Fenway Park has the Green Monster. Wrigley Field has ivy-covered walls.
As a baseball fan, it’s easy to have a favorite ballpark or two. And, you know what makes it personally special or unique.
South Dakota’s ballparks have those special details as well, and any baseball fan in these parts has their favorites.
So we’re taking the next few days to ask our readers just that: what are your favorite small-town ballparks in South Dakota?
Ahead of South Dakota’s great gathering of small-town baseball at the 88th annual state amateur baseball tournament starting Aug. 5 in Mitchell, we’re looking for readers from around the state to give us their opinions on their favorite places to watch a game.
Maybe it’s the ballpark in Freeman or Lake Norden, Chamberlain or Canova, Northville or Tabor.
Everyone has something they appreciate about our favorite small-town ballfields in South Dakota.
Maybe it’s the chance to pull your truck up to the fence and tailgate along the outfield wall. It could be the offerings at the ballpark concession stand. Maybe it’s the quality of the bleachers and the chance to sit in the shade, either under the grandstand or under a tree next to the field. Maybe there’s a great vantage point from a hill next to the field, and or you appreciate the nearby scenery and the sunset. Or maybe you're a purist, and appreciate how the grass is cut and the chalk lines are perfectly drawn. Or perhaps it’s where family history has taken place, with fathers playing with sons and families bringing generations of fans to the ballpark.
We have a poll on our website in which readers can weigh in and let us know about their top-5 ballparks. We will also have a handful of players, managers and local baseball experts, along with our staff members, weighing in with their opinions as well, before we make an announcement of the top ballparks in conjunction with the start of the South Dakota state amateur baseball tournament.
There are a few ground rules we’ve set for this:
Class B amateur ballparks only: Because this is a contest about small-town ballparks, we had to draw the line at ballparks that host Class B teams. A lot of us love Cadwell Park in Mitchell or other parks in Sioux Falls, Yankton and elsewhere, but they don’t capture the essence of small-town baseball. And because it’s taking place around the state amateur tournament, only amateur parks are in the discussion. (We know there’s some great ballparks that host youth or high-school-age baseball, as well.)
Within our borders: Teams like Crofton and Wynot, Nebraska, and Akron and Larchwood, Iowa have become a part of the South Dakota amateur baseball fabric. But we kept this contest to locations within the state’s borders.
Some towns have two teams and share a ballpark, so they’re listed under the town’s name or are only listed once. Kimball/White Lake is one of the very few teams in the state to play home games in two towns but they’re listed under one common entry.
Unfortunately, amateur baseball teams in South Dakota come and go. The list of ballparks is restricted to 2020 active teams only.
The deadline to weigh in on the top small-town ballparks in South Dakota is July 26. Play ball.