In the latest instalment of Curveballs and Sliders, Herts Baseball Club’s Joe Gray takes a look at the most famous ballparks in America.
Ballparks in America, it has been said, are grass-filled counterparts to the Old World’s most famed historical architecture. They have, in fact, even been branded as ‘Green Cathedrals’.
Whether or not the comparison is strictly accurate, there is a certain allure to the beauty of a skilfully designed and well-maintained ballpark.
To refer to them, colloquially at least, as diamonds does more than just reference the shape plotted out by the bases.
Arguably, two ballparks stand out above all others as the most famous among the homes of the 30 Major League Baseball teams: Wrigley Field, of the Chicago Cubs; and Fenway Park, of the Boston Red Sox.
The latter is the oldest surviving field in Major League Baseball, having celebrated its centenary last year.
Wrigley Field is a little more junior, being completed in 1914 and first used for Major League Baseball in 1916, but it is no less iconic.
Incredibly, it did not have floodlights added for night games until 1988. For this reason, it is said that if you are going to watch a day game in Major League Baseball, there’s no more special a place to do that than at Wrigley.
Finally, it is perhaps the quirks of each ballpark – rather than the regulated beauty of the 90ft baselines and raised pitching mound – that make them as spectacular as they are.
As a case in point, Wrigley Field’s unusual ivy-clad outfield wall is beloved the nation over.
At Fenway it is a gargantuan wall in left-field (labelled the ‘Green Monster’) that provides the greatest quirkiness. A ball hit against this counts as if it has landed on the turf, and so a catch made on the rebound does not count.
> Joe Gray is the founder and co-ordinator of Project COBB, the home of the chronicling of British Baseball. To visit the website click here
Next week, Curveballs and Sliders will look at great players from the history of Major League Baseball.