Big league ball parks are special places. They come in all shapes and sizes and are almost always a direct reflection of their community.
The best of them usually expose the heart and soul of a place and the people who regularly visit them.
Ballparks have always fascinated me. During high school, I would sit in class and sketch layouts for ballparks. That probably explains a lot about where I am today.
Over the last two decades, I have visited more than a dozen stadiums across the country -- and even one in Canada. It's not an obsession, more a passion.
Sunday afternoon we saw a Detroit Tigers game in Comerica Park. Great place. Great game. Tigers won their eighth in a row, 3-2 over the White Sox. Tonight, I will add another park to the list as we watch the Reds play Oakland in Cincinnati's Great America Ball Park.
The park in Cincinnati will be the 12th one I have visited since going to Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium in the early 1980s. The list includes: Fulton County Stadium, Turner Field, Baltimore's Camden Yard, old Yankee Stadium, Boston's Fenway Park, Montreal's Olympic Stadium, San Diego's Petco Park, Chicago's Wrigley Field, new Yankee Stadium, Milwaukee's Miller Park and Comerica Park.
Only once have I taken a trip designed specifically to see baseball games. In 1997, along with colleagues Richard Hyatt, Jim Houston and Jerry Gibson, we did a five-city tour that started in Baltimore and ended in Boston with stops in New York, Boston, Montreal and Cooperstown.
The "Ton of Fun Tour," we called it. That had has much to do with the girth of the traveling party as it did with the trip.
The rest of the time, I catch a game if I happen to be in a particular city during baseball season. This is the best way to do it in my opinion. Baseball should be woven into life, not the sole reason for it.
Over the weekend, we moved my daughter to Detroit. After a few days of helping her get adjusted to a new place, Sunday afternoon proved to be the perfect time for a break — and a ballgame. I'll take the Detroit weather on Aug. 4 over Atlanta any day. It was 69 degrees at first pitch.
Detroit as a city is harsh and ragged, but Comerica is anything but. Of the new parks, it is the best one I have seen. Great sight lines, lots going on all around you. A great way to spend an afternoon.
And the Tigers play a quality brand of baseball.
As much as I love the new parks, the old ones, like the original Yankee Stadium, Fenway and Wrigley, are what it is all about. The new ones try and capture the best of the old ones, and more times than not they strike out.
Baseball is better played in a museum like Fenway Park.
But those places are all but history. What we have left attempts to replicate them. I can't wait to see the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
We'll see if it lives up to its name.