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  • Meg Minard

John Thurman Field – Modesto Nuts


Photos by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86

John Thurman Field 601 Neece Dr Modesto, CA 95351

Modesto Nuts website John Thurman Field website

Year Opened: 1955 Capacity: 4,000

 

Going Nuts for Baseball in Modesto

The Modesto Nuts baseball team are currently the Single-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners playing in the California League. They have been affiliated with many major league teams, mostly recently the Colorado Rockies (2005 – 2016) and the Oakland Athletics (1975 – 2004). The team changed their name in 2005 from the Modesto Athletics to the Modesto Nuts when they switched affiliations to the Rockies. The name is derived from the several types of nuts that are grown in the Central Valley region of California.

The Nuts play at John Thurman Field, built in 1955, which holds 4,000 fans for baseball. It is owned and operated by the City of Modesto.

The Nuts most recently won the California League championship in 2017.

Food & Beverage 3

Concessions are behind the grandstands and the seating bowl (one can’t see the field from the concession area).

Except for an ice cream / treat truck (which does not remain open long if there is minimal business), the concession stands offer the same items. Based on attendance not all concession stands may be open. Lines generally are not an issue.

Food choices look decent and include sausage, burgers, pulled pork, cheesesteak, quesadilla, chicken strips ($8 – $9.50). For real hungry fans try the triple play sandwich (3 meats) or the two-meat sandwich ($10). Add a soda and either French fries or onion rings for an addition $5.50- $6.50.

Traditional foods like nachos, corn dogs, hot dog, pretzels, pizza, cracker jack, etc. are all available ($4 – $5). Soda runs $4.25/$5 and Snapple tea, slush puppy, bottled water, coffee and hot chocolate are the soft drinks at the concession.

Beer runs $6 – $10 and includes domestic, premium, and craft brews. The concession stands not only sell the domestic beers but also the local craft brews. Wine, margarita, and hard lemonade are also for sale. A separate beer-only stand is behind home on the concourse.

Atmosphere 3

The game day experience at John Thurman Field is blah but this probably depends on which game is being attended and how many fans show up.

Two levels of six sections of green stadium seats are behind home – five rows then a walkway then an upper level. The lower five rows extend down the baselines. Bleachers with backs are the rest of the seating (general admission). A drink rail is scattered along the walkway. Plenty of places are available for handicapped seating. Nets span across the entire seating area causing zero net-free seats.

A group-party picnic area is along the third baseline between the visiting dugout and their bullpen. Similarly, on the opposite side of the diamond is another open space, this side without picnic tables. Instead, it’s where kids tend to congregate as it is near the playground ($5) and the Nuts’ bullpen. This area is particularly unique because the relief pitchers sit facing the field a few feet above the same paved area where people can stand and watch the game net-free.

The stadium seats have average width and legroom. Zero legroom provided in bleacher sections (except the first row). And, the seats behind the dugout have exceptional room (hall of fame box seats labelled by the season ticket holders who have purchased them).

A really nice video board shows up-to-date player stats, line score, and uncommon in the California League, the pitch count and pitch speed.

The merchandise shop has just a few items hats, shirts, a few trinkets but no hat pins.

Traditional non-intrusive minor league between inning contests, games, and trivia are provided such as name the cereal and a beer batter. All good fun.

Neighborhood 2

Nothing is in the way of shopping or eating in the immediate neighborhood, John Thurman Field sits in a city park. Just beyond the outfield wall is a grove of trees hugging the diamond providing a nature look and feel.

The closest neighbor to John Thurman Field is the Modesto Municipal Golf Course and it creates a nice setting. Also nearby are soccer fields, filled with pickup games and picnic areas with built-in barbecues. The closest major neighborhood is across the Tuolumne River and it is all industrial; bottling facilities, meat-packing plants, etc.

A mile and a half away from the ballpark is downtown Modesto (separated by a major highway) where drinking, dining and shopping are more readily available; just a five-minute drive.

Check out Surhla’s for fresh California cuisine and Raw Sushi Bistro for sushi. Commonwealth, a gastro pub, also comes recommended.

For places to stay, a Double Tree is less than 2 miles from the ballpark. A Best Western and a Motel 6 are also in that same area downtown.

For things to do if staying in the area, check out E & J Gallo Winery or McHenry Museum and Mansion.

Other sports teams somewhat nearby during baseball season are the Stockton Ports (about a 40 min drive) or maybe take a drive down to Fresno and visit Chukchansi Park (about an hour ½ drive).

Fans 3

The Nuts are struggling with attendance. So few fans were at the game of this review one could hear conversations on the field and personal conversations in the stands. The average attendance the last few seasons has been a tad above 2,000 per game putting them close to the bottom in the California League. Those that are there do appreciate the game and applaud good plays.

Access 3

Getting to the park is not too difficult as it is less than ½ mile off Highway 99. It is $6 to park, cash only. No public transportation to the ballpark is available.

Two entry gates are on the first and third base side. The concourse is attractively wide, plenty of handicapped access and seating is available.

Buying game day tickets and security access is effortless.

Return on Investment 3

Ticket prices range from $9 – $15. AAA members should remember to ask for a discount when purchasing a ticket. The parking price seems to be about what is expected in the California League. And, concessions seem to be on par with other stadiums in the league.

The Nuts do offer specials throughout the week like Wiener Wednesdays and Thirsty Thursdays. It’s an affordable way to spend a summer evening out.

Extras 3

The starting lineup for the Nuts is photos posted on concourse wall, another unique feature at the ballparks. The concourse is attractively landscaped.

Two numbers are retired above the right field wall: 1, for former owner Fred Anderson who funded much of the renovations; and 26, for former Oakland Athletic and Modesto native Joe Rudi.

Lastly, the uniqueness of the home bullpen location truly should be considered an “extra.”

Final Thoughts

The Modesto Nuts at John Thurman Field provide a traditional minor league baseball experience and one families should take advantage. It’s pretty bare bones but the fans that attend do have a pleasant summer evening out. Here’s hoping more fans will stop by and enjoy a game in the future.

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