Yesterday, I launched my biggest undertaking yet — a competition in which fans can vote to choose the ballpark that provides the best view from home plate. I’m absolutely thrilled with the amazing response that the Best View in the Minors competition has received so far.
Thanks to a lot of social media shares across multiple platforms, I’m thrilled with how many people are checking out the page and casting their votes. Evaluating the views at 160 minor league ballparks isn’t a small task, but I hope that you’ll take some time to visit the page and cast a vote. And if you already have, thank you!
I spent much of yesterday afternoon talking to fellow baseball fans on Twitter and hearing their responses, as well as tracking the votes as they poured in, and it’s been a thrill to see how people are voting. All of this talk makes me want to chime in with my own favorites, which hasn’t been an easy list to compile. I’ve *only* been to 54 minor league ballparks, so in the name of fairness, I’ll only be sharing my favorites from the parks that I’ve visited. I also want to be clear that I’ve selected the following parks based exclusively on how I like the view from behind home plate — I’m not considering any of the other myriad factors that make up a ballpark experience, so this isn’t a list of my overall favorite parks.
Here are my top five ballpark views, with a pair of honorable mentions:
Honorable Mention 1: PNC Field, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders
PNC Park in Pittsburgh arguably gives fans the best view from home plate in the major leagues, but don’t sleep on the minor league park with the similar name. PNC Field, which went through an extensive renovation in time for the 2013 International League season, offers one of the best views that I’ve encountered on all my travels. Photos hardly do it justice, but there’s a tall rock wall covered with trees that juts up beyond the outfield fence, grass berm and outfield concourse, almost giving you the feeling that you’re in a canyon devoted to baseball.
Honorable Mention 2: Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, State College Spikes
There are a few MiLB ballparks that you could argue have more impressive mountain views than State College’s Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, but I’ve yet to visit them. So, this New York-Penn League ballpark and its fantastic view of Mount Nittany gets an honorable mention on my list. The 2,000-foot mountain looms in the distance beyond straightaway center, and makes for one of the best backdrops I’ve seen on my travels.
5: Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, New Hampshire Fisher Cats
If I disregard the fact that Northeast Delta Dental Stadium is one of my favorite places to visit for a long list of reasons, it’s still a ballpark with an outstanding view. There’s not a lot happening on the right field side of this Eastern League park, but the left field view is hugely enticing. The key attraction there is the Hilton Garden Inn hotel, which isn’t technically part of the ballpark, but is close enough that it might as well be. There are a handful of minor league parks with field-facing hotels, but I don’t know if any is closer than this one. The hotel has a patio immediately behind the left field fence where people can eat, drink and enjoy the game, and all of this is visible from the ballpark itself.
4: Southwest University Park, El Paso Chihuahuas
Full disclosure: I’ve got a thing for field-facing hotels. If you’ve read my blog for a long time, you likely know this about me. But the Doubletree by Hilton hotel that makes up part of the view at El Paso’s Southwest University Field is just one element that makes this ballpark’s view rank third on my list. The neat-looking building that you see beyond left field is the El Paso Scottish Rite Temple, a theater and museum housed in a building that dates back to 1921. Don’t forget the Franklin Mountains rising in the distance, which are nicely visible during both day and night games.
3: Harbor Park, Norfolk Tides
Harbor Park is the only entry on this list that I’ve visited this season, and I can honestly say that part of the reason I chose to travel to Norfolk was for the view that the park provides. It’s a view that looks enticing in photos, but is even more impressive in person. The Elizabeth River flows just beyond the ballpark’s outfield fence and is visible behind the video board, and a pair of elevated railway bridges span across this body of water. They point skyward by default, but are lowered and raised multiple times per game to allow trains to pass.
2: Peoples Natural Gas Field, Altoona Curve
I’ve only been to Peoples Natural Gas Field once — a short visit back in 2012 — but it didn’t take long to be wowed by this Eastern League ballpark’s view. The prime attraction, of course, is the roller coaster that towers above the right field fence. The roller coaster is part of the Lakemont Park, an amusement park that opened way back in 1894. It’s called the Skyliner, and has been a fixture at the amusement park since 1987. The irony here is that I get violently ill on any ride that moves faster than a teeter-totter, but as long as I can enjoy the view at this ballpark and not have to ride the Skyliner, it’s one of the best I’ve ever seen.
1: Whataburger Field, Corpus Christi Hooks
My favorite view that I’ve encountered so far belongs to Whataburger Field, home of the Corpus Christi Hooks. This Texas League ballpark’s view is all about the Corpus Christi Harbor Bridge, which is beyond the fence in right field. The bridge, which is nearly 250 feet tall and lights up at night in a number of color schemes, spans over a ship channel that opens into Corpus Christi Bay, which then joins the Gulf of Mexico. Throughout the game, you can see freighters pass under the bridge in both directions as they pick up and drop off loads along various points along the Port of Corpus Christi.