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The Ballpark Year in Pictures

Bumper Crop of New Minor League Parks is Big Story of 2005

While the Chicago White Sox were unexpectedly taking the Big Leagues by storm and the vagabond Expos were finally finding a home in D.C., the big news in the world of ballparks was in the Minors. No fewer than eight new facilities made their debuts in 2005, and all eight were thoroughly reviewed here in BASEBALLPARKS.COM. My pick of the litter was Hammons Field in Springfield, MO. That's why it was named Ballpark Of The Year. And while Springfield was at the "sublime" end of the spectrum, the "ridiculous" could be found at a couple of parks, as the photos at the bottom of this page show.

For me personally, 2005 was my greatest year, as I saw games in 61 different ballparks, an all-time record for me. Included were games in all eight new parks, Spring Training, the NCAA Tournament, RFK Stadium, a National League Playoff game and the final game of the World Series.

Let's now recap the ballpark highlights of 2005, going from the highlights to the lowlights:

With so many new ballparks in 2005, how does a beleaguered webmaster pick the best one? Luckily, the Springfield Cardinals' Hammons Field made the choice of BASEBALLPARKS.COM's Ballpark of the Year a little easier. Gorgeous inside and out and with a big-league feel generated by a staff largely trained by the St. Louis Cardinals, this one has it all.

It's always nice to see the subject of ballparks given the respect it deserves. The Hall of Fame in Cooperstown did just that in 2005, opening an exhibit that incorporated the greatest elements from the greatest ballparks of all time. The exhibit carries the very appropriate title Sacred Ground, and it is worth going to Cooperstown to see.

Another spectacular gathering of ballpark memorabilia can be found in the Denver area. B's Ballpark Museum is a treasure trove of seats, bricks, programs, art, books, fixtures and artifacts from the parks where our National Pastime is played. So impressive is this museum that a full chapter was devoted to it in the new book Smithsonian Baseball: Inside the World's Finest Private Collections.

Well, the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series after not winning one since 1918. It was only fitting that the other Sox, the White Sox, would win the 2005 Fall Classic after not winning one since 1917! Here are those Southsiders rushing onto the field after recording the final out of a four-game sweep over the Astros in Game 4 of the World Series.

Another of the truly outstanding Minor League parks to open in 2005 is Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi, TX. Following the lead of the ultra-successful Dell Diamond in Round Rock (the same group owns both the Corpus Christi Hooks and the Round Rock Express) with its swimming pool, play areas and steadfast commitment to the fans, the new park in Corpus is a real winner.

It's not a new ballpark by any means, but Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City is truly the friendliest place in the Majors. From the ticket takers to the ushers, concession-stand workers and tour leaders, the Royals have the most likeable staff in the big leagues. Now if only the team won a few more games ...

Although you might not have heard a lot about it, the new ballpark in Orem, UT is a gem. This is where the Orem Owlz of the Pioneer League play. The team calls the park The Home of the Owlz (there's some controversy about what it should be called), but by any name, it is an outstanding facility with some of the best views and sunsets in baseball.

After an absence of three and a half decades, Major League Baseball returned to RFK Stadium in D.C. in 2005. The crowds grew and grew as the season went along, and the team was competitive, too. Now if the politicians could just live up to the commitment to a new stadium they made to MLB to get the Expos to move there.

At the end of the 2005 NLCS, baseball said goodbye to Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The Cardinals will be moving into a brand-new Busch Stadium in 2006.

Now from the sublime to the ridiculous. I spotted this advertising panel in a prominent spot in Atlanta's Turner Field. And it wasn't six or seven years ago, when DVDs were fairly new. This was during the 2005 National League playoffs! Gee, I wonder if those DVD things will catch on!

And here we are at Salt Lake City's beautiful Franklin Covey Field. Now, I can live with them prohibiting drugs, guns and smoking, but cameras!?! What a joke! The Salt Lake Stingers don't want you to take pictures at their games? I simply ignored the sign and took my camera into the game.