Photo by Sean Sylver

Baseball Road Trip: Angel Stadium

Over the last twelve summers, I’ve chipped away at my goal of seeing a home game in all 30 MLB cities. At press time, only one remains: Minneapolis. Today we look at Angel (formerly Anaheim) Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Angels.

My visit to Angel Stadium was the second stop on a 2010 road trip that took me from San Francisco to Anaheim, San Diego, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Oakland, and finally Seattle (with the Grand Canyon thrown in for good measure). It was summertime in LA, so I rolled up to the ballpark wearing a Ray Allen Boston Celtics jersey for adequate ventilation. After the Celtics had taken the Lakers to the seventh game of the NBA Finals just a month earlier, I expected some vitriol from my neighbors. I received none, and actually had a great hoops-related conversation with a ballpark attendant.

It’s amazing that Angel Stadium, opened in 1966, is the fourth-oldest Major League ballpark (after Fenway, Wrigley and Dodger Stadium). When the expansion Angels commenced play in 1961, they actually played at a Wrigley Field (not Chicago – this one was in Los Angeles), a former minor league facility that served as the backdrop for the Home Run Derby television show. The Angels were tenants of Dodger Stadium for the next three seasons before they got their own home.

Due to its age, Angel Stadium avoids the manufactured retro vibe of many ballparks built in the last 20 years. Then again, it wouldn’t feel appropriate in California, a state that didn’t house a Major League team during the “retro” era the newer ballparks strive to replicate. But Angel Stadium also avoids the stigma of the cookie cutter 60′s and 70′s stadiums, thanks to a mid-90′s renovation that removed the outfield upper decks (which were originally added to accommodate the Los Angeles Rams 35 years ago).

The iconic “Big A” scoreboard support, at 230 feet tall and 210 tons, resides in one of the stadium parking lots, as the aforementioned football renovation removed it from the stadium architecture and it was never returned. The mid-90′s renovation created a rocky scene beyond the outfield walls with a running stream, a nod to the mountainous terrain off in the distance. For the sake of comparison, Angel Stadium is most similar to Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, an older stadium that doesn’t feel “old,” isn’t “fake-old,” and exhibits a feature (in Kauffman’s case, waterfalls) beyond the outfield fence.

We had a great time at Angel Stadium. The food was good, sight lines were good, and the involvement of Thunder Stix was kept to a minimum. I feel like prolonged exposure to the Thunder Stix, Rally Monkey, and/or Scott Spiezio would have immediately turned this review south.

However, the summer of 2010 was a time when seemingly every sports team created an in-stadium highlight video set to Muse’s “Uprising.” The song, which had mercifully slipped out of rotation at WFNX, was now entering the wider public consciousness, which meant we got to hear it everywhere else. This made me hate Muse for a short period of time. Angel Stadium was unfortunately not an exception to this trend, which led me to wager my co-host and traveling companion, Jay, that more than half of the ballparks would play “Uprising” on the stadium PA by the end of the trip. I remember being correct, but can’t recall the terms of the wager.

The verdict: squarely in the middle of my list.

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