NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Sports

March 14, 2013

Take me out to the ballgame at all 30 parks

(Continued)

Back in Boston, I also made the short trip across the Charles River to Cambridge to check out Harvard University and wound up stumbling upon the home of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, where George Washington also lived for a short time.

When I went to Baltimore to see a game at Camden Yards, I took a water taxi out to Fort McHenry in the Chesapeake Bay to tour the site where Francis Scott Key watched American troops in 1814 successfully thwart an all-night fusillade by English ships. The heroics at Fort McHenry inspired Key to write the ode that became the country’s national anthem.

Many of the stadiums are landmarks in their own right. My favorite stops so far have been baseball’s oldest stadiums, Fenway Park (opened in 1912), and Wrigley Field (originally known as Weeghman Park when it opened in 1914) in Chicago. Both are located in wonderful neighborhoods that turn into street festivals during the three or four hours leading up to the game.

The stadiums of more recent vintage all have their merits too, largely because so many were built to evoke a sense of nostalgia. This retro movement started in 1992 when Baltimore’s Camden Yards opened and has carried over to just about every one of the 22 baseball stadiums that have opened since then (while I haven’t been to them yet, I understand Florida’s two big-league ballparks are notable exceptions to this trend).

Most of the newer stadiums boast signature features designed to set them apart. Even one of the Florida stadiums, Marlins Park, added distinctive flair by building a 450-gallon (1,700-liter) saltwater aquarium behind home plate. Chase Field, the Phoenix home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, features a swimming pool behind the right field fence. Coors Field, the Denver home of the Colorado Rockies, features small trees and rocks with running water — a tip of the cap to the gorgeous mountains that can be seen on the horizon from the stadium seats.

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