There’s a great way to embrace American culture while you’re traveling through the U.S.–going to baseball games! Baseball has a nice, long season (March to October) and teams play more than 160 games. It offers tons of opportunities to see a game yourself while in a new city. If you go early or late in the season, you can often score reasonable tickets last minute on the day of the game. It’s well worth the splurge to sit behind home plate too! Here’s some info on my favorite ballpark, Oracle Park in San Francisco, and a few more you should visit while traveling through the U.S.
Giant Transformation: Candlestick to Oracle
Before 2000, the Giants played at the classic Candlestick park. In 2000, they built Pacific Bell park by the Mission Bay neighborhood, on the shores of McCovey Cove. In 2003, the ballpark became SBC park which then changed to AT&T park in 2006. Today, it is named Oracle Park. Soon, it will be part of the beautiful Thrive City that will include Chase Center, the state-of-the-art new Golden State Warriors stadium.
My dad bought tickets out in the left-field bleachers in 2000, and we have had the tickets for 20 years. Our family names are etched out by McCovey Cove directly across from the stadium since 2000! I have been going to games since I was little, and have experienced 3 World Series in person! It is hard not to have a good day when you get tickets for Oracle Park.
Around the Park: Chowder, Beer, and Statues
Around Oracle Park, there are special eateries by Fisherman’s Wharf. There are great Clam Chowder joints and unbeatable breakfast spots along the street. From Chowders to Blue Mermaid to Swan Oyster Depot, the seafood available is second to none. After the game, Pete’s Tavern, the Public House, and Momo’s are all great bar destinations for solid grub and drinks with family and friends.
The San Francisco Giants are one of the most storied franchises in baseball. The statues around the stadium are classic! My Dad and I frequently walk by fans reading about the players and taking pictures. Willie McCovey with his left-handed follow-through is placed across the bridge by McCovey Cove. The Willie Howard Mays statue is directly outside his gate on the Northside of the park. Capturing one of the best players in the history of baseball, the Mays statue is historic! Lastly, the Juan Marichal statue is directly outside of the O’Doul gate. He is seen doing his signature high leg kick.
Inside the Park: Sweet Treats and Baseball
Oracle Park is special and considered one of the best parks in baseball. I may be biased, but I agree that there is no such place like it! The ballpark has Levi’s Landing, a small seating area in right field that is elevated very high compared to the other fences. It is a tradition to count all the splash hits that are hit over that wall and into the McCovey Cove behind the wall.
The famous Crab Sandwich is to die for at the ballpark with butter garlic bread, and fresh crab from San Francisco Bay. San Francisco’s own Ghirardelli is in the ballpark and serves hot chocolate and several special treats! In addition, the Fabulous Fry Bread stand downstairs by “the garden” in center field has sweet Fry Breads that are so delicious from cinnamon to strawberry and cream. This year, the Giants started off slow, but now they are in the wildcard race!
Some Other Must-Visit Ballparks in the U.S.
Fenway Park is in Boston, home to the Red Sox. This park has been on my bucket list my entire life. The Red Sox are one of the most spirited and followed baseball teams in the MLB and their stadium is the oldest in baseball, built in 1912. Similar to the Giants’ Levi’s Landing, Fenway has the “Green Monster”–a famous giant wall in left field. The park is one of the smallest in baseball and is definitely hitter-friendly.
Wrigley Field is home to the Chicago Cubs. It is the second oldest in Major League Baseball, built in 1914. Fortunately, I have visited multiple times with my dad. Every time is a blast!
Wrigley Field is electric. Cubs fans rival Giants and Red Sox fans in their loyalty, and the spirit at a Cubs game is unmatched! Ivy covers the entire brick fence, and there are bleachers set up on top of buildings just behind the ballpark! If you are a baseball fan, Wrigley Field is a must-visit! I recommend getting to the park to watch batting practice. Anthony Rizzo hits a lot out in right field.
Chicago Food After a Win
Twin Anchors is one of the best restaurants I have ever visited! If you want world-class BBQ, this place is nothing short of heavenly. My dad and I both got the World Famous Baby Back Ribs that comes with one side, sweet coleslaw, and a dill pickle. On the side, I ordered creamed spinach while my dad ordered the baked potato. Of course, we tried all three of their unique sauces: zesty, prohibition, and mild. They all added interesting flavors to the delicious and meaty ribs.
Have you seen a ballgame in the United States? How about elsewhere in the world? What’s your favorite stadium food? Have you seen other sporting events while traveling?
Jack Rasmussen is from Los Gatos, California. He has been creative writing throughout his high school and college career in his advanced English classes. In his Ethics, Justice, and Culture class in high school, he went on a volunteer trip to India and wrote about it for school. In his leadership class in college, he took part in a fundraising marathon and documented it. He’s currently attending the University of Southern California while majoring in Business Administration and minoring in Cinematic Arts.