The 10 Stadiums That Changed Baseball
A stadium. A coliseum that houses what is a major league franchise. To baseball fans, these may be known as "fields" or "ballparks" even.
In baseball's illustrious history, these cathedrals have served as the ghost writers of some of the greatest books (including record books) ever written.
Different in size, different in shape. Some luxurious, others barely sporting enough bleachers. Some famous, others not so much. Yet these buildings have changed the game in a dramatic way.
To be on this list, each stadium's individual history was looked at. This includes their respective team(s)'s success, how long they existed, and the impact it had on the game itself.
These are the "Top 10 Stadiums That Changed Baseball."
UPDATE** FOR SOME REASON, BLEACHER REPORT IS NOT SHOWING NUMBER ONE FOR SOME PEOPLE. NUMBER ONE IS NOT FENWAY. IF YOU CANNOT SEE WHAT NUMBER ONE IS, LOOK IN THE COMMENTS.
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10. Ebbets Field
In modern day baseball, this would be a home run haven. In the early to mid-1900s, Ebbets Field was one of the signatures of Major League Baseball.
The stadium housed the Brooklyn Dodgers, alongside a young man named Jackie Robinson. With the famous players came seven National League Pennants, sporting a 1955 World Series trophy as well after the team beat the crosstown rival New York Yankees. The win was the Brooklyn franchise's only world title.
Ebbets' famous rotunda has inspired many amongst the years, including stadium designer HOK Sports. The company incorporated this layout into the New York Mets' new home, Citi Field.
Though remembered as rather cramped and crowded throughout its history, the field is idolized for its historic games and overall baseball mood. When the Dodgers left during a controversial move in 1957, the stadium was soon abandoned and torn down. Apartments stand in its place today.
9. Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium
Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium is a ballpark that any bandwagon baseball fan could easily forget. To those who know the game well, however, it would be near impossible to leave behind.
Completed in less than a year, "Fulton County Stadium" opened to a large crowd and positive feedback in the spring of 1965.
A prime example of the soon-to-be-dubbed "Cookie Cutter Era," the stadium became incredibly friendly towards hitters. Pitchers would dread playing there, between the combination of the hittable dimensions and the die-hard Braves fans.
Eventually, the number of home runs grew out of control. The building established the name "The Launching Pad," hosting famous round-trippers such as Hank Aaron's record breaking 715th and Jim Leyritz's World Series-changing shot in 1996.
It also housed the Atlanta Falcons for 25 years, along with an Atlanta Braves championship in 1995.
After being used for the 1996 Summer Olympics, the stadium was demolished in favor of the brand new Turner Field. Its footprint is currently outlined in the parking lot of Turner Field, with a wall to commemorate Hank Aaron's famous home run.
8. Dodger Stadium
In 1962, Dodger Stadium opened as the first professional baseball-only stadium on the West Coast. To this day, it still stands as arguably the best in the West.
In a sense of "Baseball Manifest Destiny," then-owner Walter O'Malley controversially moved the Brooklyn Dodgers west to Los Angeles. After spending a few years in "The Coliseum," the team settled in their new park, much to fan approval.
Dodger Stadium has become synonymous with the sport for its excellent playing field. In fact, in 2003, players in Major League Baseball voted it the best of its kind.
The park has seen a large number of successful events, sporting eight World Series, the 1980 All-Star Game, and the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Overlooking these is the prolific "Think Blue" sign just to the north.
Through its unique design and fan-friendly atmosphere, Dodger Stadium provided a nice twist to baseball.
7. Tiger Stadium
Known as one of the original baseball cathedrals, Tiger Stadium provided one of the more distinguished looks into the sport. Distinguished is right.
Fans would flock from all over the country to experience one game in the hallowed grounds of the greats like Ty Cobb and Sparky Anderson. The unique feel of early-1900s America provided a mentality few other places could provide, becoming one of the true examples of what early baseball had to offer.
Tiger Stadium perhaps was known best for its overhanging upper deck, which turned deep fly balls into cheap home runs. One of the most famous deep shots included Reggie Jackson's in the 1971 All-Star Game, which hit the top of the tower above the deck.
The ballpark's design influenced several others, including the renovation to Yankee Stadium during the 1970s.
Tiger Stadium is in the midst of demolition, as the team moved out after the 1999 season. Despite several efforts to save the historic landmark, supporters have failed to do so.
6. Rogers Centre
Formerly and more commonly known as the SkyDome, the Rogers Centre truly transcended modern sports.
Positioned directly next to the famous CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the Rogers Centre changed the way that a baseball fan could experience the game.
Perhaps best recognizable by its roof, the stadium was the first to include one of this kind. In the event of rain, it could close to cover the field and retract for suitable weather.
Additionally, the building supports a 300-plus room hotel beyond center field, just beneath the gigantic video board. As for the playing field, the stadium had used AstroTurf for years, but recently switched to the much more natural FieldTurf.
The walls are situated in a neutral spot, providing just enough leverage for hitters, but not hurting pitchers too much.
The Rogers Centre redefined the way fans experience a game, thus putting it on this list.
5. Reliant Astrodome
When a place is nicknamed the "Eighth Wonder of the World," it is pretty obvious that it is special. That the Astrodome is.
Opened in 1965, the Astrodome became the home of the former Colt .45s franchise, now the Houston Astros.
The park was one of a kind, becoming the first stadium with a domed ceiling instead of being open-aired, changing the way baseball would be forever played. Fly balls became increasingly difficult to track in the white panes above, making it very hitter-friendly.
Another problem which resulted from the ceiling was the playing surface. Due to the inability to obtain light from above, the old natural grass field failed miserably.
After risking the possibility of playing on green-painted dirt, another option was brought to thought: AstroTurf. This carpet-like structure imitated the look of a baseball field but provided jumps and hops like no other. Various other stadiums adopted this surface, only to be abandoned during the 2000s.
The Astrodome was the most versatile stadium of its time, creating unpredictable play and interesting games. Alongside hosting Astros games, it also was the home of the Houston Oilers, witnessing some rather memorable moments.
As of today, the dome is listed as "closed." There have been plans for demolition, but ever since it was used as a refugee camp after Hurricane Katrina, they have been put on hold.
Regardless, the Astrodome changed baseball in more ways than not.
4. Wrigley Field
Initially built in only six weeks, Wrigley Field remains a fan favorite amongst ballparks. Not only that, but it is also one of the oldest, first opening its gates in 1914.
Home to Ernie Banks, Sammy Sosa, billy goats, curses, Steve Bartman, and a guy named Harry Caray, Wrigley provides one of the best possible baseball settings around.
Featured on all the walls is a coat of ivy, which for decades has greatly influenced the difference between a double and a triple. In center is the gigantic scoreboard, above which are flags that display the standings.
Wrigley has always been entirely for the enjoyment of baseball, with people from the top of rooftops tuning in to each game. However, it did have one fault. For years, Wrigley had no lights.
It wasn't until 1988, when the Chicago Tribune took over ownership of the team, that the first night game was played at the field. This was considered one of its few blemishes.
Overall, Wrigley Field has made the Cubs one of the most popular teams in sports. With the team's faults comes the despair, but as long as this stadium remains, the fans will survive.
3. Yankee Stadium
When fans hear the term "Yankee Stadium," they do not think of the new $1.8 billion ballpark across the street. Instead, they reminisce about the one that housed the team for 86 seasons.
Located on 161st and River Avenue, the ballpark in the Bronx was constructed in just 284 days. It opened in 1923, instantly becoming the "House That Ruth Built" after his go-ahead tater versus rival Boston on opening day.
At first, the park was known for its deep dimensions, sporting a center field fence that was 461 feet from the batter's box. In addition, as the years went on, historic monuments stood in play, creating an extremely difficult task for fielders.
After a 1970s renovation, the stadium became much more modern. With the feel of a new generation, the Yankees continued their success, finishing the park's run with 26 championships.
Yankee Stadium is perhaps best known for its history, which includes Lou Gehrig's "Luckiest Man" speech and the 1961 home run chase between Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, amongst hundreds of others.
The stadium is currently in the process of demolition, much to the anger of the public. Efforts are being made to save Gate 2, which is the only remaining section of the stadium from prior to renovation.
2. Fenway Park
How could one deny what Fenway Park has done for baseball? The stadium, home to the Boston Red Sox since 1912, has seen some of the most historic moments in the sports history—not to mention some of the craziest.
Fenway Park has arguably the most unique setup in all of Major League Baseball. Considered by many as a "large Minor League stadium" (its capacity is just over 37,000), Fenway has sold out more than 500 straight games.
Most identifiable in the stadium is the Green Monster, a 37-foot wall which has salvaged and damaged players alike. Standing only 310 feet from home, the wall displays (via a worker placing the boards on) up to the second standings for the American League East.
Alongside the Green Monster is Pesky's Pole, a small right field fence which literally wraps around the playing field. It has seen various home runs throughout its lifetime, often turning what would be foul pop-ups into game-winning shots.
Also, in center lies "The Triangle," a deep area where the fielder must very accurately judge where he is playing in order to field a ball.
The dimensions of Fenway have provided a new meaning to "Hitter's Ballpark," as evidenced by Ted Williams. He is the last man to have hit over .400.
With Williams are the various dramatic home runs, notably Carlton Fisk's shot in the 1975 World Series and Bucky Dent's during a one-game playoff as a member of the Yankees.
Fenway is regarded as the most traditional park in baseball, having changed very little since its inception. Fans all warmly attend games, giving Fenway the title of being home to some of the most passionate fans in the world.
These are some ballparks that just missed the list, but still had a large impact on the game.
The former home of the Giants, the Polo Grounds was one of the most interesting stadiums in terms of configuration. Home of "The Shot Heard Around the World" and Willie May's famous catch, the stadium was rather short down the lines. However, at 483 feet to center, home runs became a rarity there.
The Polo Grounds greatly influenced the need for a Yankee Stadium, as Babe Ruth provided the team with enough popularity while playing with the squad there. It no longer is standing.
New Yankee Stadium
The new Yankee Stadium has barely been around for three months, and it already has influenced the game. Only in one contest thus far has a home run not been hit!
Nonetheless, it finds itself here due to the new experience it brings. Record ticket prices, unheard of fan amenities, and several other factors bring praise and criticism to "The House That George Built."
The former home of the Pirates, Forbes Field was known for its deep dimensions. Built to "take away cheap shots," the ballpark remained a staple in Pittsburgh for 60 years. Its left-center field wall stands outside of PNC Park, the current home of the Pirates.
1. Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Considered the Mecca of modern-day ballparks, Camden Yards is one of the greatest architectural accomplishments in sports history.
Now, this list is about how the game was changed by a stadium. Though it does not appear so, Camden Yards has forever affected the game.
Opened in 1992, Memorial Field's replacement took the sports world by storm. With its noticeable edge-like structure, the stadium would influence the appearance of every other ballpark built in the next 15 years. New amenities were made available to fans, including food service to those near home plate.
Beyond right field is the famous B&O Warehouse, which overlooks Eutaw Street. It has been used for various occasions, such as the passing of Lou Gehrig's consecutive games played streak by Cal Ripken Jr.
For the foreseeable future, ballparks will copy the style of Camden Yards. Hitters will continue to flourish in these types of stadiums, all thanks to this little ballpark in Baltimore.