Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29
Damaschke Field 15 James Georgeson Ave Oneonta, NY 13820
Year Opened: 1938
Plenty of Baseball at Damaschke Field
They have been playing baseball on the Damaschke Field site since 1905 when it was known as Elm Park. A few famous people such as Babe Ruth and Roger Hornsby played baseball on the diamond during the early part of the 20th century.
In 1938, the current grandstand was erected–some accounts list it as 1939 or 1940–and renamed Neahwa Field. Semi-pro and professional ball were played at the stadium along with a few exhibition games from time to time. In 1968, the facility was renamed Damaschke Field in honor of the local sports, coach, referee, and city Recreation Commissioner for more than 30 years. “Dutch” even threw out the first pitch of the season
At the time the stadium was home to the Oneonta Yankees who would play an amazing 31 seasons in town until 1998. The field witnessed future hall of fame action as John Elway batted .318 during 42 games for the Yanks in 1982 as he contemplated a career in baseball after refusing to sign with the Baltimore Colts of the National Football League.
The Detroit Tigers established a farm team that would operate until 2009, one of the many upstate New York towns to lose minor league baseball during this time. When the O-Tigers left for Dodd Field in Norwich, Connecticut, a collegiate ball club was quickly established for the following season.
The New York Collegiate Baseball League expansion Oneonta Outlaws debuted in 2010 and captured two championship titles in 2011 and 2013. The Outlaws would jump to the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League in 2016 and continue to make the 3,700-seat stadium an intimate baseball experience during the summer months.
Food & Beverage 4
The first thing that one notices is the large grill that is cooking up hot dogs, hamburgers, and chicken spiedies (a favorite regional dish that as one person told would not be summer without them). They are favorably priced and offer a few selections that are not always available at your other ballparks.
Veggie burgers, popcorn chicken, and sausage sandwiches with peppers and onions are all a bargain in the $3.50-$5 range, so is that chicken spiedie on a sub roll at $5.50? The ballpark staple hot dog is a great price at $2.50 and one can enjoy nachos and peanuts for $3.50 each.
Beer is served at a concession stand near the front entrance and features six different taps. Ithaca Brewing Company is the lone local craft beer on draft, but the options of Shipyard IPA, Heineken, Dundee, Bud Light, and Shocktop Wheat offer more than enough choices for $5 a serving. Another bonus is that a poker chip is given for each drink to lure fans to free tastings at the nearby Rail Benders in downtown Oneonta.
If this is what the NYPL was like at one time, then much has changed in the league. The ballpark is small but features a very elegant and simple arch-gated entrance. The stadium consists of a tiny covered grandstand and two sets of elongated bleachers down each baseline. There is also old-fashion box seating that makes up the reserved seating and provides a place to stretch out during the game. This place could do wonders for those who are stressed out in life as everyday worries take a back seat to the baseball game.
The staff is rather friendly. Greeters meet you at the gated entrance and welcome you. The folks selling concessions wave hello and you are not too far from assistance with seating or your tickets. One can even say that you are right home at Damaschke Field. Where else are you going to learn about the park’s history or the best place to eat in town?
The ballpark features a simple electronic scoreboard and gorgeous views of tree-covered hills in the background. On a perfect day, the skies could be magical to look at. I would suggest grabbing a reserved seat for $5, kicking back against one of the box seat railings, and enjoying the ballgame. If you are lucky, you may even catch a foul ball.
It would be nice to see a little more history of Oneonta baseball somewhere inside the stadium. There have been a few great ball players that have gotten their jerseys dirty sliding into home. Don Mattingly, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, and two-time Super Bowl champion John Elway were all Oneonta stars at one time. The Outlaws themselves have won two championships since arriving in 2010. This creates a great presence, photo opportunities, bragging rights, and conversation starters.
Downtown is full of great places to eat and drink. The small picturesque downtown is worth a visit and the hardest thing to do is find the best place to eat as there are too many of them from which to choose. I would suggest eating at one of these fine establishments first and then having a drink after the game at Rail Benders on Main Street.
Brooks House of Barbecue was mentioned by more than one person during my travels in the area. I normally stay away from barbecue joints in this part of the country, but this place challenges any misconceptions.
The Depot is known for its burgers, pizza, and wings (they even bottle their wing sauce and have a website devoted to their garbage wings). The Farmhouse Restaurant is another popular choice for fine dining and a great atmosphere. Last, but not least, is Rail Benders (who also serves beer at the game). They have been voted one of the best bars in the area. They have 16 beers on tap and some good pub food.
I am not sure what to say at times about the fans at the game, especially in a small little town like Oneonta. I have the feeling that they are mostly out to enjoy the summer months at a place that has been a part of their lives for a very long time.
They have a stadium that may have changed in terms of the league of the team, but not in terms of anything else. With that in mind, they are no different from the countless other fans who attend ballgames across North America. The ballpark is the venue for the community to get together. Ask any of the longtime fans, and you are bound to hear a good story.
Directions to Damaschke Field are visible once you exit the interstate and signage guides you through downtown right to the stadium. If you are arriving from the eastern portion of I-88, the ballpark is found within minutes. When arriving from the west, you are taken through downtown Oneonta, which then gives you a great glimpse of the village. There is plenty of parking on a paved lot at the ballpark and it is free.
Return on Investment 3
The ticket prices are a bargain at $5 for adult general admission and $8 for reserved seating. Seniors, military, and students get in for only $3. The parking is free, concessions have reasonable prices, and merchandise is plentiful and eye-catching at the concession booth.
Oneonta is only 30 minutes away from the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and makes for a great stopover for your journeys in the area. It is great to see that Damaschke Field is still able to host baseball and its size and location are ideal for collegiate summer wood bat baseball. It’s a nice way to spend a few hours during the summer months.