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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

Clem Spillane Field - Wareham Gatemen

Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00

Clem Spillane Field 54 Marion Rd Wareham, MA 02571

Year Opened: 1963

Capacity: 1,200

Gatemen of the Cape

The Wareham Gatemen play in the Cape Cod Baseball League, the premier summer wood bat collegiate baseball league in the country. Originally known as the Wareham Town Team, the Gatemen joined the circuit in 1963.

The Gatemen play at Clem Spillane Field, adjacent to the Wareham Middle and High Schools. Clement S. Spillane was a teacher and coach at Wareham High from 1947-1960. In the 13 years that Spillane served as coach of the school’s baseball, basketball and football teams, he never had a losing record. In fact, during the 1955-56 school year all three squads went undefeated during their regular seasons. Spillane is inducted in the Massachusetts Coaches Hall of Fame in all three sports.

Wareham is known as “the Gateway to Cape Cod” due to its location on the mainland side of the Cape Cod Canal. Thus, the baseball team adopted the nickname “Gatemen.”

The Gatemen have won eight championships during their time in the league, most recently in 2018. Notable alumni include Lance Berkman, George Springer, Chuck Knoblauch, Kyle Schwarber, Ben Sheets, Nick Swisher, Mo Vaughn, and Barry Zito.

Food & Beverage 3

In a departure from the norm, Spillane Field’s concession stand is now located in the deep left field adjacent to the football bleachers. It appears as if this move was made to alleviate congestion around the John H. Wylde Press Box building during this time of coronavirus precautions. Time will tell if it becomes permanent.

A basic menu of ballpark fare is served here including hot dogs, hamburgers, sausage sandwiches, and chicken tenders. French fries can be ordered to accompany any item, and a variety of snack items dot the menu including chips, candy, and ice cream treats. The menu is not as extensive as in other Cape League ballparks, but you’ll find what you need here.

Cans of Coca-Cola products are sold. Alcohol is not allowed at Spillane Field.

Atmosphere 3

The atmosphere at Spillane Field is typical of most Cape League ballparks. Going to a Cape League game is a bit like stepping back in time. Absent is much of the noise and distraction present at so many ballparks today. The game on the field is the focus here. Music is only played between innings, and PA announcements during the game are limited to lineup details and the occasional sponsor announcement.

Wareham fans are knowledgeable about the game and respectful to all the athletes on the field. It’s a laid back place to take in a game, and a baseball purist’s dream. Part of the fun at a Cape League game is watching the antics of the children in the crowd, who compete to chase down foul balls all over the ballpark.

Neighborhood 2

There is little near Spillane Field to attract the visiting fan. Downtown Wareham is located a short drive from the ballpark along Route 6 and features several excellent restaurants and attractions for visiting fans. Families coming to the area may want to check out Water Wizz, best known as the site of the water park scene in the Adam Sandler movie “Grown Ups.”

Fans looking for an authentic Cape Cod experience while not actually on Cape Cod can head over to Onset Beach or Buzzards Bay. In addition to the many excellent seafood restaurants in the area, check out Buzzard’s Bay Brewery for some fantastic craft brews. Visitors wanting to mix in some history with their baseball can check out the old Whaling town of New Bedford, located twenty minutes to the east, or Plymouth located a half-hour to the north.

Fans 2

Wareham generally ranks down near the bottom of the Cape League attendance listings, averaging between 900-1,000 fans per game. This may be due to the team’s location off-Cape, which makes it more difficult to get to for the many tourists who descend on Cape Cod every summer.

As is the case at every Cape League ballpark, the fans in attendance are a mix of locals, tourists, and those with a connection to the team, either as host families or volunteers. Crowds here are laid back, but extremely knowledgeable about the game and players on the field. Respect is given to players on both teams, with good plays applauded no matter who makes them.

Access 3

Spillane Field is located on Route 6, a short drive from either Interstate 195 or Route 25. As the only Cape League franchise located off-Cape, it’s easy to get to from the mainland, and visitors coming during the heavier tourist times won’t have to deal with the legendary traffic in the area.

Visiting fans will park in the parking lot in between the Town Hall and the School Department offices. In another change for the 2021 season, fans will enter Spillane Field through the gate behind the football bleachers and visitor’s bullpen. A walkway down the third base side of the field leads to the main bleachers and team store. The area is paved and easily traversed.

Unlike the majority of the ballparks in the Cape League, Wareham’s seating is made up almost entirely of bleachers. There is some room behind home plate and underneath the raised bleachers where fans can set up their own chairs. The bleachers on both the first and third base sides of the field are wooden, and unfortunately in need of some TLC. The old boards have a lot of give to them in spots and don’t feel like the safest place to sit. The football bleachers beyond the left field fence are made of aluminum and located some distance from home plate but are still preferred by many fans. Nets and fences obscure views from all seats in the infield.

Unfortunately, the restrooms inside Wareham Middle School are no longer available to fans. The old Port-a-Johns are back, right next to the third base stands. They really should be moved to a spot further from the bleachers, or at least to a downwind location.

Return on Investment 5

As is the case with all teams in the Cape League, Gatemen games are free to the public. The team will accept donations from fans in exchange for a roster sheet. Programs are no longer given out in exchange for a donation but are sold at the merchandise stand.

Parking is free in the lot adjacent to the ballpark. Concessions are reasonably priced, making a night at a Gatemen game an affordable entertainment option for southeastern Massachusetts sports fans.

Extras 3

A good variety of Gatemen and Cape League merchandise is available at the merchandise stand behind home plate.

The team runs a 50/50 raffle during each game, proceeds of which help fund the team’s operation. In addition to half of the cash collected, fans can win a variety of prizes, including cruises to Martha’s Vineyard, harbor tours, and gift cards to local establishments.

New for the 2021 season is a video scoreboard located in the right-center field. Donated by the John Wylde Foundation, this scoreboard has graphic and video capabilities. Unfortunately, it is a bit on the small side. Game day staff seems to be learning to use the new technology, as it cut out a couple of times during Stadium Journey’s visit.

Final Thoughts

Spillane Field is rarely mentioned among the elite of Cape Cod’s ballparks. Perhaps it is due to the ballpark’s location on the mainland, or maybe because of the field’s rickety, splinter-filled bleachers or its gravel infield. But Spillane Field has its own charm, and you won’t find better summer college ball being played anywhere.

In the 2020 major league season over 300 Cape Cod League alumni once again suited up in the major leagues. That’s almost one out of every six players to play in the majors this year. All-time, over 1,400 Major Leaguers have played in the Cape League during their formative years. Needless to say, some of the best amateur ball being played anywhere in the world can be found in the small parks on Cape Cod. With all ten ballparks located within an hour’s drive of each other, it’s a baseball fan’s dream come true.

Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter and Instagram @PuckmanRI.

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