Although I long for the days of the NY Penn league…it really isn’t that anymore, there is still a great deal of fun baseball taking place in NY. Upstate NY that is. Here is what my humble opinion is about the parks I visited this summer. The PGCBL is a relatively new, yet not new league that attracts elite college baseball players to their respective communities each summer. I have divided this list into three tiers. Cleanliness, seating, atmosphere, playing surface and fan interaction all came into play when grading the parks or in a few cases fields.
- Elmira (Dunn Field) – It was hard to pick a favorite. But, Dunn Field had the feel of minor league ball. It is big by comparison to the other places I visited. The crowd was large, I picked a night with fireworks. The food was good, I thought a bit pricey. The scoreboard is relatively modern (no teams have video boards). Tickets were cheap, although, in comparison to other parks, surprisingly on the high end. They had a dance team as well. The field itself was subpar. There was a burn mark in the infield and the grass in general was long. I was told however that the field was being improved in the offseason. The clubhouses were nice according to the players. For all of the above reasons…Elmira is my number one choice. The old pictures of previous teams were cool too.
- Newark (Colburn Park) – Very different from Elmira, Newark was a bit more homey. Clean and very well-manicured, the players were all consistent in their praise of the field, clubhouses, etc. The food was good, smaller than in Elmira. Nice scoreboard. It was more about the game here versus Elmira. The announcer had a cool voice. I was hoping to see the All-Star game, but alas, could not make it. Parking was easy and it was cheap to buy a ticket. Not as much seating as Elmira, it appeared to be able to fit a thousand fans comfortably though.
- Watertown (Duffy Fairgrounds) – This Park was very different from the others. There was seating right above the dugouts. The field looked very nice and the players all stated it was among the best in the league. The scoreboard was okay, missing some lights. Concessions here were like Newark, a bit smaller than Elmira. None of the fields had people selling in the crowd. They had some fun contests in the game, mascot races, cheese eating. Seats again were cheap. The starting pitcher was delivered in a truck (Ram. Hence the Ram’s). I was told there was no visitor clubhouse, but, players didn’t seem to mind.
- Mohawk Valley (Veterans Park) – This was a neat place to visit. Even smaller concessions, the field however is located basically in a residential neighborhood. The field looked nice, the scoreboard was not very big and located down the first base line. It was shallow in Centerfield, which was kind of neat. They had a cool Dawg mascot. The crowd was into the game, and was of similar size to Watertown…800ish?? Players enjoyed playing here, dugouts were spacious. This field used to host the Mets back in the day.
- Utica (Murnane Field) – This place is pretty big. The crowd was very small the night I went, but, the food options were good. The field looked really nice. It is a big park. The sound system was nice. I was told only a home team clubhouse. There wasn’t as much for promotional stuff going on as in Elmira or Watertown, but it’s a nice field.
- Albany (St. Rose College) – The smallest of the fields in terms of seating (see Adirondack), this is a neat setting though. The place is very clean, a nice promenade for an entrance down to the field. If you sit, you are very close to the field. The dugouts were really nice. The field was in real bad shape the night I went, the grass was very long which happens occasionally because the college doesn’t manicure it as much after the college season is done.
- Glens Falls (East Field) This place is very large in comparison to the other fields. I would guess you could seat 20000 here including the outfield bleachers. The field itself was nice. Again, it is a big park. The concessions were good enough, and, you could eat under a big tent if the weather was subpar. The scoreboard was nice. There wasn’t much for in game promotions, it was truly a baseball game only. Decent crowd the night I was there, but, it is so big there a thousand people does not look like much.
- Amsterdam (Shuttle worth Park) this place was difficult to find, but, it is a cool park. Very small, the foul lines are maybe 280ish? The scoreboard was basic, the field was average at best. Players commented it was hard to see here as well, the lights looked low. Where this place is neat though is off the field. They had a luxury box and a party deck… (Watertown, Mohawk Valley had ones as well). This party deck was well built. There was seating for a thousand or so. The promotions were fun. They also had a cool looking mascot. Of all the fields, this may have been the most unique. Reminded me of an American Legion field all souped up.
- Cooperstown (Doubleday Field) Can you believe it? The Hall of Fame is at the bottom. There was no crowd the game I was at. Players said you couldn’t do any pregame warm-up here. There was very little in the way of advertising. The dugouts and field has deteriorated since the days I used to go to the Hall of Fame games. Parking is not easy here. Concession was outside the field. As cool as saying you play in Cooperstown could be, the players really didn’t emit that.
Well, there you have it. I will visit the parks again next summer. Each place had its own unique properties that made it fun. Now the snow falls, and, the countdown to the next…”Play Ball!”