Baseball park

Baseball park

A baseball park, baseball stadium, or ball park / ballpark is the field of play in the game of baseball and the spectator seating areas (if any) and any other features connected with it.

The flexible rules about baseball fields (aside from the rigid rules of sizes of basepaths and pitcher's mound) allow ballparks to have their own individual character and quirks. This is true at all levels of baseball, amateur and professional, in countless cities and towns where the game is played. This article focuses on Major League Baseball venues, which typically have the largest seating areas and receive the broadest media coverage.

General characteristics

The infield is a rigidly structured "diamond" (actually a square) containing the bases, home plate, and the pitcher's mound. Two white foul lines run perpendicular along two of the sides from the plate, forming the boundaries of what's in play and what's out of play.

Next to first and third base, are two coach's boxes, where the first and third base coaches guide the baserunners. Farther on the other side of the foul lines are the dugouts where the teams and coaches sit when they're not out on the field.

Beyond the infield, and between the foul lines, is a large grass outfield, generally twice the depth of the infield. The other side of the outfield is set by the outfield fences, which end the field of play. There are also fences in foul territory, although these are significantly lower in most places, especially around the infield.

In modern days, a ballpark is mostly surrounded by a multi-tiered seating structure, a grandstand. This often ends a short distance into fair territory, the area beyond the outfield fences being a more open area, perhaps with a view of the buildings beyond. This open area may contain shorter disconnected grandstands, bleacher seats, scoreboards, fountains, or open-air museums, just to name a few. In some Jewelbox and multi-purpose parks, the grandstand completely surrounds the field.

Starting with Yankee Stadium in 1923 (as an actual footrace track) and now present in all ballparks, there is a dirt (or in some parks, rubberized track surface) area roughly 10 feet wide which runs all about the perimeter of the field, called the "warning track". As the name indicates, this track is intended to warn fielders (especially outfielders) that they are approaching a boundary wall of the playing field.

The term "ballpark" is sometimes used ambiguously, as either the entire structure or just the playing field. A home run which occurs within the confines of the playing field is typically called an "inside-the-park" home run, as opposed to a home run over a fence and into the seats (if any). That might be referred to as a home run "out of the ballpark". That phrase is more often used to mean a home run which clears the stands and lands outside the building.


The structure of the infield is very rigid. However, like its British relative cricket, there is significant amount of flexibility in the shape and size of the rest of the playing area. This is distinctive from "goal" games such as football and basketball, in which the entire playing area is fixed in size. In order to prevent "cheap" home runs, ballparks at particular levels of play usually specify a minimum distance from home plate to the outfield fences, along with recommendations for the size of the foul ground. Generally, the higher up the skill level, the deeper the minimum dimensions must be. In the major leagues, a rule was passed in 1958 ( [ official rules] ) that compelled any new fields built after that point to have a minimum distance of 325 feet from home plate to the fences in left and right field, and 400 feet to center. (Rule 1.04, Note(a)). Despite this rule (which was passed to prevent any more situations like the Los Angeles Coliseum), the modern parks have sometimes received "special dispensation" to skirt these rules somewhat. The older parks such as Fenway Park were "grandfathered."

As there is merely a minimum, and no set distance (and even the minumums aren't strictly enforced), there is a great amount of flexibility. These distances vary from park to park, and can even change drastically in the same park. This can be seen in Yankee Stadium, whose odd-shaped plot of land caused right field to be over 100 feet shorter than left, although this has lessened over the years. The Polo Grounds had very short fences on the lines. It was 258 feet to right and 280 to left, and the upper deck hung over into the infield in left. In contrast, the deepest part of center field in the bathtub-shaped Polo Grounds was nearly 500 feet from home plate.

The heights of the fences can also change greatly, the best example being the 37-foot high Green Monster in Fenway Park's left field. Such tall fences were often used to stop easy home runs in a section where the fences were shorter, or there was little space between the fence and street beyond, although this practice has lessened in more recent years. Some in-play scoreboards and high fences reached 50 to 60 feet, whereas a few outfields were even lined with hedges rather than normal fences or walls. The Metrodome, the current home of the Minnesota Twins, has a 23-foot right field "fence" which is actually a relatively thin blue plastic sheet covering folded-up football seats. It is often called the "Baggie" or the "Hefty bag".

Some parks don't even have regularly shaped fences. While some parks may have round swooping fences or rigidly angled fences, some may have a big change in direction or irregular angle. Some retro parks, such as Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, throw in a sudden inward turn (often referred to as a jog) just to give a little quirkiness to the design.

Originally, and mostly in the Jewelbox Parks, these variations were the result of the shape of the property on which the park was constructed. If there was a street beyond left field, left field would be shorter, and if the distance was too short, the fence would be higher. Now, these variations are mostly influenced by the specifications and the whims of the designers. The retro parks, which try to recapture the feel of the Jewelboxes, are designed to have these quirks and variations.

Current Major League Ballparks

Ballpark Dimensions

The numbers mean the number of feet from home plate to the wall of that part of the field. Left and Right Field normally refer to the distances along the foul lines. Left Center and Right Center are the approximate power alley figures. Center Field could mean straightaway center field or it could mean to the deepest part of the center field area. Backstop refers to the distance behind home plate to the backstop screen. These numbers [] are one researcher's opinion of the true values and may differ from the numbers marked on the wall/fence by as much as 30 feet. Capacity [] figures may also vary.

Multi-purpose stadiums

Retractable roof parks

Converted Ball Parks

Unique features and quirks of current major league parks

*Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox) - Quite possibly the most notoriously quirky ballpark. The aforementioned 37-foot Green Monster — which includes a field-level scoreboard and an elevated ladder (which has no use because of the new seats on top) — leads to unpredicatable ricochets, as do the oddly-angled boundaries in right and center field. Fenway used to have a mound of dirt in left field that caused an outfielder to have to run uphill. It was called "Duffy's Cliff" after left fielder Duffy Lewis. Fenway's right field is also notable, with "Pesky's Pole" (named for former Red Sox, Johnny Pesky) just 302 feet from home plate, but then the fence runs virtually straight away from home to 380 in deep right.

*Wrigley Field (Chicago Cubs) - The brick wall surrounding the outfield is covered with ivy, a perennial that leafs out in early-mid May and drops its leaves in early October. The rest of the year, the vines are bare. From time to time, a batted ball will become lodged in the vines, or even its bare branches, and become a Ground rule double. The park's close proximity to Lake Michigan affects the wind currents from day to day or even hour to hour. When the wind is blowing in, the park becomes a pitcher's park despite its cozy power alleys. When the wind is blowing out, however, it becomes a hitter's park. The lack of a second deck in the outfield seating enhances the wind effects. It also allows residents of the flats across the streets to get relatively unobstructed views of the field, and some owners have even installed small grandstands on top of their buildings. Wrigley Field was the last MLB park to install field lights; the first night home game for the Cubs took place in 1988.

*Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles Dodgers) - The view beyond the outfield is dominated by hills, and on one of these hills sits large block letters that spell out "THINK BLUE". There is also a large pillar sticking out beyond home plate atop the upper level seats, that bears the Dodgers logo. The setting sun reflects off those hills and can give the pitchers a distinct advantage, which the Dodgers have capitalized upon frequently.

*Angel Stadium of Anaheim (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) - Beyond the left field fence is a rock outcropping with water running down the center of it. At the top is three logs forming an "A". The roof over the dugouts continues, connecting the two to form a dugout-level seating. The parking lot contains a large "A" with a halo, which once held the stadium's scoreboard. There are also two giant red caps at the front gate.

*Oakland Coliseum (Oakland Athletics) - The Oakland Coliseum is absolutely dominated by a section of seating derisively known as "Mount Davis". In order to lure the Raiders football team from Los Angeles back to Oakland, seats needed to be added to satisfy owner Al Davis. Thus, the 6-floor seating area was added, blocking the view of the mountains beyond.

*Kauffman Stadium (Kansas City Royals) - The stadium is noted for having the best hitters background in the American League and for having a 322-foot fountain, the largest privately-funded fountain in the world. Great Royal players such as Amos Otis, Frank White, Hal McRae, Bret Saberhagen, and George Brett gained fame as players playing in this ballpark.

*The Metrodome (Minnesota Twins) - In addition to the blue plastic screen in right, the Metrodome once had a giant inflated mockup of a Land O'Lakes gallon milk bottle just outside of the right field fence. The stadium also has speakers hanging from the roof which sometimes figure into play. Over the years the roof has become more and more soiled, and can be a nightmare for outfielders unfamiliar with it that are trying to follow the flight of a batted ball. Designed with primarily football in mind, the result is a rectangular, rather an a square or oval, outfield.

*Rogers Centre (Toronto Blue Jays)- The first retractable roof over a baseball stadium rests here, and is a unique system, with the larger section folding into a smaller semi-circle that looms over the field. Under this sits glassed-in seating and one of the world's largest Jumbotron screens. The CN Tower stands tall over the park, which was built next to its base. This stadium is the last of the "squared-circle" designs that were similar to the abandoned Qualcomm Stadium and the now-demolished Veterans Stadium.

*U.S. Cellular Field (Chicago White Sox) - The old Comiskey Park was well known for what was known as the "Exploding Scoreboard". This scoreboard was re-incarnated in the new park, although in a smaller version. Holding a huge video screen, the scoreboard features sound effects and fireworks that go off after wins and home runs, and is topped by iconic spinning pinwheels.

*Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Baltimore Orioles) - Camden Yards is the park that began the retro ballpark craze. Its green seats, its brick and steel finish, and its irregular grandstand configuration all hearken back to the old days. Beyond the bleachers in left and left center is a wall of brick columns with black iron gates. Beyond that looms the large B&O warehouse, a very prominent feature of the park.

*Dolphin Stadium (Florida Marlins)- Designed for football, with modifications to allow a baseball field. Left field is necessarily cozy, neutralized somewhat by a 33-foot high fence across most, though not all, of left field. The fence is known as the "Teal Tower" and often knocks down potential home runs in the power alley.

*Progressive Field (Cleveland Indians) - Cleveland has a 19-foot left field wall, known as "The Little Green Monster," complete with a digital scoreboard embedded in the wall, installed in 2004.

*Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (Texas Rangers) - The exterior is a solid one of brick and features stone longhorn steer heads. The stadium is completely closed in, with offices walling in the space beyond the outfield. This can create a swirling wind effect that gives some hits a bit of lift they would not get otherwise. Right-center field fence has an inward "jog", a feature of artificial quirkiness that several recent ballparks have included.

*Coors Field (Colorado Rockies) - While most stadiums' batter's eyes are dark colored walls or patches of grass, Coors Field takes the opportunity to feature a scene of Colorado nature. The area, which sits in front of a tall green wall, is a large rock outcropping with a few ponds and waterfalls, and a number of evergreen trees. Atop this "rockpile" is a standalone and very distant bleacher section. The higher altitude and lower air density of Denver, as with other higher-altitude cities such as Atlanta, also figure into the uniqueness of the ballpark.

*Turner Field (Atlanta Braves) - It started out as the stadium for the 1996 Olympics, and soon afterward was turned (as planned) into the new stadium for the Braves. The outline of the stands that once extended far beyond the outfield fences is expressed by a line of columns, the extra area forming the Grand Entry Plaza that welcomes many Braves fans.

*Tropicana Field (Tampa Bay Rays) - Tropicana Field is a field that has had its share of criticisms. The major one has to do with its catwalks. Four catwalks encircle the dome's interior, with the two towards the infield being in play. A ball hit off of them can be caught for an out. The two towards the outfield are out of play, and, when hit, are either a home run or a foul ball, depending on where it hits in relation to the foul poles.

*Chase Field (Arizona Diamondbacks) - Due to the hot Phoenix weather, Chase is fully air conditioned. It is the only park in baseball to mix a retractable roof, air conditioning, and a grass playing field. It also has a pool in the outfield, which can be rented by spectators. The field itself is graced by a distinctive dirt strip between home plate and the pitching mound. Once uniformly common in early baseball parks, this strip is present in only two modern parks.

*Safeco Field (Seattle Mariners) - Safeco has a retractable roof. While most retractable roofs form a complete enclosure, Safeco's forms more of an umbrella. The roof is supported by large steel structures that run on tracks, and these structures are very open, barely obscuring the view to the outside. The stadium is shielded from the rain, but is still very open.

*AT&T Park (San Francisco Giants) - An arm of San Francisco Bay is just outside of the right field fence. The area is called McCovey Cove (named for former Giants slugger Willie McCovey), and is often filled with boaters hoping to catch baseballs hit out of the park (a baseball will float in the water initially), just as fans used to empty the right field bleachers at Candlestick Park and gather on the flat ground when McCovey would come to bat. The right field line is rather close, and although the wall angles away sharply, a "jog" in right-center neutralizes that angle somewhat. There is a special scoreboard near the right field wall that counts how many fair balls have been hit into the bay during game play by the San Francisco Giants (called "Splash Hits"). Many of those have been hit by Barry Bonds, the left-handed slugger whose presence strongly influenced the design of the ballpark, as legend says Yankee Stadium's short porch was for Ruth.

*Comerica Park (Detroit Tigers) - Two brick walls flank the batter's eye, the names of those important to the organization and the Tigers' retired numbers painted in white on them. Above the left field wall, Comerica has its own monument park filled with large statues to the Tiger greats. Over the left field stands, one can see Ford Field looming, which was built in the same project as the park. The scoreboard is topped by two large tigers, and when a home run is hit, their eyes light up and the sound of a tiger growl is played over the speakers. Beyond the outfield is a great view of downtown Detroit, including the Wyland Whale mural, although this was covered with a Verizon ad during the 2006 postseason. The problem with this is that downtown is south of the stadium, and therefore gives the majority of the spectators and the batter an eyeful of sunlight as the sun sets. The park started its life with an extremely deep left-center field, but the fences have since been changed.

*Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros) - A train filled with giant oranges runs forward and back along the left outfield when home runs are hit. Also, center field features an uphill incline known as "Tal's Hill", much like old Crosley Field in Cincinnati and the former Duffy's Cliff at Fenway Park in Boston except that it was created as a decoration as opposed to being required due to the grade of the land. It is the only park in major league baseball with a flagpole in play, another purely decorative feature borrowed from the old Tiger Stadium in Detroit. First baseman Richie Sexson, then of the Milwaukee Brewers, is the only player to have hit the flagpole during a game. Its cozy dimensions, especially in left field, have led to its being called the "Juice Box". The Astros have been competitive in the early years of the ballpark, and the stadium fans can be very noisy when the roof is closed.

*Miller Park (Milwaukee Brewers) - Like Safeco Field, Miller Park has a retractable roof. In the left field corner houses "Bernie's Dugout", which is the home of the Brewers mascot, Bernie Brewer. At the beginning of the game, after every Brewers home run, and if the Brewers win, fireworks go off and Bernie slides down his slide. He also hangs "K"s to signify strikeouts. In 2006, a picnic area was added in right field. The retractable roof is unique in that it folds and unfolds like a fan, from a single pivot point, rather than sliding in parallel sections as most do. The arc-shaped trusses needed to support this roof make the ballpark nearly twice as high as it would be without a roof, dominating its surroundings.

*PNC Park (Pittsburgh Pirates) - The park was built on the Allegheny River, and its low walls behind the outfield seats allow for a stunning view of the river and skyline of downtown Pittsburgh that rests on the other side.

*Great American Ball Park (Cincinnati Reds) - Sitting on the Ohio River, the park has the same relationship to the water that AT&T and PNC have. Beyond the right-center fence sits two large steamboat smokestacks that belch smoke, flash lights, and shoot fireworks to incite the crowd or celebrate an act of the home team. The most prominent feature is a large gap in the grandstand. As the outfield is towards the river, and away from downtown Cincinnati, there is a large gap in the grandstands that allow a view out to the city from the park, and vice-versa. To one side of the gap, there are three seating levels, and on the other, there are two.

*Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia Phillies) - Citizens Bank Park has a giant Liberty Bell that lights up and rings as it moves from side to side. Outfield fence has a "jog" similar to the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, except it's in left-center.

*PETCO Park (San Diego Padres) - A challenging factor in the design of this stadium was the presence of a historic structure, the Western Metal Supply Company Building, on the proposed ballpark site. Instead of being demolished, the building was integrated into the stadium, with the team store on the first floor and the other floors converted to suites. In fact, its southeast corner serves as the left field foul pole.

*Busch Stadium (St. Louis Cardinals) - The stadium is very open, allowing a great view of St. Louis, including its iconic arch. The old manual scoreboards that showed the scores around the league, were installed up on the walls of the inside concourse, still in the same configuration they were in the day the Cardinals played their last game in the old stadium.

*Nationals Park (Washington Nationals) - The park, located on the Anacostia River, provides views of the river as well as the dome of the Capitol Building and Washington Monument. The seats in left field are lined along the rear with cherry trees.

External links

* [ Baseball Park facts, figures, photos, and more at]
* [ Satellite and Aerial Photography of American League Stadiums]
* [ Satellite and Aerial Photos of National League Stadiums]

ee also

*List of baseball parks by capacity
*List of Major League Baseball stadiums
*List of U.S. baseball stadiums by capacity
*List of Jewel Box Parks
*List of terraces at baseball venues

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