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Ranking the Minor League Ballparks of the Chicago Cubs

By Paul Swaney -- April 29, 2012 10:52 AM EDT

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Everyone knows that Wrigley Field is one of the cathedrals of ballparks. A trip to Wrigley Field is something every baseball fan should experience at least once in their lifetime. For true Cubbie fans, a great way to see the country is by visiting each of the Cubs minor league affiliates. We have now reviewed each of these ballparks, and have included our ranking, as well as an epic suggested road trip for Cubs fans for the 2012 season.

  1. Jackie Robinson Ballpark - Home of the Daytona Cubs

    Jackie Robinson Ballpark opened only a few months after historic Wrigley Field, so Cubs fans will feel right at home at this near-century-old ballpark. The Cubs have been in Daytona Beach for close to two decades now. That is by far the longest any team has stayed here. They even have a booster club; one of them is nicknamed "Front Row Joe". He sits in the box seats near home plate. He has not missed a game since 1995, a streak that is now over 1100 games. He goes out to left field before every home game and changes the number on the left field wall where the Cubs are keeping count of his streak.

    Make this stop number one on a Cubs affiliated ballpark tour starting on July 12th.

  2. Principal Park - Home of the Iowa Cubs

    You may never see Des Moines, IA unless you live there or are passing through on your way to somewhere else, but trust us when we say that it's very underrated and the perfect home for a sports franchise. Iowans pride themselves on being family friendly and self-supportive, and Principal Park has done a great job of merging those two characteristics together to form a unique and fun ballpark and fan experience.

    This will be the fourth stop on your tour with a visit scheduled on July 16th.

  3. Smokies Park - Home of the Tennessee Smokies

    Smokies Park will host the 2012 Southern League All-Star game. Ballparks do not get much cozier than Smokies Park, home of the Tennessee Smokies. It’s nestled just a short drive away from the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the stadium is very impressive for a minor league team at the AA level.

    This will be the second stop on your Cubs ballpark tour, and you'll have two days to make the 10 hour drive from Daytona Beach, FL to Kodak, TN.

  4. Dozer Park - Home of the Peoria Chiefs

    Ballparks that are enmeshed with their city have a certain appeal that is tough to beat. O'Brien Field is one of those parks. As the nearest affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, the O'Brien Field stands are filled with blue hats with the red "C". Overall, the atmosphere is above average compared to many other parks, and you may mistake it for a AAA level.

    Wake up early on the morning of July 15th as you have a 9 hour drive from Tennessee the day before. Luckily you save an hour as you move from the Eastern to Central time zone, but first pitch is at 2:05pm on July 15th.

  5. Memorial Stadium - Home of the Boise Hawks

    Baseball returned to Boise in 1987 with the Boise Hawks. Currently they are the Short Season A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs and play in the Northwest League of Professional Baseball. Memorial Stadium opened for operation in 1989. This trip is a good excuse to visit a very underrated sports town.

    Boise will be the last stop on your Cubs minor league ballpark tour, and you'll have two days to make it from Des Moines. On the way you'll pass through Omaha, Laramie, WY, and Salt Lake City. It's a 21 hour trip before you arrive for the game on July 18th.

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