Have you been to a ballpark yet this year? I have. (Twice.) Let me tell you, it is wonderful. It has been a long, hard year for everyone. If you’re fully vaccinated, like I am, there really isn’t much better, after all we’ve been deprived of, than getting out to the ballpark. I knew I’d missed it, but I didn’t know until I got there just how much I’d missed it.
In 2019, I visited Globe Life Park, catching a game to check off the final MLB stadium I had not been to. The Rangers, of course, then moved to a new stadium the next season, so I’m still one short. As the excitement of returning to the ballpark continues to grow, I’m giving you one fun, great, unique thing about each ballpark. You gotta get out there once you’re up for it. You’ve earned it.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves (Truist Park): Monument Garden
This section is not just about Hank Aaron; you’ll get all sorts of Greg Maddux and Eddie Mathews love here, among others. But Aaron is, as always, the centerpiece.
Marlins (loanDepot Park): The Bobblehead Museum
You are talking to a bobblehead aficionado here, but the museum here is pretty wonderful. Just don’t touch them! They’re fragile!
Mets (Citi Field): The Jackie Robinson Rotunda
OK, so Jackie Robinson never played in Queens. But it feels like you’re doing something important -- historic -- when you walk into Citi Field, every time.
Nationals (Nationals Park): The Presidents race
Worth it just to find out how Teddy’s going to mess it up this time.
Phillies (Citizens Bank Park): The Philly Phanatic
I don’t want to solely rely on mascots here, but this is the only ballpark where you can see the Philly Phanatic. (And you never know, maybe Gritty, too.)
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Brewers (American Family Field): Bernie Brewer’s slide
Even if you’re rooting for the other team, when the Brewers hit a homer and Bernie goes down that slide, a little part of you will be happy.
Cardinals (Busch Stadium): Views of the Gateway Arch
Building a stadium so you could see the Arch in center field was almost all they had to do here. And now they mow the Arch into the outfield, too.
Cubs (Wrigley Field): The ivy
Honestly, take your pick here. Do I really have to talk you into going to Wrigley? (And I’m saying this as a Cardinals fan!)
Pirates (PNC Park): That glorious skyline
A postulate: No ballpark makes home runs deep into the night sky look more gorgeous and epic than PNC Park.
Reds (Great American Ball Park): The new scoreboard
They just installed it before the 2020 season, so not nearly enough people have seen this yet.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
D-backs (Chase Field): The pool
I’ve never been in this before, during or after a game. But the Dodgers have.
Dodgers (Dodger Stadium): The "old Los Angeles" feel
Every time I’m in Dodger Stadium, I feel like I’m in early '60s Los Angeles, like Bob Hope is going to show up and do a USO show. (With Vin Scully as the emcee, of course.)
Giants (Oracle Park): McCovey Cove
In the words of Max Muncy, “Go get it out of the ocean!”
Padres (Petco Park): Park at the Park
I know I cannot live in the Park at the Park in center field. But I still want to.
Rockies (Coors Field): The Rockpile
These are those seats high above the center-field wall at Coors Field. This is the coolest place to sit far, far, far away from the action in baseball.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays (Rogers Centre/TD Ballpark/Sahlen Field): The novelty of it all
Someday, you’re going to be able to tell your grandkids that you saw the Toronto Blue Jays play at a Minor League stadium, first in Dunedin, Fla., and now in Buffalo, N.Y. (starting June 1). Definitely check out Sahlen Field in Buffalo, if you can: It has great sightlines, a Conehead beer vendor, and you can almost see into Canada anyway.
Orioles (Oriole Park at Camden Yards): The B&O Warehouse in right field
Almost every stadium built since Camden Yards wants to look like Camden Yards in some way, and many have succeeded. But no stadium feels as organically connected to the downtown it resides in as Camden does. The Warehouse is the reason.
Rays (Tropicana Field): The Touch Tank
OK, so the Touch Tank is closed for the 2021 season, at least for you to go down and touch live cownose rays. But it’ll be open next year, and it’s still there: You can see them from the Budweiser Porch. There’s nothing else like it.
Red Sox (Fenway Park): The Green Monster
Obviously. For what it’s worth, if you can’t make it to Boston, the mini Green Monster in Greenville, S.C. is a very charming substitute.
Yankees (Yankee Stadium): Monument Park
The “new” Yankee Stadium has long been debated, but there isn’t a person not awed by Monument Park. Babe Ruth never played here, but the Park makes you feel like he did.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Cleveland (Progressive Field): The food!
Every ballpark has local cuisine. But no ballpark has doubled down on the local cuisine the way Progressive Field has, which now features a handful of local breweries. Also, this park has its own mustard!
Royals (Kauffman Stadium): The fountains
The City of Fountains has some of its best ones inside the ballpark. And you should have heard how loud this place was during the World Series in 2014 and 2015.
Tigers (Comerica Park): Tigers everywhere
No stadium is more clear about the team it represents than Comerica Park, which honestly has statues of Tigers -- not Tigers players, though they have those too; I mean actual tigers -- in every direction. If statues ever come to life, we’re screwed, but until then, it’s lovely.
Twins (Target Field): It’s so cozy, even the bridges are cozy
Target Field has the smallest square footage of any MLB stadium, and it feels like it: You always just feel nuzzled. Plus, there’s a walking bridge that goes over a freeway. Wave to your fellow fans!
White Sox (Guaranteed Rate Field): The exploding scoreboard
It has actually been upgraded, so it’s both a throwback and modern. But don’t worry: It does not actually explode.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Angels (Angel Stadium): The Rally Monkey
It’s actually rather remarkable how the rally monkey continues to persist in Anaheim. It has been nearly 20 years since that World Series, and still, he’s everywhere you look.
A’s (Oakland Coliseum): Those wild bleacher fans
The closest MLB has to wild SEC college football fans? Those crazy, drum-beating, giddy troublemakers in Oakland. When the A’s are great, as old as this place is, it really gets rocking.
Astros (Minute Maid Park): The train
The Astros are often criticized for a “gimmicky” ballpark, but come on: Who doesn’t like trains? A train! Choo-choo! Get me my engineer’s cap.
Mariners (T-Mobile Park): All the different views
No stadium has a more varied, lovely kaleidoscope of views than T-Mobile Park, which lets you get close to relievers warming up, nearly sniff the left fielder’s shoulder and see the game clearly from just about every bar in the place.
Rangers (Globe Life Field): The game-saving catches
As established, I haven’t seen this place. But as my colleague Mike Petriello has noted, it’s basically tailor-made for incredible catches.