It's a chilly, misty day here in the nation's capital and there's apparently a nor'easter barreling up the East Coast, so it could hardly feel less like baseball weather - and yet, baseball season is upon us. There are a batch of Opening Day games on the schedule today - including one in Nationals Park across town. I am the literal definition of a "fair-weather fan," in that I only want to watch baseball when it's sunny and/or warm, so I am planning to trade in today's tickets for a game later in the season, but since I have baseball on the brain (well, as much as a dyed in the wool hockey fan can), today's round-up is focused on America's pastime.
I suspect that my colleagues downstairs in the Preservation magazine offices also enjoy baseball, given that they've written quite a few stories about historic stadiums and leagues over the years. A few of their highlights:
- Field of Dreams: Baseball players still hit homers in Cardines Field, one America's oldest ballparks.
- Voices of Yankee Stadium: Fans of the House of Ruth Give a Last Hurrah.
- The Last of the Polo Grounds: New York City Will Repair a Forgotten Staircase (Note for those of you for whom "Polo Grounds" doesn't seem so baseball-y: The field at New York's Polo Grounds saw action over the years from the Yankees and Mets, as well as the then-New York, now-San Francisco Giants.)
- Negro League Stadium Threatened: Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson, N.J., stands as one of the country’s last stadiums. One local resident is trying to save it.
- Field of Forgotten Dreams: Hinchliffe is one of the last surviving stadiums that hosted Negro League games. Can it be saved?
In looking around for historic stadium stories from sources outside the office, I came across an interesting one about Birmingham, Alabama's Rickwood Field, the oldest ballpark in America where professional baseball is still played. "Wait!" I can hear you saying. "Fenway Park is the oldest!" And you're not wrong - Fenway is the oldest park still being used for a full season of games, but Rickwood Field hosts the AA Birmingham Barons annually for the Rickwood Classic. This year's game is June 11, if you want to be part of history.
On the mainstream media end of the spectrum, I came across a USA Today story from last year, "10 great places for a baseball pilgrimage" that I'm willing to bet are still great places this year, too. And the folks at History.com have a page of full of historic baseball trivia and a great then-and-now slideshow that leads with the aforementioned Polo Grounds in New York.
And with that... PLAY BALL!
Sarah Heffern is a member of the Digital and New Media team at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She promises to be a more committed baseball fan once hockey season is over, though she hopes that won't be until June for her Washington Capitals.