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Official Review by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
What if I told you that there was an old wooden ballpark that exists in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania that has been around since 1938, has been home to baseball continuously since 1983 and is sound condition? You might think that I was crazy, but one such baseball facility exists in Quakertown.
Memorial Park is small covered wooden grandstand ballpark that seats 400 people. It is home to the Quakertown Blazers of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League (ACBL). They have been providing an opportunity for local college baseball players to hone their skills with the wooden bat during the summers off from school. It is a league that has been around since 1967 and today operates a lot like they did 47 years ago.
In the ACBL, the parks are small and the objectives of the ownership are to break even and provide an outlet for baseball. Memorial Park is one of the league’s paramount facilities, most of the ball fields are just that, located at community colleges or high schools. Tucked away in a residential area of town, exists perhaps one of the area’s best kept secrets.
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The food is inexpensive and classic ballpark cuisine. Hot dogs are fresh from the grill and are only $1.50. Large RC and Diet Rite sodas, and Philadelphia style pretzels are also available for just $1. The other items include candy, chips and peanuts. All of the food is served underneath a concession building that stands alone outside the main entrance to the grandstand. There is no alcohol permitted in the stadium. The prices are among the best that I have seen at collegiate wood bat league games the past few years and the affordable pricing adds to the simplicity of a league such as the ACBL.
The design and color of the ballpark looks as if it is straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. The red picket fence lines up the left field line and a collection of sponsorship banners hang on the grey outfield fence. One of them is a championship banner that the Blazers won in 1987. However, the dark green grandstand stands out among the colors of the ballpark. The wooden structure is in immaculate condition and features very few rows or columns. The fans make their way through during the early innings and find themselves a seat on the bare wooden bleachers. Also, located here is a small two-man PA section for the game.
You will not find a myriad of gimmicks or promotions, a mascot or t-shirt toss from interns. The focus is on baseball and probably is similar to the game presentation from many years ago. League President Tom Bonekemper told me that former major leaguer and current Toronto Blue Jays play-by-play announcer Buck Martinez commented that the stadium reminded him of playing minor league baseball 45 years ago.
The game day program is sold for $2 and features advertisements, team information and baseball bingo lucky numbers. It also helps out when you are looking for a place to eat after the game.
There are more than 113 boosters (including former major league pitcher Jamie Moyer) and volunteers that help out with game day operations from collecting tickets, serving food in the concession stand and selling merchandise. Game day Nike jerseys are a bargain at $15 (compare that to the $175 price tag the Lehigh Valley RailRiders are charging for almost the exact same product).
The stadium's setting is adjacent to a city park that features a sand volleyball and basketball court, public swimming pool and one very impressive wooden jungle gym play area. The ballpark is located a mile away on busy State Road 309, an hour north of Philadelphia and 20 minutes south of Allentown. Retail stores, chain restaurants and shopping centers are found in this location, and there are a few nice choices to choose from that are well worth a visit.
McCoole's offers great food at affordable prices at the corner of Broad and Main Streets. Located in a historic old inn, they offer music on the patio, beer brewed on premises, and happy hour specials with many food items from $10-$20. The El Paso mac and cheese and the grilled apple cider chicken are two highlights.
If you are looking for dessert, drive a few miles up SR-309 to The Inside Scoop for homemade ice cream and frozen yogurt. Of course, you can always order a freshly made hoagie at Wawa, a convenience store with a huge following in this part of the country.
There is a modest crowd that supports their hometown team. When Blazers Manager Mark Angelo disputed balls and strikes during my visit, a few members from the stands supported his argument. The fans are focused, engaged and supportive of their Quakertown nine.
Memorial Field is one mile off of SR 309 and 10 miles south of I-78. It is a rather easy destination to reach, but there are not any signs until you exit SR 309. You will have to get your GPS out for the majority of your travel to the ballpark. There is a small amount of parking available behind the left field wall and across the street near the pool. It is free and that is always a good thing.
Adult ticket prices are $3 and are a bargain to watch baseball in a rather historic facility. Even if you had a few hours to kill, spending it here could be a rather gratifying experience.
Memorial Stadium is one of those rare finds for a ballpark traveler. Its size and pristine condition makes it ideal for summer league baseball in the ACBL.
A traveler should not expect to find all the glamour that exists in some of the ballparks of the Northwoods or Prospect Leagues, but a scaled back and relaxed atmosphere will await you for a Quakertown Blazers game.
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4 S Main St
Quakertown, PA 18951
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