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Rating the MLB Ballparks in California

Updated on September 29, 2014
The big LA at Dodger Stadium
The big LA at Dodger Stadium

Dodger Stadium

Dodger stadium was the first stadium I visited in California. It was the one that I wanted to see because of its great baseball tradition with great stars like Sandy Koufax and broadcasting legend, Vin Scully.

The ballpark is located in Chavez Ravine Valley, only a few miles from downtown Los Angeles. It has an interesting history. In1960 the Brooklyn Dodgers wanted to get out of dilapidated Ebbets Field and head West to the land of great expectations and financial rewards.

But there was a problem with Chavez Ravine; the individual residents didn't want to move and the city had to use eminent domain to get them out. Many residents who were Mexican-American protested, but to no avail. Their houses were leveled and the land soon transformed into Dodger Stadium.

It took the stadium three years to be constructed but it was a gem. It was a picturesque park in a beautiful state of the art facility surrounded by palm trees and bountiful sunlight. It's the third oldest ballpark but still one of the best places to see a game.

The tickets may be pricey and the parking a bit of a hassle, but it's well worth it. The food is good, catering to all tastes--meat lovers, vegetable lovers and some gluten free selections. And try a Dodger Dog--you won't be disappointed.

It is a comfortable stadium with a good view from most seats. The scoreboard is visible and the fans are nice--unless your are a Giant fan, and that's a different story.

The sun can get hot in Dodger Stadium so please take plenty of sunscreen and a hat to shade your head.

The Dodgers have a good team so there is plenty of baseball passion in the stands, which can be quite contagious. Unlike many Eastern ballparks, the fans do not go overboard or use a lot of profanity, so you won't have to cup the ears of the young ones.

What you get is a real sense of baseball history here, especially when you see the retro jerseys of the great players like Drysdale and Robinson walking past you with a couple beers in their hands.

Delicious cotton candy at Angel Stadium
Delicious cotton candy at Angel Stadium
One of the big hats at Angel Stadium
One of the big hats at Angel Stadium

Angel Stadium of Anaheim, California

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were founded by singing cowboy, Gene Autry in 1961.They were called the California Angels and played at Dodger Stadium for four years up until 1966 when they moved into their current home, Anaheim Stadium. But it wasn't until Disney took over the Angels in 1997 did things turn around. Disney renovated the stadium, investing over 118 million dollars and making the ballpark more spacious and fun--along with better customer service.

Disney did some fantastic upgrades that included two huge red baseball helmets in front of the park, along with a pair of gigantic baseball bats. Out in center field is a beautiful rocky waterfall that adds a nice relaxing mood to the games. On Saturday nights there is an impressive fireworks display for the fans to relish.

Arte Moreno, the current owner, does a good job maintaining Disney's changes to the ballpark as well as making sure that the fans get a quality team on the field.

There is a laid back atmosphere at Angel Stadium with fans strolling into the game innings after the game starts. Many dress in Angel red but others just wear sandals and Hawaiian shirts. They may not be as passionate as other fans but they are mannerly and gracious.

Parking is a snap as well as leaving the stadium is a breeze. Everything is organized and efficient at Angel Stadium. And there are plenty of good eateries around the ballpark for before and after game snacks. And my girlfriend insists that they have the best cotton candy around and the hotdogs are not to bad, either.

Something for Garlic Lovers

AT&T's Gilroy garlic fries are made from the fresh garlic from the Garlic Capital of the World in Gilroy, California. These fries are loaded with garlic and the potatoes are cut fresh. Warning: these fries are only for garlic lovers.

AT&T Park in San Francisco

AT&T Park is the place that most people want to see a ballgame but for myself it was the most disappointing. In one sense, it is a beautiful park with a beautiful view of the Bay and a good view of the game from most any seat.

For me the ballpark is too distracting; the park's design is too open and the view of the Bay too alluring for me to stay focused on the game. I prefer enclosed ballparks where the point of focus is on the field not the Bay Bridge or McCovey's Cove.

The fans are pretty laid back and harmless, except for those fans in boats trying to fetch home run balls in McCovey's Cove.

The park has an attractive brick facade that creates a welcoming atmosphere. AT&T Park, formerly Pacific Bell Park, is relatively new having opened in 2000 and replacing the cold and windy Candlestick Park. Like the Brooklyn Dodgers, the New York Giants wanted to get out of dilapidated Polo Grounds and move out West to a new and sunny environment and so they found their home in San Francisco.

There are food choices for everyone at this ballpark. The Gilroy garlic fries at AT&T are a must have. it is loaded with fresh garlic and fresh cut potatoes. The fried calamari is also fresh and they make it on the premises. Another must have is the Ghirardelli hot chocolate that is made with real milk--a good drink to have on one of the windy, cold days at the ballpark.

But I really recommend taking a look at the statues that surround the park. My favorite is the statue of Juan Marichal that is frozen in his famous wind up. You'll also want to take pictures of the statues of the other Hall of Famers, Willie Mays and Willie McCovey.

Stature of Juan Marichal's windup.
Stature of Juan Marichal's windup.
The swinging friar.
The swinging friar.

Petco Park in San Diego

This park is warm, cozy, friendly and right in the middle of the city with plenty of eateries and bars surrounding the park. It is a place to watch baseball but also a place to just hang out and be with your friends or have a nice steak dinner at one of the many places to eat in the ball park.

Petco is an open-air park, a retro-style red brick park, a pitcher friendly park, and a ballpark with a great view of the city skyline and for those in the upper level--a view of Balboa Park and the beaches.

The park is also clean, including the bathroom facilities. Since the team is not doing very well, the attendance is down and there isn't a lot of passion in the stands--so the other things besides the players on the field, make this park a nice place to be.

The ticket prices were reasonable and easy to get. The food prices are reasonable and the food choices are numerous--from steaks to gluten free choices.

Also check out the Tony Gwynn statue in front of the ball park. It adds a nice touch and it is also symbolic of the kind and friendly personality of the ballpark and its service staff.

Unfortunately there is no San Diego Chicken entertaining the fans--he was never the official mascot but a frequent visitor. However, there is still the swinging friar with his bald head adding a little bit of color to the games.

The crazy, yet wonderful, fans of Oakland.
The crazy, yet wonderful, fans of Oakland.

O.co Coliseum in Oakland, CA

O.co. stands for Oakland-Alameda County and the stadium is also called the Oakland Coliseum. The franchise was originally the Philadelphia Athletics, then the Kansas City A's and then in 1968 Charlie Finley moved the team to Oakland. O.co is one of the few multipurpose stadiums left and they share their home with the Oakland Raiders.

O.co still has that old school feel to it and if you were in time travel you might think you were back in Philly. It is the fourth oldest ballpark in the major leagues. It's pretty run down and not very clean compared to the newer ballparks. There has been problems with the plumbing, which might make you feel reluctant to eat the food or use the bathrooms. But even when the plumbing is working, the food is mediocre as well as the restroom facilities.

You may not want to bring any gloves to the stadium since O.co has the most foul territory of any MLB team. Many of the foul balls don't reach the stands.

There are no interesting sculptures of famous players outside or cool restaurants and bars surrounding the stadium. It resides in the middle of nowhere.

On the plus side, you can always get a seat at the park and the food is cheaper than a lot of other stadiums around the league.

The ballpark has a working class atmosphere, much like the original city that the team was from. But what separates this ballpark is the fans who occupy it. Besides being a good team, a first place team, in fact, it is the fans who make this ballpark magical.

The fans are simply amazing. They love their team and they let them know it. They cheer, scream, play instruments, chant and imitate their players quirky habits. The fans are at once connected with each other and the players. It is a creative and passionate atmosphere and if you can't have fun in this ballpark--you can't have fun anywhere.

Oh, and check out the three Oakland mascots who have a race near the later part of the game--Rollie Fingers, Dennis Eckersley, and Rickey Henderson. Who would you want to win that race?

California MLB Stadium Poll

What is your favorite California MLB stadium?

See results

My Choice for the Best Ballpark in California

I always thought that the players and the stadiums make the baseball experience--but I have changed my mind. Although it is nice to go to a new stadium with a contending baseball team, for me its the fans that make the baseball experience a memorable one. The more passionate and creative the fan base, the more electrifying the experience. That's why, even though O.co Coliseum is dilapidated and the food is barely edible, it is the number one place for me to see a baseball game in California--and in the major leagues for that matter. Is that true for you or do you disagree? How would you rate your experience at these five California stadiums? And please make comments if you like.

Oakland's colorful and friendly mascots
Oakland's colorful and friendly mascots

California Stadium Ratings

 
Dodger stadium
Petco Park
Angel's Stadium
O.co Coliseum
AT&T Park
FOOD
Good
Very Good
Good
Fair
Very Good
COMFORT
Good
Good
Good
Fair
Good
ATMOSPHERE
Good
Fair
Good
Very Good
Fair
PRICES
Fair
Very Good
Good
Very Good
Fair

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    • Mark Tulin profile image
      Author

      Mark Tulin 8 weeks ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Great comment, Tom. Love the A's fans enthusiasm, though. Especially those crazy drummers. I also love the total package at Dodger stadium. P.S. I hope to get to 30 ballparks eventually.

    • Tom Lohr profile image

      Tom Lohr 8 weeks ago from Santa Fe, NM

      I have been to all 30 MLB ballparks...twice. Some many more than that. Dodger Stadium is one of my top three favorites and hands down the best in California. You cannot be the mid-century modern feel of the ballpark, coupled with the baseball tradition the Dodgers bring with them. Petco is my second pick for California stadiums. AT&T is just too much, but you are spot on about the food. It is the best eater's park in baseball. The A's ballpark, whatever they are calling it this week, just needs to be bulldozed.

    • Mark Tulin profile image
      Author

      Mark Tulin 3 years ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Mike, thank you for your corrections and the additional information.

    • profile image

      Mike 3 years ago

      The Dodgers moved after the 1957 season, not in 1960. They played in the woefully unsuited-for-baseball Coliseum until Dodger Stadium was completed in time for the 1962 season. Jackie Robinson never played in LA, retiring after '56 rather than accept a trade to the archrival Giants, makes one wonder about the efficacy of an LA retro jersey for him. Horace Stoneham, Giants owner, had a farm team in Minneapolis and planned to move there once the bottom fell out of attendance in Harlem, but O'Malley talked him into San Francisco once the mighty Oom realized that the West Coast would not be viable with only one team there.

    • profile image

      Alice 3 years ago

      Love Angel Stadium because of the feeling of nostalgia. We went when no one eels was going. It's like going home again.