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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field - Holy Cross Crusaders

Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.57

Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field 1 College St Worcester, MA 01610

Year Opened: 1905 Capacity: 3,000

Fabled Fitton Field

Baseball has been played at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester (pronounced “Woo-stah” by locals), MA since 1876. The Crusaders have played on the site of Fitton Field since 1905. Properly named Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field, the ballpark is named in honor of the Reverend James Fitton, who donated the land on which the baseball and adjacent football stadium is located.

In addition to the Holy Cross baseball team, the Futures Collegiate Baseball League’s Worcester Bravehearts play here. Fitton Field has also hosted professional baseball in the past, as the Can-Am League’s Worcester Tornadoes spent eight seasons in the Heart of the Commonwealth before folding in 2012. During their time at Fitton Field, the Tornadoes installed lighting and permanent seating, bringing the venue up to professional standards.

Over their long history, the Crusaders have qualified for 11 NCAA Tournaments, reaching the College World Series four times. Holy Cross won the national championship in 1952, remaining the only northeastern school to ever win the title in history. 32 Crusader alumni have been drafted by Major League Baseball teams since the inception of the draft in 1965. 78 alumni have appeared in the Major Leagues, the majority of whom played in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Food & Beverage 0

There is no food available at Fitton Field for Holy Cross baseball games. The concession stands along the first base side of the field remain boarded up. Fans are welcome to bring in their own snacks during Crusaders games. You’ll see a lot of Dunkin’ products in the stands on these chilly Massachusetts spring afternoons.

Atmosphere 2

The Crusader game day staff put on your standard, no-frills game presentation at Fitton Field. The ballpark has an excellent sound system, which is put to good use with music in between innings. The PA announcer is professional and unobtrusive. A scoreboard in right-center field displays basic game information. There’s little going on at Fitton Field to distract your attention from the game. The football stadium (also named Fitton Field) located just beyond the right field fence makes for an interesting backdrop, along with Interstate 290 just beyond the left field fence. You may find yourself wondering if anyone has reached the interstate with a long home run.

Much of the noise you will hear at Fitton Field comes from the players on the field and the fans in the stands. If you enjoy a low-key ballpark atmosphere, where you can hear the chatter on the field and the crack of the bat on the ball (well, since this is college baseball, the ping of the bat), you’ll enjoy an afternoon at Fitton Field.

Neighborhood 3

Fitton Field, located on the northern edge of the Holy Cross campus, sits adjacent to a residential area outside of downtown Worcester. As a result, there are not many dining options to choose from in the immediate vicinity of the ballpark. If visiting Worcester from out of town, there are other neighborhoods more worthy of your attention.

As you may expect, a great deal of attention is being given to the Canal District, the site of the new Polar Park, as a great deal of development is happening in that area. Located less than two miles from Holy Cross, there are several options for dining in that neighborhood.

Shrewsbury Street is home to “Restaurant Row,” where over 40 eateries ranging from fine dining to diners, from brew pubs to Italian bistros are lined up along a two-mile stretch of road. Located less than a ten-minute drive from Fitton Field, it’s a great place for a stroll on a nice summer afternoon. Visitors will find lodging options nearby in the downtown area.

Fans 2

As is the case with most schools in the northeast, a Crusader baseball crowd can accurately be described as a “friends and family” type of crowd. Generally totaling between 150-250 fans, the fans that do come to Fitton Field generally have a close connection with the players down on the field, and are very much into the game. Despite the partisan nature of the Holy Cross crowd, good plays by both squads are appreciated and applauded. With the close proximity of many of Holy Cross’ opponents, it’s not unusual to see some fans of the visiting teams descend on Fitton Field.

There is not much of a turnout by the student body, but the students who do show up are ardent rooters of the Crusaders.

Access 4

Out of towners may be surprised to learn that Worcester is the second largest city in all of New England, smaller only than Boston. Worcester is centrally located in New England, less than an hour’s drive from Boston and 45 minutes to Providence. Four major airports are located about an hour from Worcester, and the city is served by Amtrak train service, Greyhound Bus Lines, and Peter Pan Bus Lines. Both train and bus terminals are located in downtown Worcester, a five-minute drive from the Holy Cross Campus.

The College of the Holy Cross campus is located in southwestern Worcester, at the junctions of Interstate 290 and Route 146. Fitton Field is located on the northern edge of campus, directly off of Interstate 290. Fans using public transportation can catch the 25 bus to city hall or the 42 bus downtown. Both bus routes stop at Southbridge Street at the bottom of College Hill adjacent to Fitton Field. There is ample free parking in a parking garage adjacent to the ballpark.

Fans will enter the ballpark on the first base side of the field, at the top of the seating bowl. Concessions and merchandise stands flank the sides of the entrance, but unfortunately these are closed for Crusader baseball games. A building housing the bathrooms is located on the third base side of the ballpark.

The seating bowl at Fitton field stretches from medium right field around to medium left field. The majority of the seating at Fitton Field is made up of individual stadium seats. There are a few sections of metal bleachers with backs down either foul line. With the small size of the typical Crusader crowd, getting around and lines are not an issue. For seats without a net obstructing your view, choose seats further down the lines.

Return on Investment 5

There is no charge for admission or parking at Crusader baseball games. With no on-site concessions, fans will not pay a single cent while at Fitton Field.

Extras 2

Holy Cross has an impressive baseball history, as they are the only northeastern school to ever win the College World Series, back in 1952. This accomplishment is immortalized in giant letters along the left field fence. NCAA Tournament appearances and conference championships are posted on the right field fence.

Recent Holy Cross baseball alumni who have been drafted by Major League teams have this accomplishment honored with large posters on the back of the press box.

Ted Williams hit his first home run as a member of the Red Sox at Fitton Field during an exhibition game in 1939. The first inning grand slam plated Hall of Famers Jimmy Foxx, Joe Cronin and Bobby Doerr ahead of him.

Ted Williams at Fitton Field, 1939. Photo courtesy of Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

Final Thoughts

Fitton Field is a solid, no-frills facility that fits the needs of the Holy Cross baseball team perfectly. While the crowds of 20,000 that used to visit Worcester for baseball games are a distant memory and the glory days of this program are a thing of the past, you can’t ask for more than catching some quality baseball in this charming little park. And the price is right!

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

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