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Official Review by Sean MacDonald, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Manhattan College is a small school located in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. When originally established in 1853, it was located on the island of Manhattan, but it moved about 10 miles north in 1922 without changing its name, leading to a confused student body that showed up expecting to be studying in the center of the Big Apple.
The school uses Van Cortlandt Park for their athletic facilities, with Van Cortlandt Stadium actually referring to a large running track that hosts their soccer, lacrosse, and track and field teams. Just off to one side is a small baseball diamond where the Jaspers break out their bats and balls.
Located along Broadway and West 242nd Street, the stadium complex was among the development projects undertaken by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a massive economic recovery program initiated by Franklin Roosevelt following the Great Depression. The track was opened in 1939 but it is not clear if the baseball stadium was built at that time. Renovations to the track were completed in 1998 and 2009, so it is likely the baseball diamond was updated around then as well as it seems relatively newer. Even then, it is really more like a public field than something used by a Division I college program.
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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".
There is no food or drink for sale here, so you will have to bring your own or pick something up at one of the shops across 242nd Street.
As you approach through the running track, you might think you are in the wrong place. Only music blaring out of a single loudspeaker and uniformed players warming up let you know that yes, this is an actual NCAA venue. There is a single set of five benches just next to home plate and a chain link fence that separates you from the field. Along the top row, you can lean against another chain link fence, but this isn't very comfortable. The field is very dusty and when it is cleaned before the game, the dust blows into the seats. There are no dugouts for the teams and no cover for the fans should it start raining. There are tree branches above home plate, which do stop the occasional foul ball. In other words, this is pretty much just a public ball diamond that Manhattan uses a few times a year.
Van Cortlandt Park itself is a nice, quiet stroll should you get there early. In fact, the diamond is at the southwest corner and the park spans 20 blocks north to south and stretches east to Woodlawn, giving you plenty to explore, including the Van Cortlandt House Museum. The only eateries are chains such as Subway and Dunkin Donuts, where you can get something before the game to take with you, and the Stiff Weasel Grill and Deli, which gets good reviews and might make for a decent post-game meal. Gleeson's Sports Bar and Grill is just up Broadway a couple of blocks should you want to have a beer afterwards, but more likely you'll be heading back to the real Manhattan for your evening festivities.
Announced attendance was 114 for the most recent game that I attended, but I'm guessing that about 80 of these people were invisible because I counted 36, with most seemingly related to the players. Those there sat and watched the game patiently and quietly, as you would expect in such a setting.
Located right next to the final stop of the #1 train, about 40 minutes from Times Square, the park is easy to get to from anywhere in New York City, although a bit time-consuming. You could drive up the West Side Highway as well and find street parking with no problem. However, the park itself is so small and so limited, completely fenced in with the only restrooms located a few minutes away next to the running track, that its proximity to the subway is the only positive thing in this category.
There are no tickets here, just walk right in and sit right down. It's the right price as any charge at all would make the experience overpriced.
There is a free lineup sheet given out, which is more than to be expected.
While not quite an extra to the game day experience, the school is known for a couple of interesting trivia questions within the baseball world. Manhattan College is one of the organizations credited with inventing of the seventh-inning stretch. Even though this is the version in Cooperstown, the true story will never be known for sure.
The first Latin American born player in Major League Baseball, Luis Castro, was a Manhattan College alumnus before joining the Philadelphia Athletics in 1902.
We use our Fanfare rating to give you an idea of what to expect. Here, that's obviously not much. Still, if you love baseball and want to visit a place that few even know exists, consider a trip to the Bronx to see the Manhattan Jaspers.
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New York, NY 10471
Broadway at West 246th St
Bronx, NY 10471
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