On a Beach Walk: #70 (Baseball – Ballparks)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Today I think about the palaces of the fans known as ballparks to some – baseball stadiums to others.

Ballparks are those places creating a special feeling when hearing the wooden bat hit the ball followed by the roar of a cheering crowd rising to their feet – a bonding moment not only between people and the game, but also between people.

Ballparks are the cathedrals of baseball where people gather to worship with faith and allegiance for their team and yell praise to their cleated heroes. Ballparks are a place where memories are made to be told to the next generation.

I think of places before my time: Cincinnati’s Palace of the Fans, Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, Philadelphia’s Baker Bowl, Cleveland’s League Park, and Washington’s Griffith Stadium.

Many may not remember Los Angeles having a Wrigley Field. Not only the first and one-year home of the Los Angeles Angels, but also the location to television’s Home Run Derby.

There are the classic stadiums of my youth – Forbes Field (Pittsburgh), Connie Mack Stadium (Philadelphia) – previously known as Shibe Park – Sportsman’s Park (St. Louis), Polo Grounds (New York), cavernous Municipal Stadium (Cleveland), Crosley Field (Cincinnati), and others.

All places with their own quirks – yet, places of lore – but these are now gone. Places that may or may not have a sign or plaque commemorating its existence. Places that may be a playground, an apartment complex, a shopping area, a group of office buildings, or something for industry.

Let us not forget Boston’s Braves Field for much of it still stands. Not for baseball, but as a football field for Boston University – today known as Nickerson Field. An old ticket booth remains as a tribute to its past. One can sit in the stands imagining Spahn and Sain, then praying for rain – or slugger Eddie Mathews and other greats who played on this field.

A few teams played in temporary facilities as they waited for their new home – Houston’s mosquito-infested Colt 45 Stadium, Montreal’s quaint Jarry Park, and the Dodgers playing is a make-shift for baseball layout of massive LA Coliseum, which included a temporary high left field fence that made Moon Shots famous.

These ballparks gave way to the circular masses of concrete and steel known as multi-purposes stadiums that hosted baseball and football. Fortunately, most of them had shorter life spans than their predecessors. Not only is Atlanta’s multi-purpose stadium gone, so is it’s replacement.

The current generation of ballparks try to emulate the feel of those ballparks of long ago, but with modern conveniences and design. Yes, New York’s Yankee Stadium still exists, but it is not The House that Ruth Built – yet the city and franchise honors the original location.

For fans of baseball history, fortunately Boston’s Fenway Park and Chicago’s Wrigley Field stand of iconic tributes to the past. One has to wonder how long they will last – but for now, there is no end in sight … and for some of us, that’s a good thing.

No matter if in the old, new, or bygone, ballparks are places where vivid memories are made to be recalled – places where one can close their eyes and recall a past moment – a past hero – a past place as Ebbets or Crosley that stand no more, yet occupies a special place in the minds and hearts of their fans.

Ballparks are a special place – but so are beaches because walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

53 thoughts on “On a Beach Walk: #70 (Baseball – Ballparks)

  1. Cincy,

    Bravo to Part 3 of this series! And to all the things I had no idea about. Like . . . Wrigley Field was in LA? What??!! And Cincy had a field called Palace of the Fans . . that is wild. And I didn’t know they kept a ticket booth from the old Braves Field at Nickerson, how cool is that? And I didn’t know the Dodgers had constructed a faux “Monster” wall at the Coliseum. That place must have been horrible for baseball, lol.

    And not for nothing, but I still get goosebumps when Redford smashes the transformer. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Marc,
      I guess you can tell that I have a thing for the old parks. Here’s one of my favorite books that I bought way back when. Lots of fun. I’m confident you could find it much cheaper than what you see here. https://www.amazon.com/Sporting-News-Take-Ball-Park/dp/0892042621

      Years ago while in Boston for a few days, and I already new the connection between Nickerson and Braves Field – plus knew about the ticket booth. I was riding the T on the way to my work location, saw the BU stop, and lo and behold – there it was – so at the end of the day, I stopped … and was able to walk right in.

      I went to the top row of what would be the first base side, and tried to imagine Braves Field. Since I had some mental pics from the book, I could see it!

      As for LA’s Wrigley Field, I true bandbox. No wonder Homerun Derby filmed there. And it memory is right, I believe the first year Angels hit more than a few.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you for the link and the 411 on what looks like a really cool baseball book.

        As for Boston, can’t help but think about where this whole sign stealing scandal leaves them now. They’re shopping for a new skipper less than two seasons after winning 108 games and the World Series. They did the right thing in cutting ties with Cora.

        And it looks as if the Mets are probably going to fire Beltran before he manages his first game because of his involvement in the Astros sign stealing exploits in 2017.

        Boston’ a great sports town though. I bet you had quite a time there.

        I just can’t imagine what it looked like . . the Coliseum retrofitted for baseball. Reminds me of when the Pistons played home games in the Silverdome and they draped a curtain over half the field, LOL.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Crazy how the Houston thing has exploded! At least Commish doesn’t have head in sand like Selig during steroids. Oh …. And he’s in the Hall!

          Search Google Images for LA Coliseum baseball pics. Remarkable! … And then you’ll better understand Moon Shots.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Not to overlook your love of stadiums, because yes! The old stadiums had so much character, even if there were a fair share of dumps. From what I’ve heard and read, the Polo Grounds and Ebbetts Field were in severe disrepair by the time the teams fled West. But still, there was a charm to the old parks.

          And then progress brought us the multi-purpose cookie cutter stadiums, ugh. And now we’re back to a time when parks are trying to revisit their glorious past.

          As for the Houston scandal, credit to Manfred for acting quickly and harshly. I think the punishment was apt, and let’s face it, with Hinch and Luhnow fired by Crane, the rest took care of itself. That said, the minute Hinch is available again, some team will- and should snatch him up. Just saying. Luhnow will probably never be a GM again as he has been involved in several incidents over the years.

          Don’t get me started on Selig. I could write something on how the MLB, led by Selig, didn’t just look the other way during the steroids era . . but helped orchestrate it to the tune of billions of dollars in profits.

          I am on it as per the Coliseum!

          Liked by 2 people

        • But still . . they beat the hell out of the multipurpose stadiums. I remember when Chicago built that new stadium to replace Commiskey Park. This came after Camden Yards so everyone expected some really cool digs. It is so boring, it’s a shame.

          On the flip side, PNC Park in Pittsburgh is absolutely my favorite park. They got most of these right.

          If they ever make a doc about Selig, that’s the title. Peckerhead.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. So… I can’t geek out like Marc cos besides going to the occasional baseball game at the Big Owe (as we not so lovingly call the Olympic Stadium) when we actually had our Expos – before the damn strike killed them and they became the Nationals, the only baseball I know comes from my favourite baseball movies! I don’t recall if I ever actually saw a game at Jarry Park, though I have this nagging feeling I did.
    Gimme The Natural, The Rookie, Bull Durham (yum), Field of Dreams, A League of Their Own… hell, gimme The Bad News Bears, while you’re at it!
    Sorry… this is the best I can do, though I do recognise many of the stadiums you mentioned and I also had a What? moment for the Wrigley Field in LA…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I saw my first games at Crosley Field in the early and mid sixties. The first time was with my dad and uncle and then with my brother and some of his friends sitting in the Moon Deck for $1.00. I saw a couple of games at Riverfront and have been to Great American park only once. Things have changed as things do. I can’t sit through an entire game anymore. Too long and I am no fan of analytics.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your post has me contemplating my mortality combined with never having watched a baseball game at Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium (the new one), or Dodger Stadium – which, by the way, is No. 1 in MLB for seating capacity (56,000). Yankee Stadium comes in second with 54,251.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Here’s my plan. I’m going to attend a game at each of the venues mentioned where I will (1) buy a standing room only ticket, (2) walk around the ballpark throughout the game pausing to watch the action from the most historic angles, (3) eat and drink the city’s most iconic foods/beverages, (4) occasionally sit in a premium empty seat and boo the umpires until being run out by either the ticket holder or an usher.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. For those of us lucky enough to carry around memories of baseball as it used to be, we are the richer for those memories. I remember my brothers playing baseball in the court close to our house and one time the ball smashing through somebody’s window. It’s just not the greats I remember, but the boys I grew up with you loved the game and played it incessantly. That and street hockey. Now those were the days when kids were actually outside and begged to stay out when their Mom’s called them to come home. Oh for those memories, Frank. We are the richer for them!!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I really enjoy reading and hearing your enthusiasm. My son, husband and son-in-law have taken some really nice trips across the country to enjoy the Dodgers playing in ballparks they wanted to visit. I have a memory at about ten years old of accompanying my grandfather as he toured Chavez Ravine as it was being transformed into Dodger Stadium. I don’t know why he had access, but he did, and he wanted my brother and I to have some appreciation for what the land was going to become. It was a controversial “takeover” of land, but at ten years old I didn’t know that. Ball parks are certainly part of the American culture and landscape. I do enjoy bseball much more when in a stadium. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Debra,
      What a cool story about your grandfather and Dodger Stadium. Hard to believe that it is now one of the older facilities. It sure has withstood the test of time! Glad you enjoyed this series … and I hoped you shared it with Jay!

      Like

  7. I don’t have any experience of old MLB fields. I first went to a baseball game at the Kingdome, not a purpose built stadium, and I don’t think I went to another MLB ballpark until about 10 years ago when I saw the Giants in their new old-fashioned stadium.

    I do have the experience of Vancouver’s old-fashioned minor league ballpark. It was in my neighbourhood, the games were cheap, and sitting in the evening sun watching a game was a great way to finish off a summer day. Even after the renovation, it felt like I was going back in time and living a scene from an old baseball movie.

    With no disrespect to the movie but I still remember absolutely enjoying the book when I was in my teens. The opening is a masterpiece (as I remember it – maybe it’s time for a reread).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yahooey,
      I checked out Vancouver’s stadium … wow … you are lucky to have spent some time there. Must be great memories. The old minor league parks are also classics. Many of them are also history as time as moved past them. Regarding SF, I did attend a game in Candlestick. Quite the unique place! Thanks for sharing!!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You have such a nice volley with Marc, Dale a cool second. Again, so beautifully described imagery in place. You make me want to rewatch Ken Burns’s Baseball, especially the part on Jackie Robinson and The Babe, not in that order of course. When Branch Rickey made Jackie promise he’d turn the other cheek till he had no cheek left. Hard to believe it but it’s true. How he shattered the color line, but at what price. The Babe giving kids rides in his car to the stadium. He’d stop and they’d pile in and he’d treat them to hotdogs and ice cream. Joltin Joe being rude to a young Mickey Mantle knowing, he was as good as he was coming up as he was going out. I remember when Thurman Munson died in that plane crash, his teammates alighting from a Greyhound bus, Reggie Jackson in tears. Billy Martin wiping his eyes. It’s etched in my memory you’ve sliced open ….wounds that leave poignant scars. I’m gonna YouTube Carly Simon crooning…Take me out to the ballgame, take me out to the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks, I don’t care if I ever come back for its root root root for the home team, if they don’t win it’s a shame..,.cause it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out in the old ballgame. ⚾️⚾️ ⚾️

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Another home run, Frank! I drove past Coors Field the other day and kept thinking it won’t be long now till the traffic downtown is gonna be jammed at rush hour after an afternoon game. Whenever there is a game going on and I pass by, I love that crack sound and the roar of fans bursting forth like an avalanche over the Rock pile stands (deep centerfield).

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m not the biggest sports fan, but I have enjoyed games many at the ballpark. However, the ballpark here is so BIG, now, that’s it’s not fun for me. There’s too many people, and I get dizzy if I’m more than 10rows up.
    Neat post, Frank… you hit it out of the ballpark!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Resa,
      Fortunately for me, heights at the stadium don’t bother me … but I know people that are, so I sympathize you and the others. At least you know your limits On the downside, the lower the seats, the higher the price … even in the upper deck. Sometimes, I buy a cheaper seat and never sit in it.

      Liked by 1 person

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