GAME TIME

MLB Parks You Shouldn't Miss

Four modern classics and three old timers—if you're in town, it's a shame to miss one of these baseball gems.

By Dan Butcher, Monday, Jul 14, 2008, 10:07 AM

Schedule a visit to ancient Fenway Park soon—the park can't last forever

(Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox)

CLASSIC NEW PARKS:

1. AT&T Park, San Francisco, Calif. (opened 2000): At high tide, San Francisco Bay washes up against the back of AT&T Park, home to the San Francisco Giants. There's simply no doubt that this is among the most visually stunning sports venues in the world; visitors enjoy postcard views of the city skyline, the Bay Bridge, and wide expanses of the bay. On game days, kayakers paddle around McCovey Cove just beyond the right-field seats, waiting to pounce on a home run ball launched into the water.

Kids gravitate toward the 80-foot-long Coca-Cola bottle, replete with playground slides, and the batting and pitching cage. The ballpark is in the city and is easily accessible by bus or trolley.

Unforgettable: On October 5, 2001, Barry Bonds set a new single-season home run record by launching home runs in each of his first two at-bats against the Dodgers. He would hit one more on the last day of the season to set the bar at 73, a mark that still stands.

Game Tickets: Click here.

2. PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pa. (opened 2001): The Pirates' home field is nestled on the banks of the Allegheny River, providing fans with dramatic vistas of the city's downtown skyline and the Roberto Clemente Bridge, renamed after the heroic Hall of Fame outfielder. On game days, Clemente's bridge is closed to traffic and local fans walk to the game in droves; others arrive by riverboat or water-limo. Nonmotorized boaters and paddlers can use the same water landings and ramps as access points. The stadium's much-lauded design, with its Kasota limestone archways, is a throwback to earlier, classic stadiums. And with fewer than 40,000 seats and only two decks, the park feels intimate.

Families might want to arrive early on Sundays: There's a free Family Fun Zone on Federal Street with games, inflatable toys, baseball-themed activities, and baseball cards as prizes for kids ages 12 and under.

Unforgettable: The 2006 All-Star Game. The Midsummer Classic lived up to its nickname, as Roberto Clemente's widow Vera accepted the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award on behalf of her late husband, and Rangers shortstop Michael Young nailed a two-out, two-run triple in the ninth to clinch the game for the American League.

Game Tickets: Click here.

3. Safeco Field, Seattle, Wash. (opened 1999): The pleasing brick façade of Safeco Field, home to the Seattle Mariners, evokes the classic ballparks of the 1950s. Located on the edge of downtown Seattle, just a few city blocks from Puget Sound, Safeco is justly renowned for its views of the city skyline, including the iconic Space Needle and nearby Qwest Field, where Seattle's professional football team plays. During night games, fans can watch the sun set over the sound while ordering hot dogs, soda, or Kobe beef burgers from their cellphones. If you're planning a visit to the stadium, don't worry about the weather: As befits the rain capital of the U.S., Safeco has a retractable roof and a state-of-the-art drainage system to keep games humming along.

Take tots to the Children's Hospital Playfield—there's a playground, a wishing well, and a pint-size concessions stand on the main concourse behind center field. Stick around for a bit and you might run into the team mascot, Mariner Moose. King County Metro bus shuttle service runs before and after most games. Sound Transit's Central Link light-rail system is scheduled to start service to and from the stadium next season; there is weekend-only service to and from games now.

Unforgettable: Game 5 of the 2001 American League Division Series (ALDS) against Cleveland. After a record-tying 116-win regular season, the Mariners squeaked by Cleveland in a pitcher's duel won by Jamie Moyer to reach the ALCS for the third time in their history.

Game Tickets: Click here.

4. Coors Field, Denver, Colo. (opened 1995): Perched about a mile above sea level in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains, Coors Field is a magical setting. Try to sit in the upper deck on the first-base side of the stadium—from there you can can quaff beers made on site while gawking at the majestic Rocky Mountains. The stadium is a vital part of the city, too. It's located in the LoDo ("lower downtown") district of Denver, a neighborhood anchored by a popular amusement park, two performing arts centers, two museums, and many theaters, bars, and restaurants.

Families get cheap seats by buying tickets for the outfield area known as the Rockpile—seats are $1 for fans 12 and under, and 55 and older; $4 for everyone else. Close to I-25, there's easy access via car. You can also take the RockiesRide round-trip bus service or the convenient light-rail system to Coors Field.

Unforgettable: In 2007, after winning 13 out of their last 14 games to finish the regular season tied with San Diego for the wild card, the Rockies hosted a one-game do-or-die tiebreaker. After the Padres scored twice in the top of the 13th inning, Colorado's Matt Holliday tied the game with a triple and scored the winning run on a sacrifice fly—the team went on to win its first-ever National League pennant.

Game Tickets: Click here.

THE OLD-TIMERS:

1. Yankee Stadium, Bronx, N.Y. (opened 1923): It's easy to forget that Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, and Mantle all played in this stadium, which closes its gates forever this year. For the sheer love of history—for an opportunity to sit one last time in the park in which these immortals once played—Yankee Stadium is simply a must-see if you're in town this year.

Game Tickets: Click here.

2. Fenway Park, Boston, Mass. (opened 1912): It won't last forever. Completed in 1912, ancient Fenway—the oldest Major League park still in use—is approaching its centennial anniversary. This small, charming relic of baseball's yesteryear will eventually grow too old for this young man's sport and drift off into the past. Before it does, you should grab a few tickets in the left field seats above the iconic Green Monster, stuff down a few hot dogs, and scream yourself hoarse.

Game Tickets: Click here.

3. Wrigley Field, Chicago, Ill. (opened 1914): Major League Baseball's second oldest park (Fenway's older, see above), this classic stadium opened in 1914 with a seating capacity of...14,000. For the legendary dedication of its oft-disappointed fans, for the outfield walls covered with ivy, and for its almost premodern loyalty to day games (they didn't add lights for night games until 1988!) Chicago's Wrigley Field is an essential stadium experience. You might want to go this year; as we go to publish, the Cubs, who haven't won a World Series in a century, are in first place in the National League Central division.

Game Tickets: Click here.

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