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Diamond Dirt: Baseball indoors? I'd love to experience that

Dominic Genetti

Baseball is beautiful.

Something about the way each player stands in the box, throws the ball, delivers the pitch, runs the bases, scurries in the field.

No one is the same, yet at the same time the ball players move in unison.

And it’s not just the players that make this great game a divine thing of beauty, it’s the settings.

Baseball is beautiful because of its ballparks.

It’s the ivy on Wrigley Field’s outfield wall, it’s the green monster at Fenway Park, it’s the view of downtown St. Louis and the Gateway Arch at Busch Stadium and it’s the signature elements of ballparks past that make up Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

But again, they’re all different and yet the same.

Each stadium provides the echoing suspenseful sound of the ball hitting the bat, the fastball hitting the thick leather of the catcher’s mitt, the swirling winds that decide whether or not the hit ball is a home run or a long fly ball, the structural designs that determine if you’ll be sitting in the sun or the shade and the threat of rain that could either close the roof or delay the game’s procession.

But there is one place left in Major League Baseball where all these sounds, all these weather factors are left out of the game’s equation. That place is Tropicana Field, the domed stadium of the Tampa Bay Rays.

I’ve never seen a baseball game indoors, it sure sounds odd, just like it did when the Houston Astrodome opened in 1965, but I am anxious to witness such a thing.

Can you imagine how big and spacious the place would have to be just to house baseball? And how about the height of the roof? I’m sure it would have to be quite a distance from the ground floor so countless balls don’t sail to the catwalks.

I’d really like to travel down to St. Petersburg sometime and take in a Rays game. Not only would it be interesting just to be watching a game indoors, I’m curious as to what new descriptions can arise from such a setting.

There won’t be any distracting sun, no wind factor, and the enclosures would certainly do something to the sounds of the game I assume.

What’s the atmosphere like? Is the baseball crowd louder in a dome? What about the sound of the ball off the bat? Does it echo? Does it have a more descriptive sound?

I really would like to know how the lighting is handled as well.

Do the Rays make it bright enough to simulate a sunny sky? Or perhaps it’s just standard lighting like an indoor football game?

Ballpark photography is quite the hobby of mine. I wonder how well my camera would work for the indoor game?

There’s so many things to discover when it comes to an indoor baseball game. I’m like a kid in a candy story whenever I’m at any ballpark, but to see a game under a dome, the last fully domed stadium I might add, would pretty much be the equivalent to a child on Christmas morning.

One thing I would look forward to is to seeing the game played on field turf just one more time. I haven’t seen that since 1995, the last year the Cardinals played on Astroturf at Busch Stadium II.

How will the outfielders handle a base hit? What do the infielders do on a ground ball? It used to bounce and shoot across the thick, rough Astroturf in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, but this new version of artificial grass is supposed to be as close to the real stuff as there is.

I hope to write about my experience one day about a trip to Florida and my experience at Tropicana Field, but for now I’ll just have to wait.

Dominic Genetti writes for the Hannibal (Mo.) Courier-Post.