• Ballparks as America: The Fan Experience at Major League Baseball Parks in the Twentieth Century

      Simon, Bryant; Goedde, Petra, 1964-; Alpert, Rebecca T. (Rebecca Trachtenberg), 1950-; Riess, Steven A. (Temple University. Libraries, 2019)
      This dissertation is a history of the change in form and location of ballparks that explains why that change happened, when it did, and what this tells us about broader society, about hopes and fears, and about tastes and prejudices. It uses case studies of five important and trend-setting ballparks to understand what it meant to go to a major league game in the twentieth century. I examine the Polo Grounds and Yankee Stadium in the first half of the twentieth century, what I call the classic ballpark era, Dodger Stadium and the Astrodome from the 1950s through the 1980s, what I call the multi-use ballpark era, and Camden Yards in the retro-chic ballpark era—the 1990s and beyond. I treat baseball as a reflection of larger American culture that sometimes also shaped that culture. I argue that baseball games were a purportedly inclusive space that was actually exclusive and divided, but that the exclusion and division was masked by rhetoric about the game and the relative lack of explicit policies barring anyone. Instead, owners built a system that was economically and socially stratified and increasingly physically removed from lower-class and non-white city residents. Ballparks’ tiers allowed owners to give wealthier fans the option of sitting in the seats closest to home plate where they would not have to interact with poorer fans who owners pushed to the cheaper seats further from the action. That masked exclusion gave middle- and upper-class fans a space that was comfortable and safe because it was anything but truly accessible to all Americans. I also argue that owners had to change the image of the ballpark and tinker with the exclusion there as fans’ tastes and their visions of what a city should look and feel like changed.