A View From Above by Tom Hamilton

Google Sightseeing has become a popular hobby for many people. Looking for something strange and unusual amongst the images that comprise Google's Map service is similar to a treasure hunt where you may not know what you are looking for, but you'll know it when you've found it. Web sites such as googlesightseeing.com are dedicated to finding things such as famous landmarks, UFO's, and erupting volcanoes and collecting them for others to see. In the realm of ballparks, things tend to be a little more mundane. That doesn't mean that there is nothing to see in the Ballparks section of this site. If you are like me, just seeing some of the new parks can be an interesting exercise and you may even stumble onto something unexpected.

You may have noticed that only 29 parks are listed on the MLB tab. That is because Google's images are often several years old. That means that new stadiums, such as the Cardinal's new ballpark, are not yet shown. If you look on the Historic tab, you will see that the original Busch Stadium is shown, yet there are no signs of construction for the new stadium, which was built in its parking lot. This will likely change in the future as Google updates their image library.

Speaking of construction, if you visit San Diego's Petco Park, you will see that it is still a shell of a ballpark, with most of its construction work yet to be completed. On the other end of the spectrum, if you look directly to the west of Philadelphia's new Citizen's Bank Park, you will see what remains of Veteran's Stadium. If it isn't visible, you can try dragging the map in order to bring the left side of the panel into view.

Some historic parks still stand, such as Tiger Stadium in Detroit. This stadium, which is included on the Historic tab, has been the source of much controversy within Detroit. Some want the old building torn down, while others want it preserved, and some people have even suggested having the Tigers play a few throwback games there each year.

While most old ballparks have been torn down, leaving no trace of their location's past significance, some have had a second life as community parks or as historical landmarks. On August 11, 1929, Babe Ruth hit his 500th career home run against the Indians at League Park. This Cleveland landmark has since been converted into a public park and efforts have been made to return the playing field to usability. Ruth hit his last home run on May 25, 1935, at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. At the former site of Forbes Field, you will still find home plate, now encased in glass and inside of a univerisity building, as well as a portion of the left field wall. Bill Mazeroski's home run in the 1960 World Series is also commemorated with a plaque. It is located at the spot where the ball left the park. You can visit both of these sites on the Historic tab.

Thanks to Google, most of the MLB ballparks are shown in such great detail that if you zoom in beyond the default setting, you will be able to see each park's unique features. For example, if you look closely at AT&T Park in San Francisco, you will see the giant Coke bottle and glove beyond the left field wall. On the other hand, you won't have to look too hard to see that Toledo's new ballpark is covered in snow. Over in Japan, Hiroshima Municipal Stadium is now visible, and the waves in the neighboring river make for a remarkable aerial view.

Other parks that have recently been added due to updates of Google's images include Miller Park in Milwaukee; Five County Stadium in Zebulon, NC; Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi, TX; Hadlock Field in Portland, ME; MerchantsAuto.com Stadium in Manchester, NH; and Smokies Park in Kodak, TN.

In addition to adding several new parks, I have also added more information for each one. If you select the More tab on the Info Window, you will now find some more facts about each ballpark. Did you know that Thomas Edison was an early advocate of concrete construction and his company's concrete was used to build one of the games most famous cathedrals? Enjoy your visit and happy sightseeing.

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Using modern tools to examine an age-old game may make the purists uncomfortable, but this column attempts to show how modern technology can help gain insight into the game beyond what was possible in the past.

Random Fact

From 1959 to 1962, two All-Star Games were played each year. The second game was used to raise money for the players' pension funds.