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Official Review by Andy Mantsch, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
San Luis Obispo is in a region that has a lot going for it. Wine, craft beer, beautiful beaches and wonderful restaurants are just a few of the things that make this city on the central coast special. But what doesn’t come to mind when you think of the central coast is baseball. California is loaded with both major and minor league baseball teams, as well as some great college programs. Does that mean Cal Poly doesn’t have a lot to offer in terms of baseball? Absolutely not.
The program is still relatively new to the top level of college baseball. Prior to jumping to D1 in 1995 they had won the DII World Series in 1989. In 2001, Baggett Stadium opened to the team knocking off #1 Stanford in 12 innings. Baggett Stadium has an official capacity of 1,734, but can be expanded to a capacity of 3,042. Average capacity has increased gradually to over 1,505, making it into the top 40 in the country at the end of 2014. All of that together means there is life in the baseball scene on California’s central coast.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
For such a generally unknown venue, Robin Baggett stadium has a pretty strong offering of food options at great prices. Short of a $7 tri-tip sandwich, almost everything on the menu is under $5. Burgers, dogs, garlic fries, sweet potato fries, tacos, burritos and more are available for $3-$5 across the board. Wash it down with Coke products, hot coffee or cocoa or some local Jamba Juice again for under $4. The variety and the value make this a pretty solid selection, despite the small setting.
Eliminate the setting and measure the ballpark alone, and this is a pretty average college venue. Drop it in the middle of the mountains and add a loyal and knowledgeable fan base, and now you have Baggett Stadium. Surrounded by the Santa Lucia mountain range on the backside of the Cal Poly campus, focusing on the game here might be difficult.
The San Luis Obispo community embraces the Mustangs in all sports and baseball is no exception. Attendance ranks particularly high at this park, and the fans know and love their team. Yet just across the street, you'll find cow pastures and green space. You'll even get to drive through the beautiful Cal Poly campus to arrive onsite. It's all a relaxing aura of grassroots west coast baseball.
Adding to the atmosphere are two monuments to Cal Poly baseball history. The first is a marble paneled wall recognizing Cal Poly baseball greats and the history of the stadium and program. The second may take you a minute to recognize. A statue of a bearded legend stands just inside the main gate with the inscription "Osbourne Earl Smith". If you're a casual baseball fan, you may have to look at the face and back to the inscription a few times before you recognize Ozzie Smith. The baseball legend was a star at Cal Poly long before he was performing his wizardry at shortstop for the Padres and Cardinals.
If you've never been to the San Luis Obispo area, it's more than worth the visit. While other California cities get all the credit, the corridor from Pismo Beach through San Luis Obispo up to Paso Robles is an area rich in culture and scenery. Beaches to the south and wineries and rolling mountains to the north, all surrounded by wonderful restaurants, you can't really go wrong in this area.
Downtown San Luis Obispo is an artsy college town full of food and drink options. High Street Market & Deli, Ciopinot, Novo, Big Sky Café and a smorgasbord of other options line the streets of San Luis Obispo. Central Coast Brewery, SLO Brewing Company, The Library, Black Sheep and Mother's Tavern serve up delicious local beverages to quench your thirst. Really, you can't go wrong by parking on the streets of San Luis Obispo and exploring the many options there.
The fans may not be anywhere near that of elite college baseball programs around the country, but they are a pleasant surprise for such an off the beaten path venue. Constantly ranked in the top 50 in attendance, Baggett Stadium provides a surefire home field advantage for the Mustangs. The fans are knowledgeable, engaged and pleasant to visitors.
Down the 3rd Base line there is an exclusive membership based clubhouse known as Krukow's Klubhouse. A large portion of the most loyal fans hang out here and call the players by first name. If you're looking to purchase local beer, you have to be a member of this prestigious club to have the option to buy it. But fans will be well distributed everywhere else in the bleachers as well. Overall, the fanbase is a loyal and knowledgeable one.
Unless you live along the central coast, there's no quick way to get to San Luis Obispo. San Francisco, Los Angeles and Fresno lie hours away in all directions. Fortunately, any way you travel to San Luis Obispo is scenic. From San Francisco or Los Angeles you'll travel the beautiful California Route 101 or the famed Pacific Coast Highway. From Fresno you'll shoot straight down 41 to 101 through miles of farmland and mountains.
The campus is located off of 101 and the ballpark is at the back of campus. You'll get a brief scenic drive through campus to the stadium lot. Parking is $6 and there aren't really any other non-campus lots to take advantage of. From the lot it's just a short walk to the stadium entrance.
Once inside, the concourse is wide and comfortable. There won't be any congested areas anywhere in the park. One downside is that there is only one indoor bathroom at the end of the 3rd base line, but there are several portable toilets located in the club area. Overall, it's a pretty easy stadium to get around with just enough amenities to work.
Tickets fall at a very reasonable $8-$10 with seniors and children discounted down to $5. Prices can vary slightly based on the opponent, so plan accordingly. Parking is locked in at $6, but food is almost all under $5. Overall, this means $20-$25 covers everything you'll need for the day. For a D1 baseball program in such a wonderful setting, this is absolutely worth the price.
The most memorable part of a trip to Robin Baggett Stadium is without a doubt the setting. Not many parks can claim to be surrounded by beautiful green mountains, and the Santa Lucias provide just that touch. It's hard to not be enthralled by the natural beauty around you while taking in a ballgame.
The statue and tributes to 1974 through 1977 superstar Ozzie Smith add just the touch of history to the park. Not many programs can claim such a recognizable face as their own, and it adds quite a bit of legitimacy to the Mustangs brand. Couple that with the monument to the history of the program and large imagery on the back of the grandstand featuring Smith and other Cal Poly stars, and you get a sense of tradition when entering the park.
While Baggett Stadium certainly won't stand up to big time college baseball parks on a straight comparison, it's full of its own central coast charm. A summertime trip to the wine country of Paso Robles or to Pismo Beach could easily due with a detour to Robin Baggett Stadium to take in a Mustangs game.
Member Review by DrewCieszynski on May 04, 2012
Baseball fans on the Central Coast of California have to drive over three hours to catch the Angels or Dodgers in the south, the Athletics or Giants to the north, or even the Bakersfield Blaze minor league baseball team to the east. Enter the California Polytechnic State University Mustang baseball program to satisfy the baseball appetite of the fans residing on the central coast.
The Mustangs call Baggett Stadium their home and it is the epicenter of the 47 acre sports complex on the university’s campus. Opened in 2001, it shares a concourse with the Bob Jensen softball field, creating a spacious area for all fans to enjoy.
The stadium is named after former Cal Poly catcher (1968-71) Robin Baggett. Though fans do not see his retired number, he is easily one of the most memorable players of the program’s past. His career is mostly celebrated for not allowing a single passed ball in his four years as catcher. His other accolades include Student Body President, All-CCAA catcher, threw out over 70% of steal attempts, and a career fielding percentage of .990.
1001 Higuera St
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
1119 Garden Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
1121 Broad Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
726 Higuera Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 94301
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