After last night’s amazing game at the Field of Dreams, it’s no surprise that people are already clamoring for another one (which they will get). But why stop there? After Iowa and previous games in places like Fort Bragg, Omaha and London, England, as well as the yearly game in Williamsport, why not expand the horizons even more?
Go below the jump for some ideas I have for future games outside of MLB stadiums.
I wrote about the Cape Cod League and how awesome it is back when I had a seeming mental block that prevented me from using its and it’s correctly. Yikes! However, now that we’ve gotten the farmland pastoral view of baseball from Iowa, it’s time for the small town version. Have a game at one of the fields of the Cape Cod League, the glorified high school fields (sometimes literally high school fields) where the top college-age prospects ply their trade for scouts using wooden bats. The best choice would likely be Chatham (which was immortalized in the crummy Freddie Prinze movie Summer Catch and the excellent book The Last Best League). It may seem a longshot that Boston would be willing to give up a home game for it, but they did it for London so perhaps there is a shot after all. LIKELIEST MATCH-UP: Red Sox vs. Athletics (because the Chatham Anglers used to be known as the Athletics and still are often called the A’s).
Yes, Cooperstown was not where baseball was invented. And even if it was (which it isn’t), it’s doubtful that Abner Doubleday would have even been there for it. Yet, that is largely beside the point. For years, MLB teams would play exhibition games at Doubleday Field on Hall of Fame weekend. I myself went to one such game between the Orioles and Blue Jays in the 90s. However, those games didn’t count, and would after one or two innings just become a showcase for minor leaguers. Nowadays, they do an old-timers game instead. But what if? What if they brought back the Hall of Fame Game as an actual regular season game that counted? Have one day game the day before the Hall of Fame inductions (Doubleday Field has no lights), then have the players stay an extra day for the ceremonies themselves. LIKELIEST MATCH-UP: The teams that HOF inductee players were on, or alternately a northeastern team vs. a team that an inductee was on.
The oldest field (whatever it is)
What is the oldest baseball field in the world? It’s actually a question with no real answer. Some say it’s Fuller Field in Clinton, Mass. Others say it’s Labatt Park in London, Ontario. Still others champion Cardines Field or Centennial Field in Vermont or perhaps Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Mass. It’s all a very hard exercise because in many cases the field is the same but the stadium around it has changed, or if it is unclear if the field is in the same place even though they do know it’s in the general area of where it always has been. Regardless, a game at one of the oldest fields in the world could make for a good history lesson and a good game. LIKELIEST MATCH-UPS: Red Sox if in New England, Blue Jays if Ontario. Rickwood Field, another candidate for oldest, is covered below.
Hinchcliffe Stadium and/or Rickwood Field for a Negro League tribute
MLB often talks a big game about the Negro Leagues, including finally recognizing them as Major League in their own right. So why not have a game at one of the few places still standing that actually hosted Negro League games? Hinchcliffe Stadium in New Jersey hosted the New York Black Yankees until 1945. It’s now very run-down and has been in need of heavy renovation for years (although thankfully work is now being done), so it’d be a good PR move for MLB to step in and get it to full power for a game between, say, the Yankees (in Black Yankees garb) and the Royals (in Kansas City Monarchs uniforms) or the Mets (as the New York Cubans) and one of the teams from Negro League hotbeds like DC, Pittsburgh, or Philadelphia.
Or they could have a game in Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama. Not nearly as much renovation would be needed there: the over-100-year-old stadium is still in pretty good shape and still sees use by local amateur teams and even the AA Birmingham Barons for a special game once a year. Perhaps one year the “Rickwood Classic” could take place between MLB teams instead- perhaps an interleague match-up between the Braves (the nearest MLB team) and the White Sox (the Barons’ current parent club)?
As amazing as it sounds, the actual stadium from Bull Durham remains standing, long after the Durham Bulls left it for their jump up to AAA. Give it some new lighting, a better field surface, a bit more temporary seating and bring back the bull and you got another game for Kevin Costner to show up at. LIKELIEST MATCH-UPS: Regional matchup like Braves (Durham’s parent during Bull Durham) vs. Nationals or Rays (Durham’s current parent club) vs. Orioles.
The Midnight Sun
Finally, what is perhaps the most out-there of these: Alaska. To be more specific, Fairbanks. Every summer solstice, there is held the Midnight Sun Game. The local college summer team starts play after 10 p.m. and the game goes on past midnight, without a single light needed since the sun never truly sets.
Imagine how cool it’d be if MLB teams were in it? Sure, it’d be in the middle of the night on the West Coast and pushing early morning on the East Coast, but the idea of a Major League Baseball game starting close to midnight and never needing lights is so bizarre it is almost magical. The LIKELIEST MATCH-UP would probably be West Division teams, like the Mariners vs. A’s.
UPDATE: It appears the Alaska Goldpanners, who are the usual hosts of the Midnight Sun Game, have the same idea.
Could any of these happen? Who knows?! But would they be really cool? Yes!