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Official Review by Geoff Crawley, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Municipal Stadium in Hagerstown, Maryland is the third oldest minor league stadium in the country. It is currently home to the Hagerstown Suns, a Single A affiliate of the Washington Nationals. Built in 1930 (in SIX WEEKS), it bleeds history, and without any (and I mean NONE) of the modern doodads and what not, gives a much better experience than some of your fancy pants new stadiums, with upscale accoutrements, like digital clocks, or digital anything for that matter.
Step into the time machine with me.
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".
You name it, it is here. Every type of regular stadium fare, peanuts, popcorn, hot dogs, pizza and nachos. You can get grilled burgers, meat and veggie, and it is the second ball park (outside of Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field) I have come across that sells veggie hot dogs. (Don't bother. Great idea, but, look, there are much better vegetarian choices, like fried pickles). Pulled Pork Sandwich? Got it. They will grill you a steak. A real, actual steak, that you will need to sit down and eat with a fork and knife. They will grill you some ribs. A real, actual slab of ribs, with bones and everything, dripping with sauce. Dude.
They have about a dozen types of beer on tap, most of which are $4.50 for 16 ounces. A 32 ounce large will set you back, wait for it, six dollars and fifty cents. DUDE.
There is something about sitting feet away from the spot where Willie Mays took his first professional at bat. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, fancy about this stadium. Want to know how fast a pitch was? Bring your own radar gun, 'cause there ain't one here. (Well, there might be, but there is no place to display it.) The totally manual scoreboard is operated by The Scoreboard Cowboy, who dances between innings or pretty much any chance he gets. There is no jumbotron, there are no flashy advertising boards, the speakers are old school (and by old school, we are talking one room schoolhouse old) loudspeakers. It is seriously like watching a game in the 1950's. Or what I imagine that was like. I kept waiting for the mascot to come out and do The Charleston. In a word, awesome.
Not much to do here, but what is there is the Stadium Grill and Tavern. Located directly behind the stadium, the left field wall, to be exact, it is deceptively good. It looks like a typical neighborhood bar on the outside, but inside, that is clearly not the case. Great menu, lots of choices, nice bar, very clean inside, and the staff is super friendly. This is a terrific place. Unfortunately, it is the only place, but, that's ok, because it is that good.
These fans know baseball. They keep score, like, with an actual scorecard. They know the players by name and actually have conversations with them. They get drunk and heckle the opponents. They listen to the game on handheld radios.
Great fans, unfortunately, there were only about 700 of them. I so want to give them a 5, but there just weren't enough of them there.
The address is 274 Memorial Boulevard East in Hagerstown, MD. You'll need this to plug into your GPS because it is not terribly easy to find. There is plenty of free parking, and the bathrooms are, well, there.
They have a special where you can get four tickets, four hats and four meals at Chipotle for $24.99. Also, did I mention that they sell beer for $6.50 A QUART? No single food item in the park is priced higher than $10 (a whole pizza is $14, but that isn't a single food item), and that is for a slab of ribs.
There is a family section here where there is no beer allowed. It's a great place to teach your kid about the game being played the right way. The players are very interactive, as is the staff. They do a lot to entertain, and they do a remarkable job with no modern crutches.
The nostalgia and history are heavy here. If you find yourself in central Maryland, far Northern Virginia or the West Virginia panhandle (heck, south central Pennsylvania is close enough) this will make a good day trip. How often do you get to be in the same place that The Say Hey Kid once worked? Make no mistake, the stadium is old, and it looks it, but if you view from the eyes of a baseball fan, it is a thing of beauty.
Geoff Crawley is the Mid Atlantic Regional Correspondent and Voice of the Fan and is the host of a weekly podcast.
Member Review by PeteRoy on Oct 02, 2011
Nothing special about this place, but maybe that is what makes it a place worth visiting.
Truly a step back in time.
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