When we last left off in April of 2021, I had informed everyone in this space that I had seen a major league baseball game in 40 ballparks, including TD Ballpark in Dunedin where the Blue Jays played during the time of COVID restrictions imposed in Canada.
I can now proudly state that as of April of this year, I have been to every major league baseball city with the addition of Houston to my itinerary. Minute Maid Park for those who are counting becomes the 41st stadium where I have attended a major league game.
While Minute Maid Park was pretty darn nice, it didn't do enough for me to have it crack my Top 3 list of "new" ballparks. PNC Park in Pittsburgh still reigns as my No. 1 (ahead of Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia and Oracle Park in San Francisco; of the old ballparks, the original Yankee Stadium ranks No. 1 with Wrigley Field and Fenway Park close seconds). Houston, however, and Miami I would tie for first for best indoor/retractable roof stadiums.
In case you were wondering:
Most of the baseball cities I visited were with my good friends Dallas Sacher and Jerry Karp as part of an annual baseball city meet-up that started in 2000 in Chicago. Dallas and Jerry and I go back to grammar school, while in more recent years Jody Price has joined this annual baseball foray. For this group of diehards only LA/Anaheim and Philadelphia remain to be conquered.
Since attending games in Minnesota, St. Louis and Texas (Rangers), new ballparks have been built. Of the three, only Minnesota's Target Field interests me as one in which I'd (somewhat) go out of my way to see. Of the ballparks I've been to, Wrigley Field and PNC Park are the two I'd really like to check out again.
The one baseball city always worth returning to, whether or not the Giants are in town, is San Francisco.
The two baseball cities I would skip in a heartbeat are Detroit and Phoenix.
The most "unique" stadium I've been to? TD Ballpark in Dunedin.
The funkiest bar on any of these baseball trips: Thurman's 15 in Milwaukee, with its combination of Thurman Munson/baseball memorabilia mixed in with a Grateful Dead theme.
The baseball stadium with the best "scene" outside the ballpark easily would be The Battery Atlanta. Just a terrific well-planned out space with lots to do before and after a game at Truist Park, or during a game if you so choose. As a footnote, the group looking to rebuild at the current site of Tropicana Field is the same group that designed The Battery Atlanta.
If I could go back in time my wish would be to see a game at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field. Also on my wish list, catching a foul (or fair) ball, attending a World Series Game, and seeing a no-hitter (which I almost saw last year when the Rays beat the Red Sox in a game in which Boston was hitless through nine innings but got hits and scored runs in the 10th before the Rays came back to win).
Two stadiums visited too late: The Astrodome and Tiger Stadium (aka Briggs Stadium). The Astrodome, by the way, is now a designated national historic site. Once considered the Eighth Wonder of the World, unfortunately there are no plans in the city to capitalize on that national designation in the near or even distant future, so it just sits empty awaiting an unknown fate. Only a simple plaque on one side of the building references its history. Tiger Stadium, meanwhile, was demolished in 2008.
Ballparks worth forgetting? Yeah, Tropicana Field (but yes, I still do like going there!), the Oakland Coliseum and the "new" Yankee Stadium. Of those gone by the wayside, Candlestick Park in San Francisco was really bad.
The "baseball city tour" will be continuing soon enough, though, with Oakland moving to Las Vegas (projected for 2027), and possibly Nashville, which has aspirations of having an expansion team down the line.
But the stadium I am really looking forward to going to? The new Tampa Rays ballpark (let's hope)!