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.
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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.
Nothing special about this place, but maybe that is what makes it a place worth visiting.
Truly a step back in time.
I went to a game on 5/25/13 with my folks. I believe I went to this stadium as a kid, but I can't remember it. Other than it being 40 degrees in late May, I had a great time!
Food & Beverage
Outstanding! The concession selection was robust and prices were extremely reasonable. Funnel cake fries? Yes, I will have some. Rita's Italian Ice on a 40 degree day?...sure! (big mistake...)
Very charming! News flash, this is NOT a modern park. The scoreboard is controlled manually (when a run is scored, a man runs up and hangs a number on a stick).
What's not charming are the seats. The seats are very narrow and those that aren't cutting off circulation are bleachers without backs. If you're above average heft or have a back problem, expect to have a hard time...If I could recommend one upgrade to this historic park, this is the one. Build more comfortable stands!
The neighborhood seemed fine. This is the second MD minor league stadium (Frederick Keys) I've been to located next to a graveyard...I guess they don't have to worry about the neighbors complaining. I didn't see anything around the stadium...
The fans were great! Very engaged with the game, knew the players and coaches, were extremely friendly.
Parking looked like it could turn into a nightmare. We got there early and left early, so it wasn't a problem for us. I parked at a near by outlet mall and carpooled to the game, anticipating that it could/would be a problem, so apparently it has been in the past.
Return on Investment
Great! Tickets were cheap. Concessions were cheap. If you can get past the uncomfort of the seats, it's a win.
The only extra I saw was an almost unbearable American Idol type singing competition between innings. Yuck.
I originally visited Municipal Stadium in 2002, and again in 2013. The place really looked worse for wear on my return visit. The place was pretty full due to a visit from the Cowboy Monkeys, and the atmosphere was electric for their performance. Otherwise, the ballpark was pretty plain. Bleacher seats are predominant, although concessions were fairly varied for such a small park. Big minus points for the souvenir stand. What kind of pro baseball park does not carry baseballs?
Ok, its not a glamorous place. Its one of the oldest stadiums around, but doesn't have that nostalgia that other older ball parks have. Its basically a fancy little league stadium that serves beer.
That being said, there's something about it that I like, though I cant put my finger on it.
It has bleacher style seats ( the most uncomfortable things on the planet).
Parking is plentiful, but I recommend parking far from the main gate. Many foul balls go out there and each one is sponsored by Ryan's Auto Glass.
Food, is surprisingly plentiful. They have anything you may need for a game and even things you didn't think of.
The general atmosphere could be better. 2013 saw the Suns go all the way to the finals and the stadium wasn't even half full - AND all tickets to the finals were free. But, the fans there are loyal and really get into the game.
The neighborhood is blank. Nothing around except a towing company and a graveyard.
Be sure to look for Big Tony. He is the guy selling things, giving away things, and getting the crowd going. He is worth the price of admission.
The clubhouse is down the first baseline, so getting autographs is easy and the players on both teams always take time to come over and sign things.
All in all, check it out at least once. You wont be disappointed.
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