Baseball stadiums are historical landmarks that have provided millions of fans with unforgettable memories. We put together a list of the five oldest stadiums in America to dig into how these stadiums came into existence and highlight some of the most memorable moments that took place at these legendary ballparks.
Let’s jump in.
RingCentral Stadium is the fifth oldest stadium in Major League Baseball, but it didn’t initially open up as a baseball stadium. When the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum first opened in 1966, it was only a football stadium. The Oakland Raiders were the sole residents of the Coliseum, but that wasn’t for lack of trying by the city of Oakland. There was no baseball team in Oakland when the Coliseum was being built, but the city was floated as a potential landing spot for the then-Cleveland Indians back in 1964.
On September 23, 1964, the Akron Beacon Journal wrote, “The Beacon Journal learned today an Oakland, Cal., group had offered to buy the Cleveland Indians baseball team for $6.5 millions in cash. The offer was predicated on the American League’s approval to transfer the franchise to Oakland.” Ultimately, the owners didn’t sell the team, and they remained in Cleveland.
Also in 1964, Kansas City Athletics owner Charlie Finley attempted and failed to move the Athletics to Oakland shortly after being denied a relocation request to Louisville by his fellow American League owners. After four more years of attempting to move his team out of Kansas City, Finley’s request to relocate was finally approved by American League owners in 1968.
When the Athletics moved to Oakland in 1968, their organization (from the major league team down to their minor league system) was stocked full of talented prospects with star potential. They had Reggie Jackson, Vida Blue, Catfish Hunter and Rollie Fingers who were all on the cusp of becoming superstars. Together, they ended up developing into an unstoppable force, and the Oakland Athletics turned into a dynasty in the 1970s. The A’s won the American League West division title from 1971-1975. On top of that, they won the World Series from 1972-1974.
Check out four of the biggest moments in Oakland Coliseum history.
Oakland A’s win their second straight World Series title
Oakland A’s win their 20th game in a row on a walk-off bomb
Dallas Braden throws a perfect game on Mother’s Day
Oakland A’s play their first game at the Coliseum after relocating from Kansas City
Angel Stadium may be the fourth oldest stadium in Major League Baseball, but its most memorable moments have taken place in the 21st century. The ballpark opened on April 19, 1966, and it took 36 years for the Los Angeles Angels to win the World Series. They always played second fiddle to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Los Angeles/Orange County area, and many folks in the area are confused as to why a team located in Anaheim goes by the “Los Angeles Angels.”
Despite the Angels franchise having a history that pales in comparison to the other teams on this list, the Angels currently boast two of the best players in the world in Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout. Now is the perfect time for the Angels to take over as the dominant team in the LA/OC area and start turning Angel Stadium into a ballpark that hosts more World Series.
Check out four of the biggest moments in Angel Stadium history.
Angels win their first World Series
Angels come back in Game 6 of 2002 World Series
Shohei Ohtani hits a home run in his first game as a pitcher
Mike Trout signs 12 year, $426.5 million extension
Back in the 1950s, the Dodgers were still playing in Brooklyn. However, Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley was unhappy with the city of New York because politician Robert Moses turned down O’Malley’s proposal to build a new stadium in Brooklyn. More specifically, O’Malley wanted Moses to condemn the Brooklyn piece of land for “public purpose” and then sell it to O’Malley for below market value. Also, O’Malley wanted to privately build and own the stadium. In short, O’Malley wanted to maximize his profits and own all of his team’s revenue streams. This conflicted with Moses’ vision of a city-built and city-owned stadium.
In 1956, Los Angeles officials flew to the World Series in hopes of convincing an MLB team to relocate to Los Angeles. They were originally targeting the Washington Senators, but O’Malley surprised them by requesting a meeting with them. Los Angeles promised him what he was looking for in Brooklyn. He would be able to buy land in Los Angeles, own the stadium and own all revenue streams for the Dodgers. To O’Malley, it was a no-brainer, and he moved the Dodgers to the west coast.
In Los Angeles, residents fought tooth and nail to prevent Los Angeles officials from taking over the land that would eventually be used to build Dodger Stadium. This was actually called the Battle for Chavez Ravine. Residents ended up selling their homes and land for below market value. And Los Angeles officials proceeded to sell the land to O’Malley for below market value, so he could build his privately owned stadium.
Despite all the strong-arming by O’Malley, the Dodgers move to Los Angeles ended up being huge for the city. The Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1959 and played at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for three years until Dodger Stadium opened on April 10, 1962. Angelenos quickly fell in love with the Dodgers, and Dodger Stadium is a landmark in Southern California. The stadium hosted 10 World Series and the finals of the 2009 and 2017 World Baseball Classics.
Check out four of the biggest moments in Dodger Stadium history.
Kirk Gibson hits a walk-off home run in Game 1 of 1988 World Series
Sandy Koufax pitches a perfect game
Dodgers win 1963 World Series
Wrigley Field opened up in 1914 as the home of the Chicago Whales of the Federal League. Whales owner Charles Weeghman hired Chicago architecture legend Zachary Taylor Davis to design the ballpark. Davis has been called the “Frank Lloyd Wright of baseball.” In fact, Davis even worked alongside Wright as a draftsman for Louis Henry Sullivan — another architecture legend — who’s famous for coining the saying “form follows function.” When Davis started designing the ballpark for Weeghman, he was coming off the heels of designing the Chicago White Sox stadium, Comiskey Field, just across town.
When the stadium opened in 1914, it was named Weeghman Park after the Whales owner. However, just one year after Weeghman Park opened its doors, the Federal League ceased operations, and the Chicago Whales were shut down. Weeghman acted fast to fill the brand-new stadium. He partnered with William Wrigley Jr. — owner of the world-famous gum company — to buy the Chicago Cubs for $500,000 from Charles J. Taft, and they promptly moved their new Major League Baseball team from the broken down West Side Grounds to Weeghman Park. The Cubs played their first game at Weeghman Park on April 20, 1916.
In 1918, William Wrigley took over controlling interest in the Cubs, and by 1919, Weeghman sold all of his stake in the Cubs to Wrigley. At that point, fans began referring to the stadium as Cubs Park. In 1922, Wrigley hired Davis to renovate and expand the stadium. With his vision firmly imprinted on the Cubs and their ballpark, Wrigley officially changed the name of the stadium to Wrigley Field in 1926.
The legendary, ivy-covered brick wall in Wrigley Field’s outfield wasn’t part of the stadium when it first opened. The ivy was introduced by Bill Veeck in 1937 after he saw ivy on the walls at Perry Stadium in Indianapolis. At the time, Veeck’s dad was the Cubs president, and the younger Veeck went on to become an owner of the Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Browns and cross-town rival Chicago White Sox.
In its 109 year history, Wrigley Field hosted seven World Series. There was a well-known 71-year drought between World Series appearances for the Cubs between 1945 and 2016. The Cubs won one World Series during the time at Wrigley Field, which happened in 2016 — 102 years after the ballpark opened up.
On September 23, 2020, Wrigley Field was recognized by the United States government as one of the 2,600 total National Historic Landmarks in the country.
Check out four of the biggest moments in Wrigley Field history.
Cubs win Game 5 of 2016 World Series
Kerry Wood strikes out 20
Ernie Banks hits 500th home run
Fenway Park is undoubtedly the most legendary ballpark in the MLB. Even non-baseball fans are familiar with the Green Monster.
Fenway Park opened in 1912, and it’s been the home of the Boston Red Sox ever since. It’s wild to think about how the Red Sox have called Fenway its home for more than a century.
In 1911, Red Sox owner John I. Taylor put his plan for Fenway Park in motion. He bought land in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston and started construction. He claimed that the park was named after the neighborhood, but Taylor was also a partial owner of the Fenway Realty Company at the time. As a result, it was widely speculated that Taylor named Fenway Park after his realty company as a way to provide free marketing for his business.
The World Series has been played at Fenway Park 11 times over the past 111 years. Baseball legends Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski have called Fenway Park their home ballpark.
Check out four of the biggest moments in Fenway Park history.
Carlton Fisk’s walk-off in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series
Ted Williams honored at 1999 All-Star Game
Game 4 of 2004 ALCS
Game 5 of 2004 ALCS
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