Ballpark Essays

Check out these articles on the state of today’s baseball facilities, including sneak peeks at upcoming parks, comparisons of World Series parks, and our ever-popular recap of the year in ballpark news. The list is in reverse chronological order, with the newest pieces at the top.

For the more recent entries, you can add your own comments at the end … and I certainly encourage you to do so! By the way, all articles and photo essays are by Webmaster Joe Mock unless otherwise noted — and all rights are reserved on both the text and photos.

Exclusive look at Sod Poodles’ palace

We were given an exclusive tour of the construction site that will be the home of the Amarillo Sod Poodles starting in April 2019.

A comparison of the two parks of the 2018 World Series

Two of the three oldest parks in the Majors are the host sites of the 2018 Fall Classic. Here’s our annual comparison of that year’s venues.

The new parks of 2018 … and which one is named our Ballpark of the Year

We look at the new pro and college ballparks that opened in 2018, and announce which one is the Ballpark of the Year

Preparing the home of the Braves

The Braves will have a new spring-training home — well, for one day in March of 2019 — and we were there to photograph the construction site.

Repairing Hiram Bithorn Stadium after Puerto Rico’s hurricanes

Hurricanes Irma and Maria dealt Puerto Rico massive blows. MLB was determined to bring San Juan’s ballpark back so the Twins and Indians could play two games there.

Spring Training’s most-liked ballpark

For years, I’ve written articles that have appeared in the USA TODAY Spring Training Preview. Since there were no new complexes for 2018, I wanted something different to write about. I asked data-mining firm ReviewTrackers to conduct research on online comments about the parks used for exhibition games. Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota was found to be the most-liked. I collected a lot more info on that park than would fit in the USA TODAY article, so I created a set of pages here to relay that additional content to our readers.
Part 1 Interview with Orioles Executive Vice President John Angelos
Part 2 Interview with urban-planner and baseball architect Janet Marie Smith
Part 3 Comments from Orioles manager Buck Showalter, architect David Schwarz and Hall of Famer Jim Palmer
Part 4 The text of the article I submitted to USA TODAY Sports Weekly 

Arizona’s most-liked spring park? Surprise!

Here’s my article for the 2018 USA TODAY Spring Training Preview on the ten parks in Arizona.

A look ahead to the next wave of pro ballparks

Here is a roundup of the pro ballparks that will open in 2018, 2019, 2020 and beyond.

The Ballpark Year in Pictures — 2017

There was a lot of news involving ballparks — new, old and merely proposed — during 2017. Check out our annual round-up of the year’s biggest stories!

A comparison of the two parks of the 2017 World Series

Every autumn since 2003, has provided a comparison of the two ballparks in that year’s World Series. This go-round, it’s venerable Dodger Stadium and picturesque Minute Maid Park.

Behind the scenes at the MLB Little League Classic

I had the good fortune to get to cover the MLB Little League Classic in Williamsport for USA TODAY. Here I give you a behind-the-scenes look at the uplifting event

Globe Life Park on the day of Beltre’s 3,000th hit

A look around the home of the Rangers on July 30, 2017, the day Adrian Beltre had his 3,000th hit

Salt River Fields: the complex that revolutionized spring training

A shorter version of this article appeared in USA TODAY Sports Weekly. Here is the unabridged version, with even more reasons Salt River changed spring training forever.

The Ballpark Year in Pictures — 2016

There were hits (Fort Bragg, Columbia) and there were misses (Hartford), but it was a fascinating year in the ballpark world!

A comparison of the two parks of the 2016 World Series

Here’s our annual side-by-side comparison of the two parks in the 2016 Fall Classic. Interestingly, neither park has been the home of a World Series champion.

Sneak peek at SunTrust Park

Here’s our photo essay that gives you an inside look at Atlanta’s SunTrust Park, six months before its first game

Turning the page on Turner Field series

As part of my writing assignments for USA TODAY publications, I put together an article on the two-decade history of Turner Field. Here are the complete interviews I conducted when preparing that article, as well as the article itself, and our photo essay on the park’s final game.
Part 1 Interview with Braves exec John Schuerholz
Part 2 Discussion with longtime Braves fan T.W. Lord
Part 3 Chipper Jones’ thoughts on Turner Field
Part 4 The finished article for USA TODAY Sports Weekly
Proper send-off A look at the final game at Turner Field

The Fort Bragg Game series

Leading up to The Fort Bragg Game on July 3, 2016, we provided insight into the ballpark itself.
Part 1 COO of MLB Tony Petitti gives his thoughts
Part 2 Todd Barnes of Populous talks about the pop-up ballpark
Part 3 Fort Bragg’s Eric Hill talks about the ballpark’s lasting impact on America’s largest military base

The ballpark opening that wasn’t

Hartford’s Dunkin’ Donuts Park was supposed to open May 31 … but didn’t. Here’s our photo essay on what the almost-completed place looked like.

The Ballpark Year in Pictures — 2015

It was a big year in the world of ballparks, and we summarize the most important stories for you!

The Rooftops at Wrigley

I had a blast helping a 7th grader in Illinois with her project for a “history fair.” The topic was a fascinating one: the rooftop seats across the street from Wrigley Field. Read about our exchange.

Getting To All 30 by Rob Wilken

Known to his friends as Ballpark Rob, Rob Wilken flew over 50,000 miles in 2015 so he could visit all 30 MLB parks in a single season. Here is his story.

A comparison of the two parks of the 2015 World Series

Kauffman Stadium made its second straight appearance in the Fall Classic, and Citi Field made its first.

You’ve Seen HOW Many Ballparks? by Kurt Smith

How many different ballparks have you seen? I bet it’s not as many as globe-trotter Brian Moore! The intrepid ballpark-chronicler Kurt Smith chases Moore down to tell his story.

The Sad Demise of Wrigley’s Identity by Kurt Smith

The keen observer of all things ballpark visits Wrigley Field, and he’s not pleased with the renovations happening there.

The Ballpark Year in Pictures — 2014

Here’s our year-end summary of the biggest ballpark-related stories of 2014. A lot happened!!

A comparison of the two parks of the 2014 World Series

Our annual “tale of the tape” compares a park that hasn’t seen post-season baseball since 1985, and the other is hosting the Fall Classic for the third time in the past five years.

Big Leagues Going Deep at the Plate

This is the article I submitted to USA Today Sports Weekly about ballpark concessions. As always happens, they chopped some portions out to make it fit in print. This puts back those omitted sections … while letting you read this without having to buy a copy of Sports Weekly (although you really should subscribe to it!).

Wrigley at 100

A photo essay containing 30 shots of Wrigley Field on the day when the Cubs celebrated the ballpark’s 100th birthday.

Interview with George Will

I interviewed nationally known columnist, TV commentator and author George Will about his just-released book on Wrigley Field for an article in Sports Weekly. I could only use a few quotes from him in that article, but he had so many interesting things to say that I transcribed the conversation for your reading enjoyment.

The Ballpark Year in Pictures — 2013

Once again, we recap the biggest ballpark stories of the year.

A comparison of the two parks of the 2013 World Series

Our annual “tale of the tape” on the 2013 World Series’ two stadiums: Boston’s historic treasure Fenway Park and Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

Kurt’s Five Most Underrated Ballparks by Kurt Smith

Talented ballpark writer Smith describes the five big-league parks he thinks are the most underrated. Do you agree? Provide a comment under the article.

Remember the Alamodome

San Antonio’s Alamodome had hosted Final Fours, the NFL, the NBA, major concerts and more — but never baseball. That changed when Big League Weekend came to town in March, 2013.

Bye Bye to HoHoKam

Check out the 13 shots in this photo album of the Cubs’ final home game at Mesa’s HoHoKam Stadium.

The Ballpark Year in Pictures — 2012

Here’s our pictorial review of what made news in 2012, including the parks where we had had to say goodbye.

A comparison of the two parks of the 2012 World Series

Our annual “tale of the tape” on the ballparks of 2012’s World Series: San Francisco’s beauty by the Bay, AT&T Park, and Detroit’s lovely Comerica Park.

Fenway At 100

We had special access to shoot photos of all elements of Fenway Park just so you could see how great the place looks as it celebrates its 100th birthday.

The Ballpark Year in Pictures — 2011

Here’s our pictorial review of what made news in the ballpark world in 2011, including a couple of tragedies at parks

A comparison of the two parks of the 2011 World Series

Our annual “tale of the tape” on this year’s Fall Classic ballparks: Rangers Ballpark In Arlington (for the second year in a row) and Busch Stadium

MLB got it wrong

I was in St. Louis to cover Game 6 of the World Series, and hours before the game, MLB postponed it … even though the game could definitely have been played. This essay discusses why this was a mistake, and how ultimately it put the Cards in the position to win the Series

Jim Thome’s 600th HR lights up the night at Comerica

We were there in Detroit when Jim Thome smashed the 600th homer of his career, something only seven other big leaguers had accomplished

The Ballpark Year in Pictures — 2010

Here’s our pictorial review of what made news in the ballpark world in 2010

A comparison of the two parks of the 2010 World Series

Our annual “tale of the tape ” on the year’s Fall Classic ballparks: Rangers Ballpark In Arlington and AT&T Park

Jay Miller Appreciation Night

A first-class organization honors a first-class exec as he moves up to the Major Leagues

The Ballpark Year in Pictures — 2009

Here’s our annual look at ballpark scenes in the news

An evening to remember

The Round Rock Express honored fallen hero Mike Coolbaugh

The Ballpark Year in Pictures — 2008

What made news in the world of ballparks in 2008? You’ll find out here!

The Ballpark Year in Pictures — 2007

It’s become an annual tradition! Here’s what we thought were the biggest ballpark stories of the year, as told in pictures.

The 2007 Caribbean World Series

Nothing in the U.S. compares to the festive, colorful Serie Del Caribe

The Ballpark Year in Pictures — 2006

We wouldn’t let you down! Here’s the 2006 edition of our Ballpark Year in Pictures.

The Ballpark Year in Pictures — 2005

Another of our annual looks at the ballparks that made news.

The Ballpark Year in Pictures — 2004

A trip through the ballpark highlights of 2004

BASEBALLPARKS.COM visits the All Star Game

The 2004 All Star Game comes to Houston, and I — and my camera — were there to see it.