This summer I had the pleasure of completing the quest to visit all 30 MLB ballparks. A journey that began in 2014 with my dad, a lifelong baseball fan, saw us completing the milestone in many different trips over the years, from dedicated road trips to finding every excuse to get to a new park during other vacations. This is something that I will never forget, and huge thanks to my dad for taking me along for this ride.
One of the most interesting things about the game of baseball is how different each and every ballpark is from each other. Go to any NBA or NFL game and the field of play is largely the same, there's not a whole lot of room for teams to add a hint of personality to the place they call home.
With baseball, that all goes out the door. From the environment outside the parks to the main concourses, and everything in between, each park allows for teams to provide a fresh experience for fans to kick back and root for their favorite teams.
After finishing the journey this past summer, I immediately made a ranking of all 30 ballparks. The criteria was based on a lot of different things my dad and I made note of throughout our trips ranging from fan experience, food, backdrops, scoreboard styles, and easily the most important, scorecards. Now that all that is out of the way, let's dive in to the rankings.
30. Tropicana Field - Tampa Bay Rays
This will likely come as no surprise to baseball fans, especially with the recent announcement of a new ballpark in St. Petersburg for the Rays to call home. The Trop is in rough shape, with a prime example with their dome being too low forcing high fly balls to become automatic home runs. This was one of the first parks we crossed off the list, and I want it to be clear that I don't wholeheartedly dislike any of them. The Trop had to be somewhere on the list, and thankfully it's only up from here for the Rays.
29. Oakland Coliseum - Oakland Athletics
The Coliseum and Tropicana Field are essentially 30a and 30b on this list, with another team that is preparing to upgrade after spending years in an old and neglected ballpark. The main factor that puts this stadium above the Rays' is it doesn't feel as confined because it was made to be a football arena, the last of its kind still standing. The team deserves a fresh dedicated venue for their own, which they will get upon moving to Las Vegas. I enjoyed the visit to Oakland, and with the ongoing strike from A's fans we got great seats for cheap, unsurprisingly though the home team lost.
28. Nationals Park - Washington Nationals
Not a lot to say about the park in the nation's capital. It was pretty generic with not a lot going on. The cityscape backdrop added some points, and the presidents race is an all-time great middle innings game.
27. Guaranteed Rate Field - Chicago White Sox
The south side of Chicago has a great scoreboard out in centerfield, and the flashing pinwheels on top are a nice touch.
26. Yankee Stadium - New York Yankees
Yes, I know what you are going to say, but hear me out. There is very little personality in this ballpark. In the heart of the Bronx, it just feels like it's out of place. I'm really not a fan of the strikeout jingle in any park but the one played in Yankee Stadium just irks me. As mentioned before, a big criteria for my dad and I was scorecards, and going around to multiple different places that would normally sell them, employees looked at us like we had three heads when we asked. There was no spot in the stadium that gave them out, at least that we could find. Monument Park is the key selling point and I will check it out in more detail on my next visit to enemy territory.