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Ballpark: Baseball in the American City

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  419 ratings  ·  85 reviews
An exhilarating, splendidly illustrated, entirely new look at the history of baseball: told through the stories of the vibrant and ever-changing ballparks where the game was and is staged, by the Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural critic.

From the earliest corrals of the mid-1800s (Union Grounds in Brooklyn was a "saloon in the open air"), to the much mourned parks of the
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published May 14th 2019 by Knopf Publishing Group
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Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
This is the first book I ever read that started as a five star book and ended as a two star book. The last five chapters should be reduced to one chapter because the author repeats himself until the end of the book.
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've been to all 50 of the current MLB ballparks (as of Fall 2018, including the newest SunTrust Park in Atlanta). I've read a little bit about some ballparks and even wrote a landscape architecture paper during my undergraduate years on Dodger Stadium: "The Taj Mahal of Baseball." I have read a fair amount about the classic turn-of-the-century urban ballparks, the "concrete doughnuts" built for football and baseball stadiums of the postwar era, and the renaissance of retro ballparks following t ...more
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was custom-designed to catch my fancy--and it did. It is a straightforward account of developments in American baseball parks, occurring mostly in four major eras:

that of classic ballparks like Forbes, Wrigley, Navin (Tiger Stadium), Crosley, and Fenway;

tragic replacement of many of those with cookie-cutters such as in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, etc. (or domes in Houston, Minneapolis, Toronto);

the rebirth of classic ballpark design beginning in Baltimore
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fascinating trip through time on the evolution of baseball park architecture, and its changing relationship to the surrounding urban environment. My appreciation colored somewhat by the fact that Goldberger seems to love Camden Yards as much as I do. Also influencing my opinion is the random factoid that the story of the "modern" ballpark has origins heavily rooted in the development of Sportsman's Park in St. Louis where I attended my first major league game back in 1965 (for the record the res ...more
Jarrod S
Mar 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports, art
"the ballpark has always been a privately owned form of public space, and it has worked, in part, because it sits within the larger sphere of the real city."

Public vs. private, rural vs. urban, real city vs. imitated city-- these are the major tensions that inform Goldberger's history of American ballparks. It's also a history of cities and architecture and sports writ large. There are four distinct periods of the American ballpark, and are written clearly and persuasively. There can be a lot o
Todd Stockslager
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
Review title: Jeffersonian Sport in Hamiltonian Spaces

Baseball has been romanticized through its history as not only America's sport but as reflecting the rural roots of the country. Yet it grew up in the biggest 19th century cities and from its roots in the game of "town ball" and came to be played in ever larger and more elaborate stadiums. Paul Goldberger is an architecture writer and critic who brings that view to the stadiums we celebrate as ballparks, literally "ball parks", parks where th
Jim Cooper
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports, baseball
This looks like a coffee table book, and in a way, it is - there are tons of great pictures and drawings. But don’t be fooled - there is a lot of great baseball history writing in here.

Really enjoyed it.
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Paul Goldenberger, a teacher and writer about architecture has written a very readable book on the evolution of baseball parks throughout the history of the game. He favors a natural urban environment for locating stadiums.

He traces a number of earlier parks such as, Ebbets, Wrigley and Fenway as classics then and now. Well Ebbets is gone and the area around Wrigley is becoming less urban and more like an amusement park. He bemoans parks built in the 70’s in Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Pittsbu
Dec 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An essential work on the history of baseball. I never gave much thought to the integration of baseball stadia (or stadia devoted to other sports, for that matter) into their settings. This book really added a whole new dimension to my appreciation of baseball and what makes the sport part of the American fabric. I love all the photographs. I wish I could go back in time and visit Shibe Park in Philadelphia, Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, and the Palace of the Fans in Cincinnati.

Two quick minor nega
Bryan Alkire
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a good modern updated history of baseball parks. It moves along and is organized by decade or seminal parks. The writing is readable, though the thrust of the book is through the pictures…I’m blind, but the text sufficed, though the book probably does lose richness without the pictures. The analysis is probably the weakest point of the book. I’m not sure I read anything here that I haven’t heard before in other baseball contexts and focus. The squalid beginnings, the idiosyncrasy of the ...more
Nathan Hipple
Mar 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really loved this one. I like history, I like architecture, and I like baseball. This book was an easy pick and it didn't disappoint. My only real complaint is that I would've liked more pictures (and there was already a decent amount). I have little familiarity with early ballparks that were bulldozed before I was even alive so a lot of the first half of the book didn't really stick with me. There were beautiful descriptions, but some drawings or any sort of graphic would've made a world of d ...more
Alex Abboud
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book. Goldberger’s writing is excellent, and charts the development of ballparks over the past 150 years in parallel to how we view cities. Many enjoyable stories and anecdotes, and excellent archival photography throughout.
Steve Rice
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A great survey of MLB ballparks from the beginning of the game to the present ballparks. He puts in context how the ballpark has evolved as changes in urban life, transportation, architecture, and the game itself have evolved over time. A fun read.
Mike Weston
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Crazy fantastic book combining insights into my loves of baseball, urban development and architecture into one book. Just the book I needed.
Chris Coelman
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: baseball
Excellent overview of the history of Major League ballparks throughout the US.
Tim Soerens
Jun 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure if I've ever had so much fun reading a book in the summertime. If you love baseball, cities, or both you must read this brilliantly composed book
Shirl Kennedy
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. If you are interested in baseball, urbanism, and/or architecture, you will find something to enjoy here. Lots of well-chosen photos to look at, and an extensive Notes section and index. I was going to pass this book along to my younger son when I was finished, but I found that I could not let it go, so I bought another copy to give to him.
Jun 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent review of baseball history through the lens of the evolution of ballpark architecture. Goldberger shows how, despite its rural mythology, baseball is inextricably an urban game.
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: baseball
Ballpark looks at the historical and social development of baseball's ballparks over history. I liked the sole approach at the ballpark itself, something that I haven't come across before, and it was fascinating to see factors like sport/environment/economics/politics all interacted to produce ballparks. For that, I very very much appreciated what this book offered, primarily why I'm ranking it so high.

Goldberger clearly has his idea of what constitutes a good ballpark, and any features that fa
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book, though more of the early chapters than the later chapters. Recommended for fans of baseball, architecture or both.
Marty Monforte
Nov 19, 2019 rated it liked it
There is nothing quite like going to a baseball game in person. The sights and sounds of the ball park cannot be duplicated. The sights and sounds of the ballpark make an impression on the person who attends the game. Every ballpark has it's own history and story. Every ballpark was a witness to memorable games and historic performances.

I have always enjoyed watching sports in person. The excitement of being present at a sporting event is difficult to match. Being in a professional baseball stad
Dan Trefethen
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays, baseball
This book is a 5-star book for baseball fans, urban designers, and architects. For everyone else...why are you reading this?

There are many books about ballparks, both collectively and singly, but Paul Goldberger is probably the most influential critic of architecture (New York Times and The New Yorker) over the past 30 years and brings a unique perspective. As he says in the acknowledgements, he wanted to tie “the idea of a place to watch sports with the idea of public space...[and that] a place
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I didn't realize I was a fan until I started reading. This is a great assessment of baseball stadiums throughout history, sprinkled with wonderful graphics and snippets of baseball history. For instance, Iowan cornfields had nothing to do with the birth of baseball, and the Dodgers were originally known as the Trolley Dodgers back in their Brooklyn days!

My only lament is that this book is too short, as PG readily admits - there are other stadiums that he would have liked to include from the mino
Michael Webb
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an unexpectedly grounded architectural history of ballparks. I wouldn't have thought that a topic like this could be of any interest to someone with more generalist sensibilities, but Goldberger's text manages to maintain a breezy pace with plenty of photos to illustrate his points.

Roughly speaking, he follows a chronological approach and looks at how ballparks evolved from being basic, rudimentary, city-centered affairs to soulless multi-purpose facilities, retro, and then, most recentl
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I bought the book for a friend for Father’s Day and skimmed it. But, that skimming got me immersed and I read the whole thing. It was wonderful. It is a story of the history of baseball’s stadiums. Why the are built, who built them, and how good and bad they are. It is very informative and well written. Of course, I love that Pittsburgh’s PNC Park is reviewed so favorably. It is a lovely park and Pittsburgh got it right. This book expanded my knowledge and interest - which the best books do. I n ...more
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was a joy to read, as it took a subject so many have written about- baseball stadiums - and addressed it from a unique point of view. It’s a book about architecture and urban public space, and it explores the ways in which major league ballparks have occupied that urban space. Ballparks and cities have had so many varied and amazing relationships, and the author takes us in a journey from the mid-19th century parks all the way to plans for 21st century ballparks not yet built. The main ...more
Jack Barrett
Aug 27, 2019 rated it liked it
all parks are not equal. evolution of the park with analysis. past and future. history and forecasts.
John Davis
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Ballpark, by Paul Goldberger; Alfred A. Knopf: New York; $35.00 hardback

A wise professor once said, "Look at a country's great public buildings to see who they think they are." And so Ballpark, Baseball in the American City, reveals this observation to be quite true. Paul Goldberger, Pulitzer Prize winning architectural writer, New Yorker magazine architecture contributor, and educator, tells us how and why we have the ballparks we have today.

Baseball became a major public sport in the late ni
Greg Thomas
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was really looking forward to this book and judging by how quickly I read it, clearly I enjoyed it. It did give me a lot of thoughts, however, so I thought I would share some. First off, his research and historic knowledge of baseball and its stadiums is impressive. That's really what I wanted to get out of this book. To learn more about the historical context of these parks and how they mirrored the history of the game itself. The author achieved this I think it's fair to say. My heart litera ...more
Zach Koenig
Sep 10, 2019 rated it liked it
I think that all baseball fans harbor a certain fascination for the ballparks in which the game is played. While technically the bases are the same distance apart, the mound is the same number of paces from home plate, and the foul lines frame the field the same at each park, they are each very unique in their dimensions, architecture, and importance to the host city. Author Paul Goldberger covers all of this in “Ballpark”.

What one must first know about “Ballpark” is that it is absolutely no cof
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Paul Goldberger, who the Huffington Post has called “the leading figure in architecture criticism,” is now a Contributing Editor at Vanity Fair. From 1997 through 2011 he served as the Architecture Critic for The New Yorker, where he wrote the magazine’s celebrated “Sky Line” column. He also holds the Joseph Urban Chair in Design and Architecture at The New School in New York City. He was formerly ...more

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