MIAMI -- The Miami Marlins' latest homestand ended with their new ballpark still standing, despite Giancarlo Stanton blasting home runs off it.
He became the first player to hit the home-run sculpture, and the first player to homer into the beer garden. He also knocked out a section of the scoreboard with a homer.
"That's why we have maintenance workers – to fix the things Giancarlo breaks," Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said with a chuckle.
The 6-foot-5, 246-pound Stanton has become a master of the tape-measure homer and more. He hit 12 home runs in May to tie the franchise record for a single month, and drove in 30 runs.
Since the start of the expansion era in 1961, the only other player under age 23 to total more homers and RBIs in a single month was Bob Horner in 1980, the Marlins said, citing the Elias Sports Bureau.
Stanton doesn't turn 23 until November.
"Unbelievable," teammate Jose Reyes said, shaking his head. "No one hits the ball harder than that guy. It's fun to watch. And he's only 22. It's unbelievable. He's 22! Unbelievable. Unbelievable."
"He's a little bit of a freak," teammate John Buck added.
Opponents are likewise impressed.
"There's not a park that's going hold him," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
The buzz about the Marlins' right fielder has been slowly building since he had three hits in his major-league debut in 2010. His majestic clouts are attracting more notice now that the perennially overlooked Marlins are on the national radar thanks to an offseason spending spree and a 21-8 record in May, best in the majors.
Just when the name Mike Stanton was starting to catch on – thanks to 56 homers in his first two seasons – the slugger asked to be called Giancarlo. His full name is Giancarlo Cruz Michael Stanton, and he went with Mike in school because it was easier to pronounce.
Pretty much everyone has adjusted to the rebranding except for Stanton's biggest fan, Cash Johnson. He's the 4-year-old son of Marlins right-hander Josh Johnson.
"Cash calls him `Mike Stanton' every time," Johnson said. "Not `Stanton,' not `Mike,' but `Mike Stanton.' He has always been his favorite player. He was in the weight room with Stanton on one of those physio balls stretching out with him, and he cried when he had to leave because he wanted to stay.
"He doesn't talk to anybody unless his name is Mike Stanton. I don't know if I can switch him over to Giancarlo."
Cash is part of a growing throng of admirers. Stanton went to a Miami Heat playoff game this week and was besieged by fans wanting to pose with him for photos.
He's fine with the attention.
"Being more popular or whatever comes with the territory," he said. "It's better to be good and popular than someone who has people saying, `Whatever. He's an OK player.'"
The Californian started the season less than OK. On April 28 he was hitting .246 with no home runs, and it's hardly a coincidence the Marlins were 8-12 and last in the NL East.
"When he was struggling, we went to San Francisco," Buck recalled. "I told him, `All you need is a little West Coast air, since you're from here. Get that in those big old muscles of yours, and you're going to take off.' He hit a bomb in San Francisco and I said, `There you go, take off.' Maybe he took it literally."
Stanton hit five homers in a seven-game stretch and has hardly slowed since. His walk-off grand slam beat the Mets, and his grand slam against the Rockies made part of the scoreboard go blank.
He doesn't have to homer to make jaws drop. Early this year he hit a liner that never climbed higher than 10 feet and still reached the center field wall on a single bounce.
"I've never seen anybody hit a one-hopper to the fence, and he did it," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "In my time, I don't see anybody who has the ball jump off his bat like this kid."
Stanton said the ball he hit hardest in May wasn't a homer, but a double that started a comeback in the ninth to beat Mets closer Frank Francisco.
He begins June ranked among NL leaders with 13 homers and 39 RBIs, and his average is a season-high .304.
The statistic that makes him proudest is the last one.
"That's the kind of hitter I've been working to be," he said. "I don't like having a low average, period. I don't like the whole 1 for 5 with a homer and everyone else is like `great game' because you hit a homer. I really don't like that kind of game."
Stanton batted .343 in May, and Guillen said the reason was his willingness to hit pitches up the middle and to right field. Guillen considers his young slugger a potential .300 hitter.
"He has the talent to do it," Guillen said. "And if this guy hits .300, he has a chance to win the MVP, because he'll have RBIs and home runs."
The biggest concern about Stanton is keeping him healthy, in part because he tends to flop about in right field with coltish zeal.
But with his bat, he appears invulnerable. Stanton took a 90-mph fastball in the left forearm Wednesday and didn't even flinch, later reporting only a slight bruise.
"The ball," he said with a smile, "has a dent."
Fenway Park, Boston
This great, perpetually sold out, temple to Baseball is celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year. Fenway has a bizarrely shaped outfield, rowdy fans and few of the modern amenities that have ballgames more and more family friendly over the last two decades. This is exactly the point. Fenway is a baseball stadium for people who love baseball. The stadium sits within walking distance of Boston's Museum of Fine Arts and a throw away from Newbury Street, the high-end shopping avenue that leads to the Common. This is Boston's beating heart. Home Opener: April 13
Marlins Ballpark, Miami
The newest monument to baseball is a 37,000 seat stadium outside of Miami where the relocated Marlins will play in air conditioned comfort a short ride away from Florida's center of cool. Yes, the new uniforms are ridiculous looking, but the park isn't and the owners are gambling that the fans here are ready to get behind this team, which has a lot of Latin flavor. Home Opener: April 4 (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Citi Field, New York
The Mets are a very bad baseball team. Terrible really. But there is a silver lining to all the financial and lineup problems: Going to a game is very cheap and, most of the time, there is at least one professionally looking ballclub in the house. Citi Field is the anti-Yankees Stadium. It isn't particularly glamorous, but it is accessible and doable for people who want to go to a last minute game. Tell you friends you saw a game in New York. They'll probably just assume you went to the Bronx anyway. Home Opener: April 5
PNC Park, Pittsburgh
PNC Park seems like a metaphor for what Pittsburgh could be. The ballpark is only a decade old, but seems like a throwback to a more traditional era, embracing a sort of Americana meets the 21st century aesthetic. The views are beautiful and the park sits close to a beautiful park and the always alluring National Aviary. No, the Pirates aren't a great team, but Pittsburgh is a great sports town and the fans are terrific. Home Opener: April 5
Camden Yards, Baltimore
Camden Yards is everything a stadium should be. It is huge, but intimate, modern but traditional. This year Earl Weaver will be tossing out the first pitch for the Orioles, a tribute to both his career with the club and the club's respect for baseball history. The fact that the National Aquarium and the Charm City's waterfront is nearby doesn't hurt. Home Opener: April 4
Wrigley Field, Chicago
Like Fenway, Wrigley Field is more than just a ballpark. This is a critical piece of Chicago history and a major part of the city's landscape. After the game, walk towards the lake to enjoy open parks and stunning views. Wearing a Cubbies hat and reciting the poem "Tinkers to Evers to Chance" will win you a lot of friends. Don't try to catch foul balls that fielders might be able to reach. Seriously. Home Opener: April 5
Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia
The two biggest reason to head to Citizens Bank Park: The Phillies are great and their fans are crazy. Travelers may want to dress in red and white if they want to enter this temple to mass psychosis, but those who do will find a perfectly manicured field and sweeping views of the City of Brotherly Love. The one downside. There isn't much nearby, just some really epic parking lots. Home Opener: April 5
Citizens Bank Park
Yankee Stadium, New York
The Evil Empire's new stadium is proof that America's love affair with baseball is as passionate as ever. The massive stadium offers great views from almost every seat and affords true fans the priceless opportunity to join the home crowd in heckling A-Rod for being a jerk. New York is one of the most popular destinations in the world and seeing a game is an absolute must. Go to Citi Field if you're on a budget. If you aren't, go to Yankee Stadium. Home Opener: April 13 <em>Correction: A previous version of this slide showed the old Yankee stadium. We regret the error</em>.
AT&T Park, San Francisco
Led by their eccentric pitching staff, the Giants are one of the most exciting teams in baseball and ames at AT&T are almost uniformly engaging. That said, the view of the bay and the sunshine might not make up for the crowd's consistently blase attitude. Be prepared to have to explain the Infield Fly Rule to a computer programmer. There is a Build-A-Bear Workshop in the outfield. Seriously. Home Opener: April 6
Tokyo Dome, Tokyo
The opening game of the 2012 season was played by the Seattle Mariner and Oakland Athletics in Tokyo, making the Tokyo Dome the least convenient place to see a MLB game. Just because the opening series is over, doesn't mean the Dome is empty. Catch a Yomiuri Giants game here or just a Superhero show, which is apparently a thing. Because the stadium is also the home of the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame, it is the perfect place for foreigners to take in a few innings and a bit of history. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
(Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)
Warren Ballpark, Bisbee, AZ
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/mikefrombisbee"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/mikefrombisbee">mikefrombisbee</a>:<br />Billy Martin and Clint Courtney fought here in 1947. The NY Giants and the White Sox played there in 1913 on their World Tour. Three of the Black Sox and others banned from baseball played here in an outlaw league in the 1920s. Warren Ballpark in historic Bisbee, AZ dates back to 1909. Although it's no longer a minor league park, it remains in use year-round for high school football and baseball, semi-pro summer baseball, vintage base ball and other community events.
Day at the yard
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Bompa"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://i.huffpost.com/profiles/301835-tiny.png?20101208175707" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Bompa">Bompa</a>:<br />Just another day at the yard.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/jim4small"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/526151330/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/jim4small">jim4small</a>:<br />Fenway Home Opener 2011
Jamsil Baseball Park - Doosan Bears Home Field
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/vonchio"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/twitter_profile_img/3014093.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/vonchio">vonchio</a>:<br />Korea Probaseball Team(Doosan BEARS) Home field in Seoul, Korea