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5 great baseball stadiums for a late-summer game

By Ashley Strickland, Special to CNN
  • Baseball author shares his favorite stadiums and why they stand the test of time
  • Wrigley Field and Fenway Park are testaments to classic old-time baseball parks
  • Camden Yards, PNC Park and the New Yankee Stadium provide a modern experience

(CNN) -- Growing up in Massachusetts, Joshua Pahigian was an automatic Red Sox fan, and going to Fenway Park was akin to a religious experience, with observed rituals.

"I would always order a sausage outside Fenway Park and wait for batting practice homers to fly over the 'Green Monster,' " said Pahigian, author of "The Ultimate Baseball Road-Trip: A Fan's Guide to Major League Stadiums" and "101 Baseball Places to See Before You Strike Out."

Now, he goes about the stadium experience a little differently. The only hard and fast rule for Pahigian: Never leave early. Staying until the very last out, like his father taught him, has created memories Pahigian will never forget.

He will always cherish seeing the Mo Vaughn-driven Red Sox come back in the ninth inning on Opening Day 1998, but he'd like to erase that time the Sox lost to the New York Yankees, 22-1.

Below, Pahigian shares his favorite stadiums and why you should take in a game at one of these parks.

Fenway Park, Boston

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It comes with the territory of being a Red Sox fan.

"I spent my summers making journeys into Fenway Park as early as 5 years old with my father, later with my college friends and then with my wife," Pahigian said. "I'm prone to favoring older parks, and I love Fenway for that classic ballpark experience."

But Pahigian claims he doesn't let his team allegiance cloud his stadium judgment.

"Before I'm a Red Sox fan, I'm a baseball fan."

New Yankee Stadium, New York

By rights, Pahigian shouldn't like anything associated with the Yankees. But their updated stadium is worthy of admiration, no matter what team colors you bleed.

"They really did an incredible job with that place," Pahigian said. "They spent $1.5 billion, which to me was inconceivable, but it looks amazing. It's really a palace. The façade outside is incredible, and all of the fan amenities and the sightlines are great."

Wrigley Field, Chicago

A fan of old-time parks rich with history, tradition and baseball lore, Pahigian enjoys the ivy-covered walls of Wrigley Field for the traditional experience the stadium offers fans. Like with Fenway Park, taking in a game at Wrigley Field is a must for any baseball fan, just for the honor of sitting in the 98-year-old stadium.

Camden Yards, Baltimore

A newer stadium built in Baltimore in the early '90s, Camden Yards brings together the best of the classic and modern baseball worlds in Pahigian's book.

"There's something to be said for the so-called retroclassic ballparks that try to capture the aesthetics of the old-time yards but meld them with the fan conveniences and modern amenities that people expect," Pahigian said. "This is the one that started the whole trend away from the multipurpose cookie-cutter stadiums and toward the baseball-specific old-time yards."

PNC Park, Pittsburgh

Pahigian likes PNC Park for its potential as a stage for baseball history, along with the current Pittsburgh Pirates roster.

"It's kind of a dark horse, and it's a small park," Pahigian said. "But if the Pirates can have a contending team, I think it's a park that could get the credit it deserves for being pretty well-done."

Exploring baseball lore

If the history of the game is what captivates you most, go on your own treasure hunt for the relics of former stadiums. Pahigian recommends these three quirky locations.

• Venture onto the University of Pittsburgh campus to relive a moment of baseball glory. Although Forbes Field has been replaced with academic buildings, the brick wall where Bill Mazeroski's famous home run beat the Yankees in the 1960 World Series still stands, field markers indicating the feet markings of the outfield. Home plate remains in its original spot, ensconced in the floor beneath glass.

• If you're enjoying a day at the amusement park within the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, look up high next to the log ride. Yes, that's a stadium chair mounted on the wall, in its original location from when the Minnesota Twins' Harmon Killebrew hit the longest home run in old Metropolitan Stadium history.

• In the early 1900s, when the Cleveland Indians were known as the Cleveland Spiders, they played in League Park. "There's still a nice stretch of the old façade standing at the front of the stadium and the ticket office," Pahigian said.

"From the big league parks to the minor league parks to the now-abandoned parks that are standing in part, there are so many wonderful baseball sites out there," Pahigian said.

"Each one, from the nicest brand-new park to the most decrepit minor league yard out there, they all give me a special tingle when I walk through the ballpark gates."