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Baseball’s History Through Its Ballparks

by Curt Smith

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-7867-0948-0

A baseball lover chronicles the history of the sport by winding his way from one stadium to another.

Much of the true baseball experience comes from seeing a game live, and the structures that house the fun are revisited here. Historic, legendary ballparks such as Fenway, Wrigley, and Yankee stadiums (along with their respective teams) are given the lion’s share of the stories, but Smith also gives mention to long-gone fields such as Washington D.C.’s Griffith Stadium, as well as new ones like Safeco Field in Seattle. The organization is a bit confusing: Chapters are divided by sections with names such as “Classic Parks,” which is somewhat misleading since the material is grouped more by time period than by stadiums themselves. Therefore, while “The Cookie-Cutters” explores the growth of big, multipurpose stadiums (New York’s Shea, Philadelphia’s Veterans Memorial, etc.), it also features stories about happenings at Fenway and Tiger Stadium, because it covers the years 1962–91. Someone interested in a specific stadium and team would be unable to locate them easily without an index. Throw out the map and just be transported from stadium to stadium, team to team, and year to year while enjoying the patter of Smith’s friendly and lively prose. Filled with nuggets of lore and happenstance, he describes and assesses the stadiums and offers history about their teams. The appendix gives a look at the genesis and evolution of the baseball franchises, active and past ballparks, and their attendance capacities, ages, dimensions, and other facts. Thirty-six lithographs from Bill Goff’s Good Art Sports Gallery of classic and modern ballparks are included.

For the fan, this road trip through baseball’s past and present will evoke memories of hot dogs, peanuts, announcers’ voices, home runs, and the roar of the crowd.