Best-ever ballparks

It's in its third decade and still has the charm that made it such a revelation when it was dreamed up by Larry Lucchino, Janet Marie Smith and others with the Orioles. Life is simple and sweet here. Too bad fans have been turned off by 14 consecutive losing seasons.

Best memory there: Rick Sutcliffe's five-hit shutout to open the park in 1992.

Wish I had seen: Cal Ripken Jr. breaking Lou Gehrig's consecutive games streak, then taking a victory lap to thank fans for their support.

6. Astrodome

Thanks to my parents and my grandfather, I was there in 1965, the year it opened and the Astros played games with the worst grass field in history. It's hard to imagine now, but it did seem like the Eighth Wonder of the World, as Judge Roy Hofheinz tagged it.

Best memory there: The 16-inning Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS, when the Mets refused to lose.

Wish I had seen: The Lew Alcindor-Elvin Hayes "Game of the Century'' in 1968 and the Lobber vs. Libber tennis match (Bobby Riggs-Billie Jean King) in 1973.

7. The new Yankee Stadium

The original one, treasured by generations of New Yorkers, only developed a sense of warmth in its last few years; the new one had that immediately.

Best memory there: Alicia Keys and Jay-Z walking out to sing "Empire State of Mind'' before Game 2 of the 2009 World Series, with Derek Jeter craning to see from the top step of the dugout.

Wish I had seen: Jeter hit a home run for his 3,000th hit last season.

8. SkyDome/Rogers Centre

The first retractable-roof ballpark is a marvel in the same sense as the Astrodome and Camden Yards.

Best memory there: Joe Carter's home run off Mitch Williams to win the 1993 World Series.

Wish I had seen: Madonna's controversial Blond Ambition tour stop in 1990.

9. Coors Field

There's nothing especially memorable about the ballpark, but the love affair between Rockies players and fans is still real. Another cool downtown location.

Best memory there: The Rockies rallying to beat the Padres in the one-game playoff in 2007.

Wish I had seen: The Yankees' series in 2002, when they won games 10-5 and 20-10 and lost 14-11.

10. Comiskey Park

Bill Veeck's exploding scoreboard, a left-field roof that sluggers could hit balls onto and Nancy Faust's organ music made for good times.

Best memory there: When the White Sox surprised a 30-year-old Harold Baines by retiring his No. 3 in August, 1989, less than a month after they had traded him to the Rangers. (The understated Baines told me afterward he could "take it or leave it.")

Wish I had seen: Any of Satchel Paige's appearances in the East-West All-Star Game.
CHICAGO

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