When it comes to college baseball prestige the California State University Fullerton squad seems to always be at the forefront of discussions. While the USC Trojans have won a lot in the past, the Titans continue to be there year after year.
To date, the team has never had a losing season. Never. While they are most known for their four National Championships, one cannot forget 16 CWS appearances, and 25 NCAA tournament appearances to date.
Goodwin Field, formerly known as Titan Field, is now the third home field of baseball program and continues to evolve into one of the best parks in all of college baseball. The stadium opened in 1992 and was renamed in 2000 after Jerry and Merilyn Goodwin made a sizable donation to help fund many of the renovations to the stadium.
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In terms of college baseball, Goodwin Field is certainly in the upper echelon in terms of concessions.
There is a single permanent stand that offers many of the ballpark staples, including beef hot dogs ($4), Polish sausage dogs ($4.50), nachos with cheese ($4), soft pretzel ($3.25, add $0.50 for cheese), churros ($3.25), peanuts ($5), cheeseburger ($4.75), and a variety of smaller snacks.
The temporary concessions are where the Titans set themselves apart from the competition.
The first item that may catch your eye is the Berlin Brat truck. They offer sausages made from wild boar, bison, alligator, kangaroo, rattlesnake, and rabbit. All of their sausages are served with Belgian fries.
If you stroll onto campus, you'll find a sculpture named the "Fallen David," and appropriately enough there is an Italian food vendor known as Michelangelo's that serves pizza slices for $5.
The most popular stand appeared to offer BBQ beef or pork with baked beans or pasta salad for $8. They also had steak tacos with a price of one for $3 or two for $5.
Maui Wowi coffees and smoothies, Hawaiian ice ($3), kettle corn, and funnel cakes with toppings are all available in a variety of flavors and sizes.
In terms of beverages, there is soda (24 oz for $3, 32 oz for $4, and 44 oz for $5), lemonade, Gatorade ($4), bottled water ($3), and coffee or hot chocolate ($2.25).
The atmosphere at Goodwin Field has it all; from the serenity of the birds chirping from the nearby arboretum to the intense rock music pouring through the sound system during the game.
Fans can't help but to feel a sense of awe upon arriving at the stadium. The scoreboard facing the parking lot, the outfield fence, the clubhouse, and the concourse all constantly remind fans that they are in the company of winners.
There is a ton of methods that the Titans use to engage the fans during the game. The player introductions were fun with a tunnel being formed by the reserves for the starters to run out through. There is a spirit squad walking the concourse engaging fans and clever parodies on the scoreboard including one of the popular television show The Office.
Not that it is needed, but during the contest, there are several built in promos to get involved in certain aspects of the game. This included the "Double Double Section of the Game (where a designated batter wins cheeseburgers for the fans by hitting a double)" and the "Klondike K Count (specific number of strikeouts wins Klondike bars for fans)."
With so many fans in the stands, there is quite the roar upon a big play. There is not a lot of activity on the concourse throughout the game, so despite several promotions during the game, it's a very "baseball-centric" atmosphere.
Fullerton is definitely one of the nicer communities of Orange County and offers something for everyone.
One of the unique perks of the stadium is that the Fullerton Arboretum is located next to the stadium. There is no fee to enter (but a donation from each visitor would be nice), and visitors can walk the beautiful 25 acre botanical garden, admiring plants from around the world.
Other interesting sights in the nearby communities include Disneyland, the Crystal Cathedral, and the Richard Nixon Library.
While the area immediately surrounding the stadium does not have many restaurants or bars, the area is loaded with options a short drive away. Popular bars include the Dubliner Pub, Brian's Beer & Billiards, Canyon Inn Sports Bar & Grill, Kelly's Sports Bar & Grill, and the Stadium Tavern.
Popular local restaurants include Blake's Place (pit smoked BBQ), Esther's Taco House, Pepe's Mexican, and Roscoe's Deli. Common nationwide mainstays include Panera, Outback Steakhouse, and Sonic Drive-In.
It is difficult to question the commitment of the Fullerton fans as they typically rank in the top 30 of college baseball attendance. Regardless of the opponent or day of the week, the larger capacity venue is often filled.
I give significant credit to the school marketing department as well for creating some intriguing merchandise for their fans. It seems that every school has a small tent or table on hand to sell their namesake, but Fullerton has an entire trailer that is seemingly busy throughout the game. It must be intimidating to all of the visiting teams, seeing all of the orange and blue support in the stands.
There was a marketing table next to the pressbox that offered scorecards to the fans in attendance. A visitor would be shocked by the number of fans crowded around a tall standup board that listed the starting lineups; penciling the names onto their scorecards.
While those outside of Southern California may not know the city by name, it's relatively simple to access via the 5, 57, and 91 freeways. In fact, the stadium is only 7 miles from Angel Stadium.
The parking is a bit frustrating; the field is on campus and it's difficult to tell when you do or do not have to pay for parking. I did attend on a weekend and a faded sign did indicate that parking would be free; however I do believe parking on weekdays may be $8. The spots seemed plentiful when I arrived, but I took another look during the game and the lots appeared rather full. One definite plus that warrants some additional points is that there appeared to be a tailgating crowd prior to the game. Most college baseball stadiums either do not have enough fans to warrant tailgating or do not allow it.
In terms of the restrooms, there was a single facility per gender behind the grandstand with roughly nine stations. The facility is so great that the restrooms was probably the only portion that I felt could be slightly improved; just by modernizing it a bit.
When I initially review the prices in comparison to other programs in Southern California, they do seem a bit above average. The increased ticket price is driven by demand, a modern venue, and by an experience that exceeds that of its peers.
Box seats are priced at $15, while reserved seats are at $10. For fans that choose to sit in the ample general admission section, adult seats are $8 and youth or senior tickets are $6. Please note that the box office is cash only.
With Fullerton baseball, there are not many down seasons; in fact, there is seldom a losing streak. Rarely do winning traditions equate fans turning away from the value proposition and consequently the stands are often full. An average of 2,000 fans at every game seem to have no issue with the prices of tickets, food, or parking.
After picking up a ticket to the game at the box office, fans will walk up a palm tree lined walkway, definitely providing a Southern California feel to the venue. At the top of the walkway, fans can look out onto the field and take note of some of the unique items the field offers.
Most notable among the items on the outfield wall might be the orange foul poles. As I think back to all of my MLB, Minor League, and College baseball I have visited in the past, I do not recall anything beyond yellow at most other venues. Between the foul poles, the team cleverly hangs the advertisements ABOVE the outfield wall, which may not seem like a big deal, but it really preserves the beauty of the playing field. On the actual wall, fans will notice three items:
•First are the circles with the year of National Championship teams in them on the left field wall.
•Secondly, closer to the right field foul pole, the initials "MC" are listed. This is homage to Mike Campbell, a long time equipment manager who passed in 2011 after a long bout with cancer. A former Cal State Fullerton golfer, he was a staple of the Fullerton baseball program for many years, appearing at many games despite living in Santa Cruz.
•Lastly, in right-centerfield is a message that reads "The Saarloos Family says Good Luck Titans; only 1,544 miles to Omaha." This is an obvious nod to past championships and the pursuit of the next with the College World Series taking place in Omaha, NE.
Along the concourse, fans will find banners showing the names and numbers of notable players from the past including Brett Pill, Phil Nevin, Chad Cordero, and even the #30 of Mike "Toad" Wilson.
On the third base side of the grandstand, fans will find a large banner that shows the accolades that players of the past have won. The recipients shown include the National Player of the Year, Golden Spikes Award, College World Series MVP, Team USA Olympians, and All-Americans. On the opposite side of the grandstand is Pierre Nicholas Wall of Champions. Here, fans will see plaques listing all of the players of the championship teams and even a plaque that reads "Reserved for Future NCAA Champions." There are also individual plaques for the programs three Golden Spikes Award winners (Nevin, Kotsay, Wallach) and Augie Garrido (former coach).
Down the first base line, fans will find the John and Mabel Wilson Clubhouse and Cliff and Mary Doubek VIP Room. While I certainly was not a VIP during my visit, the short look I had certainly made a visit inside very appealing. At the entrance to the clubhouse, fans can spot the years of each of the program's baseball and softball appearances. Appearances are in blue and championships are colored in orange.
Although their colors are blue and orange, the Fullerton Titans are the gold standard in terms of college baseball on the west coast. After visiting most Southern California venues, this one clearly stands out above and beyond the rest.
Despite playing in the backyard of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Titans remain one of the hotter tickets in Orange County. The experiences at many minor league and college parks all seem to fall into a similar stereotype, but a game at Goodwin Field is anything but predictable, and a great overall value.
Follow Drew's travels through Southern California on Twitter @Big10Drew
Opened in 1992 as Titan Field, Goodwin Field is still going strong 21 years later. In that time, the Titans have amassed an amazing home advantage, winning over 75% of their contests played here. They also have won two national championships during those two decades, adding to the two they had won previously, making them a well-known program in college baseball whereas they have no presence in basketball or football.
The ballpark is located on the north side of the campus, just off Yorba Linda Boulevard. Parking costs $8 for any long-term lot (i.e. greater than 2 hours) within the campus confines but is not enforced on Friday evenings or weekends, which is when most games are held so this shouldn't be a problem. Lot G is the closest to the stadium.
Tickets vary from $15 for the good box seats down to $8 for general admission. There are ushers but they didn't seem to check for tickets, so if you are there for a less popular game, you can just buy the cheapies and sit where you want. Be aware though that this team does draw well for certain rivalries, but it doesn't matter, there is not a bad seat in the place. There is a screen that covers most of the seating area but section D has a clear view as do the unreserved sections.
The ballpark is park of a larger sports complex and the softball field shares the concourse above first base. I doubt they play games at the same time, but I did see the softball team practicing which was quite interesting.
The Titans do a great job of commemorating their storied past. There is a list of every All-American as well as other national awards that takes up a whole side wall of the press box, and on the other side you will see the Wall of Champions which includes the rosters of all four national champs as well as individual plaques for those stars who played here, including Tim Wallach and Mark Kotsay.
Above each section are small banners that list star players who have used those particular numbers, another nice touch.
There is a VIP room as well that is heated but didn't seem to be used by too many fans.
Above the batters eye are pennants for each team in the Big West conference, another feature I haven't seen before at this level.
There are lots of concession choices here, including several trucks which offer options that are not usually available at college ballparks. Prices were not cheap though, with pizza slices going for $5. Kettle corn seemed to be a fan favourite with snack bags just $3 and certainly providing far more than a snack.
Unlike other NCAA ballparks, Goodwin Field has local advertising above the fences, perhaps because it was also used by an independent league team, the Fullerton Flyers. They were a charter member of the now-defunct Golden Baseball League that were managed for a season by the late Gary Carter, and they may be back in another league in 2013.
Overall, Goodwin Field is a great college ballpark, and is definitely worth checking out if you are in LA, as it is less than 30 miles from downtown and will provide you with a chance to appreciate a baseball program that has succeeded over the years and is still relatively unknown outside college baseball circles.
305 N Harbor Blvd # 128
Fullerton, CA 92832
1944 North Placentia Avenue
Fullerton, CA 92831
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