Remember when baseball stadiums weren’t named after their corporate sponsors? How quaint! As more and more teams move to more modern (and dare we say corporate) venues, we take a look back at some epic teams’ early homes, where they play today and what some of the biggest changes over the years have been.
From sexy (and sexist, depending on who you ask) giveaways to mascots that are high on more than just the game, you may be surprised by just what went on within your favourite team’s stadium walls.
1. Minnesota Twins. Back in the ‘70s, The Twins had decidedly un-PC promos like free halter-tops for the ladies at Met Stadium. These days, you’re more likely to get a free fishing lure at Target Field than a midriff baring shirt. Aside from fishing lures (yes, that’s a real promo), Target Field sets itself apart from other stadiums by selling pork chops on a stick. Hot dogs are so passé.
2. Boston Red Sox. At 100 years old, Fenway Park is the oldest MLB stadium still in use. It’s had a few facelifts over the years, but that mighty 37-foot, 2-inch tall left field wall known as the Green Monster is still keeping players from hitting it out of the park. The stadium has been the site of many memorable moments over the years, including the infamous seat cushion giveaway of 1982. Instead of making themselves more comfortable, many fans opted to throw their cushions onto the field, resulting in temporary chaos.
3. Chicago Cubs. At a spry 98 years old, Wrigley Field is the second oldest active MLB stadium after Fenway Park. It’s situated in a residential area, and for quite some time avoided night games so as not to disturb its neighbours. As a result, it was the last stadium to install lights that illuminate the field for night games.
4. Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates played at the multi-purpose Three Rivers Stadium for three decades spanning from 1970 – 2000. In 1985, police discovered that the team’s beloved mascot, the Pirate Parrot, wasn’t just raising fan morale: he was providing players with cocaine in between innings. Today, the Pirates play at PNC Park where you’re more likely to find family-friendly wind-up Pierogi racer toy giveaways and a well-behaved (and likely carefully observed) Parrot.
5. San Francisco Giants. The Giants spent 40 years playing at Candlestick Park, which was located on San Francisco Bay. The stadium is exposed to a lot of wind, which often created unusual playing conditions. Since 2000, the Giants have called AT&T Park home, which is also on the water. Fans can take ferries to the ballpark, or even scoop up stray balls known as ‘Splash Hits’ in their kayaks. The high-tech stadium offers free wifi, so fans can Tweet their hearts’ out throughout the game.
6. Toronto Blue Jays. The SkyDome was the first stadium to boast a motorized retractable roof, making it the envy of the baseball world (or so Torontonians like to think). In 2005, it was renamed the Rogers Centre after telecommunications giant Rogers scooped it up. Multi-taskers rejoice: you can now buy cell phones and a host of other Rogers products between innings.
7. Seattle Mariners. Before moving to Safeco Field in 1999, the Mariners called the Kingdome home. In 1994, heavy chunks of ceiling tiles plummeted into the seating area before a Mariners game. As a result, the team had to finish the last 20 games of the season on the road. Safeco Field is much more structurally sound and even has a cool retractable roof. Their time at the Kingdome wasn’t all bad, though. In the ‘90s the Mariners had a Jay Buhner Buzz Cut Night, which entitled everyone who showed up with a bald or buzzed head to a free right field ticket.
8. New York Yankees. These days, billionaires like Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg can catch the old ball game in one of the 56 lush suites at the newly revamped and notoriously pricey Yankee Stadium. Average schmucks are more likely to be found in the nosebleeds, carefully nursing their $10 beers. It’s a far cry from the original Yankee Stadium across the street, which had a paltry 19 luxury suites. The players are pampered at the new stadium, too, with lockers equipped with touch-screen computers in their 3,000+ square foot dressing room.
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