Number 1 Major League Stadium and Number 1-A
I am down to my top ranked major league stadium of yesteryear. The suspense is over, and this is very exciting for me. First, a spoiler alert – for people who do not like those who pat themselves on the back, this article is not for you. I have waited 16 mostly excruciating major league stadiums in my countdown to do a little bragging if you will. A quick reminder is necessary – the primary criterion for beauty is how I played in the stadium. Even ugly places seem pretty, when the experience creates attractive daydream memories, with never a nightmare of those places. Even though the external and internal beauty of the remaining stadiums had passed them by, assuming they were once good-looking, my memories of them are heavenly because I played splendidly in them.
There has been one minor glitch, hinted at above as a while ago; I realized I miscounted and have two stadiums left. However, the more I thought of it, the more fate must have taken grip, as both remaining stadiums deserve top billing, and I will make that case below.
Kingdome, Seattle – #1 Ranked Major League Stadium
My original thinking had the Kingdome in Seattle, as by far the most stunning place in my career. I know it was kind of ugly and generic, and I believe baseball should be an outdoor game. Natural grass and fresh air, with nature and city surroundings adding to the experience, is baseball. The Kingdome was neither outside nor natural; however, for me, it holds scenic memories, befitting the picturesque city of Seattle itself.
The most charming memory of the Kingdome is that I played most of the Mariner games in 1984, and 1985, which is a huge accomplishment, as performance at that level is always a “what have you done for me lately” proposition for non-star players. Another handsome memory was being part of a new generation of young Mariners. With the likes of Alvin Davis, Mark Langston, Spike Owen, Dave Henderson, and many others, we were setting out to conquer the American League. All other major league teams I played for were veteran teams, which definitely played on my confidence levels, feeling an intimidation from that.
A very quaint memory came about at the end of a steady season in 1984, when I was in a position to tie or break the Mariner record for hits at 180. I tied the record at 180 on the final day of the season with a double against Tom Seaver, yes the great one. When I look back on my personal major league accomplishments, although few, it is that plate appearance which springs to mind, as if it happened yesterday.
Maybe my most appealing major league recollection occurred in the Seattle Kingdome and happened as a non-member, when I returned as a Chicago White Sox to play the Mariners. Before my first at-bat in my first game back in Seattle, I received an enthralling, beyond-the-normal ovation, in appreciation for my time spent with the Mariners. That experience made every sacrifice, practice, sweat, and tears from the time I walked into the next stadium (below) seem worth it.
My Mariner days provided the peace of mind that all player’s search for, of knowing they truly deserved to be a major league player. My previous big league teams had me wondering and worried that peace may never arrive, but my Mariner days proved I was a capable major league player, even though it proved to be a short-lived.
My proudest days as a major leaguer came in the Kingdome, capped off by having my firstborn, Matthew, on the field with me on family day. It was a sad day for me when they imploded the Seattle Kingdome on March 26, 2000. In my baseball mind, it was the Smithsonian – a Perconte’ baseball Treasure, and the home of my only two majestic major league home runs.
#1A Ranked Major League Stadium of Yesteryear – Comiskey Park
When I was six years old, my dad took me to the Chicago White Sox game at Comiskey Park, the nearest major league stadium from my home in Joliet IL. I believe that is the day my dream of playing in the big leagues began. So impressionable at that age, I remember walking into the game, as an avid Chicago White Sox fan, and leaving it as a devout New York Yankee fan. Yes, the Yanks were that good back in the day, but that is beside the point. To play many years later on the same field as the past and present White Sox greats, and Yankee greats, gives Comiskey Park, or White Sox Park, or Old Comiskey Park, (all the same place), status as co number one on my list of most beautiful stadiums of yesteryear.
Besides having the breathtaking opportunity to play in front of family and hometown friends, along with being a member of the White Sox for a short spell in 1986, my games there were not super memorable, suggesting my play there was mediocre. Ironically, one of my best memories of playing in Comiskey Park was of Tony La Russa, the great White Sox manager and 2014 Hall of Fame inductee, pitching out twice in one at-bat to try to nail me on a steal attempt. Fortunately, I ran neither pitch, but that show of respect for my base stealing ability is a priceless memory for Jack Perconte – I told you I would brag in this, so just throwing in a little third person talk at you.
Of course, none of those memories is that significant to warrant co-number one most beautiful stadium status. Finding out I hit .303 in Comiskey as a visiting player, which totally surprised me as my recollection was of struggling there, helps, but is not enough to make it number one, either. The following justifies it all. I wore number 42 for the White Sox as a member of the team in 1986. Yes, the same number as a friend and former White Sox great Ron Kittle, but most noteworthy, it was obviously the number – since retired by all of major league baseball – of Jackie Robinson. Having pictures of me wearing “42” in the White Sox uniform – so stunning – and the icing on the #1 ranking stadium cake.
I cannot say the day was sad for me when they tore Old Comiskey Park down, as the anticipation of a new White Sox stadium prevented the tears, but a touch of sadness exists thinking of how few major league stadiums I played in are still around today.
This ranking ends the countdown and maybe someday, I can write of my most beautiful stadiums of today, but I have a lot of them to see first. Finally, here is the official countdown of the beautiful stadiums of yesteryear. Of course, they were all beautiful, as it was the major leagues, some were just prettier than others were. You can find all the stadium reviews here. Apologies to Rangers Stadium and Oakland Coliseum, also forgotten on my list.
#17 Cleveland Municipal
#16 Astrodome Houston
#15 Candlestick San Francisco
#14 The Metrodome – Minneapolis
#13 Milwaukee County Stadium
#12 Tiger stadium Detroit
#11 Atlanta Fulton County
#10 Exhibition Stadium Toronto
#9 Jack Murphy San Diego
#8 Big A – Anaheim
#7 Fenway Park
#6 Yankee Stadium
#4 Dodger Stadium
#3 Baltimore Memorial
#2 Royals Stadium
#1A Comiskey Park