In all, he has visited 31 different ballparks, counting a few that are no longer in existence. He is three ballparks shy of visiting all 30 current ballparks — Arlington, Houston, and Toronto — and those will surely be checked off by next year. In my young life, I have been fortunate enough to visit 25 different ballparks.
There is something about visiting a baseball park that is different than visiting a basketball arena or football field. Arena dimensions for most sports, excepting baseball, are standard. Ballparks have tiny quirks that make them so memorable.
Fenway Park in Boston has its 37-foot Green Monster in left field, a jaggedly designed centerfield fence and a short porch out in right field besides “Pesky’s Pole.” AT&T Park in San Francisco has “McCovey’s Cove” past the right field fence. PETCO Park in San Diego incorporates a historical monument in the Western Metal Supply Company Building into its left field structure. Even right down the road in Little Havana, new Marlins Ballpark has quirks of its own — the beau- tifully hideous home run structure in center field, the lime green outfield fences and an oh so very Miami Clevelander bar beyond left field. Ballparks, including our own, are able to escape the “cookie-cutter” feel that is so present in most other sports arenas.
David Samson and the Miami Marlins have done a marvelous job in constructing this much-needed facility, and they should be commended. The outfield view of the Miami skyline through the glass panels is breath-taking. The massive scoreboard in centerfield may have some of the most sta- tistics that I have seen on a single score- board, but sometimes a few too many (RBIs with bases empty?).
And who can forget the ballpark fare, venturing far beyond hot dogs and ham- burgers and ranging into medianoches, pastrami sandwiches on rye and even a delicious shrimp burger. And while the food and drink may be appealing, the prices are less so — a theme that is not new to any Miami sports fan.
On our recent visit to Turner Field in Atlanta, my dad ordered his favorite Bloody Mary. It ran him $6.75. An order of the same drink in Miami would run you into the lower double digits. Indeed, in a story by Kenny Malone at WLRN, he found that the $8 Bud Light at Marlins Park is the “most expensive domestic draft beer in all of baseball.” However, Malone also points out that at 56 cents per ounce, Miami falls into 15th place — right in the middle of the pack.
My father and I were astonished by the fact that even major markets — markets that dwarf Miami such as New York and Boston — boasted food prices less than those in Marlins Park. Those cities are notoriously good “baseball towns.” Could it be possible that the two could be correlated? Lower food prices in turn create a family friendly atmosphere at the ballpark. The ability for a family to spend an enjoyable day at the ballpark hinges at the pecuniary implications of spending that day out.
The Marlins have a grand opportunity to begin a legacy of home-grown fish fans. For the long term well being of the organization, the support from the hometown fans is of the utmost importance. Take a look at the teams that have been the most successful in baseball: Red Sox, Yankees, Cardinals, Phillies, Reds, Rangers, Dodgers and more. The one theme that these teams share is a solid and supportive fan base. And the best way to nurture and create this fan base would be to make the game-day experience as enjoyable as possible.
Preston Michelson is a junior at Palmer Trinity School where he is the public address announcer for all varsity sporting events. Contact him on Twitter at @PrestonMich or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.