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Official Review by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Princeton University was the fourth chartered institution in the American colonies in 1746; the private Ivy League school has a very prestigious history and reputation. The school was founded as the College of New Jersey up north in Elizabeth, and relocated to the town of Princeton in 1756. In 1896, the school changed its name to Princeton University.
The baseball program shares an equally historic legacy, being the institution’s first varsity sport in 1864. Since that day, the Tigers have won 10 Eastern Intercollegiate Baseball League Championships, seven Ivy League Championships, and appeared in 11 NCAA Baseball Tournaments.
The Princeton Tigers play at Clarke Field, named after Bill Clarke the first paid coach in Princeton baseball history who posted an impressive 564-322-10 in 36 years of coaching at the school. He also played with the original Baltimore Orioles who captured three straight National League pennants from 1894-1896.
Opened in 1961 and renovated in 2005 and 2006, Clarke Field features a sunken diamond, with the playing surface lying lower than the surrounding seating areas. It is adjacent to the Princeton Stadium where the university’s football program plays during the Fall.
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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".
Unfortunately, like many other collegiate baseball fields across the northeast, there is no food or beverages to be had while watching a Princeton game. Peanuts, hot dogs, or Cracker Jacks can be found, but they are brought in by fans from somewhere else. Fortunately, you are in a great area for restaurants, but if you are catching a nine inning contest, be sure to pick up something before and bring it to the game.
Clarke Field is located in a residential neighborhood right off of campus and next to the football stadium. The field has an electronic scoreboard, PA system, and a small press box. The field's seating areas, raised around the sunken diamond, consist of permanent seats on the first base side and bleachers on the top of the third base line. The setting around the stadium is set in a residential neighborhood.
The stadium itself is rather mundane, but is tucked neatly inside a cozy little residential neighborhood that borders the university's campus. The seating is wedged into the small hill that surrounds the diamond. There is no seating down the third baseline and there is a small press box on top of the hill above home plate. There is plenty of grass seating that is spacious and perfect for blankets and lawn chairs.
Princeton Stadium lurks directly behind right field.
There are a few nice touches that include a memorial to former baseball and hockey star Bill MacCoy who lost his life in a mid-air training collision in Pampa, Texas. The brick memorial features ivy and a flagpole that displays the flags of the two opponents on the baseball field.
The rest of the baseball field features a small press box on top of the hill above home plate, outfield signage, no lighting, and a PA system.
The best part about watching a baseball game in Princeton is having the chance to walk around the campus and downtown area. The iconic Ivy League school features historic buildings, green courtyards, and beautiful gardens. It is a great place for pictures or simple sightseeing. The city of Princeton is equally scenic and is the state's most picturesque college town. The downtown area off of Nassau Street is a bit of a long walk, but there is plenty of shopping, restaurants, bars, and entertainment to be found in the area.
There's a bit of everything from fine dining, contemporary, breakfast, pub food, and cheap eats. Winberie's offers pub food in a wonderful atmosphere, The Alchemist & Barrister Restaurant offers steak and seafood, and Triumph Brewing Company is not just a great place for craft beer, but offers upscale menu items.
If you are looking for a quick bite or cheap eats, Hoagie Haven and 30 Burgers are top picks by the students and locals. If you like ice cream, there is plenty of shops to grab a cone: The Bent Spoon and Thomas Sweet Ice Cream.
If you enjoy shopping, the Princeton Record Exchange offers the area's largest used CD, DVDs, and vinyl collection, and Labyrinth Books has a collection of new and used books. Palmer Square has a collection of local and national retail stores that include Lindt Chocolates, J Crew, Barbour, Urban Outfitters, Ralph Lauren, and Princeton Corkscrew and Wine Shop.
The majority of fans in attendance are family members of players with a few casual fans sprinkled in. It's a very similar feel among many other university ballparks across the country. This is not to say that they are not dedicated; their demeanor is similar to many other smaller baseball fields across campuses in the United States.
Clarke Field is adjacent to Princeton Stadium, which makes it easy to locate if you cannot find the baseball field on your GPS. Parking is restricted to the streets and is free, but limited during games. The university itself is easily accessible off of US-1 or Rt. 27, but depending on the time of day, can become congested.
There is not a fee for admission to baseball games and there is plenty of comfortable seating to make one want to make a return visit. The main reason to return to see a game is a chance to walk around the campus or take in an afternoon or evening shopping and eating in town. Princeton is one of New Jersey's most scenic towns.
One extra point for this scenic Ivy league university setting. It is perfect to walk around and wander through during a warm afternoon. If you live in the area and it's a nice day, then consider making a trip out to a ball game.
The downtown area offers an eclectic selection of dining options that is overwhelming, but definitely satisfying.
I have spent half of my life visiting and walking around the town of Princeton. The baseball field may not be one of the most ideal places to watch a game, but it is the town itself that is worth a visit. It is one of the state of New Jersey's most picturesque, scenic, and pleasurable little towns.
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1 Palmer Square
Princeton, NJ 08542
28 Witherspoon St
Princeton, NJ 08542
138 Nassau St
Princeton, NJ 08542
20 S Tulane St
Princeton, NJ 08542
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