There are nine ballparks left in our rankings of where home runs look their best. Each of these ballparks is a gem, at least as far as their contributions to the field of dinger-related majesty. But tough choices have to be made. Three of the remaining ballparks … will not be moving on.
Here are those three ballparks:
9. Rangers Ballpark at Arlington
One of the first things I did for each ballpark was find an enormous panoramic shot of it. The first impressions mean a lot. Probably too much, even. But Rangers Ballpark has a ton of instantly appealing features. High walls, upper decks, goofily-angled sections, and a lawn that encourages souvenir-related anarchy. Perhaps most importantly, there's a … something in center field.
It's a little village or something, with different villagers plying their trade in each section.
I've always been fascinated by the architecture, and even though it's almost impossible for anyone to hit a baseball that far, it serves the park well as a backdrop for high-hit, booming homers to deep center. Here's the longest homer hit in park history:
There is also souvenir-related anarchy, though. For now, the anarchy is mostly being hogged by one teenager with excellent timing and foresight. Still, it's a nice touch, watching fans scramble around for a sphere of horsehide and cork as if its filled with the antidote they need to stay alive.
You can also see how the backdrop of the village helps on what could be a dull homer to the batter's eye.
The best part of the stadium, at least as far as home runs are concerned, might be the equanimity between lefties and righties. Here's a right-hander pulling a home run:
And a left-hander pulling one:
When either ball is in the air, there's a lot to look at. The ball is invariably going to land somewhere cool. The upper deck might be a little too reachable, but that's an easily overlooked flaw.
8. Orioles Ballpark at Camden Yards
I wanted to put this in the top five. I thought it was going to make it easily. But here's the longest home run at Camden in 2013:
It was completely swallowed up by the ballpark. This is an actual screenshot from that video:
The second-longest home run:
That looked so, so good off the bat, yet it just barely cleared the horrid two-tier bullpen in left-center. Do you know who suggested that two-tier bullpen? That's not a rhetorical question. I'm asking. You might think it was someone at HOK Sports, but it was probably Mark Belanger. Possibly a Belanger-related resistance group. It had to have been a small-ball crusader who was prejudiced against large ball, someone willing to risk everything to sabotage the park. Nothing sucks the sublimity out of a 470-foot home run like the ball landing in a bullpen. Unless it hits someone.
Yeah, see, that's the only redeeming quality of a bullpen that close to the action. Until that happens in Orioles Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore in Maryland of the United States, it's a drag on the overall feel of home runs there.
The reasons it's up this high, though, are obvious.
You can hit an old building out in right field. And look at how excited everyone gets when Ken Griffey, Jr. hits that building. They're a-hoppin' and a-jumpin' like the ball sunk a U-boat out there. Of course they were excited. Camden Yards was the first cool retro ballpark. If it wasn't Wrigley, Fenway, Yankee Stadium, or Dodger Stadium, the ball was likely to sail into a concrete swamp. The dingers of the '70s and '80s were so danged dull. Imagine getting duded up in those colorful clothes, only to go out to a godless, multipurpose stadium. It doesn't seem fair.
Camden changed all that. Not only can you reach an upper deck, you can hit it out of the ballpark and hit a building. It is, undeniably a neato park -- both for homers and otherwise -- and it's impossible to believe it's over 20 years old. But, boy, is it boring from left-center to right-center.
They need an 80-foot metallic Oriole or sculpture of Boog Powell or something out there.
Also, because there might be Rangers fans reading this, here's a Juan Gonzalez still from that Home Run Derby video:
7. Marlins Park
Like Pedro Gomez and Barry Bonds, I was tethered to the Marlins Park beat before the stadium was finished. Here's the post in which we find out about the statue. Here's the post where we find out just how huge the structure is, and here's a completely normal reaction to the structure going off the first time. It was a big deal way back then.
Then we got used to it. Really, really used to it. Ask this question to someone in Portugal:
Would you rather have your football game stopped by a 75-foot-tall structure filled with spinning marlins and flamingos, or would you rather have a man in a foam mustache-suit slide down those 75 feet onto a platform? Or would you want to keep it simple and just have an animatronic piece of fruit come out from behind a wall?
And they'll stare at you. When you put it that way, it's all stupid. All of these little home-run celebrations and quirks, they're all stupid. We just get used to them. They move into the realm of delightfully stupid and accepted.
Plus, the sculpture makes for a fantastic clang.
Clang! That's a good home run, alright.
But the sculpture is the flash, the glitz, the 10,000-actor battle scene in the sprawling epic. It's just a fraction of the larger story, though. Here's a super-high-resolution picture to click on. Look at how many things the park gets right:
- Stands down the left-field line that are easy to clear
- A gosh-darn nightclub
- A gigantic Budweiser sign and bar
- Staircases and rounded lines all the way around
- The sculpture!
- A crazy angle in right-center
- An upper deck that starts in right-center and goes all the way to the line
- Distance markers all around the stands in the outfield, including an optimistic 502 sign in the stands above right-center
That's a fabulous batch of aesthetic accoutrements. The only thing preventing a higher ranking is that green. Oh, that green. So, so green. It makes the whole park look like a green screen, like the whole point of it was to have Andy Serkis make a Hunter Pence biopic in the outfield.
There's also an ambassador for the park:
Without Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins Park still makes the top half. But it's possible he's helping it jump a couple spots by showing us the potential of the park. He's a demo reel, the thing you show to rich people who want to invest in dingers.
I just want to watch these all day.
The park helps the majestic home run a lot. Stanton hits the majestic home runs that make the world go 'round. The green and the relative newness of the stadium hurt Marlins Park a bit, but don't count this park out for making a run in future rankings. They'll need to keep Stanton, though, which ...
/Stanton idly flips through Zillow listings in Los Angeles
... might be a long shot. Until he leaves or he's traded, rejoice that the most august practitioner of the baseball-murdering arts is playing in a ballpark that he deserves.
Finding where home runs look best