Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29
McKeon Park 120 High School Road Hyannis, MA 02601
Year Opened: 1979 Capacity: 2,500
Harbor Hawks of Hyannis
McKeon Park, named for longtime Barnstable School Committee member and athletic booster John McKeon, is located behind Saint John Paul II High School, within walking distance of both downtown Hyannis and Hyannis Harbor. In 2016 the field at McKeon Park was renamed “Judy Walden Scarafile Field” in honor of the longtime Cape Cod Baseball League president.
The Harbor Hawks, originally named the Mets, decided in 2009 along with several other league teams to cease sharing names with Major League teams. The team chose the new moniker “Harbor Hawks” in honor of the Ospreys who nest atop the light towers at the ballpark.
The Harbor Hawks/Mets have been a member of the Cape Cod League since 1976, and have won three championships, most recently in 1991. Notable alumni to have played in Hyannis include Jason Varitek, Buck Showalter, Albert Belle, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Robin Ventura.
Food & Beverage 2
The Harbor Hawks operate a concession stand out of the rear of the press box building. It offers basic refreshments for hungry Hyannis fans. Quarter Pound Hot Dogs, pizza slices and nachos are the highlights of the menu. Of course, since we’re on Cape Cod, New England clam chowder is available as well.
Fans looking for a quick snack will have many options. In addition to the typical pretzels, potato chips (Cape Cod brand chips, naturally), popcorn and sunflower seeds, an assortment of ice cream novelties are available. Coca-Cola products are featured at McKeon Park. No alcohol is sold here.
Fans who long for a game day experience like it used to be will certainly enjoy a Harbor Hawks game. Like all the Cape League parks, the game is the focus here. Absent are the shenanigans that have become routine throughout minor league baseball today.
Distractions are kept to a minimum at McKeon Park. Although music is played between innings, it is kept at a reasonable volume. Batters come to the plate without musical accompaniment, greeted only by a subdued PA announcer.
The Harbor Hawks do engage fans with a few promotions, including a t-shirt toss, 50/50 raffle with multiple prizes from local sponsors and occasional appearances by Ossie the Osprey, Hyannis’ mascot.
Even though downtown Hyannis and Hyannis Harbor are located just a couple of blocks from McKeon Field, they are not easily accessible from the ballpark. It is likely that if you are spending the day in Hyannis, you’ll have to bounce from area to area. Parking in the downtown area can be tough during peak tourist times.
Hyannis is the commercial hub of Cape Cod. The area is filled with restaurants, lodging options and shops. If spending a day on the water is more your speed, head a block beyond the outfield wall, where Hyannis Harbor offers even more dining and entertainment options, including cruises of the coastline and ferries to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Less than two miles from the ballpark are some of Cape Cod’s legendary beaches.
History buffs will enjoy the nearby JFK Hyannis Museum, located about a half mile from McKeon Park, which commemorates the Camelot days of the Kennedy family, who spent their summers in Hyannisport. In addition, John Kennedy’s house is located just two miles from the ballpark. Also located in the JFK museum is the Cape Cod League Hall of Fame, a must-see attraction for any baseball fan visiting the area. Since one in six current major league players today played in the Cape League, it’s a distinct possibility that one of your favorite players may be enshrined here.
Hyannis annually comes in near the top of the Cape League attendance rankings, averaging somewhere around 1,500 fans per game. For the 2021 season, the Harbor Hawks are attracting over 2,000 fans per game, ranking them second in the circuit behind Chatham. As is the case in all the Cape League ballparks, the crowds at McKeon Park start off slowly during June and pick up steam as the tourist season progresses over the course of the summer. A typical Hyannis crowd is a mix of families, locals and traveling baseball fans taking in some quality action in a most scenic area.
Don’t come to a Harbor Hawks game expecting a rowdy crowd or to make a spectacle out of yourself, that type of behavior just doesn’t fly on the Cape. Fans here are baseball fans first and foremost. Outstanding plays by both teams are applauded and sportsmanship rules the day. It’s not unusual for a visiting fan to find themselves in the midst of an entire neighborhood of fans who have known each other for decades. By the end of the night, you’ll feel like a part of the neighborhood, too.
Downtown Hyannis can be a very difficult area to navigate, particularly during the height of tourist season. McKeon Park is located at the end of a dead-end street just two blocks from Main Street and a block from Hyannis Harbor. Parking is available in the St. John Paul High School lot, but space is limited. If you find a spot in the area, best to take it and walk. Driving is the preferred method to arrive at McKeon Park, as the Hyannis Transportation Center is almost a mile away and local busses do not access the ballpark.
The biggest drawback to the game day experience at McKeon Park is the lack of restroom facilities. There are a couple of port-a-johns near the upper entrance to the park. Plans to build new accessible, permanent rest rooms have been in the works for several years now. Recent renovations totaling $700,000 have already provided a new scoreboard, drainage system and playing surface. Other scheduled improvements include new terraced seating, bleachers and landscaping.
McKeon Park offers several different seating options in the form of bleachers scattered throughout the grounds. Some bleachers are metal, some are wooden. The largest set of bleachers are on the third base side of the field behind the Hyannis dugout, with a smaller set of bleachers on the first base side of the field. The “Osprey’s Nest,” a set of bleachers set up on top of the hill on the third base side, provides a unique vantagepoint. There is a small patio on the same hill for those fans requiring handicapped access. Beware to those with an unsteady gait: it can be difficult to get around McKeon Park, as there are no paved walkways anywhere on the facility, and some steep hills to navigate. Tread carefully.
Stadium Journey recommends bringing your own lawn chair or blanket to Hyannis and taking advantage of the many spaces to spread out and take in the action from your own preferred spot. The large hill on the third base side can accommodate hundreds of fans. Be sure to get here early, as prime spots fill up quickly.
Return on Investment 5
As is the case at all Cape League games, there is no charge for admission at McKeon Park. The team will accept a “suggested donation” of five dollars from fans, and in return you will receive a roster sheet. Parking is also free in the adjacent high school parking lot. Be warned that the small lot behind the left field stands is a private lot, and they practice an aggressive towing policy. Those great spots are, in fact, too good to be true.
Regular attendees at Harbor Hawks games will bring their own cooler with drinks and snacks (just don’t bring in any alcohol). It is entirely possible to see a game being played by several future major leaguers without paying a cent. If you are purchasing food at a Harbor Hawks game, they are most reasonably priced.
The location of the Cape League Museum and Hall of Fame just a couple of blocks from McKeon Field is worth an extra point. With so many graduates of the Cape League dotting Major League rosters, it’s a certainty that you will come across some of your favorite players during your visit.
The renovations in progress at McKeon Park also merit an extra point. These long overdue changes, which have already resulted in a new scoreboard and playing surface, aim to improve the fan experience greatly, with improved seating options, easier access and most importantly, a permanent rest room.
The Cape League is considered by many to be the premier summer wood-bat league in the country. In 2020, over 300 Cape League alumni played in the Major Leagues. That accounts for more than one out of every six major leaguers. When taking in a game on the Cape, it’s guaranteed that you will be watching several future major leaguers-for free!
If you are a baseball purist, the Cape Cod League is certainly a bucket list item. The quality of play on the diamond is high, the price is low, the fans are friendly and the atmosphere harkens back to a different time. The close proximity of the teams makes it possible to visit several, if not all, of the teams in about a week.
McKeon Park has never been mentioned as one of the best ballparks on the Cape. That could change as renovations progress over the next few summers. With its location close to downtown Hyannis and Hyannis Harbor, not many ballparks can match this location. The family of ospreys that inhabit one of the light towers here may be on to something…