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Official Review by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The small village of Cotuit contains what is arguably one of the most picturesque baseball diamonds in Cape Cod. Located in the town of Barnstable, Lowell Park is named after Elizabeth Lowell, the daughter of George Jones, one of the co-founders of the New York Times. Mrs. Lowell donated the land that the ball field and adjoining park is located on. The Kettleers are the most successful team in Cape League history, having won the league championship 16 times in their long tenure.
You may be wondering what exactly a “Kettleer” is. Although the details can be a bit murky, it is a term that goes back to colonial times. The most popularly accepted story is that the earliest settlers from England were unable to sufficiently farm or hunt for themselves, and ended up trading frequently with the local Indian tribes. Most frequently, the trades consisted of crops (usually corn) for kettles. Other stories tell of the colonists purchasing the land that became Cotuit from the natives for two kettles and a hoe. Thus, the term “Kettleers” refers to the locals of Cotuit.
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The Lowell Park snack bar, otherwise known as "Kettleers Kitchen," is located behind the third base grandstand. The menu here covers all the bases, with hot dogs ($2.50), hamburgers ($5), and sausage sandwiches ($6) available. Fans looking for a more authentic Cape Cod experience can choose from lobster rolls ($9), clam chowder ($4.50), or Cape Cod Chips ($1).
If healthier food is on your mind, you can choose from a variety of wraps ($4) and salads ($4). Of course, there are traditional ballpark snack items, such as peanuts ($2), popcorn ($2), nachos ($4), and assorted ice cream treats. Cans of Coca-Cola products ($1.50) are available for thirsty fans. As is the case at all Cape Cod ballparks, alcoholic beverages are not sold here. It's a pretty extensive menu for a small stand, and the quality of the food put out is good.
The game day atmosphere at Lowell Park is a baseball purist's dream. There is very little extra activity going on here to distract one from the action on the field. The loud music and over-the-top PA announcements that are present elsewhere are not to be found here. Batters do not stride to the plate with any walk-up music blaring over the speakers, nor is there music between most innings. PA announcements are limited to upcoming batters, lineup changes, and some advertisements for local sponsors.
Lowell Park has plenty of room for kids to roam down both foul lines and beyond the outfield fence. It's not unusual to see kids playing catch or chasing down foul balls. The extra room works for dogs as well, and many Kettleer fans bring their four-legged friends to the ballpark.
The Kettleers do run a bunch of giveaways during the game, with a 50/50 raffle held each night. Local sponsors donate a bunch of prizes as well, so there are many fans who walk away as winners. Trivia contests and t-shirt raffles are also held, and the money raised goes towards renovations to the Lowell Park and team operations.
Cotuit is a small village within the town of Barnstable, comprising of only five square miles. Cotuit is a mostly residential area with some fine beaches. There isn't a whole lot to do in the vicinity of Lowell Park, and that is its main draw. Fans looking for a little more action should head over to neighboring Hyannis or Falmouth. Mashpee Commons is located a few miles down Route 28, and is the main shopping venue in the town. It contains a bunch of retail outlets and a few fine restaurants. Mashpee Commons cannot compare to the Main Streets of the neighboring towns, but it's not a bad place to go after a Kettleers game.
Crowds at Kettleer games are similar to those at the other Cape League games, with a mix of locals and tourists present. If you are looking to avoid the larger crowds, try and attend a game in June, before tourist season picks up steam. Cotuit generally draws around 1,000 fans per game, good for the middle of the pack in the Cape League. Fans who come to games on the Cape are, for the most part, very knowledgeable about the game of baseball, and are really into the game being played, despite the laid-back atmosphere at the park.
Cotuit is located on the southern coast of Cape Cod, about halfway between Falmouth and Hyannis. Lowell Park is located about a mile off of Route 28, which runs along the coastline. There is no public transportation serving the area, so driving is the best way to reach Lowell Park.
Parking is available in a small lot adjacent to the ballpark (beware of foul balls if parking here), on the streets around Lowell Park (just watch the signs, as some areas are restricted), and in a nearby elementary school parking lot.
Once inside Lowell Park, you will have your choice of two large grandstands on either baseline. The third base grandstand is brand new, having been built for the 2014 season. Both grandstands are handicapped accessible. Fans wishing to bring their own lawn chairs will find ample room beyond either grandstand. There is a picnic grove on the left field line with a few picnic tables and benches for fans wanting to sit in the shade. One unique aspect of Lowell Park is that fans can walk all the way around the field and choose to watch the action from any number of vantage points.
Lowell Park has a permanent structure behind the third base grandstand which contains a pair of large, clean bathrooms. It's a luxury that not every ballpark in this league enjoys.
As is the case with all Cape League games, there is no charge for admission to games at Lowell Park. Parking is also free, either in the small lot adjacent to the field, on some local streets, and in a nearby elementary school parking lot. Prices for food are reasonable as well, and fans can bring their own food to the game if they choose. It is entirely possible to attend a game featuring some of the best collegiate baseball players in the country without spending a single red cent.
Fans used to a lot of gimmicky promotions and extras that are common in the minor league baseball world won't find what they want at Lowell Park. The Kettleers give out free lineup sheets, and do several giveaways in conjunction with their 50/50 raffle, but in the Cape League, it's all about the baseball.
In a league full of postcard perfect ballparks, Lowell Park may just top them all. Its location in a nature reserve gives it a tremendous backdrop. The laid back atmosphere fits perfectly with the rural location. As an added bonus, some of the finest collegiate baseball players in the country play here-for free! It's a combination that puts the Cape Cod Baseball League at the top of any baseball fan's must-do list.
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22 Falmouth Rd
Mashpee, MA 02649
35 South St
Mashpee, MA 02649