As with many parks in Western New York, Russell E. Diethrick, Jr. Park is named for a local baseball luminary. In this case, Jamestown's "Mr. Baseball," involved in every level of local professional and amateur ball for years. The park is the second oldest in the NY-Penn League, originally constructed in 1941, and renovated repeatedly (instead of completely rebuilt, as many in the area have been). As of the last seating renovation in 2010, the ballpark holds 3,000 people, and it is home to the Jamestown Jammers, the short-season, single-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates since 2013 (after a long run with the Marlins, who moved their affiliation to nearby Batavia).
The team is owned by a group that also directs the nearby Buffalo Bison, though the two teams lack a common MLB affiliate. In addition to the Jammers, Diethrick Park also hosts Jamestown's community college and high school baseball teams, as well as the youth Babe Ruth League World Series.
Diethrick Park comes up short on food and extras, but overall, it provides a solid and thrifty day of baseball entertainment for all fans.
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The most you can say for food and drink at Diethrick Park is that they have both. Concessions are primarily in one stand behind home plate in the outer ring of the park. A smaller concession on the third base side carries only snacks and is not always open. The main concession has average ballpark fare (hot dogs, burgers, pizza, and chicken) with some candy and special choices. The prices are mostly reasonable if the quality isn't much above "okay." The pick of the food is probably the Swashbuckler, a foot-long chili-cheese hot dog for $6.
Drinkers have a choice of Bud or Hop Sun, though Smirnoff vodka is also curiously available. A Smirnoff/Slushie mixture called a "Slamming Jammer" is on offer for $4.50.
Russell E. Diethrick Park is arranged in two rings. The outer wall of the park forms an outer ring, and the inner ring is based around the grandstand building behind home plate. Two ramps offer access to the park at the ends of the grandstand building, and then metal open-admission bleachers extend down to just past first and third base on both sides, ending in the bullpens in the outfield. Two gates behind home plate open up an hour before game time, and there seems no difference between either.
The only cover in the entire park is under the grandstand behind home plate. One peculiarity of the "double-ring" layout of the park is that the players have to pass by fans twice to get to the clubhouses in the outer wall: once when exiting through the first- or third-base ramp (for the visiting and home teams, respectively), and then again on the outer promenade to reach the door to the clubhouse, so autograph seekers after the game will have plenty of opportunities to get a signature or two.
The park looks out onto an outfield tree line (placed to knock down home runs from hitting campus buildings and parked cars) and the hills at the edge of town, and every seat has a good view. There are a limited amount of backed chairs at the base of the bleachers for early-comers to grab. The press box is perched on the grandstand roof, and a basic scoreboard does its duty out in right field.
Grape Ape, the Baseball Ape, runs the fun on the field, and seems particularly beloved by the locals. The between-inning entertainment consists of minor league standards of races, guessing games, and skill contests.
Your personal experience for the park will likely go up or down one point based on how much you like old-time parks. It is either a homey remembrance of better times, or a slightly advanced high school dirt field.
Jamestown is a small town in Western New York, with everything you'd expect, good or bad, based on that. The ballpark is located in the east of town on a community college campus. There are several small attractions downtown, including a regional sports hall of fame, a small aerospace museum, and a museum to Nuremburg prosecutor Robert H. Jackson.
The cream of this crop are two museums dedicated to Jamestown's favorite daughter, Lucille Ball, dedicated to the entertainment empire that she developed with her husband, Desi Arnaz. The museums host a comedy festival every year that attracts big-named acts. The All-American Soap Box Derby track is right next door to Diethrick Park. The Jamestown Ice Arena is also nearby, as is Finger Lake Chautauqua and the NY wine country.
As the park is on a college campus, there are the expected fast food joints in abundance. For more sit-down food, there is Honest John's Pizza & Wings near the park, and the Babalu Cafe, the Taco Hut, and Cherry Lounge downtown. For a drink, Waddington's Tavern is by the park, and MoJo's, Shawbucks, and the Puzzle Lounge are downtown.
For sleeping, the Best Western Downtown is in the center of Jamestown, while other chains Comfort Inn and Hampton Inn are closer to I-86 and the lake north of town. Budget Inn and Red Roof Inn are further northeast for cost-conscious travelers, and those seeking something besides the chains can try the Bull Frog Motel (nearest the park) and the Oaks Bed & Breakfast.
For a small team in a small town, there are a lot of season ticket holders to be found in the grandstand behind home plate, and there was a respectable crowd even on the weekday afternoon game that I went to, though it won't be mistaken for Yankee Stadium any time soon. The crowd is enthusiastic and into the game, and it is nice to see local support for a local point of pride such as the Jammers.
For drivers, I-86 passes just north of town, as does state road 62. The New York Thruway (I-90) passes a little to the northwest. It is about a 1.5 hour drive to Buffalo, 2.5 hours to Pittsburgh and Cleveland, three to Toronto, and five to Albany. Parking is free at the park in the lot next to the ballpark (be sure to park as far away from the third base wall as possible to avoid any foul ball troubles) or at designated lots in the surrounding college campus. A small regional airport is north of town, and CARTS (Chautauque Area Regional Transit Service) runs buses from downtown and the larger region to the park on the Orange Route ($1).
Getting around the small park is no problem. The outer walkway rings the park from outfield to outfield, and the bleachers along each basepath are elevated from a ground level walkway, so people mulling by won't interrupt views.
Given that this a short-season A-ball team, the value is certainly much better compared to the major league item.
The most expensive seat in the house is an $8 club seat behind home plate, reserved tickets in the grandstand run $7, and the general admission seats are $6. There is a 50 cent discount for various groups such as kids, the military, and the elderly. Group seating in the Bullpen Party Zone in right or the Jammers Vineyard in left can add in all-you-can-eat food and a seat for larger parties, and regular events throughout the season, such as School Day, offer discounts for special groups.
Given the limited food selection, the prices make up for it some. Nearly all food items (except for the few special items) are under $5, and a 16 oz Bud will run you $4.50 ($6 for a Hop Sun), and a 20 oz for $5.75 ($7 for a Hop Sun).
The park is fairly bare-bones all-around, but it does have some construction, renovation, and dedication plaques on the front of the park, as well as a historical marker for baseball in Jamestown in the area by the main entrance. A trio of plaques honor Alan J. Blair ("lifelong Tiger fan"), Judge Allan E. Bargar (baseball supporter), and the Jamestown and Area Old Timers Baseball Group (promoting youth baseball). A small team store is located in the back of the grandstand building on the first base side.
A program is available in the main plaza that is available for a fee, but it is of better quality than the average minors program.
Russell E. Diethrick, Jr. Park is a no-frills affair, but if you want a nice afternoon of baseball on the cheap, it will deliver.
Diethrick Park is one of those old school neighborhood ballparks. Built in 1941, it has been primarily used for high school and community college baseball events over the decades, until the Niagara Falls Rapids of the New York Penn League were relocated to this venue beginning in 1994. Renamed the Jamestown Jammers, the franchise is one of three teams owned by the Rich baseball group, the other two being the AAA Buffalo Bisons and the AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals.
Jamestown really is average at best. When I think single A ballparks this is what I think of. As demographics continue to change and the baseball market gets bigger I think these small town teams will slowly start looking for bigger and bigger markets.
Russell E. Diethrick Jr. Park is the oldest ballpark in the New York Penn League. Built in 1941, the ballpark has hosted professional, collegiate and local baseball games since it was opened. Owned by the city of Jamestown, the stadium name has changed from Jamestown Municipal Stadium to College Stadium. In 1997, the name was officially changed to its current moniker in honor of Jamestown’s “Mr. Baseball” as Diethrick was involved in local baseball as a player, coach, manager and organizer.
The stadium has had two modern upgrades in the last ten years: a new scoreboard was added in 2006 and a renovated press box in 2010. Currently, the Jamestown Jammers (NY-Penn, Pirates), Jamestown Community College and Jamestown High School all call Diethrick Park home. The park itself is small with a single concourse that wraps around the grandstand. The seats down the line are bleachers that lead into the bullpens. The team locker rooms are actually in the concourse, meaning players and trainers often walk with fans during the game.
One of the few parks left in the NYPL that harkens back to a different era (along with Auburn and Batavia). The park definitely has a community feel to it as many of the fans seem to know one another. It is not fancy or the cool place to be, but rather a gathering spot for folks to hang out and watch a ballgame. Unfortunately, the Jammers' days in Jamestown are probably numbered as rumors have been swirling about a move to Morgantown, WV - possibly as early as 2014. For my full review, check out my website : http://ballparkreviews.com/template2.php?in_name=Russell%20Diethrick%20Park&in_city=Jamestown&in_state=New%20York
A nice little ballpark to visit that is worth the trip if nearby. A lot of these ballparks are disappearing from the world of minor league baseball.
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