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  • Writer's pictureGregory Koch

Nymeo Field At Harry Grove Stadium – Frederick Keys

Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium 21 Stadium Dr Frederick, MD 21703

Frederick Keys website

Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium website

Year Opened: 1990 Capacity: 7,027


In the Key of Fun

The Frederick Keys are a baseball team located in Frederick, Maryland. The Keys joined the Carolina League in 1989 as an affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. For their first season, the team played their home games at the antiquated McCurdy Field until their new home, Harry Grove Stadium, was ready for them. The city of Frederick has a long history of baseball prior to the arrival of the Keys. A Frederick team played in the minor leagues from 1915 to 1930, going by several different nicknames including the Hustlers, Champs, and Warriors. After 1930, Frederick had no minor league baseball team for almost 60 years until the Keys came to town.

Following the 2020 season, Major League Baseball contracted over 40 minor league teams, including the Keys. However, all was not lost as the Keys joined the new MLB Draft League along with five other contracted teams. This league consists of college prospects looking to be drafted in the MLB Draft each summer. Time will tell if this league can attract as much success in Frederick as the affiliated minors did.

The Keys are named after Francis Scott Key, author of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” who is a native of Frederick County and is buried across the street from the stadium.

Food & Beverage 4

There is an impressive selection of food and beverage at Harry Grove Stadium which is too long to list. Stands offer both traditional options such as hot dogs, burgers, and pizza and non-traditional items such as chicken wraps and gouda mac & cheese bites. Dessert items include helmet sundaes and funnel cake fries. Soft drinks and beer are available as well.

The prices are pretty reasonable for this level, though expect to pay a bit extra if you want one of the fancier burgers available down the first baseline.

Atmosphere 5

Despite no longer being affiliated, the Keys still do an excellent job of keeping fans engaged. There are numerous between inning contests and game day promotions ranging from water balloon fights to bobblehead nights. The team mascot is a costumed coyote character named Keyote who wanders the stands before and during the game. Although some fans have compared his appearance to the big bad wolf, he is actually quite a friendly creature. One unique tradition here occurs during the seventh inning stretch. Following the playing of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” they play the team’s theme song, “We’re the Frederick Keys,” and fans shake their keys along with the music.

As for the stadium itself, most seats are chairbacks but there are some bleacher seats down the lines. The main concourse is at the top of the seating bowl and there is a much smaller concourse of sorts in between the 100 and 200 level. However, everything you would need to access other than the 100 level itself is on the main concourse, the lower one mainly just serves as a buffer between the two levels of seats. There is a big scoreboard in right-center field which shows the line score and other information and a video board in left-center field.

Neighborhood 3

Not much is in the immediate vicinity of Harry Grove Stadium, but if you make the short drive into Downtown Frederick you will find a few options. Black Hog BBQ Bar is a local chain with a location in Frederick that is well-known for its barbecue. There are a number of bars and pubs including Thatcher&Rye, Brewer’s Alley, and Old Mother Brewing.

If you’re looking for things to do closer to the stadium, Francis Scott Key’s burial place is right across the street but that’s about it. That being said, downtown isn’t far enough that it’s a problem to get to.

Fans 2

Back when they were in affiliated ball, the Keys would regularly draw large crowds to Harry Grove Stadium. Unfortunately, between the COVID-19 pandemic and the move to the Draft League, interest has dwindled significantly. Now the Keys are lucky if they get a couple thousand fans a game.

Those who do attend are a mix of passionate baseball fans and families who are there more for the entertainment and the chance to have a nice time together. Some people will care quite a bit about the game, others won’t care at all. Most are somewhere in between. Given this is the Draft League, you will also find a lot of MLB scouts in attendance, and while they aren’t fans per se, you can still expect to see them in the stands, radar gun and notebook in hand.

Access 4

Frederick is located at the intersection of Interstates 70 and 270 and Harry Grove Stadium is easily accessible from both highways.

Once you are at the stadium, there is a small lot right outside the gate. If this fills up (and it will, despite the smaller crowds than in past years), you can park in a much larger lot down the right field line. This involves walking up a hill to get to the stadium – if you don’t feel like doing that, arrive early so you can park in the closer lot. Note that most GPS apps will take you to the lower lot – to get to the upper lot, drive past that and turn right where you see the sign for the stadium. The lot will be just up ahead on your right, across from the cemetery. All parking is free.

Once inside the stadium, the concourse is more than wide enough to accommodate the crowds, and the restrooms are of a sufficient size as well. Concession lines can move slowly at times, but as they rarely get too long you should still be through it fairly quickly.

Return on Investment 4

Tickets start at just $10 for general admission bleachers and no seat is more than $13. Further discounts are available for youth, seniors, and military. Parking is free and concessions are affordable so a visit to Harry Grove Stadium can be a great deal for the whole family.

Extras 3

Free programs are available at the entrance, which are quite extensive and of comparable quality to paid programs at many other stadiums.

There is a Kids’ Zone down the right field line featuring a carousel and many other fun activities to keep children engaged while their parents watch the game.

A third and final star for the traditional shaking of the keys during the seventh inning stretch, which is a unique tradition taking advantage of the team’s nickname.

Final Thoughts

MLB’s realignment and contraction has been hard on many of the affected teams and communities. While Frederick is lucky to still have baseball in some form, it just doesn’t feel the same as when they were an affiliate of the nearby Orioles. The team is certainly doing its part to make sure the experience stays as good as it once was, but the energy and attendance from the fans simply isn’t there anymore. How much of this is due to realignment and how much of it is due to the COVID-19 pandemic that was still ongoing when we visited (despite all restrictions at the ballpark being lifted by that time) remains to be seen. Hopefully the Keys can eventually recover from the loss of affiliated ball, but sadly, things may never be the same here.

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