Leary Field – Seacoast Mavericks
Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.43
175 Parrott Ave.
Portsmouth, NH 03801
Year Opened: 1956
Baseball on the Seacoast
Baseball has been played at the site of Leary Field in downtown Portsmouth, NH since the late 1800’s. Originally named South Playground, the field was renamed after Portsmouth mayor John J. Leary in 1956. Leary Field is located in a residential neighborhood within walking distance of downtown Portsmouth. Named one of “America’s Prettiest Towns” by ForbesTraveler.com and ranked fourth in Outside Magazine’s “Top 20 Towns in America”, Portsmouth is nationally recognized as a top vacation destination.
The Mavericks are a charter member of the Futures League, having previously played their home games at Bert George Field on the campus of Spaulding High School in neighboring Rochester. The club moved to downtown Portsmouth for the 2013 season, investing $50,000 in Leary Field to build new dugouts, seating areas, and other improvements to the facility.
Now in their fifth season, the Mavericks have yet to reach the playoffs.
Food & Beverage 2
There is a concession stand located underneath the main grandstand, which offers your basic ballpark fare. Hot dogs ($2.50), pizza slices ($2.00/2.50), and nachos ($3.00) are the featured items. Local favorite Napoli Deli offers half-sandwiches ($3), and kids meals are sold here, served on a Mavericks Frisbee ($5). An extensive list of snacks are available, including popcorn ($1), peanuts ($2), caramel corn ($3), and cotton candy ($3). In addition, candy such as ring pops, freeze pops, and the like are sold, including the cheapest concession item this writer has ever seen at a ball game, a piece of double bubble gum sold for five cents.
Thirsty Mavericks fans can choose from cans of Pepsi products ($1.50), Gatorade ($2), Red Bulls ($3), or bottled water ($1). Alcoholic beverages are not sold at Leary Field.
Fans used to the in your face, boisterous atmosphere present at most baseball games today will be surprised at the laid-back presentation at a Seacoast Mavericks game. The presence of the PA is limited to simple announcements of upcoming batters and lineup changes. Music is played between innings and batters, but unless you are sitting right near the PA announcer, you probably won’t even hear it.
There is an emcee who handles what between innings contests are held for the children in attendance. Water balloon tosses and chase the mascot races are held, but distractions are held to a minimum here. Baseball purists will enjoy the atmosphere, but many fans will have to get used to the bare bones presentation.
As is the case with most summer collegiate games, the crowd is made up primarily of families. Part of the fun at a Mavericks game is watching the children run around in the vast grassy areas of the first base side. Many of the children in attendance spend most of their day chasing foul balls around Leary Field, and can be as entertaining as the action taking place on the field.
Portsmouth is a small city of just over 21,000 residents located on the New Hampshire seacoast. This historic seaport and summer tourist destination is located about an hour north of Boston.
Leary Field is located in a residential neighborhood just a short walk from downtown. This downtown area is loaded with restaurants, shops, and attractions. History buffs will enjoy attractions such as the USS Albacore Museum, which features one of the Navy’s first nuclear submarines, and Strawbery Banke, a historic museum featuring homes and exhibits from colonial times. Fans interested in culinary pursuits will undoubtedly enjoy downtown’s several eateries and brew pubs, with Portsmouth Brewery, among others, all located within a few city blocks. For visiting fans looking for a different kind of dining experience, The Friendly Toast features unique breakfast food all day long served in a kitschy setting. There are many lodging options downtown for fans wanting to stay in Portsmouth, but fans interested in saving a few dollars may opt for one of the hotels located away from downtown by the rotary. Kittery, Maine is located just across the Piscataqua River, and boasts many attractions of its own.
Since moving downtown for the 2013 season, the Mavericks have averaged just shy of 400 fans per game, consistently ranking them near the bottom of the Futures League attendance rankings. Based on the crowd present for a Sunday afternoon game, these figures are greatly inflated.
Leary Field is located a couple of blocks from downtown Portsmouth, but can be difficult to find when driving. Most visitors to Portsmouth will arrive by Interstate 95. The Market Street exit will bring drivers downtown, where it will be necessary to navigate many of downtown’s narrow streets to find Leary Field. Portsmouth is a very walkable city, but can be tough to drive in for out of towners.
Fans coming to Portsmouth for a Mavericks game can park on the streets that surround the field, or to better save your windshield, in the parking lot beyond the outfield next to the Library and Middle School. This lot is a short walk from the field, and also free of charge.
Once inside Leary Field, fans can sit in the old covered grandstand, which sits close behind home plate and offers spectacular views of downtown in the distance. Fans not wishing to look through fencing often choose a set of metal bleachers on the third base side, which are not obstructed by any netting. There is plenty of room all around the field for fans to sit at one of many picnic tables on the first base side, or to spread out on their own blankets or lawn chairs.
Fans should be warned that while the area behind the concourse is paved, access to much of the field requires navigating dirt paths or grassy areas. Fans with unsteady gait may wish to stay in the grandstand area. There is a pair of small bathrooms located behind the main grandstand.
Return on Investment 4
The Mavericks charge $5 for admission, with seniors and children receiving a $2 discount. Children under age 6 are admitted for free. Parking is free either on the streets surrounding Leary Field (just be aware of time restrictions if parking on-street), or in the large lot next to the public library and middle school. With inexpensive concessions, a night at a Seacoast Mavericks game is a very affordable entertainment option for baseball fans in the Portsmouth area.
There isn’t a whole lot going on at Leary Field that can be considered extra. The Mavericks deserve kudos for going the extra yard for young visitors who attend games. During birthday parties at Leary Field, a couple of Mavericks players take time out of their day to greet the young fans and play catch with the birthday boy or girl. It’s a genuine touch that you won’t ever see in bigger ballparks. Judging by the smile on the birthday boy’s face, it’s a memory he won’t ever forget.
Playing in a league full of old minor league parks, Leary Field simply doesn’t measure up in terms of amenities. If you enjoy old-school charms and proximity to one of the country’s best small downtown areas, then Leary Field is the place for you. The Futures League currently ranks behind their New England summer collegiate brethren in the Cape Cod and New England Leagues, but the play and caliber of talent is improving quickly. The league just celebrated their initial first round pick, and 30 Futures League alumni were selected in the 2015 Major League Baseball Entry Draft. Going to a Futures League game is an affordable, attractive alternative to minor league games in the area.