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American summer

By Kara Karter

Section: Sports

September 3, 2010

Nothing is more American than baseball. Nothing, except for maybe an American Studies major traversing the country, watching as many baseball games, in as many different parks, as possible.

At least I like to think so.

Prior to this summer, I had only ventured to four major league ballparks–one no longer standing, one no longer used for baseball, one in Boston and one reviled by Boston. Shea Stadium, the Metrodome, Fenway Park and the new Yankee Stadium were the only venues in which I had experienced professional baseball–not a very impressive count for a native New Yorker who attends school outside Boston.

When Brandeis let out this past May, my summer of baseball began. I made a return visit to Fenway to cheer on my beloved Minnesota Twins. In three prior visits to Fenway I had yet to see the Twins win. This rainy Wednesday night was no exception.

Days later, a few friends and I embarked on a cross-country road trip, destination Bay Area, Calif. After a visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York (a requisite stop for any true baseball fan), we found ourselves at Chicago’s Wrigley Field and the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Along the way, we crossed paths with Toronto’s Rogers Centre, Detroit’s Comerica Park, Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field, Milwaukee’s Miller Park, Denver’s Coors Field and AT&T Park in San Francisco. I had seen Busch Stadium on a February visit to St. Louis and, upon returning from San Francisco, caught a few games at Citi Field, home of the Mets, and the new Yankee Stadium.

Then, on the Fourth of July, I stopped by Minnesota’s Target Field.

The Twins lost again.

Still, as I watched the Twins and Rays dash around the field, cap insignias playing host to the Stars and Stripes, I thought about the past month and a half.

In between baseball games, I had explored South Dakota’s Badlands and Mount Rushmore, driven through the Rocky Mountains in a hailstorm, stood on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and seen brilliant rock formations at Arches and Bryce Canyon National Parks in southern Utah.

And then, there I sat, at a brand new 545 million dollar stadium, a mark of American extravagance at its finest.

What’s not to love?

Interestingly enough, the six stadiums I attended this season include three of the league’s oldest and the three newest. The Yankees and Mets began play in their current stadiums last year, while 2010 is Target Field’s inaugural season. On the flipside, Fenway and Wrigley are Major League Baseball’s oldest ballparks, opened in 1912 and 1914, respectively. Oakland’s Coliseum, the fifth oldest stadium currently in use, saw its first game action in the fall of ’66.

Fenway cost $650,000 to build ($15 million in 2008 dollars), Yankee Stadium, $1.5 billion.

But more than finances distinguish the two.

While Fenway is much beloved to Red Sox Nation and Wrigley to those who bleed Cubbie blue, Oaklanders are dying to get out of the Coliseum. Yankees fans are seemingly unattached to their new ballpark, while (obstructed views aside) Citi and Target Fields are big hits with their faithful.

Then again, the original Yankee Stadium had a whole lot more going for it than the Metrodome, a venue that should never have been used for anything but football. But take what I say with due caution. I really liked Oakland.

The Twins won there.

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