I am not known for my sentimental writing.
But then a guy from Washington D.C. took a shot at Kauffman Stadium and that changed things a bit.
Long-time baseball writer Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post published a piece ranking the top stadiums in baseball. Most of the choices were about what you’d expect, showing deference to some older stadiums. He pegged Kauffman Stadium as the 17th best stadium in baseball, saying:
Kansas City used to be in my top 10 easily. Then they screwed the place up by destroying most of their outfield water features and chopping up the beautiful sweep of outfield architecture. It’s is by far the most damage that I have ever seen done to a wonderful sports facility by people who, I am sure, had the best intentions. I’ve tried through an All-Star Game and two World Series to make my peace with the place. I can’t. I want to scream, “All that this place had going for it, out here in West Nowhere, was gorgeous design and the water fountains at night — but that was enough!”
So let’s just start off by addressing a few things.
First of all, come on man. I get that I am biased, but Nationals Park? Progressive? Oh my gosh. Minute Maid? This goes beyond normal bias. The Post staff ranked Kauffman at 11, which is a bit skewed when you consider Boswell’s ranking. Am I being too petty about this? Well, yes. This is the internet, after all. But Boswell should meet me halfway, here.
In fact, the “gorgeous design” that was allegedly ruined actually had fewer fountains long before the renovations. The original fountains just barely extended past centerfield and now cover most of the left side of the outfield.
Next, what was the “outfield architecture” Boswell mentioned? If he meant lots of grass, then I guess he’s right. The Jumbotron might be what he is referring to. Or maybe the Dodge Ram that used to sit out there?
Most importantly, however, is the assertion that the renovations somehow disturbed the integrity of the stadium known as Royals Stadium when it was originally built in 1973. I remember the last time I saw the old stadium as it was. It was Fan Appreciation Day in 2007.
I loved that stadium. I got my first major league ball from Dmitri Young at the old Kauffman. I saw Ryan Ludwick almost nail that truck out in left field at the old Kauffman. And I saw Alex Rodriguez hit a baseball further than I had ever seen at the old Kauffman. Notice there weren’t a lot of good Royals memories there, but nevertheless.
There was nothing that I loved seeing more as a baseball-rabid kid than the huge “KC” on the back of the scoreboard as my dad drove across the George Brett bridge toward the stadium.
That place was awesome. The best part about the renovations was that they built it around the existing stadium, not over it.
Yeah, seeing the old scoreboard taken down stung, despite knowing that the new one would be bigger and better. There was something amazing about a scoreboard still powered by lightbulbs. I was also a little bummed that the back no longer had the white KC on a Royals blue back drop. It also stung a bit to come into the stadium and not see the huge “Royals” script etched on top of the jumbotron in left-center field.
All of that is true. But the Kauffman Stadium is still Kauffman Stadium. I am a biased fan, yes, but that place is baseball heaven. It was baseball heaven when Ken Harvey was playing first base, so you can’t tell me it isn’t baseball heaven now.
Thomas Boswell is probably a swell guy, but he got this one wrong.