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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

Fraser Field - North Shore Navigators

Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.71

Fraser Field

365 Western Ave

Lynn, MA 01604

Year Opened: 1940

Capacity: 3,804

Crumblin’ Down

A product of the Works Progress Administration, Fraser Field opened its gates on June 18, 1940 with a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Lynn All-Stars. With Fraser Field’s location just outside of Boston’s city limits, it became a popular spot for Major League teams to play exhibition games on their days off, which was a common practice at the time. Many notable players, including Ted Williams, Carlton Fisk, Satchel Paige, Bob Feller, Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe, Josh Gibson and Jimmie Foxx played on the Fraser Field diamond.

Several professional teams have called Fraser Field home, starting with the affiliated Lynn Red Sox (1946-48), Lynn Tigers (1949), Lynn Sailors (1980-82) and Lynn Pirates (1983). In 1995 the Massachusetts Mad Dogs of the independent Northeast League set up shop for three seasons, followed by the North Shore Spirit of the Can-Am League from 2003-2007.

In 2008 the North Shore Navigators of the New England Collegiate Baseball League took up residence in the vacant ballpark. The Navs won a championship in the NECBL in 2010. In 2012, the Navs moved to the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, a rival wood-bat league that set up shop in several former minor league ballparks across New England.

Food & Beverage 3

Fraser Field has a decent assortment of concessions for a small ballpark. There is a building behind the main structure that houses the main concession stand. In addition, a pair of small stands sell food and beverages as well.

The menu doesn’t stray far from basic ballpark fare, with hot dogs, pizza slices, burgers and sausage sandwiches making up the bulk of the menu. Hot dogs can be purchased at every game for only a dollar. Pepsi products are featured at Fraser Field.

Fans looking for an adult beverage will find Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, Shock Top and Lime-A-Rita sold at a portable stand behind home plate. Another portable cart serves up Dippin’ Dots for Navigator fans.

Atmosphere 3

In comparison to their neighbors in the Cape Cod League and the New England League, the Futures league features a game day experience more akin to minor league baseball. Promotions and between inning entertainment are the norm in this league, and a Navigators game is no different. 50/50 raffles, sponsored promotions and party decks make a night with the Navs an event rather than just a ballgame.

Highlights include a chance for youngsters in attendance to take the field with the team during pregame ceremonies and to run across the outfield from the third base stands to the first base stands during the sixth inning. Chomps, the team’s alligator mascot, roams the ballpark taking pictures and taking part in promotions. There is a small playground located behind home plate that is a popular destination for younger fans needing to expend some energy during the game.

Neighborhood 2

The city of Lynn is a working class city of 90,000 residents located about four miles northeast of Boston. Traditionally Lynn has been known as a city with a high crime rate and poor standard of living. However, the city is enjoying a resurgence, as young urban professionals are moving to the North Shore to avoid the high prices of neighboring Boston while still retaining the urban atmosphere. Lynn has some fine beaches, and the popular Lynn Woods Reservation is located within its city limits.

The area around Fraser Field can hardly be considered a destination, particularly when you consider the proximity of the North End of Boston, the popular beaches of the North Shore, or the tourist destinations located throughout Greater Boston. The few blocks immediately surrounding Fraser Field are residential, and fans looking for more to do in Lynn will have to widen their search. Most fans visiting from out of town will head into Boston for their sightseeing and dining needs. For those fans looking to stay in the vicinity of Fraser Field, there are some small businesses and restaurants located a within a few blocks of the ballpark, along with a great many dining and shopping options a few miles away on Route One.

Fans 4

The Navigators have consistently averaged around 1,200 fans per game during their time in the Futures League. With the game day entertainment geared towards groups, families and younger fans, it’s not a surprise to see many younger fans roaming the grounds at Fraser Field. There’s a real neighborhood feel at a Navs game, as it feels like everyone knows each other here. With the proximity of the teams in the Futures League, it’s not unusual to see fans of the visiting teams turn out in decent numbers.

Access 2

Fraser Field is located in Lynn, Massachusetts, a city of over 90,000 residents located about four miles northeast of Boston. Despite its location close to Boston, Fraser Field can be a difficult place to get to for out-of-town visitors. The area is not served by any highways, with Route One the closest major route to the area. Visitors will have to navigate several miles of local roads to arrive at the ballpark. Traffic in this area is generally heavy, particularly on weeknights.

An advantage to Lynn’s location so close to the city of Boston is that it is well served by public transportation. There is an MBTA commuter rail station just over a mile from Fraser Field, which can deposit travelers at Boston’s North Station in just over 20 minutes. In addition, the MBTA’s bus routes #435 and 436 have stops within walking distance of Fraser Field.

Parking is available on-street around Fraser Field, or in two small lots adjacent to Manning Field, which is located just beyond the center field fence. There is no charge for parking at Navigators games. If parking near Manning Field, you will have to walk around the length of the outfield to the entrance in deep left field.

The seating bowl at Fraser Field stretches roughly from first base around to third base. Seating consists of individual folding stadium seats close to the field with aluminum bleachers without backs towards the back of the seating bowl. There are party decks on both sides of the field which contain some bar-style seating and standing room. If entering from left field, you will need to climb stairs from ground level up to the top of the seating area to access the rest of the ballpark.

Rest rooms are located in a separate building behind the first base side of the ballpark. Like many parts of Fraser Field, it is in need of some repair.

The main reason for the sub-par score here is the condition of Fraser Field’s signature cantilevered roof. This roof, which at one point extended all the way to the edge of the seating bowl, was cut back in 2003 due to deterioration in the structure. For the 2019 season the team had to close off several sections underneath the roof due to crumbling cement. This has the effect of making a great many of the seats at Fraser Field unusable. In addition, if you take a walk around the facility you will notice deteriorating concrete throughout the structure. The city of Lynn is in the process of making repairs, which should be completed during the summer of 2019, but it appears that more than patchwork repairs are needed to make Fraser Field safe.

Return on Investment 4

Tickets to North Shore Navigators games cost six dollars for any seat in the ballpark. Parking is available on the streets around Fraser Field or in the parking lot beyond the right field fence at no charge. Concessions are quite affordable, highlighted by the dollar hot dogs available at every Navigators game.

Extras 1

An extra point is awarded for the great amount of baseball history that has occurred at Fraser Field. Unfortunately, none of it is on display anymore. Go to the Navigators website to check out the long list of baseball legends who have played at this old ballpark.

Final Thoughts

The Futures League has been a savior to old ballparks throughout New England that once housed minor league teams and otherwise would have simply faded away into history. In addition to Fraser Field, former minor league parks in Nashua, Brockton, Worcester, Pittsfield and Bristol are part of this circuit.

Unfortunately, Fraser Field is really starting to show its age and is in dire need of repairs. The city of Lynn is taking measures to fix the ballpark’s legendary cantilevered roof, but it appears that more than just stopgap measures are needed to keep this ballpark in usable condition.

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

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