|GREEN MACHINE AT SOUTHERN MISS
|ONE OF JOE'S TOP 25 NCAA BALLPARK EXPERIENCES
have enjoyed reading your Fans Guide that I purchased. Thanks again for the helpful and enjoyable guide." –
Steve, Yukon, Oklahoma
"Thank you so much. What a fun job you
have!! Thanks for all of your advice!" – Krissie, Kansas City, Missouri
“It’s outstanding to see
that Mississippi State is listed 5 on that college stadiums list! Nothin’ like the left field lounge :) Thanks for the
kind words!” – Joe, Mississippi State fan
“Drop a line when
your next visit comes up, we usually cook out and enjoy a few adult beverages and would certainly include you in the festivities.
We may even get you to heckle the centerfielder a bit. And not to boast my own bubble or anything but we usually attract some
nice eye candy as well. We will save you a chair in Left Field.” – Blake, Ole Miss fan
When the calendar turns each year, college
players from Maine to Hawaii begin the "Road to Omaha." Six months later, only eight college teams from around the
U.S. earn the right to play deep in America's heartland.
A Fan's Guide To The Ultimate College Ballpark Experience, available for purchase
at the Buy Joe's Guides page, has all the details to help you plan a trip to one of Joe's "Top 25 Ultimate College Ballpark Experiences,"
plus the post-season NCAA Regionals, College World Series and more. We
also hope you enjoy this collage of collegiate baseball!
TOP 25 NCAA DIVISION I ULTIMATE COLLEGE BALLPARK EXPERIENCES
“Mirror, mirror on the college dorm wall, what are the Top 25 Division I College Ballpark Experiences of them
all?” Just ask Joe Connor, a freelance baseball writer, who has attended hundreds of games at some of the top college
ballparks across the country.
1. Charlie Baum Stadium – Fayetteville,
Ark. (University of Arkansas Razorbacks)
One of the best fan atmosphere’s in the nation, with plenty of tailgating,
the Hogs also boast of the best ballparks in the college fruited plain and some of the best looking Hog women.
2. (New) Alex Box Stadium – Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Louisiana State University Tigers)
Leaders in college baseball
in attendance for 10 straight years, the five-time National Champion Tigers know a thing or two about tailgating, too! A
long-awaited new ballpark opened in ‘09, replacing “Baseball at the Box.”
3. UFCU Disch-Falk Field – Austin, Texas (University of Texas Longhorns)
The six-time National Champions have among
the best fan atmospheres in college baseball. The orange-clad faithful not only take to the seats, but they also tailgate
on party buses beyond the outfield wall. Hook ‘em Horns!
4. Hawks Field
at Haymarket Park – Lincoln, Neb. (Univ. of Nebraska Cornhuskers)
Too cold for baseball this far north? Think again.
Big Red Country packs Hawks Field in a sea on red on a regular basis in a great, quaint ballpark, with an even better fan
5. Dudy Noble Field, Polk DeMent Stadium – Starkville, Miss. (Miss.
Who says trends don’t get started in the South? Back in the 1980s, the ‘Dogs were the first in the SEC
to expand their ballpark, and the “Left Field Lounge” is often imitated but can never be duplicated. A great ballpark
with better fans and one unique atmosphere not to be missed
6. Olsen Field
– College Station, Texas (Texas A&M University Aggies)
Most known for being home of the 12th man, the
Aggie faithful also come out in droves to the diamond in maroon-clad gear, earning strong heckling honors much like Florida
State and Texas Tech’s bunch. They also can tailgate with the best of them like Mississippi State, LSU and Arkansas
as adjacent to the ball yard is a trailer park with hookups for 40 RVs!
Howser Stadium – Tallahassee, Florida (Florida State University Seminoles)
King of heckling in the Atlantic Coast Conference,
the Seminoles boast not just colorful fans, but also a charming ballpark with tradition displayed throughout in both color
8. Doug Kingsmore Stadium – Clemson, South Carolina (Clemson University
Like their ACC rival, the ‘Noles, the Tigers nest can be unpleasant for opponents, with a charged up crowd
donning plenty of orange. But like the ‘Noles, a CWS title still eludes.
9. Eck Stadium,
Home of Tyler Field – Wichita, Ks. (Wichita State Univ. Shockers)
The only non-ACC, SEC or Big 12 School to crack the
coveted Top 10, the Shockers have an awesome following and a unique ballpark with great history and tradition also on display.
From the fans tailgating beyond the outfield walls from foul pole to foul pole to the black and yellow clad fans in the grandstand,
this place has got plenty of atmosphere and character.
10. Carolina Stadium
– Columbia, South Carolina (U. of South Carolina Gamecocks)
Sarge Frye Field put the “C” in “Cozy,”
as ‘Cocks fans packed this old ball yard. A new home opened in '09 with great fan atmosphere. ‘Cocks
traditions make USC a must-see stop in the very fun-filled SEC.
|STORM FRONT COMING: DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS
|HOOK 'EM HORNS FANS TAKE IN THE GAME FROM A PARTY BUS BEYOND THE OUTFIELD IN THE LONE STAR CAPITAL
11. Oxford-University Stadium at Swayze Field – Oxford, Mississippi
(University of Mississippi)
It doesn’t have
a “Left Field Lounge” like rival Mississippi State, and it isn’t the most well designed ballpark, but Ole
Miss offers a unique setting of its own. There’s always solid attendance and a great atmosphere, with fans tailgating
on the outfield hills and students heckling from there, too – the Swayze Crazies.
12. Sewell-Thomas Stadium – Tuscaloosa, Alabama (U. of Alabama Crimson Tide)
Featuring one of the strongest
season-ticket bases in the country, and rabid fans, ‘Bama’s another place to be in the SEC, though its ballpark
design is basic and nothing special. What gives it character is the fans packing this small park, and tailgating big time
Reckling Park – Houston, Texas (Rice University)
Who says college baseball can’t draw in big cities because there are too many other things to do? This prestigious
private university in Houston has less than 3,000 undergrads, yet averages more 4,000 per game! With an intimate, urban
park offering skyline-esque views, it’s no wonder fans pack this ballpark, home of the 2003 National Champs.
14. Pete Taylor Park – Hattiesburg, Miss. (U. of Southern Mississippi Golden
it up and dishing it out, this ball yard is all about the fans that come out year after year to tailgate and cheer on the
Eagles. The “Right Field Roost” is equipped with barbecue grills while the school is equipped with among the most
loyal and enthusiastic fan bases.
15. Turchin Stadium – New
Orleans, Louisiana (Tulane University Green Wave)
The Green Wave are back on campus, as the shiny Turchin Stadium gives them
a home after Hurricane Katrina soaked their fomer pad.
16. McKethan Stadium – Gainesville, Florida (University of Florida Gators)
With the mammoth football
stadium as the left field backdrop, the Gators championship spirit is everywhere, including at the ballpark, which features
a strong fan following validated by the school’s regular place among the nation’s leaders in home attendance.
17. Dan Law Field – Lubbock, Texas (Texas Tech University Red Raiders)
Their former men's hoops coach was
known as “The General” and their ballpark is known as “The Law.” But it’s “The Hecklers”
who you don’t want to mess with because “The Hecklers” mouth always wins. Known throughout
college baseball, they are often imitated, but can never be duplicated.
18. Clark-LeClair Stadium – Greenville, North Carolina (East Carolina University)
Welcome to the Pirates “Jungle”
where Southern hospitality meets Pirate loyalty at a shiny new ballpark. They’re loud, they’re proud and they
help draw close to 3,000 per game.
19. Baylor Ballpark –
Waco, Texas (Baylor University Bears)
A still fairly new ballpark has come with new found success for the only private university in the
Big 12. Incredibly well-designed, the red brick and exposed green steel beams mesh with the other buildings
on Baylor’s attractive campus. The fan atmosphere is also very good.
20. M.L. Tigue Field – Lafayette, LA (University of Louisiana-Lafayette Rajin Cajuns)
It really isn’t much
of a ballpark, but it is one unique place to catch a ballgame because of the fans, mostly alumni – and the food and
drink. Come to pig out and bark out, with the “top row guys,” Vic the Peanut Man, Louisiana barbecue and beer
by the pitcher (yep, they sell brew by the pitcher). If this place ever drew more students, it would climb up the Top 20.
21. Alex Rodriguez Park – Coral Gables, FL (University of Miami Hurricanes)
You can bypass the Marlins
and find a better fan atmosphere at the home of the four-time National Champion ‘Canes where there’s
some noise and plenty of history and tradition.
22. Russ Chandler Stadium –
Atlanta, Georgia (Georgia Tech Univ. Yellow Jackets)
Beware the “Star Wars” theme, which can only mean someone with the
Rambling Wreck is on deck, as their teammates sway their arms from atop the dugout trying to ignite a rally.
23. Goodwin Field – Fullerton, California (Cal-State Fullerton Titans)
Who says all SoCal fans are fair weather?
Ok, so maybe most are, but the Titans mock the stereotype, drawing more than 2,000 per game, and 2,000 knowledgeable and loyal
fans. The four-time National Champions have a strong fan atmosphere, making Goodwin a win-win.
24. Sunken Diamond – Palo Alto, California (Stanford University Cardinal)
Perennial attendance leaders in the Pac-10
and having sent 70 plus players to the Majors, this is also one of the prettiest settings for a game on one of
the nations prettiest and smartest campuses. First opening in 1931, it’s also one of the oldest college ballparks still
Cougar Field – Houston, Texas (University of Houston Cougars)
New York. Boston. St. Louis. How about giving Houston
some TLC as one of America’s best baseball towns? From the Astros to Rice to the Cougars, fans come
out and love baseball. Cougar Field doesn’t draw as well as Rice, but the ballpark on this side of town is still nice.
ALSO RECEIVING VOTES:
(some 15 more schools for a total of 40, in no particular order but for at least one compelling reason or another): University
of Southern California Trojans Dedeaux Field (for its well-designed ballpark, museum down the first base line, record
12 National titles and record amount of players to the Majors – so where are the fans?); Long Beach State Dirtbags
Blair Field (for their Dirtbags nickname and style of play and historic ballpark that once hosted Spring Training);
Pepperdine Waves Eddy Field Stadium (for the view of the Pacific far beyond the outfield – and Pamela
Anderson when she shows up at the home of the 1992 National Champs); Fresno State Bulldogs Pete Beiden Field
(for its good atmosphere, good design and program history on display); Oregon State University Beavers Goss Stadium
(for its quaint, simple design and growing fan base); Arizona State Sun Devils Packard Stadium (for its good
crowds and the program’s rich history); Brigham Young University Cougars Miller Park (for its one of
a kind design, stunning scenery, and loyal fan base); University of Hawaii Rainbows Les Murakami Stadium
(for its great history and uniquely Aloha feel); Oklahoma State Cowboys Allie P. Reynolds Stadium (for the
orange-clad Pokes fans who keep the ballpark lively); University of Oklahoma Sooners L. Dale Mitchell
Ballpark (for its committed core of fans and strong tradition); Notre Dame Fighting Irish’s Frank Eck
Stadium (for a solid crowd and a view in the distance from the first base side across the field of Touchdown Jesus);
Ohio State Buckeyes Bill Davis Stadium (for its sharp design and Buckeyes fans that make it so much fun);
University of North Carolina Tar Heels Bryson Field at Boshamer Stadium (for its tar heel
blue clad fans and revamped ballpark that opened in '09); and Auburn University Tigers Plainsman Park
(for its unique and intimate ballpark design, creating feelings of yesteryear).
How The Rankings Were Calculated: First and foremost, each
of the Top 25 must offer a unique experience – an experience where one exits the ballpark with a big smile and says,
“Now (or Wow), that was fun, that was a little different.” And whether it’s the fan atmosphere, the
ballpark seating or design, or a combination of both, plus history and tradition, these are some of the key qualities that
make up the ones you’ve just got to see with lots of unique character – and why.
Below's a sample of what the
guide looks like when you open it. See the listings on the left hand side (below)? You can click on any team and easily "hop"
to that ballpark, instead of having to scroll past endless pages!
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