster. The answer is going to be a repeat, but in my small sample of visits I have to go with Camden. The views are great, the food is really good — I was like 14 so I couldn’t tell you about the beer — and the atmosphere was just really cool. Also, my brother caught a foul ball right next to me, which was neat.
AT&T Park. My routine during baseball season is to watch a Red Sox game and then flip on a west coast game on MLB TV, and for years my go-to has been the San Francisco Giants. When I started doing this they were loaded with top-tier pitching talent like Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and a style of play that was conducive to my interests. The more I started watching the more I fell in love with their television production, announce team, and their ballpark. I’ve heard tremendous things about the park itself and the views are incredible. I’ve never made my way out californee way, but AT&T would be the first place I’d want to go if I were in the Bay Area (after Dave Meltzer‘s).
This is a great question because I can’t tell if it’s easy or hard. I’ll spare everyone the suspense and say my answer up front: It’s Oracle Park in San Francisco, or whatever they call where the Giants play these days. When I read the question, that’s where my mind went, inflexibly, and that’s my answer. But that understates how close it is. There are about 6-7 parks that are righteous and not to be missed, including PNC Park in Pittsburgh, to which I haven’t been but have heard amazing things. Dodger Stadium, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Wrigley Field, T-Mobile Park (Seattle) are all truly great, as is MCU Park, which hosts the Brooklyn Cyclones, and is just a scaled-down version of the Giants’s building plopped in the middle of Coney Island and rules.
All that said, my answer is San Francisco. I’d describe it for you, but it needs to be experienced to be believed, because it defies words. It’s a perfect complement to Fenway Park, the new and the old ways of doing things, both exquisite, both with their quirks (water homers, the Monstah) and overwhelming beauty. If you made me choose one park to visit before I died, though, I’d take San Francisco. It’s like choosing between the Garden of Eden and heaven, and I’ll take heaven.