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Official Review by Andrei Ojeda, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Though Long Beach State athletics are known as the 49ers, the locals, students, alumnus, and everyone involved with the baseball program affectionately refer to themselves as The Dirtbags. The moniker goes back to Coach Dave Snow’s first team in 1989, when The Dirtbags would practice at a local all-dirt Pony Field. That same team would play in 3 different venues. In spite of not having a true home field advantage, that 1989 team would win their first 18 games and advance to their first College World Series appearance. Since then, being a Dirtbag has been looked at with high esteem.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
A good variety of dining selections are available. A Nathan's Hot Dog/Large Soda combo goes for $7.75, while the nachos and cheese/large soda or large popcorn/large soda combo go for $7.25. If you're not in the mood for the standard hot dog. Legends, a local favorite, serves up hamburgers ($7.50), cheeseburgers ($8.50), grilled bratwurst ($6.75) and a pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw on top ($8.50). With the right amount of bbq sauce and the meat having the right amount of tenderness, I highly recommend the pulled pork sandwich. Bottled water and 12 ounce soft drinks go for $2, snacks, ranging from candy, peanuts, chips and sunflower seeds go from $2.50 to $4.
Alcoholic beverages are also available, from $6 for 16 ounces of Bud or Bud Light to $7.50 for 20 ounces of draft Bud Light or Shock Top. Wine options are cabernet & chardonnay and are available for $5.
Blair Field, constructed in 1958, offers an old school charm that is more than proud to display its proud history. As you walk along the exterior concourse, banners of former Dirtbag greats are put on display. Also on display along the 3rd base tunnel toward the stands are Sports Illustrated and ESPN the Magazine covers of former Dirtbags currently playing in the Majors, notably Troy Tulowitzki and Evan Longoria. Paying tribute to former Dirtbags turned big leaguers gives that feel for the fans that the next potential developing big league star is playing right in front of them.
The trees beyond the outfield fence from the local park also provide a nice, natural urban feel. Beyond the left field fence, a couple of fans could be spotted watching the game. Let's give some kudos to the Dirtbags for not preventing these fans from taking in the action beyond the stadium fences.
Also, the sight of Prospector Pete, the Long Beach State mascot, adds another touch to the atmosphere. Though he isn't involved in much between-innings entertainment, he engages in plenty of interaction in the stands, taking photos with fans of all ages. Mascots, though usually not seen much during college events not as heavily attended as football or men's basketball, are always a welcome touch to any college game as they bring a great sense of school pride and spirit among the fans.
Blair Field sits right next to Recreation Park, a 210.9 acre park that makes for a great pre/postgame spot. The name Recreation Park pretty much says it all, with all sorts of recreational activity happening ranging from volleyball to two hand touch football to kids and parents doing a little pre and postgame catch, along with family picnics. Stroll through on a weekend and you can't help the smell of various forms of meat wafting through the grills as you get closer toward the ball yard. All this gives Blair Field an urban neighborhood field, blending in with the area very nicely.
With a near-capacity crowd, this may have been the most vocal group of fans I have witnessed at a college baseball venue. Throughout the game, chants of "LET'S GO DIRTBAGS" could be heard.
It's interesting because while the term "Dirtbag " is looked upon in the negative sense, the fans, particularly the young ones, seem to be proud of the moniker, as if being a Dirtbag is a cool thing. Speak to many a Long Beach State alumnus and mention the term Dirtbag, chances are great you will have a friendly, engaging conversation. These folks take great pride in being a Dirtbag, as well they should.
Blair Field can be easily accessed from the 405 freeway as well as Pacific Coast Highway. Upon arriving to the yard you will be happy to know that parking is free, however, be warned that the closer you park toward the grandstand, the higher the risk your car will be struck by a foul ball, a fact not lost upon The Dirtbags as signs are posted throughout.
The majority of the seats are general admission grandstand seats. Ticket prices are $10 for adults, $8 for faculty/alumni, $8 youth ages 3-12, $6 for kids with jerseys ages 6-12. Super Box seats for those who want a reserved seat within the first two rows go for $26, while all other box seats go for $13.
Since most seats are priced at $10 or below, this really is a great family value. You will also be glad to know that the parking is free, freeing up some cash for you to buy your kid, or even yourself, that replica Jared Weaver jersey t-shirt.
Prior to entering the gates is a memorial dedicated to Bob Lemon. Once inside the gates, in front of the main concession stand is the Long Beach Baseball Hall of Fame. Any fan of baseball owes it to themselves to make a stop here either prior, during or after the game. Among those enshrined in the Long Beach Baseball HOF are Tony Gwynn, Bobby Grich and Ron Fairly. It's only a matter of time when Jared Weaver and Troy Tulowitzki are enshrined.
Also, for those of you bringing kids to the yard, Sunday afternoon games allow kids to run the bases after the game, giving your young ones the chance to run the bases in the field of dreams that Tulo, Weaver and Longoria once ran.
There certainly is no shortage of history here. Walk along the concourse and you will see for yourself that this is one proud baseball program with the many banners and signs paying homage to past Dirtbags, many of who have made it on to the bigs.
Slated for future renovations starting in summer 2015, some changes in the first phase will include bringing in the outfield fences, something the hitters should like, and possibly a grass berm in left field.
Though the fan experience at Blair Field may offer that rustic old school charm, renovations are a necessity for any program these days if they are to stay competitive, especially when it comes to recruiting top talent. The renovations can only help the fan experience as well, blending a good mix of Blair Field's history with some much needed amenities.
Member Review by DrewCieszynski on Mar 14, 2012
The Long Beach baseball program has been known by many names over the years. The names have ranged from the formal such as California State University Long Beach, Long Beach State, Cal State Long Beach; to the more informal that include "the Beach", 49ers, Shortstop U, and the LBC. Since 1989 however, no name has been more popular than simply … the "Dirtbags."
The school’s published nickname is the 49ers, and visitors will spot the name here and there, but the gift shops, the fans, and the stadium all refer to team as "Dirtbags." While not typically a flattering term, the name was coined during one of the programs largest runs at success.
The year was 1989, and Dave Snow had just finished a successful coaching stint with the Loyola Marymount Lions, when he took the reins at Long Beach State, who had just finished a season with a winning percentage less than .250. The team did not even have a permanent home, splitting games between the Long Beach City College, Cerritos College, and the soon to be permanent fixture of Blair Field. The team’s infield coach often took a select group of players to a local Pony League field where the infield lacked any natural grass. When the players returned from these practices, they would be covered in dirt and teased by the players who practiced on the more traditional grass infield.
Despite their questionable facilities, the team experienced an unbelievable start to the season, winning their first 18 games. The team’s winning percentage more than tripled to .769 during the 1989 season. After winning the conference title, the team became a fan favorite as the team’s play resembled the term Dirtbags to the fullest.
The permanent home of the Dirtbags today is Blair Field. The Field is named after Frank Blair, who was the editor of the Long Beach Press Telegram newspaper for 32 years.
It was not always the home for Long Beach baseball as the team did not make it a permanent home until 1993. The stadium opened in April of 1958 in Recreation Park after a construction cost of $500,000. Before long, it would see use from MLB ball clubs such as the Chicago Cubs, and Los Angeles Angels.
In 1992, a $1.5 million renovation provided new seating, lights, and most importantly a new drainage system that brought the field to professional baseball standards. Finally, a renovation in 1999 added nearly 800 box seats and a new scoreboard.
To date, the team has logged 17 NCAA tournament appearances, 11 conference championships, and four College World Series appearances to go with its many MLB stars including Jered Weaver, Evan Longoria, Troy Tulowitzki, and Jason Giambi. Though a smaller capacity of approximately 3,300 fans, it has been recognized by Baseball America as being one of the 15 best collegiate ballparks in the country.
4828 East 2nd Street
Long Beach, CA 90803
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