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Official Review by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Pellagrini Diamond at Shea Field is located in the shadows of Alumni Stadium on the eastern edge of the Boston College campus in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. The field is named after Commander John Shea, of the United States Navy, a BC football player and class of 1917 alumnus who was killed in action during World War II. The baseball diamond is named after Eddie Pellagrini, who served as the Eagles’ baseball coach for 31 years, amassing 359 wins and three College World Series appearances during that time.
Shea Field is located on the edge of the Chestnut Hill reservoir, and offers views of the Boston skyline from certain vantage points around the ballpark. During football season, the baseball field serves as home to many tailgaters prior to Eagle football games. During baseball season fans utilize the top level of the Alumni Stadium parking garage as a location for their own tailgate parties.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There are no places to get food or beverages at Shea Field. Seasoned Eagles fans will bring their own items to enjoy during the game. Also, many fans tailgate throughout the game up on the top level of the Alumni Stadium parking garage, which overlooks the field.
Overall, the game day experience at Commander Shea Field is a laid-back one. The park itself is situated in a small space behind Alumni Stadium, without a lot of the bells and whistles one might expect from a team that plays in the ACC. Crowds are generally small, and there is not a whole lot of seating available at Shea Field.
Four rows of bleachers run down the third base side of the field beyond the dugout, and there are three rows of bleachers squeezed in behind home plate. There is no press box here, and the Eagles' game day staff occupy the top row of bleachers behind the plate.
Fans needing to use the restrooms can choose from several port-a-johns located around the ballpark, or they can walk into Alumni Stadium and use the facilities there. Unfortunately, no concession stands are open inside the football stadium.
If you want to enjoy the most complete Shea Field experience, do what the majority of BC fans do. They line up along the ramps of the Alumni Stadium parking garage that run the length of the first base side of the field. This vantage point offers excellent views of the action, and is much preferred to the metal bleachers located on the other side of the field. Fans wanting more than just a good vantage point will park their cars on the top level of the parking garage and tailgate throughout the game. From this point fans can watch the game and enjoy the party at the same time. It's definitely the place to be during an Eagles baseball game.
Boston College is located in the middle of a busy residential area. There are a few areas in Chestnut Hill where you can shop or eat, and they are all within walking distance of the campus. Your best bet is to head to Cleveland Circle, about a 15 minute walk from the BC campus, where you will find, among other places, Eagle's Deli, which has been featured on several Travel Channel shows for its massive hamburger challenges. It's no wonder that it remains a favorite of Boston College students.
Streets in this area are frequently congested and busy, so be careful navigating this neighborhood and allow yourself extra time.
Fans seeking a more scenic and leisurely pace should spend some time down at the Chestnut Hill Reservoir. It's a favorite place for walkers or joggers, and there isn't a better spot to be in the springtime. From the shores of the reservoir you get a fantastic view of downtown Boston in the distance.
For those fans interested in a faster paced environment, head downtown towards those tall buildings, there is more than enough going on there to keep anyone busy.
Boston College is perhaps the biggest college sports name in all of New England, but the Eagles baseball team lags far behind the football, hockey, and basketball teams in the hierarchy of BC sports. Just a quick look at the facilities surrounding Shea Field will reinforce this fact. Alumni Stadium, home of the football team, towers over the ballpark, and Conte Forum, a short walk from Shea Field, gets a great deal of love from the student body.
It may be somewhat surprising that larger crowds don't turn out for a baseball game at Boston College. A typical crowd at Shea Field runs between 100-250 fans, despite the party atmosphere possible here. There is not a large turnout from the student body either. The fans that do show up are die-hards, to be sure.
The Boston College campus is located in the Chestnut Hill section of the suburb of Newton, Massachusetts, about six miles west of downtown Boston. Newton is a very well-to-do town which frequently ranks near the top of any "best place to live in America" list.
Despite its location in the suburbs, the neighborhood around Boston College shares many of the same access issues as does its big-city neighbors. Anyone who has tried to navigate the crowded, crooked streets of greater Boston by car can tell you how difficult driving in and around the area can be. If you are visiting from out of town, your best bet is to find a copilot who knows their way around town, or a trusty GPS.
Most native Bostonians will tell you that your best bet is to take public transportation, known in these parts as the "T." Like most locations in Greater Boston, the BC campus is most easily reached by subway. The Green Line's B Branch terminus is located on Commonwealth Ave, right across the street from the Chestnut Hill campus. From here, it is a short walk to all points on campus. The Green Line's C Branch stops at Cleveland Circle, a 15 minute walk from campus.
For those who insist on driving, Boston College can be reached without actually entering the congestion of the city. If driving from the north or south, take Interstate 95 (also known as Rte. 128) to exit 24 (Rte. 30-Commonwealth Avenue). Follow this road about 5 miles, and you will find the Boston College campus on your right. If driving from the west, take Interstate 90 (the Massachusetts Turnpike) to exit 17. Follow Center Street to Commonwealth Avenue, and follow that for a mile and a half to the BC campus. The area around Boston College is quite scenic, with a suburban feel, but traffic can be very heavy at times.
Attending a game at Shea Field will not break the bank. There is no charge for admission, and parking in the garage adjacent to the field is free. Since there are no concessions here, you will not spend any money while at Shea Field. It can't get any less expensive than that.
There are not a whole lot of extra bells and whistles mixed in with the game day experience at Shea Field. The team does give out a complimentary roster sheet, but there is not much else going on to merit extra points. However, extra points are awarded for the Eagles' public address announcer, who announces upcoming batters and game highlights with a proper English accent. It's quite unusual to hear such a voice at a baseball game, and I found myself enjoying listening to his announcements. Imagine John Houseman acting as the PA announcer at your local ballpark; that's the best comparison I can make.
Another extra point goes out to the tailgaters taking in the game from the top level of the Alumni Stadium parking garage. While the activity up there is not on the level of the Wrigley Field rooftops, it's a great spot to catch a game from, and easily one of the best ways I can think of to spend a gorgeous spring afternoon in Boston.
At first sight, there is nothing overly special about Shea Field to separate it from the number of other Division I ballparks in New England. Typically, baseball in the northeast is not a big deal, as the schedule is at the mercy of the fickle weather of March and April. However, with proper planning, a day at Shea Field can be a great one. My suggestion is to pack your car with great food, your favorite beverages, and a bunch of friends, and head on up to the top level of the parking garage. From there, the action unfolds below as you enjoy the company of many other Eagles fans with the skyline of Boston in the distance. It doesn't get much better than that.
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