Take Me Out to the Ball Game
Enjoy America’s favorite pastime with a visit to these historic ballparks
From the first pitch of the season to the last game of the World Series, Americans treasures their beloved baseball season. It wasn’t until the beginning of the 19th century that baseball finally made its way to the U.S. Today, little kids still play stickball in the street and dream of hitting a homer in a sold-out stadium.
Start building your collection of baseball memories with a visit to the oldest ballparks in the nation. Whether you root religiously for the home team or simply want to take in a ball game on a hot summer day, these ballparks will ignite the baseball fan in you.
Fenway Park, Boston
The oldest park in the nation hosted its first home game on April 20, 1912. In this historic game, the Boston Red Sox defeated the New York Highlanders (now known as the New York Yankees) with a 7-6 win in the 11th inning. Fenway Park has since endured some unfortunate disasters. A fire destroyed the park in 1926 and during revitalization efforts flames once again brought the house down in 1934, just four months before the Sox’s season opener. Fenway Park finally re-opened on April 17, 1934, to a new season, a new look, and a new feature – the legendary “Green Monster” wall.
Today, the park still operates one of the last hand-operated scoreboards in the league and seats have been added to the top of the Green Monster for lucky ticket holders to experience one of the best ballpark views.
- Getting there: Fenway Park is easily accessible from Boston's subway system, the MBTA. Take a Green line train to the Kenmore Square or Fenway Park stop and follow the crowds to Yawkey Way, where you’ll find dozens of street vendors and entrances to the ballpark.
- Touring Fenway Park: Tours of Fenway Park are given seven days a week from 9am to 3pm. Prices range from $8 for children to $12 for adults and the tour includes an inside peak of the Press Box, the Red Sox Hall of Fame Plaques and the oldest seats in the park.
- Game day tickets: Boston Red Sox tickets aren’t easy to come by, but it’s possible. Tickets range in price from $12 in the upper bleacher section to $325 for a dugout box. Start by checking the Boston Red Sox website for available tickets. On game day, you can line up at the Fenway Park box office and all unclaimed will-call baseball tickets will be sold one hour before the game starts. If you don’t get tickets, don’t despair – there’s plenty to do around Fenway Park on game day. All the bars and restaurants in the area have big screen TVs broadcasting the game and street vendors selling hot dogs, brats, and Red Sox paraphernalia remain on Yawkey Way for fans to enjoy.
- Fenway Park traditions: Brush up on your singing skills before taking your seat at Fenway Park. A rowdy rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” is belted out during the 7th inning stretch.
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Wrigley Field, Chicago
Built in 1914, Wrigley Field is the second-oldest ballpark in the nation and home to the Chicago Cubs. The first major league game took place on April 23, 1914, when the Chicago Federals (part of the then “Federal League”) beat Kansas City 9-1. Two years later, the Federal League folded and William Wrigley, Jr., purchased the National League’s Cubs. The Cubs’ first home game at Wrigley was played on April 20, 1916 – they beat the Cincinnati Reds 7-6.
Wrigley has hosted some of the most memorable moments in sports history, including Babe Ruth’s “called shot” during Game 3 of the 1932 World Series. Babe allegedly pointed to a bleacher seat location and hit the next pitch in that direction for a home run. More than 60 years later, Wrigley Park fans witnessed the memorable 60th home run of the Cubs own Sammy Sosa.
- Getting there: Wrigley Park is located in the Lakeview district of Chicago. Public transportation is the best way to get there. Take the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) Red Line to the Addison Street/Wrigley Field stop.
- Touring Wrigley Field: Daily tours of Wrigley Field are available for $25, and all proceeds benefit designated Chicago Cubs charities. Tours are 90 minutes and feature stops in the clubhouse, press box, bleachers, dugout and security headquarters.
- Game day tickets: Tickets are available from $10 to the upper deck of the bleachers to $80 for club seats. For those fans who don’t have tickets to the game, take your place outside the park on Waveland Avenue and wait for home run balls to come hurdling over the park. Wrigleyville, the appropriately-named area surrounding the park, offers a slew of bars and restaurants where you can watch the game live.
- Wrigley Field traditions: If you catch a home run ball hit by an opposing player, do as the fans do and throw the ball back. If you don’t have tickets to the game but want the score, look to the skies. One of the traditions of Wrigley Field is the flying of the white or blue flag, signifying a win or a loss. A white flag with a blue “W” denotes a win; a blue flag with a white “L” tragically signals a loss.
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Yankee Stadium, New York
The original Yankee Stadium opened its doors in 1923. Since then, the 10-acre lot in the west Bronx has hosted 33 World Series and millions of baseball fans to sit in “The House That Ruth Built.” On August 16, 1948, the Bambino passed away, but Yankee fans never forgot their hero. On that same day 58 years later, the Yankees broke ground on the construction of a new stadium. The new, glistening Yankee Stadium is open, but we've kept New York's famed baseball history in our top five for nostalgia’s sake.
- Getting there: Driving in New York is no picnic. It’s widely advised that Yankee Stadium visitors take the subway to the Yankee Stadium stop, which is accessible by several subway lines. The ride is only 25 minutes from Manhattan and it beats sitting in traffic for hours. There are also bus lines that provide transportation to Yankee Stadium.
- Touring Yankee Stadium: Tours of Yankee Stadium are held every day, except during weekend home games. Tour tickets range from $6 for kids to $20 for adults and include a walk on the field, visits to the dugout, press room, clubhouse and Monument Park.
- Game day tickets: Tickets to watch the Yankees are sometimes difficult to get, depending on the season and the time of year. Seats at Yankee Stadium start at $14 for bleacher seats and go as high as $400 for field level seats.
- Yankee Stadium traditions: The “Bleacher Creatures” are a Yankee Stadium staple. The rowdy crowd occupies the alcohol-free bleacher section and hollers out their traditional “roll call” at every home game. Roll call takes place at the top of the first inning. Fans chant the name of each New York Yankee (except the pitcher and the catcher) until he acknowledges the crowd with a wave.
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Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, Washington, D.C.
The RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., has hosted sports teams across the board, including Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals, MLB’s Washington Senators, the National Football League’s Washington Redskins, and Major League Soccer’s D.C. United. The 56,000-seat stadium has played host to concerts, live events and the 1962 and 1969 Major League Baseball All-Star game. The Washington Senators first broke ground at RFK Stadium in 1962; the Nationals took over in 2005 and played their last game there on Sept. 23, 2007. While the Washington Nationals packed up and moved to their new home for the 2008 season, RFK Stadium remains one of the nation’s best-preserved ballparks and is still open to the public.
- Getting there: RFK Stadium is easy to get to via the Metrorail’s blue and orange lines. Both trains stop at the Stadium-Armory station and the ballpark is a half-mile walk from the subway stop.
- RFK Stadium traditions: U.S. presidents traditionally opened each season by throwing out the first pitch. President George W. Bush was the first president since Richard Nixon to throw the ceremonial opening pitch on April 15, 2005.
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Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
Dodger Stadium has welcomed more than 125 million fans since opening its doors on April 10, 1962. The opening game was a hometown win with the Dodgers sweeping the Cincinnati Reds 6-2. Over the years, Dodger Stadium has hosted eight World Series; the Los Angeles Dodgers have won four World Championships (1963, 1965, 1981 and 1988). It was also the site of major U.S. events and world records. In 1978, the stadium was the first to pack in more than 3 million fans during one season. In 1982, the Dodgers set the all-time Major League attendance record, capping off the season with 3,608,881 visitors. The stadium is so grand, even Pope John Paul II paid a visit when he celebrated Mass here on Sept. 16, 1987. The 56,000-seat stadium was named the 2003 best field in baseball by Sports Illustrated.
- Getting there: Follow the other cars from Los Angeles to Dodger Stadium on game day. There are plenty of parking lots around the stadium, but it’s advised to get there early as lots do sell out.
- Touring Dodger Stadium: Baseball fans will never forget a tour of Dodger Stadium, which takes you through the ballpark through the eyes of the players, stopping at restricted areas and allowing access to the field. Tours range in price from $7 for kids to $15 for adults. Special group tour rates are available.
- Game day tickets: Grab seats for game day online or at the box office. Dodger Stadium seats range in price from $4 on the top deck to $130 for a field box seat.
- Dodger Stadium traditions: When in Los Angeles, do as the Californians do and hit the beach. Or if you want to take in a Dodgers game, bring the beach with you. Dodger Stadium tradition has fans throwing beach balls around during the game.
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No matter what ballpark you choose to visit this season it’s sure to be a memorable trip. Make a day of it and get to the parks early. Take a walk around and read up on the history, or join fans outside the park. Don’t forget to purchase some of your favorite team’s paraphernalia and show your American League or National League loyalty.