Which ballpark has the best seats?
Fan favorites include bleachers at Wrigley, Yankee Stadium
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
Back in the days of Candlestick Park, Giants great Willie McCovey was once asked about the people who regularly came to watch him.
"The fans sitting up there are helpless," McCovey said. "They can't pick up a bat and come down and do something. Their only involvement is in how well you do. If you strike out or mess up out there, they feel they've done something wrong."
Life can be like that as a fan, but it all depends on how you look at it. Today, a fan at a Giants game at AT&T Park can experience the breathtaking scenery of the View Level seats up high or get a Lower Box seat near the field for the April 4 Opening Night Fireworks Show and game against the Padres.
There's Section 201 at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park, where you can monitor both bullpens immediately to your right while waiting for a Ryan Howard smash to land in your lap. Or, one can sit in that swanky Mountain Ranch Club in the right-field corner of the second deck at Coors Field, where you can get a panoramic view of the snow-capped Front Range in Colorado.
Fans have been gobbling up tickets to 2007 regular-season games, and all signs seem to point to a fourth consecutive overall Major League Baseball attendance record. With single-game tickets now available at MLB.com, it's a good time to take a look at some of the most legendary roosts around baseball.
Where would you sit at a game if you could sit anywhere? Right behind home plate to "help" the ump? In the outfield where you might catch a homer? Way up high to get the total perspective or somewhere so that the little ones in the family can play? Along the third-base side on a sunny day or maybe in a kayak in McCovey Cove when the All-Star Game Home Run Derby takes place in July?
Beauty is in the eye of a beholder. In addition to some of those aforementioned seats, here are 16 of your favorites places:
1. Wrigley bleachers: Where else? That's what longtime former National League outfielder Andy Van Slyke told MLB.com when asked where he would sit to watch any Major League game if he had the choice. (Memo to Detroit and Comerica Park ushers: He answered before he was hired as your club's new hitting coach.)
They are probably the most famous bleachers in all of sports, and they are anything but "cheap seats." In the book, "Wrigley Field: A Celebration of the Friendly Confines," the authors wrote of those bleachers: "They're a state of mind." The first ballpark to let fans keep foul balls added this new personality long before in the 1930s, but it was in the mid-1960s when the term "Bleacher Bums" was born.
There was a group of 10 fans who regularly sat in the left-field bleachers then. Two of them, Ma Barker and Big Daddy from Morton Grove, Ill., held up a sign made out of a bedsheet with a hole in it. One fan stuck his head through it, and the sign read: "Hit the Bleacher Bum." The photograph of that sign was published widely in newspapers, and those fans were instantly famous. It became their identity, and then it spread.
To be a "Bleacher Bum" today is to carry a tradition, and obviously you need something extra for sanity when you are still waiting for that first title in nearly one full century. It's like when they used to throw bags of chewing tobacco onto the field after Hank "The Mayor of Wrigley Field" Sauer hit a home run. He would gather the bags, stuffing the ones he could into his pocket and stashing the others in the ivy.
2. PNC Park's spiral walkway: Along PNC's left-field corner, you can watch the game over the rails and take in that spectacular view of downtown Pittsburgh and the Clemente Bridge or one of those seats behind the third-base dugout, offering that fantastic view of the Pittsburgh skyline. What an unbelievable All-Star Game show it was last summer.
3. Reserve seats, second deck, first-base side at Camden Yards. Take your pick at the Orioles' park, which started the retro boom. MLB.com picked this one as submitted by Orioles fan Matt Muller: "You can see everything from there. There's a lot of leg room and they have the best food. Plus, the waiters are an added perk."
4. Section 37-39, Right Field, Yankee Stadium: That's what Dave Ramos of East Meadow, N.Y., suggested in an e-mail to MLB.com. He is a Yankees season-ticket holder whose home away from home is right there, at least until The House That Ruth Built is replaced in 2009 (a still-unthinkable thought). He will tell you that there isn't a better place in the Majors to watch a day or night game, and even though he can't help Derek Jeter move over a runner, he certainly feels an "involvement."
"I'm a 'Bleacher Creature,' and there isn't a better place to sit in all of Yankee Stadium," Ramos said. "I've sat in every area of the stadium and, without a doubt, the best, most rabid and most savvy fans are in the bleachers. We may not have beer in the bleachers, but we have the 'Roll Call,' where in the top of the first inning we chant each fielder's name until he acknowledges us."
5. Jacobs Field, behind home plate and right next to the Indians' dugout: It might be the closest you will ever come to sitting on the bench with a Major Leaguer.
6. Comerica Park mezzanine: What made the Tigers' stunning stadium really cold in the 2006 World Series -- its open-air areas all around the ballpark concourses -- also makes it an extraordinary place to just loiter and watch the game. Some fans like to move around during games. No one lets you do it better.
7. "My South Cooks" Suite at Turner Field: It's on the Lexus Level, adjacent to the 755 Club (this is Hank Aaron Country). It comes with an option to have a chef perform a live cooking demonstration before the game, with a personal suite attendant to boot. It also includes: a redesigned suite complete with a full-gourmet kitchen, a TV Studio "ambience" with state-of-the-art kitchen equipment, broadcast-quality lighting and camera positions, and seating for 40 to enjoy a chef-prepared meal, two flat-screen HD TVs and more.
8. Dugout Club at Dodger Stadium: Chavez Ravine is one of those places where you want to experience all the views, including the Top Deck where you can gaze out at the San Gabriel Mountains from way up high with your steaming Dodger Dog. But here's to the Dugout Club, where you could be nestled among Tinseltown celebs with an up-close view of Jason Schmidt, Nomar Garciaparra & Co.
9. The Beach at PETCO Park: It is the sandy area to the right of the batter's eye in San Diego, facing the outfield. Padres fans love it. They love everywhere there.
10. Green Monster seats: Everyone wants these in Boston, and good luck getting your hands on them!
11. The Home Run Porch at Ameriquest Field: This section has overhead electric fans to cool you on those 100-degree windless Texas evenings, when Mark Teixeira and Hank Blalock sends souvenirs your way.
12. Hotel room, Rogers Centre: Fans behind the glass above center field have watched some legendary events in Toronto's retractable-dome wonder -- and others have watched some legendary events behind that glass, as well.
13. The Crawford Boxes: Those are at Houston's Minute Maid Park, and fans pack them tight out in left field to catch those rockets off the bat of right-handed pull hitters. People are usually standing many rows deep behind them, and there's some cool history if you walk around that area.
14. Mets Dreamseats: One of the hottest attractions in a hot 2006 season at Shea Stadium was the Dreamseat area along the left-field side. It was so successful that the club is showcasing them again in '07. It could be your own cushy recliner for a whole game, with your own TV monitor in front of you and an awning overhead if it rains. Or you can buy one in the MLB.com Shop and watch at home.
15. Swimming pool: It's just behind the right-field wall at Arizona's Chase Field. So dogpaddle while you're waiting for Chad Tracy to go pool.
16. First row behind the Cardinals' dugout: Albert Pujols might toss you the ball on his way into the dugout after a putout, and then you're right there when he comes out to the on-deck circle. You have to know someone who knows someone to get that one, so we suggest the Albert Pujols Suite out by the right-field foul pole.
This list could go on forever, because any seat in a Major League ballpark is a wonderful place to be. Every seat or standing position has its own unique benefit.
Red Sox fan Dave Hamilton, who now lives in Germany, said the best seat he ever had was "right behind home plate for Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. Problem was, it was standing room only. Still, it was well worth it."
Go ahead, pick a cool place to watch a Major League game. Pick any seat at Safeco Field, and hear the train whistle reverberate throughout the stadium several times during the game. Watch at least an inning or two of a White Sox game while on the concourse beyond the left-field home-run seats at U.S. Cellular Field, or relax and entertain clients in the posh Riverfront Club at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park.
It is about time for another regular season of baseball. Get your tickets while they are still available, and enjoy that helpless feeling once again.