Commentary

Fields of dreams

No luxury suites, nightclubs or swimming pools at these grand old ballparks

Updated: June 21, 2012, 5:26 PM ET
By Jim Caple | ESPN.com

While you continue to vote on baseball's best ballpark, let us pause to think about the beloved former stadiums we would like to see again.

No, I'm not talking about the Kingdome.

I'm talking largely about the old ballparks that were mostly replaced by the awful cookie-cutter monstrosities of the 1960s and '70s. They may not have had luxury suites running from foul pole to foul pole. Nor did they have swimming pools (though they occasionally flooded due to poor drainage). Nor nightclubs or white-tablecloth restaurants or brew pubs. But they did have beer for less than $9. And they are so affectionately recalled that teams are still forcing communities to build $800 million stadiums that remind us of them.

Ten ballparks I either would love to have seen or still see in use:

10County Stadium, Milwaukee: Sitting in the mezzanine seats was like looking over the home plate ump's shoulder. And Bernie Brewer was more fun to watch there, too. Although that old video-replay board was like looking at a Mathew Brady daguerreotype.

[+] EnlargeShibe Park
Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics/Getty ImagesThe main entrance to Shibe Park in Philadelphia. Impressive, isn't it?

9Metropolitan Stadium, Minnesota: The old Met was built on a former cornfield. Then it became the Mall of America, the country's largest shopping mall. I don't like the trend. I'm just glad the Victoria's Secret, located approximately by the Twins' old clubhouse, doesn't sell Harmon Killebrew's old underwear.

8Shibe Park, Philadelphia: A ballpark that featured French Renaissance architecture had to be worth a visit, unless of course, the Phillies were in the process of blowing a 6½ game lead with 12 remaining.

7Crosley Field, Cincinnati: The birthplace of the Big Red Machine appears to have been as delightfully old-school as Pete Rose's rookie haircut.

6Comiskey Park, Chicago: No, it didn't have a swimming pool in the outfield like some new parks, but it did have showers for fans to cool off on hot days (hey, it was a simpler time). It also had an exploding scoreboard, though sometimes the explosions carried over to the field (at least on Disco Demolition Night). And a stadium where both Babe Ruth and Michael Jordan homered (MJ did it in batting practice) should have been preserved as a historic landmark.

5Old Yankee Stadium, New York: I'm not talking about the remodeled (some would say ruined) stadium most fans recall, but the original facility where Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle played.

4Forbes Field, Pittsburgh: One area where Forbes Field topped PNC: It was right next to a college campus. You could see Maz go deep from the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning skyscraper. How would you ever concentrate on the professor's lecture?

[+] EnlargeEbbets Field, Joe Adcock
Walter Kelleher/NY Daily News Archive/Getty ImagesEbbets Field, located in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, hosted nine World Series and one All-Star Game.

3The Polo Grounds, New York: It was 277 to left, 258 feet to right and 480 to dead center! The players union would file a grievance over those dimensions. But boy, I would love to see the place where the Shot Heard 'Round the World was hit, Willie Mays caught Vic Wertz's flyball and the Giants dominated for so many decades. Although seeing where the 1962 Mets lost 120 games isn't quite so important.

2Tiger Stadium, Detroit: Sniff. I still miss this place. The mezzanine behind home had such great seats. And dammit, the Tigers should lend a hand in keeping up the still-existing old field so that generations of fans can play on it and remember the days of Trammell, Whitaker, Kaline, Horton, Lolich and Greenberg.

1Ebbets Field, Brooklyn: You hear so many legends talk about this place, it would be wonderful to be able to see if it really was all that. Even if it wasn't, it would be special to see where Jackie Robinson and the Boys of Summer played.

Jim Caple | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com