Ranking MLB ballparks is a mostly subjective exercise in that the beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. As part of a very cool interactive project, the Washington Post had columnist and baseball enthusiast Thomas Boswell rank all 30 parks.
In general, I agree with most of his sentiments. And really, as noted, any disagreement is in the eye of the beholder.
I was a little surprised to see where he had Target Field ranked. Upon first reading, in fact, it was one of those occasions where you’re reading a list and you keep thinking, “OK, the one I’m thinking of must be next.” Only it kept going and going until we got to No. 13 out of 30, the home of the Twins.
Now, clearly No. 13 is not bad. It’s better than average, and it should be noted that Boswell included it in his second of four tiers of ballparks (ranking it “excellent.”) So he’s not ripping Target Field by any means, and some of the critique of it — namely, a location that doesn’t bring any of the downtown river views into the mix — is valid. It’s also worth noting that the cumulative ranking from the five experts puts Target Field ninth.
That said, as a fellow baseball enthusiast who has been to all but one of Boswell’s top 16 ballparks that he rated as either great or excellent (Nationals Park is the outlier for me), I’ve always had Target Field in my top five. There’s PNC Park (Pittsburgh), AT&T (San Francisco), Wrigley (Chicago), Fenway (Boston) and Target Field, in something around that order. When only considering newer ballparks, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Minnesota are the winners. They are intimate yet modern.
Boswell agrees on all points except Target Field, putting PNC, AT&T and Fenway as his top three. But then he drops in Camden Yards (Baltimore) and Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles) before Wrigley at No. 6. Then Yankee Stadium … Busch Stadium (St. Louis) … Safeco (Seattle), Citizens Bank (Philly), Petco (San Diego) … and Nationals Park (D.C.) before we finally get to Target Field.
Those are all fine ballparks. Safeco is the only good retractable roof ballpark. Yankee Stadium, even the new version, has history. They did a pretty good job with the new Busch Stadium. Dodger Stadium has its charms. Philly and San Diego? No complaints, though nothing overly memorable.
Target Field below all of those? Sorry, but I’ll have to agree to disagree.