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Official Review by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Located on the campus of Harwich High School is Whitehouse Field, home of the Harwich Mariners. The Mariners have played in the Cape Cod Baseball League since 1930, winning four league championships in their history. Unlike the other teams in the Cape League who share a nickname with a major league club, the Mariners do not have to pay royalties to MLB, as they pre-date the Seattle Mariners.
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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 a small concession stand here running out of the bottom floor of the press box. It offers a limited menu, with hot dogs ($3), hamburgers ($4.50), and clam chowder ($4.50) the featured items. A wide variety of ice cream novelties, snacks, and drinks are available.
Coca-Cola products are featured, with cans selling for $1.50. The freshly baked cookies are the big seller here at two dollars for a package.
Also located near the entrance to Whitehouse Field is a souvenir stand selling a variety of Mariners t-shirts, sweats, and hats. Fans may be intrigued by the old-school Mariners trident logo featured on several items.
The atmosphere at Whitehouse Field will be a familiar one to veteran Cape League fans. The game being played on the field is the primary focus here. There is little in the way of extraneous bells and whistles to distract from the game at hand. You will not find any wacky between innings contests, goofy mascots, or blaring music in Harwich. The atmosphere is as it used to be, and any baseball purist will enjoy their time at Whitehouse Field.
As is the case at most Cape League ballparks, watching the kids in attendance chase for foul balls is part of the fun. Whitehouse Field's location in the middle of the woods ensures that there is more than enough room for kids to run safely to chase down these treasures.
Whitehouse Field is located next to Harwich High School in a residential area. There is little in the immediate area to attract visiting fans. Nearby is Harwich Center, which is listed on the National Historic Register due to its several architecturally significant buildings. A little further down the road is Route 28, the primary business thoroughfare in town and home to many restaurants, shops, and tourist attractions. Cross Route 28 to find some of the Cape's legendary beaches.
Harwich annually ranks in the upper half of the Cape League attendance rankings, averaging around 1,300 fans per game. As is the case with all games on the Cape, crowds are much larger during the prime tourist months of July and August. If you wish to avoid the larger crowds, both in the ballpark and in the town, plan your visit earlier in the season, before the crush of tourists arrive.
The fans in Harwich are similar to what you will find throughout the Cape, a good mix of locals and tourists. Mariner fans are knowledgeable and very enthusiastic about their team. The stands here remain full for the entire game, which is somewhat of an anomaly on the Cape. There is a great neighborhood feel at Whitehouse Field, as fans meet up with neighbors, co-workers, and friends at the ballpark to catch up on all the local happenings. If you visit the area from out of town, you will be sure to have a few new friends yourself before you leave Whitehouse Field.
Whitehouse Field is easy to get to, located about a mile from Route 6 off exit 10. The ballpark is located next to Harwich High School, a block away from Route 124. Parking is available in the lot adjacent to the high school, with overflow parking available in the community center parking lot across the street.
After taking a short walk through the woods, fans will enter into Whitehouse Field. The press box and concession stand will be located directly in front of you, with the souvenir stand located off to the right. There will be a large set of bleachers located on either baseline. These bleachers consist of 12 long rows of wooden benches. They are popular places to sit, so if you want a good seat, get here early. Also, some of the boards are getting creaky, so step carefully.
There are several smaller sets of bleachers scattered around Whitehouse Field. These bleachers are made of aluminum, and are brightly colored. Each row is painted red, blue, or green. There is also room throughout the ballpark for fans to set up their own lawn chairs or blankets. There are areas around home plate, down the outfield lines, and beyond the outfield fence.
A big drawback to the seating at Whitehouse Field is the fact that all seating is obstructed by fencing. Even the upper seats of the bleachers are blocked. It can be difficult to see the game from certain areas. Another drawback is the lack of any permanent bathroom facilities here. There is only a single port-a-john on either side of the field for fans to use.
Admission to all Harwich Mariners games, as with all games in the Cape League, are free of charge. Parking is also free in the large lot at Harwich High School. If you do not arrive early enough to snag one of these spots, there is overflow parking available in the Community Center lot across the street from the high school. It's a long walk, so parking is another reason to arrive early to Harwich. Concessions are also very inexpensive, making a night at Whitehouse Field a very affordable entertainment option for families and visitors to the eastern Cape.
The Mariners hold a 50/50 raffle at each game with numerous prizes provided by local sponsors. In addition to the traditional cash prize, fans can take home coupons for ice cream, ferry rides, harbor tours, and gift cards from local shops and restaurants. More than one fan per night is guaranteed to go home lucky every night.
Another extra point is awarded for the multi-colored bleachers and the old-school Mariners logo merchandise available at the souvenir stand. Kids may spend time debating the merits of sitting on a red bench vs. a blue bench vs. a green bench.
Many baseball people consider the Cape Cod League to be the premier summer college league in the nation. One out of every seven players in the major leagues today played in the Cape Cod League. With all the teams in the league located within an hour's drive of each other, a visitor to the Cape can fit in several games in a short period of time. With Boston and Fenway Park located just an hour from the Cape, it can make for an epic ballpark tour for any ballpark fanatic.
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