First game: July 3, 2023 (Marlins 5, Cardinals 4)
When Aaron told me he wanted to go to Miami for his 12-year-old trip, I asked for only one promise. Usually, the 12-year-old
So, for the first time since 2006 (when I made it to the new Busch Stadium), I am complete again. (Not my life. My life is already delightful and complete. But in an MLB ballpark sense.)
I was probably biased against loanDepot park (gross name) before I got there simply because of my bias against indoor
This was the first fully-enclosed ballpark (even temporarily fully-enclosed) that I have legitimately liked on its own merits. It’s not a good ballpark for an indoor ballpark. It’s a good ballpark, period.
I wish I were more of an expert on architecture so I could articulate exactly what I found beautiful about the park. Something
What marked me most about this ballpark was how successful the windows to the outside were. Yes, I know there are windows in Arizona and Milwaukee, but there is nothing to see outside those windows. When Aaron and I approached out section between home and first–I splurged for good seats since this was me completing my full 30 MLB parks again–I looked up and was amazed.
The iconic Miami skyline displayed itself for the entire length of that window. I could look up from the game to see that wonderful set of skyscrapers. They were visible, and they were beautiful. And they lead Miami to pass that “is there any question where you are” test.
Beyond that, the Marlins manage to celebrate baseball. The Marlins Museum had tons of cool paraphernalia from their 30 years as a franchise, and–this is critical–their two World Series trophies. If a team earns a World Series trophy, it belongs to the entire city’s fans and needs to be displayed where any fan can see it. (I’m talking to everybody, but I’m looking at you, Minnesota Twins.) I also get to remember Marlins from Conine to Johnson to Suzuki to Chisholm. Whoever put together that museum did a beautiful job.
Better, somehow, was what might be one of the world’s largest collection of bobbleheads. I went up expecting to see Marlins bobbleheads, including the A.J. Burnett bobblehead I got on my first visit to a Marlins game in 2005. However, they went way beyond that. There are bobbleheads from all of the teams available, and since they are organized in a loosely-organized way, I got to Remember Some Guys from my beloved Mariners as well as other teams.
I didn’t eat adventurously–had a flight home the next day–but I was impressed that they had a way to order at your seat and pick up the food. The bad news is that they didn’t do a good job of that. Aaron went to pick up some popcorn and soda we ordered, and…well, I will let him tell you what happened. His words follow.
We hit this ballpark during a really fun 2023 season for the Marlins: Luis Arraez was flirting with .400 (saw him hit a leadoff single) and the team had a rock-solid record and appeared on their way to a wild card berth. The crowd was pretty bustling. It felt like more than the 19 thousand and change that was announced. I think some of this is because the Marlins had closed
The game was a banger, and Aaron put it really well: “This ballpark is like Miami: it’s a party.” It felt LOUD–much louder than
And we did get a chance to get the roof and windows open because it was fireworks night. After the game, we watched them gradually expose us to the not-quite-as-hot-now-after-sunset Miami air. I liked that. After sunset, the view of the Miami skyline through the window was no longer there: the reflections of the lights from inside were too great for me to see the lights of
If you had told me going into the night that I would be ranking an indoor ballpark in my top ten, I would never had believed you. But Miami’s sense of fun and architectural beauty win the day. I’d have to say this is a really underrated place. And I say that as a guy who has now been to all the major league parks again.
BASEBALL STUFF I’VE SEEN HERE:
Yuli Gurriel has the biggest hit of the night: a 7th-inning pinch-hit two-run double that tied up the score and spoiled a great outing by Cardinals pitcher Miles Mikolas. Nick Fortes then singled to score pinch-runner Jon Berti, and the Marlins had a win.
Tanner Scott, whom I figured was due for great things when I saw him slinging 100-mile-an-hour stuff for Bowie in Akron in 2017, nails down the 8th inning for the Marlins before A.J. Puk gets the save.
Willson Contreras homers on a positive moon shot: 39-degree launch angle!
By the way, this is that sculpture that I found so ugly. I am glad they moved it outside; it feels like it belongs there more. Aaron has pointed out that the colors have been bleached significantly since: he wants you to compare the colors in the photo above to colors in earlier times found here.
All photos by Paul Hamann except photos of Ichiro locker, trophies, crowd, banner, BP from 3B side, crates, and sculpture by Aaron Hamann.