It could be argued that there’s not much reason to venture beyond San Diego to see a professional baseball game. Padres fans have a good thing going within the confines of Petco Park, which consistently ranks at or near the top in listings of “best MLB ballparks.”
But for many fans, there is the lure of seeing baseball played in storied yards such as Fenway and Wrigley. Or perhaps you have a free day while on a business trip in Seattle and decide to take in a game at T-Mobile Park. And just like that, you’re on a quest to see them all.
Broadcasters, of course, have a job description that includes traveling to other ballparks. I interviewed Jesse Agler, radio play-by-play announcer for the Padres, for his takes on various MLB ballparks.
You get to watch one game as a fan. Which ballpark (other than Petco) are going to?
Hard to choose, but putting aside the on-field aspects and choosing solely based upon the venue, maybe Pittsburgh – just two decks, lots of close seats, old school vibe, great views. Wrigley in the conversation as well.
Best accommodations for broadcasters?
Probably Philly or Yankee Stadium, and I’ll give slight edge to the Bronx. Both have really good booth locations. The booths are spacious. And they have what I think are the two best press dining rooms in the league, haha.
Most challenging for broadcasters?
Nationals Park. We’ve talked about it plenty over the years, so I’m sure fans roll their eyes but it’s just so high up! Reading the ball off the bat is totally different (in a challenging way) than pretty much anywhere else. The new Atlanta park isn’t great for that either, and Pittsburgh is tough too but you’re not as far back there. But having not traveled since 2019 and doing games remotely last year and this year, I’ll gladly take the DC (or any other) booth over the TV monitors we’ve been using. Hopefully soon!
TKF interview, 6/24/21
Heather, a 28-year-old Padres fan who has been to 26 ballparks, agrees with Jesse about PNC Park. She says that Coors Field is a co-favorite because both stadiums have incredible views and also offer local food and drinks.
Whenever I go to a new stadium, I always look for local offerings versus the standard hot dog and beer. I enjoy trying all the local craft beers and always look for a good stout or porter.
The shoe picture was originally a coincidence. I had just gotten them and wanted to show them off. But after the third time that I did it unintentionally, I decided that would be my “signature” moving forward. I really wish I had bought more than one pair because they have many holes but they are essential to every new ballpark I go to!
TKF interview, 6/24/21
Heather says that her job in the hospitality industry has allowed her the flexibility to work remotely and travel. In 2018, she was able to visit 18 new stadiums. She hopes to complete her quest for “30 by [age] 30” by the end of next season.
Adolfo, on the other hand, shares a desire to visit other stadiums but has not yet seen MLB played outside of San Diego.
As a kid, Adolfo grew up listening to Eduardo Ortega call the Padres games. When he was a teenager, Adolfo met Jerry Coleman while the Padres broadcaster attended and called play-by-play at one of Adolfo’s youth games. As Adolfo returned to the dugout one inning, Coleman told him that he “had an arm” and that he would “hang a star” on one of Adolfo’s outfield assists. Coleman’s words meant a lot to Adolfo at the time and continue to evoke a sense of pride and love for the game.
In his twenties, Adolfo struggled with addiction. Now 37 and nine years sober, Adolfo is engaged and employed as a union sheet metal worker. He’s also allowing himself to dream about traveling to other ballparks. He wants to see all of the “classics” including Fenway and Wrigley. But he’s starting off with the closest: Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Adolfo and his fiancé have tickets for one of the Padres-Angels games in August. That will be two down, Adolfo, and just 28 more to go!
Lindsey‘s experience with the 30 MLB clubs was quite different and unique. Although she didn’t travel to the stadiums, she was able to collect infield dirt from each of them to bury with her grandfather when he passed away in 2016, just shy of his 91st birthday.
My grandfather was originally from Beverly, Massachusetts, so he was born a Red Sox fan. He moved to Southern California in the 1960s and became a Padres fan.
I attended many games with him, mostly at Jack Murphy/Qualcomm Stadium.
We were present at Tony Gwynn’s last game and subsequent retirement ceremony. It was the only time I had ever seen my Papa cry.
TKF interview, 6/13/21
As it became clear that her grandfather was near the end of his life, Lindsey began writing letters to all 30 MLB teams. Over the course of two seasons, she heard back from all of the clubs. She received packages in a variety of formats ranging from “MLB-authenticated” soil specimens to dirt scooped into a popcorn bag that a staffer probably gathered at lunchtime. Petco Park sent the most dirt, mailing Lindsey a gallon-size bag of dirt that also included dried grass and players’ sunflower seeds.
At first, Lindsey was not going to tell her grandfather about this endeavor because she wasn’t sure if she’d be successful in getting dirt from all of the teams. But at the urging of family members, Lindsey told him. She also had to get his blessing to include Yankee Stadium dirt “because as a Red Sox fan, he absolutely did not like the Yankees.” The Yankee issue was indeed a sticking point. But touched by her efforts, she says he chuckled, shrugged, and said: “Well, I guess you have to have the whole set.”
There is a thriving community of baseball fans visiting each others’ ballparks along with a myriad of resources available if you decide to take your own quest to the next level.
An official MLB “passport” is available for approximately $75 from Pass-Port Sports. When you visit a ballpark, you can have the passport stamped for free at all 30 MLB stadiums (minor league and Spring Training stadium passports are available separately). The leather binder includes maps, ballpark information, and journal pages to commemorate your visit. The Facebook group BallPark STAMPeders is also affiliated with this program.
Trip planning tools include:
The Baseball Road Trip Planner. This site’s search engine allows you to enter the teams you’d like to see and a desired time frame. It then helps plan your trip by crunching the MLB schedule and presenting suggested options.
Bases Roaded. This is a similar trip planner which generates itinerary options based on your desired travel dates and cities.
For information about the stadiums as well as networking with other fans, Ballpark Chasers is an excellent resource. In addition to detailed stadium information for each team published on its website, the Ballpark Chasers Facebook group includes almost 5,000 fans sharing experiences, tips, and resources.
Mostly here to promote fun baseball! My focus is on our experiences as fans and shared connections in the baseball community. I also produce content on social media, including vlogs and event coverage. Instagram: Michelle_baseballfan247 Facebook: Michelle Frost; Member: IBWAA, SABR