WHY: “A tour de force.
“Renowned architecture critic Goldberger sets his gaze on the design of Major League Baseball stadiums. The detail of the research, both its breadth and depth, is remarkable, and the author doesn’t limit himself to current stadiums; he also looks at some dating back to the 19th century. Each chapter carries a theme and subthemes as the author demonstrates trends in stadium design, and the volume includes more than 150 illuminating photos scattered throughout the text. He discusses the evolving designs in terms of the quality of the viewing experience for fans, and he evaluates how each stadium shapes the city around it — and is simultaneously shaped by the characteristics of that particular city.
“Goldberger’s touchstone is Camden Yards, the home of the Baltimore Orioles that opened in 1992. It’s clear that the author considers Camden Yards the most exciting stadium ever constructed, and in his opinion, since it was built, it has not been surpassed. In addition to discussing inanimate qualities such as the wood, steel, stone, and concrete of the edifices, Goldberger provides miniportraits of hundreds of men (and a few women) who have owned the baseball teams, influenced the politics of the cities where the stadiums sit, and designed the stadiums in both derivative and original ways. Goldberger is aware that he could have also included ballparks from the minor leagues across the United States, from the now defunct Negro League, and from baseball cultures outside North America. He explains that such inclusivity would have yielded an encyclopedia rather than a smooth narrative, so he set limits on the scope of the book, which is quite impressive in its current form. It will appeal to devoted baseball fans, architecture devotees, and even casual readers.” –KIRKUS, starred review
“Attractive as a coffee-table book, probing as a sociological analysis.”
—Bryce Christensen, in a starred review for BOOKLIST
. . . . .
FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE BOOK:
The game of baseball may not truly be the ultimate American metaphor — the attempts to make it so tend to be exaggerated, sentimental, and mawkish — but the baseball park, the expanse of green that begins beside city streets and appears to extend forever, is. It is not only that it is a “simulacrum of a city,” as A. Bartlett Giamatti, the scholar of literature and baseball who served as both president of the National League and commissioner of baseball, wrote. It is also that it contains a garden at its heart, and as such it evokes the tension between the rural and the urban that has existed throughout American history. In the ballpark, the two sides of the American character — the Jeffersonian impulse toward open space and rural expanse, and the Hamiltonian belief in the city and in industrial infrastructure — are joined, and cannot be torn apart. They no longer represent two alternative visions of the world, as they so often do. In the baseball park, they each need the other. They must coexist. The exquisite garden of the baseball field without the structure around it would be just a rural meadow, bereft not only of the spectators themselves but of the transformative energy they bring. And the stands without the diamond and the out eld would be a pointless construction.