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Official Review by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League began in 2005 and the name honors both Cal Senior and Junior. The wood bat league is part of the National Alliance of College Summer Baseball, the same sanctioning body as the Cape Cod and New England Collegiate Baseball Leagues.
The Bethesda Big Train is owned and operated by a group comprised of the Bethesda Community Base Ball Club, Inc. and Bethesda Chevy Chase Baseball, operating under one banner. The team says that the fans own the team and in a manner of speaking they do as the money goes back to local baseball operations.
The team’s name reflects the nickname of longtime Washington Senator pitcher and manager, Walter Johnson, who lived in the area. The stadium bears the name of Shirley Povich, who wrote for the Washington Post for over 80 years.
The Big Train offers a true minor league level experience for fans of the Montgomery County area. The stadium provides a great atmosphere and is an ideal place for a family to spend an evening.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Prime Choice Caterers provides the food at Big Train games. They have a diverse, but small menu at fair prices. Hot dogs are $4.50, cheeseburgers cost $6.50, and sodas go for $2. The best bargain is the various combos, with $10 getting you a sandwich, fries and a drink. Kids combos are also a good value at $6 and include hot dog or chicken tenders, with chips and a juice box.
Local favorite Ledo's Pizza is available in a personal size for $6.50 and $7.25. These can be easily shared between 2 people.
Bruster's ice cream and Auntie Anne's pretzels are also available at separate tables.
The team offers many family oriented diversions in between gameplay with Mascot Homer entertaining the crowd while seeming to have a wardrobe change every half inning. The Evel Knievel outfit is my favorite. Another fan favorite is the Qdoba burrito toss.
The diversions do not take you away from the game as the team staff understands when to do these things and when to let the action on the field take the leading role.
The stadium is right in the middle of a great park, Cabin John Park, that offers many diversions for fans. It is also located mere minutes away from the Washington Beltway, I-270 and Rockville Pike/Wisconsin Avenue. A large mall, Westfield Montgomery Mall, is almost within walking distance.
Downtown Bethesda has many food and lodging options. Try local favorite Hard Time Cafe at 4920 Del Ray Avenue for Cincinnati style chili. Free parking can be found on weekends at the garage located across the street.
If heading towards Rockville look for Quench at 9712 Traville Gateway Drive to offer diverse food and cocktails. And if you need a room, a nice option is the Hilton Washington DC/Rockville Hotel & Executive Meeting Center at 1750 Rockville Pike which is conveniently located in front of the Twinbrook Metro station.
The fans are knowledgeable and support the play of both teams. There are many groups who attend so there will be some kids who want to play more than watch the game, but they tend to play at the back or end of the grandstand as not to interfere with the more hardcore fans.
Located near I-270 in Bethesda, Shirley Povich Field is easily accessible for all. There are entrances to Cabin John Regional Park, where the stadium is located, off of Westlake Drive.
The parking lot by the stadium is small. There are also signs indicating that you can be towed for parking in the nearby ice rink lot. An overflow lot is a short walk away and may be your best option for parking.
The area can be a traffic nightmare, so be aware of this and plan ahead or you may be late for the games.
Parking is free, but the ticket prices are a bit pricey for this level of ball. Adults are $9, with student tickets available for $7. Children (6-12) can get in for $5. These need to be lowered, but Montgomery County is the 10th richest county in the nation so maybe it works as it is.
Be on the lookout for the $5 for $10 special on Yelp to help out with the prices. Parking is free so that makes the ticket prices seem a bit easier to swallow.
The park has many diversions so you may want to get to the game early and explore around. You may want to bring your tennis racket and use one of the practice walls to get your skills to a better level.
A copy of the Washington Post article written by Shirley Povich about the World Series perfect game thrown by Don Larsen is on the wall behind the main grandstand at Povich Field and is well worth your time.
You will leave Shirley Povich Field impressed by the organization of the off the field activities and the level of baseball on the field.
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4920 Del Ray Ave
Bethesda, MD 28014
1750 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852