I have recently returned from my big ballpark trip of the summer. Some comments on each of the parks I saw games in :
Bowen Field (Bluefield, WV) - classic Appy League park. One of the
most serene settings you'll find anywhere in the country. The only
problem is that they sell blowhorns, which kids and adults were
blowing the whole night. Very obnoxious.
Devault Memorial Stadium (Bristol, VA) - perhaps the worst
professional ballpark in the country. But has one of the best
baseball atmospheres - no sound effects, no mascot, no silly between
inning games. Just baseball.
Pioneer Park (Greeneville, TN) - very classy ballpark that seems out
of place in the Appy League. A more typical minor league experience,
but still an enjoyable place to catch a game.
Dickey-Stephens Park (Little Rock, AR) - great setting with lots of
little design quirks. Certainly a worthy replacement for one of my
favorites - Ray Winder Field.
Gabe Nesbitt Field (McKinney, TX) - very basic metal structure, but
does have all fold down seats. Because it's in Texas, the scenery is
boring. One of the smallest crowds I've ever seen at a pro game - it
was announced as 125.
Whataburger Field (Corpus Christi, TX) - follows the new ballpark
template, but has enough unique touches to make it stand out. They
did a good job incorporating the cotton theme. Bridge in the backdrop
is nice, but can't compare to the Ben Franklin Bridge in Camden.
Veterans Field (Laredo, TX) - boring park, over-the-top atmosphere.
Non-stop sound effects and games - could we please watch the game ?
Apparently they don't want you to - maybe because the pitching is so
bad in the UBL.
Harlingen Field (Harlingen, TX) - a slightly more interesting park
than Laredo, but almost the identical atmosphere. I couldn't wait to
get out there with the bombardment of sound effects. And no scorecard to be found ...
Robinson Stadium (Texas City, TX) - wooden grandstand with all bench seating. Nice atmosphere as everyone there seemed to be into the game. There was no games or sound effects to distract the crowd.
Zephyr Field (New Orleans, LA) - typical AAA ballpark, which seems way too big when there are only 3,000 fans on hand. Suburban setting
makes for a lousy location.
Pelican Park (Pensacola, FL) - despite being a very basic collegiate
park, the Pelicans have done a nice job dressing this place up. It's
still not the most comfortable of parks to see a game in, but it was
better than I expected.
Regency Furniture Stadium (Waldorf, MD) - yes, there is no sense of
place (though not sure there would be any place in Waldorf). But it's
an intimate and comfortable ballpark. Love the manual scoreboard in
LF. The atmosphere is what you'd expect from a first year team - most of the fans didn't even realize a game was going on.
Photos and full reviews will be posted on my site over the next month
or so. One more trip for me this summer as I'll be spending a week in
California where I hope to see five new ballparks.