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Official Review by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Veterans Field is located near the center of Chatham, a town at the “elbow” of Cape Cod. Teams representing the town of Chatham have played at this site since the inception of the Cape Cod League. The current incarnation of the local nines are the Chatham Anglers, formerly known as the A’s or Athletics. The team changed their name in 2008 after a dispute with Major League Baseball over licensing fees. The Chatham franchise is one of the more successful ones in the Cape League, having won five titles in their long and storied history.
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The Snack Shack is located on the first base side of Veterans Field at the bottom of the hill. The menu offers your basic ballpark fare, with Fenway Franks ($3.50) and hamburgers ($4.50) comprising the staples of the menu. Fans wanting their hot dog with a little more oomph can get Coach Schiffner's famous Chili Dog for $4.50. Fans looking for a snack can get popcorn in a plastic souvenir Anglers cup for $3.50, a bag of peanuts for $3.50, or choose from assorted candy bars for $2 each. Cans of Coca-Cola products are available for $2, as well as Slush Puppies, Thelma's Frozen Lemonade, or Powerade for $3 apiece. Assorted ice cream treats are also sold here.
Chatham doesn't feature the most extensive menu around, and their prices are a bit on the high side. On the plus side, they grill their dogs and burgers here, which is how it should be. Fans looking for a bargain can wait until near the end of the game, when "dollar dogs" are announced. But be warned, quantities are limited, so be ready!
The Anglers also have some tables set up full of merchandise, with a large selection of t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, and novelties.
As is the case at all the Cape Cod League venues, teams in this league try to present their games in an "old-school" manner. Absent are silly between inning promotions, ear-shattering music played in between innings, and there are no walk-up songs played for each new batter. Fans looking for elaborate game-day productions will undoubtedly be disappointed with this simple approach, but baseball purists will enjoy every last second of it.
There is a lot of room for children to run around at Veterans Field, both in the outfield and in the grassy area behind the first base bleachers. If that isn't enough, the area beyond the right and center field fences is a giant berm, which offers a great vantage point from which to take in the game, or on most nights can act as a giant playground for kids getting bored sitting still and watching the game. Speaking of playgrounds, there is also a large one adjacent to the field behind the first base grandstand. From here it is possible for the kids to release some pent-up energy while their parents can still watch the ballgame.
Veterans Field is located just west of Chatham Center, a quaint neighborhood full of shops, cafés, and antique stores. Fans interested in doing touristy things without the commercialism that has crept into some of the other Cape Cod destinations should check out Chatham. Remember, a town this small and this popular is bound to get crowded, so if you are wishing to avoid the largest crowds, visit the area in June, before schools let out for the summer and the tourists arrive en masse.
Veterans Field is located within walking distance of several popular eating establishments and lodging choices. In fact, many fans choose to simply walk to an Anglers' game, find a bite to eat, and enjoy the area. It's a great area for people watching and enjoying the small town vibe. Many fans simply walk across the parking lot after the game and stop in at the Red Nun, a popular restaurant located right next to Veterans Field.
Chatham usually ranks among the top three or four teams in the Cape Cod League in terms of attendance. Crowds at Veterans Field are similar to those elsewhere on the Cape, meaning that there is a strong presence from the locals, who often have a connection with the team as a booster, house parent, or volunteer. If not connected with the team officially, many of the fans present have been coming to see the Anglers play for years. Mixed in with the locals are tourists visiting the area and spending a relaxing night out at the ballpark. Veterans Field has a lot of unique characteristics that draw travelling ballpark aficionados as well.
A popular diversion during many Anglers games is the nightly discussion about when the fog is going to roll in. A night at Veterans Field without fog is a rare one, indeed. It's not surprising when you think about it. Cape Cod is a big peninsula sticking out into the ocean, and Chatham is located on a peninsula of its own. Put a peninsula on a peninsula, and it's a recipe for fog. For those wondering, the fog usually rolls in around the fifth inning.
The town of Chatham is located at the elbow of Cape Cod, making it the furthest team to visit for any fans visiting from off-Cape (that's anyone not living on Cape Cod, for those of us who don't speak Cape Cod). Despite this, it's relatively easy to find Veterans Field. It is located right on Route 28, which follows the entire southern coastline of the Cape.
Veterans Field itself is located in a natural bowl, with hills surrounding the playing surface. Some of the steepest metal bleachers you will ever see line the hill behind home plate. There is room both at the top and the bottom of the hill for fans bringing their own lawn chairs. There are also benches located at the top of this hill, and plenty of standing room here. It's a great vantage point for watching the action below. Also located behind home plate is the press box and souvenir stands. Running down both baselines are more metal bleachers, running all the way to shallow left and right field, respectively. Unfortunately, there are screens surrounding the field to protect neighboring houses from errant foul balls. Fans wanting an unobstructed view of the action will need to sit on the furthest grandstand down the lines, or beyond.
Many fans at Chatham choose to sit on the large berm in the outfield. There is enough room out here for several thousand fans on a busy night, or for kids to run around when it is less crowded. You will find many fans sitting on top of the berm along the Doyle Street sidewalk or even in their vehicles, listening to the game on their radios.
Although Veterans Field has more finished landscaping than most other Cape League ballparks, be warned that the area around the field is hilly and uneven in spots. Fans with an unsteady gait should tread lightly when moving around the ballpark.
There is a field house behind the first base which contains restrooms. It's a nice luxury here that not every field in the Cape League enjoys.
As is the case at all Cape Cod League ballparks, there is no charge to attend a Chatham Anglers game. The team will accept your donation, which they use to fund their operating costs. In return for your donation, the team will return the favor by giving you a program. Free parking is also available in two lots next to the field, or on any of the neighborhood streets. Just pay attention to the signs to make sure you are not in a restricted zone. Many fans bring their own coolers stocked with items to enjoy during the game, making a night out at the Anglers totally free.
The Cape League offers baseball the way it used to be, without a lot of the distractions present at so many minor league ballparks today. The focus here is on the game being played on the field, not on any extracurricular activities. Free programs and discounted hot dogs add to the family friendly atmosphere, and you may be watching a bunch of first-round draft picks or future all stars from up close.
In a league full of unique parks, Chatham offers an experience that may top them all. It has a real vintage charm, and depending on where you sit at Veterans Field, you can enjoy a different experience. The view from the top of the outfield berm simply can't be beat. With three other teams located within a 20 minute drive, Chatham is a ballpark chaser's dream.
Member Review by uita71 on Jul 03, 2013
The Chatham Anglers have been entertaining residents & tourists alike since 1923. Due to their success in the Cape Cod League, Veterans Field in Chatham, MA is considered one of the ‘must visit’ ballparks on the Cape. Veterans Field is a small facility that has seating for 2,000 fans, although with berm seating throughout the park it can be expanded to hold as many as 8,000 fans for a big event or game.
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