It’s April, and we should be wrapping up the first week of the 2020 baseball season. Thanks a lot, COVID-19! I, like many other sports junkies, are really missing baseball. So I thought I would think back to the ballparks I have been to and pick my top 3 ballparks in the MLB. Let me start by saying, I’m not a big traveler. When I travel, I try and squeeze in a ball game. There are people out there that have definitely been to more ballparks than me. I will also like to note that my favorite ballparks are tied to some of my favorite memories.
My Top 3 Ballparks #3. PNC Park – Pittsburgh Pirates
It was pure luck that I got to go see the Pirates play. I was in town for business, a friend of a coworker had an extra ticket and it was offered to me… Who were the Pirates playing? It was a make-up game with the New York Yankees! I was really impressed with this ballpark. While taking it all in, I had a lot of memories come back to me. When I was 8 or 9 years old my family went to a Cubs Pirates game at the old Three Rivers. What was unique about this game back in 1988, as we were living outside of Chicago at the time, and we were visiting family outside of Pittsburgh, in Wheeling WV.
PNC Park is NO Three Rivers… and that’s a good thing. I loved this park. PNC is a really small ballpark. I had really good seats, and surprisingly there was hardly anyone there. Even to see the Yankees. I moved around every few innings. My original seat was about 10 rows up from home plate. I moved to front row at first base and moved again to the third row at third base. Each seat was the closest I’ve ever sat during an MLB game. The ballpark has a great view of downtown Pittsburgh and the Clemente Bridge. Another highlight of the ballpark was the local beer, IC Light. I am not a beer connoisseur at all but IC Light isn’t all that great. The only reason I wanted it was I remember my Dad drinking when I was a kid. So obviously, while I was there, I had to have a cold one!
The Yankees won the game, but the ballpark won me over.
My Top 3 Ballparks #2 Camden Yards – Baltimore Orioles
In 2001, we moved to Baltimore. Prior to our big move, my Dad and I made a trip to Baltimore to check out the area a little more. We decided to go check out an O’s game. At that time, there was really only one player I wanted to see, and that was Cal Rikpen Jr. Our tickets were in far-right field foul territory. Not ideal seats for wanting to watch Cal Ripken, who was playing 3rd base. We went in late May, and the one memory I have of that game was we froze our butts off. We spent $140 on two sweatshirts just to help us get warm. Once we got comfortable, I really loved the atmosphere of Camden Yards. The warehouse at Camden Yards is such a great and iconic setting also. A little known fact, Ken Griffey Jr. hit the warehouse during a 1993 Home Run Derby.
Their beer selection was the typical selection, but being new to the area, I wanted to try a local beer. I tried a National Bohemian also known as “Natty Boh”. Not my favorite, but then again I’m not a beer connoisseur. Since then Camden has a lot more local offerings but no longer sells Natty Boh.
Next time you go to Camden, buy a Heavy Sea beer. You’ll thank me. As you walk around, you will want to stop at Boog’s BBQ and get the Turkey Sandwich.
On a side note. I had a ticket to see the O’s play on September 12th 2001, We all know what happened on September 11th, so our game was rescheduled to the first week of October. That game was one of Cal Ripken Jr’s Last.
My Top 3 Ballparks #1 Wrigley Field – Chicago Cubs
I love the Cubs. L.O.V.E the Cubs. I have been to several games at Wrigley. Every time I go to Chicago, I make sure I go to see the Cubs play. The iconic Chicago landmark is second to none. The ballpark is nestled in Wrigleyville. Wrigley is the second oldest part in the country. Once you are inside you can really get a sense of how old it is. There has been some major renovation at Wrigley over the past few years. All of these renovations have taken place since I’ve been there. So I haven’t been there since the addition of the jumbotron scoreboard.
The neighborhood, the brick wall covered in ivy, the people watching from the rooftops, Old Style Beer and the seat directly behind the support beam… are all part of the character that is Wrigley. Do yourself a favor, get their early, or stay late and just walk around the neighborhood. Walk past the fire station. Walk over to the Cubbie Bear for something to eat and or drink. Before you leave though, make sure you stop and get some treats at Nuts on Clark.
Another side note: When I was a kid, my parents saved up some of their money take the three of us to watch a Cubs game. That game in particular was kids day. All the kids were allowed on the field and talk to Cubs players at the position they played. I was lucky enough to listen to Mark Grace talk about fielding and how to play 1B. That day is one that I will never forget.
How many ballparks have you been to? What is your favorite?
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