Every owner wants a fancy, new, state-of-the-art stadium, and the Atlanta Braves will debut one when they open SunTrust Park on April 14. They are leaving behind a lot of memories and wins at Turner Field, but the rebuilding Bravos will embrace their new digs like a warm Freddie Freeman hug.
Look around the National League, and most of the other stadiums are also fairly new. Still, most fan bases have already witnessed some postseason euphoria, if not a championship. Let’s take a look around the NL at the top moment experienced by the home team at their active stadium. (And check back next week for the AL edition.)
Arizona Diamondbacks: Chase Field (opened March 31, 1998)
In the bottom of the ninth in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, Luis Gonzalez stepped to the plate against the greatest closer of all time and lived every young baseball player’s childhood dream. With the bases loaded and the game tied 2-2, Gonzalez flared a single to center field and sent home Jay Bell for the game-winning, World Series-winning run. Pandemonium ensued as the D-backs prevented the Yankees from winning their fourth consecutive title and fifth in six years.
Chicago Cubs: Wrigley Field (opened April 23, 1914)
Wrigley is by far the oldest stadium in the National League, so there’s much more history to consider. But we can’t look past the magical 2016 season when the World Series curse finally ended. Facing a 3-1 series deficit at home against the Indians, the Cubs did all their scoring (three runs) in the bottom of the fourth and then hung on to a 3-2 lead for dear life as their hired gun, flamethrower Aroldis Chapman, entered the game in the seventh inning to attempt an 8-out save.
As Cubs fans held their breath, Chapman allowed just two baserunners (one hit, one HBP) and sealed the game with a 1-2-3 ninth inning, culminating with a swinging strikeout of Jose Ramirez. That sent the crowd into a giddy cheer before sending the Cubs off to Cleveland to capture the elusive Commissioner’s Trophy.
Cincinnati Reds: Great American Ball Park (opened March 31, 2003)
On Sept. 28, 2010, Reds outfielder Jay Bruce came to the dish in the bottom of the ninth with an opportunity to send Cincinnati to the playoffs for the first time in 15 years. Tied 2-2 against the division-rival Houston Astros, Bruce clobbered a Tim Byrdak offering deep into center field -- a sure-thing solo blast -- and raced around the bases, chucked his helmet and got mobbed by his teammates. The Reds won the NL Central on that homer and the home crowd went wild.
Colorado Rockies: Coors Field (opened April 26, 1995)
In the second half of the 2007 season, the Rockies pulled off one of the most miraculous end-of-season runs in baseball history by winning 13 of their final 14 games to force a one-game playoff with the San Diego Padres for the right to the NL wild-card berth.
In that game, more high drama unfolded in extra innings when Colorado fell behind 8-6 in the 13th inning -- and then came back with a three-run frame. The winning run came when Matt Holliday tagged up on a Jamey Carroll line drive to right field, barely finding the white of the plate on a close call at home. That team of destiny then swept the NLDS and NLCS … before getting swept in the World Series by the Boston Red Sox.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Dodger Stadium (opened: April 10, 1962)
Vin Scully and the Dodgers faithful have witnessed an awful lot of greatness in this stadium, but no moment is more iconic than Kirk Gibson’s heroic home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. Despite injuries to both legs that had hobbled him, he entered the game to pinch-hit against the fearsome Dennis Eckersley.
“And look who’s coming up” Scully said as the crowd erupted with cheer. With the Dodgers down 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth, Gibson mustered the might to club a two-run walk-off shot to right field before the famous double-pumping of his fist as he rounded the bags.
David Butler IIDavid Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Miami Marlins: Marlins Park (opened April 4, 2012)
The most dramatic, painful moment occurred during the 2016 season after second baseman Dee Gordon hit a leadoff home run and broke down in tears shortly after the team’s tribute to Jose Fernandez, who was tragically killed in a boating accident just a day earlier.
Four years before, the dynamic Fernandez introduced himself to Marlins fans with a NL Rookie of the Year campaign that saw him strike out 13 Pirates at Marlins Park on July 28, 2013. For an encore, he struck out 14 Indians in eight shutout innings in his next start on Aug. 2. As he walked off to a standing ovation, Marlins fans knew they had something special in the 21-year-old pitcher.
Milwaukee Brewers: Miller Park (opened April 6, 2001)
It feels longer ago, but it was just 2011 when the Brewers enjoyed a 96-win campaign and won the NL Central. Then the decisive Game 5 of the NLDS against the NL West champion Diamondbacks needed one extra frame after the Brewers lost a 2-1 advantage in the top of the ninth.
In the bottom of the 10th inning, outfielder Carlos Gomez reached base on a single and then stole second to put himself in scoring position. Nyjer Morgan came to the plate against J.J. Putz and delivered euphoria to the Milwaukee crowd with a game-winning RBI single as the Brew Crew advanced to the NLCS.
New York Mets: Citi Field (opened April 13, 2009)
Choose your favorite of Daniel Murphy’s seven home runs in the NLDS or NLCS in the 2015 postseason. Murphy’s NLDS Game 5 solo shot off Zack Greinke came in Dodger stadium, but his heroics continued into the NLCS when he set an MLB record with six consecutive postseason games with a home run.
Philadelphia Phillies: Citizens Bank Park (opened April 3, 2004)
The Phillies enjoyed a great NL East run at the height of the Chase Utley-Ryan Howard-Cole Hamels era with key contributions from other players, including the Flyin’ Hawaiian Shane Victorino. Victorino came up huge at the Phils’ home park on Oct. 2, 2008, against the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 2 of the NLDS.
In the bottom of the second with the bases loaded and two outs on a 1-2 count, Victorino turned on a CC Sabathia slider and sent the pitch eight rows deep into the left field stands. Philly took a 2-0 series lead over the Brewers before finishing the Dodgers in the NLCS in five games and the Rays in five games in the World Series.
Pittsburgh Pirates: PNC Park (opened March 31, 2001)
The Pirates endured a long and frustrating postseason drought like the Reds, only longer (since 1992), but the payoff was pretty sweet when in the 2013 NL Wild Card Game -- the first postseason game at PNC Park -- catcher Russell Martin went deep in the second inning (he would hit another one later in the game) after the crowd showered Reds starter Johnny Cueto with some jeers that seemed to rattle him. It worked. The Pirates won the game 6-2 before enduring a tough 3-2 series loss to St. Louis Cardinals in the next round.
San Diego Padres: Petco Park (opened April 8, 2004)
Petco Park opened after Tony Gwynn retired (2001) and after the 98-win ‘98 squad that made it to the World Series. The Pads did reach the playoffs twice in the Petco era in 2005 and 2006, but probably the most celebrated moment occurred on Sept. 24, 2006, when longtime closer Trevor Hoffman locked up his 479th save at home to break Lee Smith’s record. Hoffman finished with 601 career saves, which held up until Mariano Rivera passed him and ran the record to 652.
San Francisco Giants: AT&T Park (opened April 11, 2000)
The Giants have enjoyed a lot of great moments, including three World Series titles since 2010, but they actually clinched all three of those titles away from home. However, Giants fans certainly got to witness heroics in Game 5 of the 2014 NLCS in the bottom of the ninth with the game tied 3-3.
With one out and two men on, outfielder Travis Ishikawa came to the plate against the Cardinals’ Michael Wacha and ripped a low fastball over the right-field wall. “The Giants win the pennant!” exclaimed Joe Buck as the Giants mobbed Ishikawa and readied for another (successful) trip to the World Series.
St. Louis Cardinals: Busch Stadium III (opened April 4, 2006)
In 2011 the Texas Rangers' first-ever World Series championship was so close they could smell the champagne on ice when, up 3 games to 2 in Game 6, they entered the ninth inning with a two run lead. Third baseman David Freese had other plans when he ripped a two-run triple to right that sent the game into extras.
Washington Nationals: Nationals Park (opened March 30, 2008)
Welp, we finish on a funny and sad note: October 2012 when Teddy Roosevelt finally won the President's Race at Nationals Park, snapping his streak of 525 consecutive losses. The victory, aided by some (fake) Philly Phanatic antics, coincided with the Nationals’ first NL East title.
Fans had long campaigned for Teddy to win and speculated it might occur when the Nats broke through and reached the postseason. It was a glorious moment but now serves as a reminder that the Nats have failed to live up to their potential and advance past the NLDS, going 0-for-3 so far. Maybe this year.