You don't have to have a great baseball team in your town to have a great time at the game. From the ambience to the food to the unique features, it's the little things that set a good ballpark apart from a bad one.
We rank each ballpark in the big leagues, 1-through-30.
1. Fenway Park, Boston. OPENED: 1912. SEATS: 36,108
Do we begin with the sausages stands, Citgo sign and Cask'n Flagon bar outside or the men, the myths and the Mawnstuh inside? Either way, Fenway scores on lore and fans the flames of passion for the national pastime. Credit the Red Sox's owners for standing firm—for now—on two fronts: first, for not caving in to the financial pressures to build a faux replica of ballparks past and, second, for maximizing the potential of one of our country's true sports monuments. Sit in the seats atop the Green Monster (what a concept!) and you'll know what we mean.
3 REASONS WE LOVE FENWAY
1. The Green Monster. For a good portion of its existence it wasn't a monster (it simply was known as "the wall"), nor was it green (instead, it was painted with advertisements). But the Green Monster—37 feet tall and measuring a disputed 310 feet from home plate—is the most famous fence in America.
JASON BAY, Red Sox left fielder: "There's not a lot of room out there. It's pretty self-explanatory: If it's over your head, it's off the wall or it's gone. In that aspect, it's easier. But there are some nooks and crannies, the scoreboard—I've been back there behind the scoreboard a couple times, once as a visiting player, and then I've gone back since. Most of the guys who come here for the first time go. There's thousands and thousands of signatures back there. So it was like, 'Hey, you gotta go sign the Monster.' So I went in and signed the inside of it. And when I came here, I went back and saw my name back there. It's the nostalgia. There's all these new ballparks going up, and they're great. People are like, 'Wouldn't you like to see Boston get a new ballpark?' And the answer is, 'Not really.' "
2. The Ted Williams seat. Section 42, Row 37, Seat 21 marks where Teddy Ballgame's 1946 blast is reputed to have landed in the right field seats: 502 feet from home plate.
KEVIN YOUKILIS, Red Sox first baseman: "There's no way that's true. I don't think any guy can hit it that far. If anyone could, it'd be a great story because it's Ted Williams, one of the great hitters of all time. But there's no way a ball could go that far, in the air. If it hopped up the seats, maybe, I don't know. That's gotta be close to 600 feet out there. But it's a good myth."
3. Pesky's Pole. Sox legend Johnny Pesky hit only six home runs at Fenway, but one curled around the right field foul pole—only 302 feet from home plate—to win a game for pitcher Mel Parnell, who dubbed it "Pesky's Pole"—a name that stuck (and became official in 2006).
TIM WAKEFIELD, Red Sox starting pitcher for the past 15 years: "I've seen plenty of homers from righthanded hitters that went right down the line and hit the pole. It's pretty close. Not only is this a prestigious ballpark, but you've got the Green Monster, Pesky's Pole, there's so many intricacies about this ballpark that make it special."
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