“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.
The best ballpark in America? I reveal it below.
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 18 current MLB ballparks.
Last week, I shared my “bench players.” And now, here are my “starting nine” (my favorite ballparks from No. 9 to No. 1):
9. Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies
In the summer of 2011, I traveled to Denver to report on the Future Preachers Training Camp sponsored by the Bear Valley Church of Christ. While there, my three children and I enjoyed a Rockies game. What’s not to like about baseball played against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains’ snow-capped peaks?
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8. Great American Ball Park, home of the Cincinnati Reds
In 2006, on the way to cover a church unity event in Louisville, Ky., my family and I made a detour to Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. We witnessed Reds star Ken Griffey Jr.’s 550th career home run. As a boy, I idolized the Big Red Machine and wrote a letter to Pete Rose, who sent me an autographed picture. So I basked in the sea of red.
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7. AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants
In 2009, I tagged along with domestic missionary Wes Woodell and a group from the Lake Merced Church of Christ in San Francisco to see a Giants game at AT&T Park. Or as they might describe it, I begged to go to the game. How to describe the view of the San Francisco Bay just beyond the brick wall in right? Breathtaking.
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6. Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners
On a Friday night in 2011, I sat in the right-field bleachers at Safeco Field and watched my favorite team, the Texas Rangers, beat the hometown Mariners. James A. Maxwell, then minister of the Holgate Church of Christ in Seattle, invited me to the game while I was in town working on a story. I’ll fess up and admit that the Rangers’ win probably helped Safeco’s ranking.
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5. Nationals Park, home of the Washington Nationals
In 2010, while in Washington, D.C., for an Associated Church Press meeting, I interviewed slugger Josh Willingham at Nationals Park. Willingham, a member of the Cross Point Church of Christ in Florence, Ala., introduced me to one of my all-time favorite players: future Hall of Fame catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, a former longtime Rangers star. That was a thrill, and so was watching baseball in the shadow of the nation’s Capitol.
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4. Dodger Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Dodgers
Chavez Ravine, they call it. I interviewed reliever Rex Brothers of the visiting Rockies at Dodger Stadium in 2013 while attending the Pepperdine Bible Lectures in nearby Malibu, Calif. My friend David Duncan, minister for the Memorial Church of Christ in Houston, came along as the photographer. The Dodgers’ history (this is the third-oldest ballpark after Wrigley and Fenway Park in Boston) and the palm-tree setting make for an impressive combination.
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3. Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox
Fenway Park, which opened in 1912, is the MLB’s oldest ballpark. It drips with history. Eric Greer, a church planter in the Boston area, took me to a game when I traveled to New England last year. I ate a Fenway Frank (more than one, actually), stared at the Green Monster and counted my ballpark travel blessings.
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2. Oriole Park at Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles’ ballpark, which opened in 1992, was the first of the “retro” major-league stadiums constructed in the 1990s and early 2000s. My chance to experience Camden Yards came in 2013 when I traveled to nearby Delaware to cover the Campus for Christ national conference. Oriole Park is an absolutely beautiful place to enjoy a game, and I had a wonderful time watching my friend Steve Mahoney’s Orioles beat the Houston Astros.
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1. Globe Life Park, home of the Texas Rangers
This choice will surprise nobody who knows me: I love God; I love my family; and I love the Texas Rangers, mostly in that order. So picking Rangers Ballpark (or whatever the corporate sponsor renamed it) was an obvious choice. To me, it’s more than a ballpark. It’s a place filled with countless memories and precious times spent with my family and — typically — 40,000-plus of my closest friends. Yes, I’m biased, but it really is a remarkable ballpark. Go Rangers!
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I ranked my “bench players” (my favorite ballparks from No. 18 to No. 10) last 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.
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@bobbyross I’m shocked by the low ranking for Kauffman. Even before the makeover. Hopefully you’ll get to go back someday. Fantastic park.
— Brad Brickell (@bradbrick) February 14, 2015
@bobbyross Shibe Park (Connie Mack Stadium) — The dreadful Veterans Stadium never was the same — childhood memories of Philadelphia
— George Conger (@geoconger) February 15, 2015
@bobbyross 1 – Texas 2 – Baltimore Been to others. Only Busch comes close, but I hate the Cardinals. ‘Nuf said.
— Cheryl Bacon (@baconc) February 15, 2015
@bobbyross 1 AT&T 2 Petco 3 Fenway 4 Wrigley 5 Nationals Park
— Dale Harris (@dcharris) February 16, 2015
.@bobbyross 1) Chavez Ravine, 2) new Busch, 3) Camden, 4) Coors Field 5) Comerica.
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) February 18, 2015
@bobbyross 1. Wrigley. 2. Fenway. 3. Camden. 4. Coors. 5. that minor league park in Nashville
— Michael Peppard (@MichaelPeppard) February 18, 2015
— The Infamous Myiq2xu (@realmyiq2xu2) February 18, 2015
@bobbyross 1) Busch 2) Arlington 3) AT&T (San Fran) 4) Riverfront 5) PNC
— Wade Danforth (@wade_danforth) February 18, 2015
— P. D. Swindle (@PDSwindleHU) February 18, 2015