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Official Review by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
As a rule, college baseball is not a very big deal in New England. Most colleges in this corner of the country play their home games in what amount to little more than glorified high school fields. However, to every rule there is an exception, and New England’s exception is Yale Field.
Baseball has been played on the site of Yale Field since 1885. The current stadium opened in 1928, and has seen more than its share of big names and big games. Back in the 1930s and 1940s teams would regularly play exhibition games here, meaning the likes of Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Lou Gehrig graced Yale Field.
Later on, the New Haven Ravens of the Double-A Eastern league played here for ten years starting in 1994, as did the New Haven Cutters of the independent Can-Am League from 2004-2007. The Double-A All Star Game was played here in 1998.
35 Yale players have been drafted since the Major League Draft began in 1965, with 24 players making it all the way to the big leagues. Yale has made two College World Series appearances (1947 and 1948).
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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 right by the entrance to Yale Field. It serves a limited menu of hot dogs, pretzels, assorted candy and bottles of Coca-Cola products. This stand exists solely to tide you over if you need a snack during the game. It certainly accomplishes this mission. No item is greater than four dollars here.
The atmosphere at a Yale baseball game is exactly what you would expect at a historic venue such as Yale Field. This is a bare bones game day presentation, with the action on the field the focus. This is exactly as a game should be presented in such a venue. The historic nature of Yale Field warrants a couple of points in this category all on its own.
There is the standard between inning music, and walk-up songs for each batter, but other than that, the only noise from the PA system is lineup announcements. There is a simple, hand-operated scoreboard in straight away center field.
There is a party porch down the right field line that is filled with picnic tables and is a popular spot from which to take in the action. In addition, there is a group BBQ area at field level that is packed with visiting alumni for bigger (Harvard) games.
Yale Field is not located on the downtown Yale campus, but about a mile and a half away in West Haven. There is not a whole lot to do in the immediate vicinity of Yale's athletic complex, with the Yale Bowl and the Connecticut Tennis Center (home to the WTA's Connecticut Open event) comprising the bulk of the neighborhood. Many fans will explore the Yale campus and downtown New Haven while visiting the area, as the two are intertwined. The Yale campus is noted for its unique architecture, and New Haven is developing a reputation as a foodie hotspot, with excellent bars and restaurants located throughout the downtown.
A couple of spots in particular may be of interest to visiting fans. Just blocks from the Yale campus is Louis' Lunch, which claims to be the birthplace of the hamburger. New Haven is also home to a unique brand of brick oven pizza, called apizza by locals. Local legends Frank Pepe's and Sally's Apizza, located just over a block apart on Wooster Street, are world famous for this pizza style. Many locals tout a third location, Modern Apizza, located only a half mile from campus.
Fans looking for lodging during their visit to New Haven will find no shortage of choices around the Yale campus. A detailed list of hotels can be found here.
Crowds at Bulldog games at Yale Field would certainly be classified as a "friends and family" type of crowd. Typical crowds average between 100-200 fans, with a minimal turnout from the student body. Those fans that do come to Yale Field are usually connected with the players on the field, and are active and vocal.
If coming to a game against arch-rival Harvard, expect the game to be much better attended. The 2016 matchup between the two schools attracted a crowd of 350 or so fans.
Yale Field is relatively easy to get to. Simply take exit 44 off of Interstate 95, and follow the signs to the Yale Bowl. Yale Field is right across the street from the Walter Camp Entrance of the Yale Bowl on Derby Ave.
There is a small grass parking lot right next to the stadium. It is not marked, so keep your eyes peeled as you approach the ballpark. Additional parking is available behind the ballpark should it be needed.
The seating bowl at Yale Field runs from shallow left field to shallow right field. The seating bowl features several different types of seats. Individual plastic stadium seats are located right behind home plate, with molded bucket seats at field level further down both lines. Metal bleachers with backs make up the bulk of the seating. The last row in every section consists of original wooden seats from the stadium's debut in 1928.
Party areas are located further down the right field line. The party deck at field level in right field features spectacular views of the action just feet from the right fielder.
There is a cramped, dark walkway beneath the stands. Luckily, since crowds at the typical Yale baseball game are sparse it not crowded. I would imagine that would change if the crowd at a particular game approached 1,000 fans.
Bathrooms are plentiful for the typical Bulldog crowd. Restrooms are painted pink for ladies, and blue for gentlemen.
With no charge for admission or parking, you can't beat the price of attending a Yale baseball game. Fans are welcome to bring in their own refreshments to enjoy, but the concession stand does offer inexpensive snacks should you need anything.
An extra point is awarded for All-Star Alley, a series of plywood baseballs that line the concourse honoring famous alumni and others who have played at Yale Field. Baseball legends such as Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Lou Gehrig are honored, as well as more contemporary players such as Frank Viola, Ron Darling, Nomar Garciaparra, and Vladimir Guerrero. Famous names such as President George Bush, Brandon Tartikoff, A. Bartlett Giomatti and Roger Staubach can also be found here.
Yale Field has been the site of many historic games. One of the most famous collegiate ball games ever took place here. Future Major League stars Ron Darling (Yale) and Frank Viola (St. John's) hooked up in a classic pitcher's duel in 1981. Darling threw a no-hitter for 11 innings before the winning run scored in the 1-0 final on a double steal in the 12th inning. In addition, Yale Field was a popular spot for Major League exhibitions during the 1930s and 1940s.
A final extra point is awarded for the overall historic aura of Yale Field. Touches such as keeping some of the original wooden seats feels so appropriate for this venue.
While Yale Field lacks any kind of modern flash, the historic aura of this ballpark permeates every corner of the place. It doesn't take much imagination to picture games from three quarters of a century ago looking very much like they do today. It's a must visit for any ballpark aficionado.
If planning a trip to New Haven, keep in mind that the college baseball season takes place in the months of March and April, when the weather in New England can be less than ideal. Postponements, cancellations, and even changes in venue can and do happen regularly. Be prepared to be flexible.
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Member Review by shamus170 on Apr 25, 2012
College baseball does not have much of a storied history in the Northeast. However, there is one notable exception and it comes from a university that is both storied and historic. At Yale, they have played on the same field since 1885 and a ballpark was built around that field in 1927. Many famous names have played at Yale Field and though Yale Field was renovated with new seating in 1993, much of the same character has been retained in the old ballpark. There are certainly some issues with the whole baseball experience, however if you are looking for a simple place to watch baseball in a historic setting, this one certainly qualifies.
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