baseball stadium utilizes a number of senses of a human being.
There’s the sound of a cracking bat when it is struck with the
ball. There’s the smell of the fresh cut grass, the hot dogs and
all the concessions offered in the stadium. The eyes witness the
majestic landscape of taking in America’s greatest past time. All
of these go into a wonderful experience thousands share everyday when
they watch a baseball game.
the PGCBL, some of the nicest stadiums of collegiate summer leagues
can be found in the towns of northern New York where these teams call
home. One of the oldest stadiums in the country is found in Elmira,
home of the Pioneers, which has been there since 1888.
of the parks have been used for the New York Penn League, a Class-A
Short Season league in the minors. According to PGCBL President Jeff
Kunion, these stadiums provide quality amenities for players and
provide full stadium services for the fans, for the players,”
Kunion said in a recent hpone interview. “It really provides the
proper atmosphere to really entertain everybody.”
added that PGCBL franchise owners, and the city where the stadiums
are occupied, work out a contract that allows them to use the stadium
during the season.
league [PGCBL] steps in and helps when necessary, but the primary
relationship and the long-term relationship is truly between the
owner of the team and the city that they play in,” Kunion added.
Faughnan and Todd Kirkey are both General Managers within the PGCBL.
Faughnan is the GM of the Utica Brewers and Kirkey is the GM of the
Watertown Rams. Both expressed their gratitude for the stadiums they
play in during the summer.
Watertown Rams call their summer home Alex Duffy Fairgrounds Park.
Its 2,000 seat capacity makes it one of the largest in the PGCBL.
According to the PGCBL website, the park was opened in the 1800’s
and was inhabited by a team in the Empire State League in 1910. And
for Kirkey, he believes the playing surface at Alex Duffy Fairgrounds
is one of the best in the league.
feature by far is the playing surface,” Kirkey said. “I think
it’s pretty much a league wide opinion that this is, it’s not the
best, but one of the top two in the league. Our guys are very lucky
they don’t have to touch the field and the grass is always green
city of Watertown does a great job taking care of the ballpark. They
are very meticulous, I mean it’s always perfectly edged, the grass
is, in my opinion, the best in the league.”
the up and down East Coast summer weather, the Rams still draw a
we’re usually in the top half of the league in attendance,”
Kirkey said. “We’d like to pursue that, obviously to continue.
Last July was great for us when the weather turned and in the playoff
games, we were over 1,000 fans per night.”
year, the Watertown Rams won their first division title since 2006
and made it into the playoffs. They finished the season with a 29-19
record, but Kirkey believes last season could just be the start of
something special for the Rams and the people of Watertown.
certainly helped last year that we won a divisional title for the
first time since 2006, so we certainly have turned the corner in
terms of recruiting good players to play here and I think our
attendance has kind of reflected that,” Kirkey said.
year, Kirkey said that the total number of fans doubled the stadium
capacity. For some, that would seem like trouble trying to find room
when there are twice as many fans as the stadium allows, but this is
his favorite memory of the Rams’ stadium.
going to go back to an exhibition game we played back in 2007 against
Niagara, Kirkey recalled. “We were back in the NYCBL, packed
seat-wise it’s about 2,000 people. There had to be 4,000 people.
There were people sitting, people hanging on the dugouts, we had some
seating areas down the lines usually for our annual firework game on
July 5th and this place was just an absolute madhouse and
were people everywhere. I remember it was my first year here as GM,
and my god, we sold more burgers and hot dogs that night than we
might have sold the whole season. I would probably say that’s my
season at Alex Duffy Fairgrounds, CiCi’s Pizza and Coldstone
Creamery are new additions to the concessions that people can buy to
cool off during the hot summer day games.
4,000-seat Donovan Stadium at Murnane Field was once home to the
Class A Level Utica Blue Sox, who originated in 1944, and is now home
to the Utica Brewers. For Brewers GM Peter Faughnan, he describes the
park as a “family atmosphere.”
definitely a walking ballpark as far as for fans,” Faughnan said.
“It’s a walking, family atmosphere park because the stands and
the concession area are established behind the bleachers. It’s
really fan friendly, families can come, and they can hang out in
these big areas where some parks are smaller. I also think too for
the players, it’s a legit ballpark based on the dimensions.
don’t see many home runs. Last year I saw three home runs hit. I
think it’s either 405 or 410 to center field. I think it’s great
for players who are looking to get to the next level.”
for collegiate players in the PGCBL and the fans that go out to watch
any of the teams, they can expect to have a Minor League baseball
experience, an experience that Kunion wants players and fans to have.
to one of our games is like going to any other minor league game,”
Kunion said. “We try and operate them like minor league franchises.
You’ll see all the crazy on-field stuff from dizzy bat races to
running around the bases with a lawn mower to water balloon tosses,
pie eating contests to hot dog eating contests. We try to put on a
fun time for the fans.”