Alongside hot dogs and more nachos than you can imagine, the gatekeepers to America’s pastime actually do as good a job of entertaining spectators as feeding them. To demonstrate this point, we have put together a list of the most eccentric and wacky events that you probably won’t believe take place during a live televised sporting event in front of thousands of people.
PNC Park – Pittsburgh Pirates
The most recent development to attract headlines involves innovative use of the latest technology. PNC Park, the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team, underwent a range of renovations costing millions of dollars in recent months. One of them was a huge 11ft high and 136ft wide LED screen. Besides posting live updates from games across the country, the LED screen can also incorporate a game of Super Mario Bros. for one lucky fan. The selected spectator has to literally run sideways and jump upwards to head-butt boxes to collect items. Who thought playing a video game could be such an exhausting workout?
Nationals Park – Washington Nationals
The nation’s capital, Washington, plays up to its deeply historical nature at Nationals Park. Likenesses of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, replete with giant foam caricature heads, participate in a race around the stadium. The running joke is that Theodore Roosevelt consistently fails to win, with the reasons for his losses ranging from attempting to tweet while racing, to being tripped by a man dressed as a shark.
AT&T Park – San Francisco Giants
Perhaps the most picturesque stadium in all of Major League Baseball, AT&T Park perches right on the cusp of San Francisco Bay. Because of the proximity to the water, home runs often land with a splash into the affectionately named McCovey Cove. This invariably leads to a comical scramble between several kayakers rapidly paddling to claim the home run ball. Another two reasons that make the home of the Giants so distinctively American are the giant Coca Cola bottle and classic baseball glove that loom over the stands.
Miller Park – Milwaukee Brewers
The final example takes us to the home of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team – Miller Park. Up until recently, whenever a Milwaukee player hit a home run, the mascot – Bernie Brewer, already perched high above the outfield in preparation, would vault down a slide into a pool of beer. I’m sure the sponsorships from Miller forced Bernie to insist the pool was refreshingly cold but I can’t help but harbour a sneaking suspicion that a heating pump was somehow involved. This seems hard to believe by modern standards, but if anyone can be forgiven for encouraging copious alcohol consumption – the Milwaukee Brewers can. After all, they are called the Brewers and they play in Miller Park.
Despite their wild and wacky eccentricities, you can’t doubt how thoroughly entertaining baseball stadiums can be. Wembley looks comparatively tame entertainment-wise. But perhaps the excessive entertainment is just a means of off-setting the comparatively lethargic pace of baseball?
Which stadium would be first on your list to visit?