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Sam Lynn Ballpark

Bakersfield, CA

Home of the Bakersfield Blaze

2.1

2.8

Sam Lynn Ballpark (map it)
4009 Chester Avenue
Bakersfield, CA 93301


Bakersfield Blaze website

Sam Lynn Ballpark website

Year Opened: 1941

Capacity: 4,600

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Bakersfield Burnout

"Historic" Sam Lynn Ballpark lies just north of downtown Bakersfield. The word historic tends to be a distinction thrown around a lot in baseball to align with venues like Fenway Park and Wrigley Field, but sometimes in the minor leagues the word "historic" can be confused with the word "old.”Sam Lynn Ballpark is decidedly old, but historic feels like a bit of a misnomer.

Built in 1941 for the Bakersfield Badgers, a charter member of the California League, the stadium has been home to Bakersfield minor league ball clubs ever since with a few yearly exceptions. The stadium was named for local businessman Sam Lynn who used his success to fund San Joaquin Valley youth baseball. Over the last 2 decades, calls for a new stadium in the Bakersfield area have fallen flat. At one point plans were in place to finance a new park for the 2014 season, but those fell flat leaving the Blaze's future in Bakersfield in doubt.

The Blaze organization has been around in multiple forms since 1941, but the name Blaze came around in 1995. There are many stories as to the selection of the name Blaze, but all come from the extreme heat of Bakersfield. Oddly, the stadium faces the setting sun in one of the hottest parts of the country. This design flaw may add to some of the "historic" piece and has several potential backstories, but it's not the kind of history you'll enjoy on a hot summer day.

2.1

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    2

There's very little unique in the one available concession stand here. A few local craft beers and some spiced up everyday ballpark options are about the top of the list here.

Food options top out at Hotlink ($5), Nachos with Jalapeno ($5-$6), Pizza ($3) and Grilled Chicken Sandwiches ($6). While these are cheap and decent, there's nothing on the menu that will jump out at you.

Pepsi products are available for $4 with Gatorade ($4) and bottled water ($3) also available. There are a few local-ish craft beer options available for the beer drinker, with Firestone 805 and Sequoia Brewing topping the list for $7.

So what would I recommend? Probably just grab a hotlink and pair it with a Firestone off the beer menu. All-in-all, that's just not that unique.

Atmosphere    2

There's not a ton about this park that delivers anything special.

When you approach, you may even wonder whether this is the actual stadium. The low profile and mass of bleachers hardly look like professional baseball. One of the odd quirks of the park is that the seating extends from home plate down the right field line to the fence in a series of bleachers. Everything to the 3rd base side is picnic area seating with no bleachers at all. It gives the park a bit of an off-center setup. The outfield wall is tattered and old and the field shows no unique characteristics. And facing the setting sun means there's no shelter during the day from the heat except a covered section in the picnic area with a poor view of the field.

Very little is going on in terms of on-field activity. Heater the Dragon will make his way around the park and high five kids and fans, but that's about the only thing that makes this experience feel any different than hundreds of ballparks around the country.

There's almost no way to escape the sun and take in the game here, but if you grab a spot in the picnic area next to the home team dugout you can get a very unique perspective on baseball. The stadium is quiet enough and you're close enough that you can overhear the players and coaches conversations just feet away. The only shaded spot in the stadium is only a few yards behind you in the back of the picnic area should you need to retreat.

Neighborhood    3

There's not a ton about this park that delivers anything special.

When you approach, you may even wonder whether this is the actual stadium. The low profile and mass of bleachers hardly look like professional baseball. One of the odd quirks of the park is that the seating extends from home plate down the right field line to the fence in a series of bleachers. Everything to the 3rd base side is picnic area seating with no bleachers at all. It gives the park a bit of an off-center setup. The outfield wall is tattered and old and the field shows no unique characteristics. And facing the setting sun means there's no shelter during the day from the heat except a covered section in the picnic area with a poor view of the field.

Very little is going on in terms of on-field activity. Heater the Dragon will make his way around the park and high five kids and fans, but that's about the only thing that makes this experience feel any different than hundreds of ballparks around the country.

There's almost no way to escape the sun and take in the game here, but if you grab a spot in the picnic area next to the home team dugout you can get a very unique perspective on baseball. The stadium is quiet enough and you're close enough that you can overhear the players and coaches conversations just feet away. The only shaded spot in the stadium is only a few yards behind you in the back of the picnic area should you need to retreat.

Fans    1

Fan support for Bakersfield is pretty low, contributing to the uncertain future of the club.

The Blaze typically finish a distant last in the California League in attendance. In 2014, they averaged just 827 fans per game and in 2015 are falling even below that low mark.

Obviously with such a low turnout, crowd noise is almost non-existent. It's as casual and quiet as any minor league stadium around the country. While that does allow for some unique engagement in the game, it doesn't speak well for the fans at all.

Access    3

While the central valley is removed and can be a bit of a haul for those coming from major cities and airports, the Bakersfield area itself is pretty easy to get around.

Public transit isn't really an option in the area, but it doesn't really need to be.

The parking lot is large and generally (for better or worse) empty. It's free to park and you'll be just steps from the main gate.

Tickets range from $8 for General Admission up to $13 for the Bud Light Cool Zone. It's pretty easy to get through the gate and to seating with such low attendance.

Getting around the stadium in general is easy. Low attendance means you can get just about anywhere you need to very quickly in the small park. The main concourse goes behind the bleachers, so you won't always have direct line of sight and this really isn't a standing stadium. Restrooms are located behind the home plate bleachers and are sufficient, but not very clean.

Return on Investment    3

Price saves this park from being an all out loss.

There's no need to pay anymore than the $8 General Admission price because the stadium is going to be basically empty anyways. Food will run you less than $10-$15 (depending on beer), so you're looking at a $20 trip. Unfortunately, the ballpark itself is only a $20 experience for a hardcore baseball fan.

Extras    1

Most of the things that make this park "historic" aren't particularly favorable to the average fan. The aptly named vendor Froggy (due to his voice) adds a unique touch, but the lack of attendance, lack of cover from the heat and ancient stadium conditions make this hard to praise for uniqueness.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I'd say this park is pretty low on your list for needs to travel to and in fact is questionable in terms of its future existence. Baseball in Bakersfield has had a long and historic run, but without change in setting that run is justifiably in doubt.

About town

As long as you're coming through Bakersfield, I think it'd be worth your while to visit the outdoor Bakersfield Museum. My wife and I enjoyed a good two hours there. You're deep in oil country, and besides the forty historic buildings and houses brought in from around the county, you'll learn some things from the oil exhibit, which includes antique oil drilling equipment, a little movie, explanations and propaganda. Kids should enjoy it: at least they can run around and make noise!

by doggierover | Oct 23, 2013 01:00 PM

Two BIG negatives

This was my 112th stadium I've visited and it was the FIRST one that had absolutely NO scorecard available. Even in their "brand new 100-page" program for $5, there wasn't a scorecard available.

Also, this is the only ballpark I've ever seen that does not have a water fountain available. I didn't think this was even legal but a customer service representative told me it was because they allow you to bring a bottle of water in with you.

by Tccrapsdealer | Apr 22, 2014 01:06 PM

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Crowd Reviews

Sam Lynn Ballpark-Home of the Bakersfield Blaze

Total Score: 2.43

  • Food & Beverage: 2
  • Atmosphere 2
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 2
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 1

The "Historic" Sam Lynn Ballpark has been a mainstay of minor league baseball for roughly 70 years now, longer than many of the other ballparks mentioned on this very website. While some of the older MLB stadiums, including the homes of the Dodgers and Angels, make their home in cities near the coast, Sam Lynn is located in central California and has been providing entertainment for Bakersfield fans since 1941.

I had not previously heard the name Sam Lynn mentioned in baseball lore, so I checked on the team's website and found that he was the owner of a local Coca-Cola bottling plant and used his success as a means to fund youth leagues and grow the popularity of baseball in the San Joaquin Valley.

Before ever setting foot in the "Historic" Sam Lynn Ballpark, I was rather intrigued by some of the lore surrounding the stadium. It is probably best known for its orientation and being one of only two stadiums in baseball (the other in Pittsfield, MA) that has experienced "sun delays." Fortunately, many of the games have been scheduled at a later start time and a sun delay hasn't occurred since 1996. Any inquiring mind would ask "why was a ballpark built to face the setting sun?" The explanation that I received was that in the 1940s, games were played during the day without a huge plate of extra innings, so the setting sun was never a concern. One of the previous Bakersfield owners had a sizable screen constructed beyond the outfield wall to compensate for the sun, but the sun persisted and forced the franchise to schedule the team's games for later start times.

Also notable could be the origins of the team nickname. Bakersfield is notable for beautiful, warm weather year-round, but "Blaze" may be more of a description of the playing field in Sam Lynn Ballpark back in 1982. A game against the nearby Visalia ballclub went late into the evening, and as they had been scheduled to do every evening at 11:40, the automatic sprinklers began their cycles. Some of the team employees stepped on the sprinkler heads to keep the water off of the playing surface, and sizable puddles were consequently formed. After 20 minutes of water, the shutoff valve was located and the teams were accepting suggestions for how to complete the game. Visalia manager Phil Roof suggested that gasoline be used to burn off the water. The idea somehow worked, and despite the scorched field, the game was completed.

Despite its historic status, the community has been clamoring for a new Bakersfield ballpark dating back to the 1980's. One of the solutions is to have the Blaze team up with the California State University Bakersfield in efforts for a new stadium. When the CSUB Roadrunners basketball team moved to Division I basketball, they teamed with the ECHL team known as the Bakersfield Condors in sharing Rabobank Arena. Another California League team known as the Inland Empire 66ers, has a similar situation and teamed with Cal State San Bernardino in sharing a stadium. For now however, the 3,500 seat venue with one of the shortest fences (354 center field) will remain the home of the Blaze.

Peeling Paint!

Total Score: 3.00

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 2

This is an old ballpark, the dugouts are situated quite far from home plate, past first and third base. I liked this place, it had interesting site lines, it is different and is not a "sterile" ballpark. I was there on a Sunday and they had a church service by a local church called "Sermon on the Mound". Don't pass this place up, it is old and paint is peeling on the outfield walls but it is a throw back!

Definitely a Unique Park

Total Score: 2.86

  • Food & Beverage: 2
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 1

If you haven't been to Sam Lynn Ballpark, it is definitely a unique experience. First off, the park is old, one of the oldest in the Minors. Secondly, the seats behind home plate, the first couple of rows, you are actually below home plate. I know that sounds like a problem to some but I liked it. And there are certain things that make this park stand out, both good and bad.

FOOD & BEVERAGE: Limited and you have one concession with a "grill" serving up brats. Stand out item now is probably nachos with chili and jalapenos. I didn't see any Frito pies there. Nachos were pretty good, but it was "here is a bag of nachos and a cup of jalapenos to go with the small pockets of chili and cheese. Ice cream was also good, but the hot dogs.....pass on those.

ATMOSPHERE: It is a laid back place, but definitely unique. The outfield has trees above the large walls (and short dimensions-356 to Center Field, shortest CF I think in the minors), and you have Froggy, a nice guy selling programs and score cards.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Bakersfield seems like an okay spot. Nothing in the walking vicinity but a lot of options for foods in the area. It just doesn't seem like a whole lot of signature staples either. The stadium is in a decent area, but showing its age as well (I wouldn't call it run down however).

FANS: While LA is still a healthy distance away, you have a Southern Cal atmosphere here, and for me I had to sit next to what you would see from the "Californians" skits on SNL. Yay me. Other fans were quiet, but were into the game though.

ACCESS: The Interstate is way off, but you still have large highways to get there. It is easy to get to trough those, but given the park resembles more of an Appalachian League park, it isn't well seen around until you see the sign for the Blaze.

ROI: You aren't dealing with high end stuff here. Everything is on the cheap. Most foods are well under $5, Tickets are either $7 or $4 which is fine (and if you go to a Sunday afternoon game, first 500 fans get in for free, but because of the 100 degree heat Bakersfield gets). Souvenirs were pretty inexpensive for a park but very limited. And you get good Minor League Baseball. Not much more to ask in terms ofyour wallet.

EXTRAS: While there are fun things between innings for the fans, not much else is at the park. In fact, the worst thing was we sat by scores of ants and had to move back. Not good.

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Local Food & Drink

Buck Owen's Crystal Palace  (map it!)

2800 Buck Owens Boulevard

Bakersfield, CA 93308

(661) 328-7560

http://www.buckowens.com

Goose Loonies Uptown Cafe  (map it!)

816 18th St

Bakersfield, CA 93308

(661) 631-1242

http://www.gooselooniestavern.com/

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