Review by C.J. Bunce

Baseball writer Eric Enders has updated a popular look at the changing times in this week’s re-release of Ballparks Then and Now.  It’s a visual tour from the first official baseball fields made of wood and prone to fire destruction to the current architectural marvels.  It’s also a quick history of how and why ballparks have changed, of maximizing locations and tickets sales and mass marketing giant corporations by throwing their brands at you while you watch the game.  Angels Stadium, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, the two Wrigley Fields, the old Fulton and Turner fields, Oriole Park, Memorial Stadium, South Side and Comiskey Park, Crosley Field, Municipal Stadium, Mile High Stadium, Mack Park and Tiger Stadium, the Astrodome, Kauffman, L.A. Coliseum, Miami Stadium, County Stadium and Miller Park, Metropolitan, Shea Stadium, Candlestick, Petco Park, Stars Park, the Kingdome–these and many more are described in detail, taking fans of baseball back to long-gone parks and forward to their team’s current home field.

The best feature is the collection of black and white photographs showing early ballparks from the middle of the 19th century into the 1960s.  From the spires of the 1888 Grand Pavilion, home to the Boston Beaneaters, to the beautiful corner entrance to Ebbets Field, some built on grassy fields, others built on former landfills, one actually built on a cornfield, old parks with poles that blocked views of seats in grandstands, one with a tree planted on the field, another with a petting zoo in right field, images of fans driving horse-drawn carriages to the ballpark and later Model T Fords, and now all made of steel and concrete–baseball fans will find plenty images of interest here.

Ballparks Then and Now also includes pictures of old baseball signage, posters, postcards, vintage tickets, and scorecards, filling out the text and park coverage with some good nostalgia for the game. Enders throws in some interesting lore about the fields along the way, like a ball causing an explosion when it wedged into a steam pipe at an adjacent bean factory in one stadium.  Another story in picture form shows fans feeling free to walk onto the field in droves to watch the players practice in advance of the very first World Series.  And then there are the two ballplayers that saved 1,600 fans from a fire in Chicago at the West Side Grounds by hacking a wall with their bats.

Continue reading