May 10, 2006
By Eric Sorenson
Malibu, Calif. - A friend of mine asked me the other day what my favorite college baseball stadium was. That got me thinking. Hmmm, tough but fair question.
What would be your favorite place to watch a ballgame? I've been to a good number of college ballparks over the years, and after getting kick-started by my friends' question, I thought I'd list here my favorite places to take in a game.
But first, remember two things; First, obviously, I haven't been to every stadium in the country, including some of those you've seen on those previous "Best Stadiums" lists in Baseball America. Second, my reasons for including some here are probably not the same as yours might be. And third, Rosenblatt Stadium doesn't count. It gets Best Stadium Emeritus status here. So here you go, my Top 5 college stadiums to take in a game:
5. (Tie) UNCG Ballpark, UNC-Greensboro and McKie Field, Miami Univ.
These two stadiums are separated by 500 miles, but were built remarkably similar. Both are recent additions to their respective campus and include ultra-nice, close-to-the-field press boxes, a small but comfortable gathering of seats behind the backstop and long, rich green grass berms all the way down each foul line. And both stadiums also have very well-manicured fields. No bad hops. No bad seats. No bad nothing.
Drawback: Great venues, but could never host in the post-season.
4. Dudy Noble Field, Mississippi State
Nearly 10,000 fans, the famous left field lounge, the cowbells, the saturation of maroon and the history of the program; this is the best place for a big game atmosphere. Hands down. And the history of it being one of the first big-time college ballparks is also an added point of interest.
Drawback: With all those fans behind the fences, don't be an opposing outfielder that commits an error. Shoot, don't be a Bulldog outfielder that commits an error either.
3. Reckling Park, Rice
It says something when a school's stadium almost seats more than its enrollment. Nice, new digs with great seating and a fairly good amount of shade for those scorching June afternoons. But maybe part of why I'm putting Rice here is because of the nice drunken frat boys on the grass berm in the outfield that insisted I take a hit off their beer bong.
Drawback: That infamous sun reflection off the Hilton Hotel beyond center field that is so blinding it delays late afternoon games for 10-15 minutes.
2. Miller Park, Brigham Young
I visited this park in 2001 for a few games when the bowels of the stadium were still being constructed. But what a shrine for college baseball! It has 2,500 stadium seats, very little netting behind home plate and a big league feel. And that wicked-huge white tensile roof that resembles the "peaks" of the nearby mountains (similar to the Denver airport) is just too cool. It also has a nice plaza area that is shared with the softball complex behind it. First class.
Drawback: Too bad the season doesn't extend further into summer. Some of the March and April night games can be a bit on the chilly side.
1. Eddy D. Field Stadium, Pepperdine
There's a large combination of things makes this the perfect place to take in a game: Great setting, as the stadium is nestled into the cliff-side campus. Views of Catalina Island out in the Pacific beyond left field. The surrounding palms trees. The always well-manicured field. The screen-free sightlines above each dugout. The comfortable new stadium seats. And of course, the best collection of female co-eds I have ever seen. Bonus points for an always intriguing schedule of visiting teams, especially in non-conference.
Drawback: Up until a few years ago, games were free of charge. Now they're eight bucks. And, sadly, they now have a "no pets" policy. Damn.