2004 Four Score and Six Years Hence

Down three games to none in the ALCS against the archrival New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox launch themselves on an unprecedented comeback before that erases nearly a century of cursed frustration.

Dave Roberts’ ninth-inning steal—and his ensuing run that tied the New York Yankees in Game Four of the ALCS—was initially considered nothing more than a measure of respect for a Boston Red Sox team simply trying to avoid a sweep. It instead became the spark that ignited a remarkable—and unprecedented—comeback.

It was a turning point worthy of the most implausible Popeye episode. There were the Boston Red Sox, playing the role of the Sailor Man, weakened, bruised and beaten to the absolute edge of extinction from the New York Yankees, portraying Brutus—the belligerent adversary who had earlier won over and stolen away the Olive Oyl in the cast: Superstar Alex Rodriguez.

Never in baseball history had a team come back to win a postseason series after falling behind three games to nothing. Worse for the Red Sox, they trailed in the ninth inning of ALCS Game Four, facing a virtual automatic in Yankees closer Mariano Rivera.

Brutus never looked to have it easier.

Who knew if and where the Red Sox would get a hold of the proverbial spinach. Maybe it would come in the form of the ritual pre-game shots of Jack Daniels, or a wake-up slap in the face from the crisp New England fall weather, or maybe it would just be a sudden, volcanic release of 86 years’ worth of frustration.

But the jolt of fighting life would be delivered, and it electrified the Red Sox—igniting them on an incredible comeback that never dimmed until the season was over. It all capped a calendar year in which the team’s highs and lows continually made national sports headlines.

Tormented by their tough seven-game ALCS loss to the Yankees in 2003, the Red Sox engaged in a fierce offseason battle of talent build-up with other American League East rivals that dwarfed all other wintertime free agent activity taking place in baseball. Boston had already signed closer Keith Foulke, was about to snare tenacious pitcher Curt Schilling away from Arizona, and set its eyes on the winter’s grand prize: Alex Rodriguez.

The all-world shortstop was as frustrated trying to win in Texas as the modestly budgeted Rangers were frustrated trying to build a solid roster around his annual $25 million salary. So Rodriguez and the Rangers mutually agreed to part, and the Red Sox quickly stormed in to make a deal. By Christmas, they thought they had one, ready to ship troublesome star slugger Manny Ramirez to Texas in exchange for Rodriguez—who was willing to reduce his unmatched wages to play for a contender. The problem was, the powerful players’ union wasn’t willing to accept the pay dive as precedent and nixed the deal. The Red Sox, wincing at the thought of paying Rodriguez’s current salary, folded away from negotiations.

As it always had been since 1918, the Red Sox’ loss became the Yankees’ gain.

New York owner George Steinbrenner had continually proved that no player was too expensive to fit into Yankee pinstripes. The team had already ballooned its budget by acquiring stars in pitcher Kevin Brown and outfielder Gary Sheffield, and even though it had future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter situated at shortstop, that didn’t deter it from pursuing Rodriguez in the wake of the Red Sox’ failed attempt. Within weeks, the Yankees successfully completedThe Rangers, who received talented second baseman Alfonso Soriano in the trade, agreed to annually pay the Yankees $7 million of Rodriguez’s salary for the balance of his contract. their own deal for Rodriguez, who kept his current salary, moved to third base to accommodate Jeter, and gave the Yankees a roster with All-Star value at virtually every position—all at a payroll cost approaching a whopping $200 million, nearly twice that of the next highest team: The Red Sox.

As the 800-pound Yankee gorilla grew larger, there were other problems just as prominent—and more internal—in Fenway Park. Manny Ramirez felt unwanted not only in the wake of the collapsed Rodriguez deal, but also after the Red Sox had placed him and his $20 million salary on waivers (there were no takers). And the Rodriguez plot also rubbed wrong on incumbent All-Star shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, who sensed his days in Boston were numbered even after Rodriguez became a Yankee.

Boston catcher (and team captain) Jason Varitek sticks it to Alex Rodriguez during a July game at Fenway Park, after Rodriguez yelled at Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo for hitting him. Six months earlier, Rodriguez appeared headed to Boston before the players’ union vetoed the trade.

Piloted on the field by mild-mannered, first-year manager Terry Francona, the Red Sox progressed through the 2004 season once again playing second fiddle to the Yankees. Trailing New York by as much as ten games, the Red Sox’ inconsistent play—punctuated by bad defense—prompted 30-year-old Boston general manager Theo Epstein to publicly avow a “change for change’s sake.” That came at the end of July when Garciaparra was packaged off to the Chicago Cubs as part of a trade involving four teams that netted Boston three borderline position starters (shortstop Orlando Cabrera, first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz and speedy outfielder Dave Roberts) who would play pivotal roles down the stretch.

But it was a game played the week before at Fenway that provided a rallying cry in the Red Sox clubhouse.

The Yankees came to town for a contest that Red Sox officials at first wanted to call off due to wet grounds, before Boston players talked them out of it. Playing on, the Red Sox trailed 3-0 in the third inning when Rodriguez, the shortstop who would be Boston’s, got tagged by a Bronson Arroyo pitch. Rodriguez profanely barked at Arroyo, prompting catcher Jason Varitek—to many, the heart and soul of the Red Sox—to get up and confront Rodriguez. When jawing nose-to-nose didn’t settle things, Varitek shoved his glove into Rodriguez’s face, igniting the annual Red Sox-Yankees brawl. Once emotions cooled, the Red Sox rallied to win, 11-10, when Bill Mueller drilled a two-run, walk-off homer in the ninth off Mariano Rivera.

On top of overcoming one of the game’s best closers, the added thrill of sticking it to Rodriguez thoroughly revived the Red Sox. Further enhanced by Garciaparra’s departure a week later, Boston fully focused on winning baseball and briefly nipped at the Yankees’ heels in the standings late in the year, but still settled for the AL wild card—their fourth in seven years.

The offense continued to be the Red Sox’ primary strength. The lineup was fueled at the top by Johnny Damon (.304 batting average, 20 home runs and 94 runs batted in), whose new-look, shoulder-length hair and lumberjack beard evoked wide-ranging comparisons from Jesus to Trog. Damon often scored courtesy of Ramirez and first baseman David OrtizBoth Ramirez and Ortiz finished the year clearing .300 with 40 homers and 130 RBIs, the first pair of teammates to do so since Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig., whose bulky frame was reminiscent of recent Boston boomer Mo Vaughn.

All-Star reliever Mariano Rivera had no problem closing down opponents throughout the 2004 regular season—as long as they represented someone outside of the AL East. Boston, Baltimore, Toronto and Tampa Bay all combined to make Rivera far more mortal than the rest of the majors.

As the season turned to September, the Yankees engaged in a rash of dubious moments as if eagerly handing Boston the AL East title on a silver platter. New York suffered its worst loss ever—at home, no less, 22-0 to the Cleveland Indians—and Steinbrenner got into trouble when he compared the “tragedy” of the blowout loss to the 9-11 terrorist attacks in an attempt to rally the organization. A trade for pitcher Esteban LoaizaLoaiza, a journeyman starter who was 21-9 for the Chicago White Sox in 2003, was 1-2 with an 8.50 ERA in ten appearances with New York. proved disastrous when the sudden 20-game winner of 2003 bombed on the Yankees mound and got demoted to the bullpen. Kevin Brown, hardly a one-year wonder by contrast, foolishly took on a clubhouse wall—and lost, breaking his hand—after a rough outing against Baltimore. And when the lowly Tampa Bay Devil Rays failed to show up at Yankee Stadium for the first game of a day-night doubleheader—because players and coaches had to cope with the latest in a series of powerful hurricanes to sock Florida—the Yankees demanded a forfeit. Commissioner Bud Selig denied the request, and the zealous New York media grilled the Yankees, accusing the team of insensitivity—to say nothing of desperately seeking winsThe Yankees went on to sweep the Devil Rays in a four-game series at Yankee Stadium. any way it could.

Despite all of the on- and off-field distractions, the remarkable assortment of talent and experience on the Yankees roster gave the team a resiliency that resulted in a major league record 61 come-from-behind wins. And once the Yankees took the lead, they seldom relinquished it; they were 88-2 when ahead after eight innings.

The two losses were to the Red Sox.

The news of the offseason, preseason and regular season had pretty much revolved around the Yankees and Red Sox, so it only seemed natural that they would take center stage for the postseason as well. The two teams easily survived first round playoff competition to pair up for the second straight year in the ALCS, and over the first three-plus games, the Yankees, with Rodriguez, all but rendered the Red Sox—without Rodriguez—irrelevant.

New York zoomed to an 8-0 lead in Game One before triumphing, 10-7; beat Pedro MartinezMartinez irritated Boston fans when, before the playoffs, he called the Yankees his “daddy” for their continued mastery of him. Some believed it was an indirect pitch by Martinez, a free agent at year’s end, to get signed by the Yankees. in Game Two, 3-1; and demolished the Red Sox at Fenway in Game Three, setting a LCS record for runs scored in a 19-8 rout. The Red Sox made a game of it in Game Four but still trailed, 4-3, going to the bottom of the ninth. Three outs away from being swept, the Red Sox could hear a pin drop at Fenway Park. Red Sox Nation looked stone-faced, cold, indifferent. Even if Boston could avoid the sweep, so what? No team in baseball history had ever won a series after trailing three games to none. Twenty-five previous teams tried and failed. Same thing in the NBA, 75 times. Two NHL teams did manage to overcome 3-0—but 136 others could not.

The Red Sox looked at the situation like base campers staring up at Mount Everest. Maybe you can conquer it, but it must be done one step at a time. So the Red Sox embarked. Dave Roberts crucially kick-started Boston with a stolen base that led to a game-tying run off Mariano Rivera in the ninth; three innings later, David Ortiz won it with a homer. The next night in Game Five, Ortiz again erased a late Yankees lead and sent the game into overtime, where two exhaustive bullpens somehow traded blanks to the 14th when Ortiz, once more, punched out a single to score Damon and end a six-hour marathon to send the series back to New York.

After a peculiar pre-game bonding in which Boston players took sips of Jack Daniels from a paper cup, the Red Sox rose to the moment behind starter Curt Schilling—owner of a 21-6 regular season mark and, despite pitching on a bruised, bloody ankle, threw brilliantly to help steer the Red Sox to a 4-2 win and even the series. Aiding the Red Sox were the umpires, who rightfully reversed two pivotal calls in Boston’s favor—including a three-run Mark Bellhorn home run initially called a double after the ball bounced off a fan above the wall, and not the wall itself.

Just forcing a seventh game after trailing 3-0 was unprecedented in baseball annals, so both teams faced uncharted territory for the winner-take-ALCS at New York. Such fear of the unknown was hardly going to faze the Red Sox, whose momentum was just beginning to kick into high gear.

Until the Red Sox’ remarkable revival in the 2004 ALCS, no major league team had ever come back to win a best-of-seven postseason series after losing its first three games. In fact, a vast majority of teams quickly collapsed under the weight of the burden and couldn’t even squeeze out a single victory before being handed a fourth and final loss.

From the very start of Game Seven, it was obvious that the Red Sox had destiny clenched within their fists. Ortiz smashed a two-run shot off Kevin Brown in the first. An inning later, the beleaguered Brown was removed and the first pitch thrown by his replacement, Javier Vazquez, was powered well over the right-field wall for a grand slam by Damon—who until that moment was having an awful series. When Damon homered again off Vazquez in the fourth to make it 8-1—a lead that stingy Boston starter Derek Lowe would easily holdLowe would allow just a run on a hit and a walk through six innings in Game Seven, won by Boston, 10-3.—it became the Yankees fans’ turn to look stone-faced, cold, indifferent.

When Popeye regains his strength, Brutus stands no chance to regain his. And neither would the Yankees, who after going three up were given the four-and-out boot by the Red Sox.

The consolation for the Yankees: They still had Olive Oyl, and a chance to fight another day.

Having achieved the impossible, the Red Sox had an even tougher task ahead of them: Exercising the Curse. To do so meant overcoming the powerful St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

Dominating the competitive National League’s Central Division, the Cardinals exhibited a virtual Murderer’s Row of sluggers led by Albert Pujols (.331 average, 46 homers and 123 RBIs), Jim Edmonds (.301, 42, 111) and Scott Rolen (.314, 34, 124); the lineup was further enhanced late in the year with the acquisition from Colorado of Larry Walker (11 homers and 27 RBIs in 44 games for St. Louis). The team’s vaunted hitting hogged the headlines from its relative no-name cast of competent (if not sterling) starting pitching, which featured three 15-game winners (Chris Carpenter, Jason Marquis and Matt Morris) and a 16-game winner (Jeff Suppan).

After dispensing of the NL West-winning Los Angeles Dodgers in the first round of the playoffs, the Cardinals matched up with a red-hot NLCS opponent in the Houston Astros, who steamrolled their way into the postseason as the NL wild card, gave the Atlanta Braves their obligatory first-round exit—and readied to face St. Louis as the only NL team that won its regular season series (10-8) against the high-flying Cardinals.

The feisty Astros threw everything they could at the Cardinals. Roger Clemens, unretired and tough as ever, grounded St. Louis in Game Four. Unheralded pitcher Brandon Backe—322 career wins behind Clemens—threw eight shutout innings, allowing just a hit and two walks, in Game Five. Young closer Brad Ridge was all but untouchable. And on offense, the Astros got a one-man show from center fielder Carlos Beltran, a midseason pick-up who escaped obscurity in Kansas City and basked in the long-overdue glow of the spotlight with a sensational performanceBeltran’s NLCS numbers included a .412 batting average, 12 runs, four home runs, four steals and a number of spectacular catches in the outfield..

All this, and Houston fell short. Home field advantage came in handy for the Cardinals, who overcame three losses at Houston by winning all four games played at St. Louis—including an assertive Game Seven effort in which the Cardinals outlasted Clemens and kept Beltran hitless.

Curt Schilling’s bloody sock became the stuff of legends after successive strong postseason outings from the Boston pitcher that greatly benefitted the Red Sox. The blood came courtesy of loosened sutures following a procedure on his ankle.

The Boston Red Sox were hardly perfect in the first two games of the World Series against St. Louis at Fenway Park, committing four errors in each game. But destiny has a way of overcoming such travails, and the Red Sox won both contests, 11-9 and 6-2.

The Cardinals got no such serendipity from their own miscues when they returned home for Game Three. Against Pedro Martinez, the Cardinals ran themselves out of a first-inning rally when Larry Walker was gunned down at the plate on an unexpectedly good throw from left fielder Manny Ramirez. Two innings later, the Cardinals truly shot themselves in the foot when, with runners on second and third and no one out, starting pitcher Jeff Suppan—the lead runner on third—inexplicably held up on a Walker grounder to the right side of the infield, and got himself trapped between bases when the Red Sox took note. Initially happy to concede the run, the Red Sox were even happier to trap and tag Suppan and kill another Cardinals rally—and with it, just about any realistic chances that St. Louis could rebound.

Martinez settled in and sailed into the eighth inning of Game Three, notched by Boston, 4-1. Then it was Derek Lowe's turnThe victories by Martinez and Lowe would be their last in a Boston uniform; Martinez signed with the Mets for 2005, Lowe with the Dodgers. in Game Four. The Red Sox pitcher who iced the ALCS against the Yankees continued to throw on target for what would be the World Series clincher, tossing seven shutout innings and letting the bullpen take it from there for a 3-0 victory.

Red Sox addicts across the nation didn’t know what to do with themselves. For them, the concept of their beloved winning a World Series was alien, unless they were old enough to remember 1918. But party they would, dancing away “The Curse” that had held their psyches hostage for generations.

It was a long, historically painful wait. The longer The Curse lasted, the more desperate the measures to end it. Whatever it took—spinach, Jack Daniels—anything to wipe eighty-six years of affliction away from the Red Sox and their nation.

And for once, it worked.

2005 baseball historyForward to 2005: At the End of the Primrose Path After years of looking the other way, baseball is publicaly forced to confront its dirty steroid laundry.

2003 baseball historyBack to 2003: Curses, Inc. Baseball's two most famously cursed—the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox—add to their long-suffering legend of heartbreak.

2000 baseball historyThe 2000s Page: Driven Deep to Disgrace The new century gives Major League Baseball a decidedly more international flavor with a healthy rise in foreign-born talent—but a disturbing pall is cast over the sport as one megastar after another is exposed for using steroids.

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2004 Standings

National League East
Atlanta Braves
Philadelphia Phillies
Florida Marlins
New York Mets
Montreal Expos
National League Central
St. Louis Cardinals
Houston Astros (w)
Chicago Cubs
Cincinnati Reds
Pittsburgh Pirates
Milwaukee Brewers
National League West
Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
American League East
New York Yankees
Boston Red Sox (w)
Baltimore Orioles
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Toronto Blue Jays
American League Central
Minnesota Twins
Chicago White Sox
Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
American League West
Anaheim Angels
Oakland A's
Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners

2004 Postseason Results
NLDS Houston defeated Atlanta, 3-2.
NLDS St. Louis defeated Los Angeles, 3-1.
ALDS New York defeated Minnesota, 3-1.
ALDS Boston defeated Anaheim, 3-0.
NLCS St. Louis defeated Houston, 4-3.
ALCS Boston defeated New York, 4-3.
World Series Boston (AL) defeated St. Louis (NL), 4-0.

It Happened in 2004

For Pete’s Sake
Pete Rose finally comes clean—on his own terms. The banished all-time hit leader is paid a $1 million advance to write My Life Behind Bars, in which he admits for the first time, after years of persistent denial, that he did bet on baseball games while managing the Cincinnati Reds. Rose hopes the parchment mea culpa will sway baseball to lift his lifetime ban and grant him eligibility for the Hall of Fame, but the move backfires. Long-time critics and doubters are irked by the profit-laden circumstances in which Rose is confessing, while those who believed and supported him for 15 years now feel a sense of betrayal. Commissioner Bud Selig remains unmoved on the possibility of reinstating Rose.

The Perfect Gift for the 40-Year Old
Randy Johnson retires all 27 Atlanta Braves he faces on May 18 and becomes, at age 40, the oldest pitcher in history to throw a perfect game—erasing the old mark held for a century and two weeks by Cy Young. Johnson strikes out 13 and throws 117 pitches in Arizona’s 2-0 win at Atlanta. In his sixth and final year pitching for the Diamondbacks, Johnson’s perfecto is the high point in a season that includes his 4,000th career strikeout and an overall 16-14 record that, although blasé by Johnson’s standards, is quite good given Arizona’s 51-111 effort.

A Broken Nose for the Fan, A Black Eye for Baseball
On September 13, a persistent heckler sitting behind the Texas bullpen in Oakland gets under the skin of Rangers reliever Scott Brocail—whose teammates have to restrain him from retaliating. To the rescue comes fellow reliever Frank Francisco, who takes a batboy’s folding chair and heaves it toward the heckler—who successfully ducks, only to discover that the chair hits his girlfriend and breaks her nose. Francisco is suspended by baseball for the final 16 games of the season and is charged with misdemeanor assault in court. Back on the field, the A’s beat the Rangers in ten innings, 7-6.

The Milton Bradley Game of Trouble
Another major leaguer not to be confused for a role model in 2004 is Milton Bradley, who despite stellar development the year before with the Cleveland Indians is given an outright release during spring training for his problematic, temperamental behavior. The Los Angeles Dodgers take a chance on him, and he plays the happy ballplayer until the final week of the regular season—when, on September 28, he angrily confronts his own home fans in the first row near his right field station with a plastic bottle that was thrown near him. Bradley is suspended for the Dodgers’ playoff series against St. Louis, and is told to undergo anger management. It’s the first of many incidents that will bedevil Bradley throughout his major league career.

Last of His Kind?
Greg Maddux, back with the Cubs in Chicago where he began his major league career 18 years earlier, notches his 300th career win when he defeats the Giants at San Francisco, 8-4, on August 7.

The Hits Just Keep Comin’…
Batting a career-high .372 on a steady diet of singles, the Seattle Mariners’ Ichiro Suzuki breaks the all-time record for hits in one year, held since 1920 by George Sisler. Suzuki’s 262 hits give him 924 in just his first four years since coming to the majors from Japan, and provides a lone bright spot in a season that has otherwise imploded on the Mariners (63-99). Note to the ghost of Ford Frick: Suzuki surpasses Sisler (whose St. Louis Browns played 154 games in 1920) in the season’s 159th contest.

…And for Barry, So Do the Walks
The Barry Bonds salute—consisting of a raised hand with four fingers extended—is given by opposing managers a phenomenal 120 times during the season, shattering the mark for intentional walks Bonds himself had broken two years earlier. Throw in the walks officially recorded as unintentional—though with most of those, Bonds is clearly being pitched around—and the Giants superstar becomes the first player in history to draw over 200 walks, at 232. The unprecedented respect given to Bonds, even as he hits age 40, is clearly justified; he remains the most dangerous hitter in the game when pitched to, and earns a record seventh Most Valuable Player award.

It Had to Be Dunn
While Bonds cements his presence in the bases-on-ball section of the record book, his late father Bobby Bonds is finally erased in the category of strikeouts. Someone has the guts not to sit down and avoid breaking the elder Bonds’ record, and that player is Cincinnati slugger Adam Dunn, who whiffs 195 times to re-establish the mark—which itself will be eclipsed in ensuing years, usually by Mark Reynolds. Dunn’s dubious honor is a blemish on an otherwise healthy year at the plate, batting .266 with 46 homers, 102 runs batted in, 105 runs scored and 108 walks.

A Broken Milestone for a Broken Man
Ken Griffey Jr., the man everyone thought would be hitting around 46 homers on a yearly basis for the Reds, finally strokes his 500th career blast on June 20 during Cincinnati’s 6-0 win at St. Louis. Not long afterward, Griffey injures himself in the field, landing him yet again on the disabled list—where he’s spent a good chunk of his first five years with the Reds.

As Automatic As One Gets
Riding on the success of the previous season—where he was perfect in 55 save opportunities—the Dodgers’ Eric Gagne runs his streak of consecutive saves without failure to a major league-smashing 84. Gagne finally blows a ninth-inning lead against Arizona on July 5, a game ironically won by the Dodgers in ten innings, 6-5.

Feast and Famine
In the first game of a September 9 doubleheader at Kansas City, the Royals clobber the Detroit Tigers, 26-5—and then get shutout in the nightcap, 8-0. The first game features record-tying nine-inning AL marks for runs and hits by a player (Joe Randa, with six each) and most consecutive runners reaching base (13, in the midst of an 11-run inning); in the second game, only two Royals baserunners make it as far as second base.

The Ballplayer in Armored Drag
While on the team bus twenty days later in Kansas City, Cleveland rookie reliever Kyle Denney takes a bullet in the ankle from an unknown, outside assailant. Denney escapes serious injury because he’s wearing a pair of woman’s white high heel boots, part of a rookie hazing ritual in which he was forced to dress in drag. Cleveland traveling secretary Mike Seghi, upon seeing Denney at the hospital: “You can take the wig off.”

Web of Controversy
In the latest example of its obsession with revenue, Major League Baseball plans to place graphics for Spider-Man 2 on bases at big league ballparks to help promote the upcoming summer blockbuster—and to receive a few extra bucks from Sony Pictures Entertainment. League execs get bombarded with complaints from Ralph Nader to Fay Vincent and everyone in between, and decide to scrap the idea.

New Ballparks

Petco Park, San Diego After 35 years playing inland in a multi-purpose stadium with many names (most recently, Qualcomm Stadium), the San Diego Padres head downtown to the historic Gaslamp Quarter section along San Diego Bay and call Petco Park their new home. Co-designed by HOK Sport and noted Southwestern architect Antoine Predock, Petco Park has a relaxed and open feel—with San Diego’s near-perfect weather, there’s hardly a need for a retractable roof—and is stylized with white to reflect the area’s nautical environment.

Giving Petco Park the obligatory old-time feeling is the five-story Western Metal Supply Co. building, which survived the pre-construction demolition and now houses a restaurant, bar and party suites behind the left field corner. Behind the outfield is the so-called “Park at the Park,” an expansive open field that remains open to the public when the ballpark is not in use. Approved after the Padres’ 1998 NL pennant, Petco Park’s road to completion took a two-year detour when it was discovered that a San Diego councilwoman who helped okay the project had a conflict of interest with Padres owner John Moores.

Petco Park’s field dimensions were among the most spacious in baseball, and they certainly played with the head of slugger Ryan Klesko, who sulked throughout 2004 after an early game at Petco in which three long fly balls that might have all been homers at Qualcomm became two fly outs and a double off the wall. Concerned that they would never be able to lure a star slugger to San Diego, the Padres finally brought in the fences in 2013.

Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia When the City of Philadelphia learned in 2000 that it was going to have to spend $100 million to keep middle-aged Veterans Stadium operational, it decided it would rather spend a whole lot more to tear it down and start fresh. Three years and a billion dollars later, a multi-facility sports complex was completed that included Citizens Bank Park for the Phillies to call their very own.

Citizens Bank Park has the usual touches to be found at most new ballparks, including a historical section entitled “Memory Lane” and an entertainment area removed from the action consisting of restaurants and shops. The ballpark also includes a 100-foot recreation of the Liberty Bell that tolls whenever a Phillie knocks one over the fence—which happens often thanks to the cozy field dimensions.

Structurally cut and built perfectly around the field, Citizens Bank Park is dressed almost entirely in shades of red—a “monochromatic” approach favored by chief HOK Sport architect Joe Spear as a nod to what’s inherent in Philadelphia’s historic buildings. The facility’s design also pays subtle homage to the city’s ballparks of the past, including Shibe Park and Baker Bowl—though it’s hoped that the latter’s penchant for collapsing under the feet of Phillies fans won’t be imitated at the team’s new home.

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