- The Baseball Stadium Insider: A Comprehensive Dissection of All Thirty Ballparks, Legendary Players, and Memorable Moments by Matt Lupica
The sights, sounds, and experiences of professional baseball stadiums have often been celebrated as a right of American sporting passage, as these places serve as architectural representations of the contemporary state of the “national pastime.” Matt Lupica celebrates the character and unique history of each stadium currently hosting Major League Baseball (MLB) teams, recognizing that these “stunning ballparks” are characterized by the confluence of a traditional game within a modern professional context, and engrained with famous and infamous moments and events (413). In The Baseball Stadium Insider, Lupica describes the dimensions, histories, and narratives of the thirty stadiums where professional baseball happens, providing a detailed profile for each ballpark. The depth of information serves to distance this work from other popular texts focused on MLB stadiums, especially the number of books that primarily concentrate on stadium ‘road trips’––instead, Lupica aims to provide a comprehensive guide and factbook, highlighting the particular characteristics of each stadium.
The profiles of each ballpark are organized regionally, rather than by the divisional alignment of MLB, and Lupica begins the description of each stadium with a brief history of how and when it was built. Collected together, these profiles allow the reader to note the present trends in baseball stadium construction. For example, while some stadiums––including Wrigley Field in Chicago and Fenway Park in Boston––remain as current iterations of classic ballparks from a previous era, nearly half of MLB teams play in stadiums built after 2000. Each profile then contains a section on the “Special Features” of the stadium, explaining the specific ways in which that ballpark displays connections to the history of the city, team, and players both past and present. These features also include the unique accommodations and fan-focused amenities that are an integral aspect of the contemporary professional baseball experience, from regionally-based food and drink options to the numerous measures which teams employ to enhance the experience of attending a baseball game. [End Page 85]
Given that Lupica’s aim is to provide a conclusive factual representation of each stadium, it may be outside the purview of this book to engage in a more critical study of the relationship between ballparks, baseball, and other academic themes such as consumerism or urban development. However, this does mean that the author often expresses a view of his topic in a generally favorable and ‘fan-friendly’ tone. For example, while the cost of each stadium is included, the book does not include the often complex and contested process that accompanies facility construction in the case of a stadium like Nationals Park in Washington D.C, or Marlins Park in Miami. Moreover, the complicated history of baseball itself is at times neglected, such as the discussion of Yawkey Way in Boston without mention of longtime Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey’s views and practices in regards to maintaining baseball’s ban on black players. The perspective that Lupica provides may therefore limit the usefulness of this text for scholars engaged in researching stadium construction, but may be useful for those interested in learning or teaching about the particular histories of each stadium. In general, the book serves more as a source for facts and unique stories pertaining to the stadiums for every MLB team, and in this capacity should appeal to fans of baseball and American ballparks.