The book: “The Amazing Baseball Adventure: Ballpark Wonders from the Bushes to the Show”
The author: Josh Pahigian
The vital statistics: Lyons Press, 256 pages, $19.95, released Feb. 1
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Barnes & Noble, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com, at the publishers’ website
The pitch: It’s possible that no one has squeezed more fun and passion over the last two decades from
country trips than Pahigian, who latest “amazing adventure” follows up from his 2015 book, “101 Baseball Places to See Before You Strike Out” and his 2012 book, “Ultimate Baseball Road Trip: A Fan’s Guide To Major League Stadiums” with Kevin O’Connell, which was an update from their 2004 edition.
Ultimately, you’d be hard pressed to find any negative reviews about any of these horsehide travelogues. And you’d think at some point, he might run out of material.
That’s the beauty of this format. You can change the categories and keep on moving.
Pahigian, an ESPN.com contributor who teaches creative and professional writing classes at the University of New England and Western Connecticut State University, is always open to correspondence from readers about new places to venture into (firstname.lastname@example.org) and encourages sharing of baseball ventures at www.facebook.com/AmazingBaseballAdventure.
It would seem to be inevitable to not duplicate sights, sounds or experiences over these three issues, but what sets this latest one apart is really more of a nuanced look at things you may not have appreciated as much as others do from a different perspective.
Take, for instance, the ‘60s style zigzag rooftops of the Dodger Stadium pavilions. On his list of 101 things in this book, it’s there at No. 17. Pahigian offers this observation:
“Since its inception, Dodger Stadium’s design has also reflected the ups and downs of its surroundings. The wavy roofs atop the stadium’s outfield pavilions mimic the zigzagging natural landscape (with the San Gabriel Mountains in the background) and provide the stadium’s signature feature … The lids serve little functional purpose, providing only slight sun-relief due to the park’s orientation. And it hardly ever rains … If you aim for a seat behind home plate — no matter the seating level — you enjoy the delightful backdrop for a game the wavy roofs create.”
It’s doubtful we’ll ever take that view for granted any more after that.
Flip over to No. 20, and there’s the 230-foot Big A at Angel Stadium — a landmark that thankfully still exists like the West Coast version of the St. Louis Arch. Planted in the stadium parking lot and visible from the 57 freeway, Pahigian, noting that this structure used to be just outside the left-field fence when the stadium was built in 1966 as some of us remember, writes that “it’s pretty amazing that one of (Anaheim Stadium’s) original features has not only endured but continues to serve as its defining characteristic.”
Take that, center-field waterfall — which also makes an appearance at No. 67 and gets this description: “Is the California Spectacular a bit overdone and a tad artificial looking? Sure, it is. But that’s what makes it a perfect fit for this land of illusion and make-believe.”
Even the cartoonishness is worthy of at least seeing once.
More perfect fits for Pahigian’s adventure is noting the Beach and the Western Metal Supply Company Building that are part of San Diego’s Petco Park; the Cable Car, Giant Glove and Levi’s Landing at AT&T Park in San Francisco; the swimming pool at Chase Field in Phoenix and the purple row of seats that ring the top of Mile High Stadium in Denver.
But as promised, there are more major treats at minor-league parks at the bottom of the Cracker Jacks box.
The Red Barn at Rawhide Ballpark in Visalia, the Mountain Views of Smith’s Ballpark where the Angels’ Salt Lake Bees play in Salt Lake City, the Outfield Fire Pits at Dow Diamond for the Great Lake Loons in Midland, Mich. …
We can’t give away too much, can we?
One more thing to note: No. 28 is the Dodgers (and White Sox) Camelback Ranch “desert setting” in Glendale, Ariz., with the “brown and caramel color scheme of the concrete, the rust-colored metal and slanting angles of the stadium that all contribute to its stark desert feel.”
We noticed that as well first time we saw it, but never thought it was worth creating a moment over.
We’ve come to understand there may be nothing in which Pahigian can’t find some intrinsic beauty, particularly when it’s associated with a ballpark. |
And after a long, wet, dark winter that has occurred since we last saw a baseball game that meant something, this vicarious road trip helped us avoid a little more insanity.
= Follow Pahigian on Twitter for more.
= Pahigian explains his approach to the book with Howard Cole on Forbes.com