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Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Tradition, poetry and beauty mark our nation's ballparks.
stadium

Each major league baseball stadium makes a unique contribution to the national pastime. With apologies to the jilted, we dub the following:

Most Traditional (American League): Boston's 85-year-old Fenway Park, built in an irregular shape to keep folks in the neighborhood from watching Red Sox games for free. The "Green Monster" leftfield wall stands 37 feet high, turning homeruns into long singles.

Most Traditional (National League): The Chicago Cubs' 93-year-old Wrigley Field, with ivy-covered walls and "bleacher bum" fans who started the custom of throwing the visiting team's homerun balls back onto the field.

Most Poetic: The Tampa Bay Devil Rays' Tropicana Field, where the dome ceiling is considered part of the sky. If a batted ball bounces off the ceiling and is caught on the fly, it's an out.

Most Unappreciated: Toronto's Rogers Centre, with a 348-room hotel in center field and an 11,000-ton retractable roof so cool that players show up early to watch it in motion. Unfortunately, the stadium has tended to feature retractable fans as well.

Best Fireworks Show: Angel Stadium of Anaheim, where "Big Bang Friday" dazzles like a Fourth of July finale set to music.

Biggest Abandonment Issue: New York fans have only a couple more years to enjoy Yankee Stadium, the 84-year-old "House that Ruth Built," before the winners of 26 World Series move into the "new Yankee Stadium."

Best New Stadium: The San Diego Padres' Petco Park, opened in 2004, was designed in a tight bowl so that its 42,000 seats seem to loom out over the field.

Most Beautiful: The San Francisco Giants' AT&T Park, with its classic architecture, spectacular views, and larger-than-life entryway statue of the legendary Willie Mays. Just outside the stadium lies McCovey Cove, an arm of San Francisco Bay where fans in kayaks pluck homerun balls from the water.

At most ballparks, tickets range from $9 to $110 and up. For a stadium near your home -- or one you might come upon in your travels -- see MLB.com, click on a team, and follow the link to the stadium website.

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CeReality: 5 Families, 5 Stories, 1 Critical Meal

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