“Take me out to the ball game” is my blog on major-league ballparks and the wonders of witnessing America’s favorite pastime up close.
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By Bobby Ross Jr.
Twelve major-league stadiums remain on my bucket list, including the legendary Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs.
But I’ve been blessed to experience games at the remaining 18 MLB ballparks, and I’m going to rank them from bottom to top. (Below my rankings, I’ll share “top five” lists from other fans who responded to a query I made on Twitter.)
This week, I present my “bench players” (my favorite ballparks from No. 18 through No. 10):
18. U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox
My family and I enjoyed an afternoon game punctuated by an excellent view of the Chicago skyline this past summer while visiting my son Brady, who was doing a youth ministry internship with the Naperville Church of Christ. On a glorious afternoon full of sunshine, my beloved Texas Rangers beat the White Sox. I didn’t dislike Cellular Field. It just wasn’t my favorite ballpark.
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17. Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves
I joined a few friends for a Friday night game this past fall during the Religion Newswriters Association annual meeting in Atlanta. We just happened to be there on “Star Wars” Night. I interviewed Braves great Dale Murphy for The Oklahoman in 2001 and enjoyed seeing some of his memorabilia in the Braves Museum & Hall of Fame before the game.
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16. Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals
In 2008, we celebrated my daughter’s ninth birthday by spending the day at Worlds of Fun, then going to a Royals game that night. They were playing the White Sox, although I can’t remember which team won. This was before extensive stadium renovations of recent years.
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15. Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros
In case nobody’s mentioned this, it’s hot in Texas in the summer. So I love that Minute Maid Park has a retractable roof that allows team officials to crank up the air-conditioning. I’ve attended several Astros games, both as a baseball fan and as a newspaper writer. My reporting work includes a 2004 Associated Press feature on the Astros’ team chaplain and a 2006 Christian Chronicle interview with Houston coach (and future manager) Cecil Cooper.
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14. Citi Field, home of the New York Mets
In 2008, the final season of the Mets’ Shea Stadium, my son Keaton and I sat 16 rows behind home plate as New York ace Johan Santana notched his 100th win. The next season, when I traveled to New York to interview NBC anchor Lester Holt on faith and journalism, my friend Brian Nicklaus — a minister — borrowed a church member’s season tickets for a game at the new Citi Field.
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13. Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals
On the Fourth of July in 2008, my family joined a rowdy crowd of Cardinals and Cubs fans in a jam-packed stadium. My wife remembers that the drunk guy who sat in front of us “had crazy pants and a wacky-looking suit and was just the most colorful character ever.” I recall that St. Louis star Albert Pujols slugged his 300th career home run.
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12. Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers
On the night after the game at Cellular Field this past summer, my son Keaton and I made the quick drive to Milwaukee. We sat in the outfield bleachers and had a wonderful time. Miller Park is a nice ballpark with lively fans.
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11. Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians
Brady, Keaton, Kendall and I enjoyed dollar hot dogs and cheap seats at a Friday night game between the Indians and the Rangers this past summer. This was my third new stadium of the week (after Cellular Field and Miller Park), and I got to go into the Indians’ locker room before the game. I ran into Cleveland manager Terry Francona and former Rangers outfielder David Murphy (now an Indian) in the clubhouse tunnel. I don’t remember the final score, but my injury-riddled Rangers did not have a good night.
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10. Angel Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Angels
What’s not to like about a major-league baseball game in mid-May with a cool breeze blowing from the Pacific Ocean? If I weren’t a Rangers fan — and the Angels weren’t such a big rival — I might rank Angel Stadium higher. I spent my time before the game in the visitors’ clubhouse, interviewing Oakland Athletics submarine reliever Brad Ziegler (now with the Arizona Diamondbacks). My friend Al Sturgeon came along as the photographer.
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Stay tuned for my “starting nine” next week.
Feel free to share your own favorites and take issue with mine by tweeting me at @bobbyross.
See a map of all the major-league stadiums at BallparkChasers.com.
And don’t forget to scroll down and enjoy feedback from other fans.