Baseball has a long and storied history on the Eastern Shore of the Delmarva. Small towns in Delaware, Eastern Maryland and Eastern Virginia played in minor leagues during the early part of the 20th century similar to today's Single-A level. But the professional play took a long hiatus until 1996, when the Delmarva Shorebirds were born in Salisbury, MD. Arthur W. Perdue Stadium became their home and fans have "flocked" to this ballpark ever since. The stadium is a fine place to watch a game, but it also includes a hall of fame worthy of arriving early to check out.
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Perdue Stadium offers a decent amount of food options, all available on an open concourse with views of the field. Baskets seemed popular, like a Dietz & Watson hot dog along with chips ($4.75) or Grilled Chicken with chips ($5.50). However some of the smaller items on their own were a bit pricey (regular fries were $4.50). Angus burgers, Philly cheese steaks, pulled BBQ and Buffalo wings (from mild to "wild") were just some of the offerings that provided a descent array of options. The only unique item I saw was a fudge puppy ($5), a Belgian waffle dipped in chocolate. It was disappointing not to see any local flavor as this part of the country is known for seafood, specifically crabs, and it's a crying shame that a ballpark located in the Delmarva does not make crab cakes or some sort of crab product readily available.
Pepsi products were the cola brand of choice here with a regular going for $3.50. Perdue Stadium has a good variety of beers (regular: $5.25, large: $6.50) with the Leinenkugel being one of the different specialties.
Inside, the ballpark is a facility that fits the region well. A single level seating bowl split by a walkway wraps around the field with the seats extending to the end of the infield on each side. Most of the seats unfortunately are general admission and these are hard bleachers with backs. There are no seat numbers, so when the ballpark is full, be prepared for a lot of people standing in the aisles trying to figure out where to sit. One design feature I liked was the Hardball Cafe; section behind home plate. This gives the ballpark a different look and these seats were nice in that $29.50 gets you a great seat and a buffet.
There is another picnic area on the first base side and grassy hills are available to sit on too, just like at most any other minor league ballpark. The kids area features a merry-go-round (a tradition at most Baltimore Orioles affiliates), basketball court and trampoline amongst other games.
Near the ballpark, there's nothing within walking distance and the only restaurant (not counting Denny's and Subway) nearby is the Lagoon Bar & Grill. Along with food and drink specials, this bar occasionally will have live music. About 5-10 minutes away is downtown Salisbury and though the downtown section is not anything special, we did find a nice spot on Market Street along the Wicomico River. The Market Street Inn is one of the city's best restaurants and we had a terrific meal before the game. There's outdoor seating and a bar area, so it's perfect on a warm summer evening. The food was great, but check out the wine list as they are known for their selection.
Also, the beach is not far from the ballpark as the very popular resort town of Ocean City is a half-hour to the East.
The Shorebirds game experience is very typical of minor league baseball crowds: family oriented, somewhat interested in the play and mainly out for a nice night. All of the ingredients were in place for a great crowd at the game I attended as it was a Saturday Night, 80 degrees and fireworks would follow the game. This led to an overflow announced attendance of 8,373. Honestly, that number is quite ridiculous because the seating capacity is 5,200 and there is no way that all of the picnic, grassy and standing room areas could hold over 3,000 in this park. Regardless, it was still a packed house and that is always great to see that fans will come to the ballpark. Their next home game (a hot Wednesday night) only had a paid attendance of 1,731, so the night of the game and promotions mainly drive the crowd. Again, that's pretty common at this level of baseball.
Fans applauded plays and a few stood and clapped after home runs. It was a decent atmosphere, though a bit disappointing when fans didn't seem too concerned that the visitors took the lead in the 9th (probably because the fireworks could now start on time!). Baltimore Orioles apparel outnumbered the amount of Shorebirds gear fans wore, so being affiliates of the O's definitely contributes to bringing in fans.
It may take a little work getting to the Eastern Shore of Maryland as it is not served by any major interstates or airports. However, once you're in the vicinity of Salisbury, this is a fairly easy venue to get to as it is right off of the main arteries in town, US-50 and US-13. A turn onto Hobbs Road brings you right to the ballpark and parking areas. Most nights there are plenty of spots in the lots, however if you come to a busy night, parking overflows onto the nearby fields. This makes getting out a little more difficult as I experienced on the visit, however it doesn't take too long. Getting back to US-50 and US-13 is a little longer as you can not make a left when departing, however it is all well-signed.
Bathrooms weren't available in a huge number, but were certainly adequate as they never had any lines.
This is a nice place to watch a minor league game and the cost is reasonable. Parking is $3, you always hope for free parking at this level, but $3 isn't anything to complain about. Concessions are maybe a bit above average, but the tickets are a good deal as $6 (if bought in advance) will get you a general admission seat. The more comfortable seats are $10.
Kudos to the Delmarva Shorebirds for housing the Eastern Shore Hall of Fame in the first floor of the ballpark. Two points given here as you'll be hard pressed to find a better hall of fame in a minor league facility. If you are interested in baseball and/or history, I recommend arriving 30-45 minutes early so you can spend time down here. This large room contains a great deal of memorabilia, collectibles and displays on the history of baseball in the region. Much of the focus is on the old Eastern Shore League, a league that was off and on from the early 1920s to the late 1940s and was similar to today's "A" ball. Other features include the actual hall of fame and a display wall for all of the major leaguers from the region. The old-time collectables from decades ago are also interesting to look at. There is a gentleman there to help answer any questions. Ask him about the 1937 Salisbury Indians as it is quite an interesting story.
Another point to the banners in the concourse that are for "All-Time Stars", former players who have starred in the big leagues. These player cards have a picture, along with a description and stat-line for when they were a Shorebird.
The last point goes to the Perdue family. The stadium is named after Arthur W. Perdue, founder of Perdue Farms, but it was his son Frank's generosity that helped get the ballpark built. Frank donated not only money, but also the land for the stadium. His contribution has had a lasting impact as the Shorebirds are firmly a part of summers in the Delmarva.
Follow all of Sean's journeys at Stadium & Arena Visits.
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130 W Market St
Salisbury, MD 21801
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