Photo by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86
McKie Field at Hayden Park 550 E Withrow St Oxford, OH 45056
Year Opened: 2002 Capacity: 600
Charming Little Ballpark, Charming College Town
In 2012 the website College Baseball Today proclaimed McKie Field at Hayden Park was the best small college baseball venue with seats under 1,000. It would be hard to disagree since the ballpark is quite a beautiful sport for baseball. Almost a decade later the ballpark is still a charming venue for baseball on the campus of Miami (Ohio) University.
The home of Redhawks debuted in 2002 with an 8-0 loss to Purdue in front of 1,178 fans. The ballpark blends in nicely with the surrounding brick buildings on campus. It is within easy walking distance to campus residence halls and academic buildings along with the bustling High Street where a plethora of bars, restaurants, and coffee shops are open for business.
The previous McKie Field had been demolished and the current $3.7 million ballpark was built on the same site but with a home, plate moving from the southeast corner of the park to the southwest. According to the university’s website, “the design intent is to create a ballpark that captures the nostalgia and history of baseball in the context and tradition of the Georgian architecture found at Miami.”
The Redhawks began their baseball program in 1915 and are members of the Mid-American Conference. The team has made six NCAA tournament appearances and has three conference tournament championships.
Food & Beverage 3
There is a food truck parked near the entrance of the field offering a nice array of items that include hot dogs, cheeseburgers, grilled chicken breasts, nachos, chicken strips, fries, and bratwurst. There are also onion rings, mini corn dogs, and fried pickles. The prices average around $4 apiece and Pepsi products are the drink of choice. There is also RedHawk Water with a specialized bottle featuring the Cradle of Coaching.
A bonus is that the ballpark sells beer and alcoholic seltzer. Blue Moon, Bud Lite, Goose Island IPA, Miller Lite, Natural Lite, and Vive Seltzer are available between $5 and $7.50. There are also O’Doul’s for $5. Credit cards are accepted for both food and drink at McKie Field.
A lot is going on in this small little ballpark that is tucked in between the university’s brick buildings. Bleacher seating flanks both sides of the baseline, bucket seats are situated behind home plate, and there are grass areas for more seating down each foul line.
A small press box is located behind the box seats and the press box, small children can be found bouncing red rubber balls for entertainment. The rubber balls are souvenirs that kids can earn when they return one of the copious foul balls that fly out of the ballpark during the game. It is plausible to see a group of three to four children chase down a prized possession and take it back to the information table that offers schedules and team posters.
An electronic scoreboard is situated behind the left-center field and it reads “The Good Guys” but it appears that it could also provide player data and stats as well. There is thick protective netting from the first to the third baseline that is somewhat thicker than the norm but not enough to deter the perspective of a fan of the game. There are also plenty of other areas to enjoy the game from the grassy areas.
Like with many college baseball games in the Midwest, the fan can hear everything that goes on between both dugouts from discerning from bad calls, arguments over balls and strikes, and a player trying to rally his team after sliding home with a score. This is also the same for the fans who have no problem hurling a few opinions of their own to the umpiring crew when they do not agree with a call on the field.
Oxford, Ohio, has a population of 21,731 and the university has slightly more with an enrollment of 24,505. The small town is quite attractive and provides a pretty nice college atmosphere for its students while keeping visitors entertained during a visit to a hockey game.
The campus itself has been described as “one of the prettiest campuses that ever was” by poet Robert Frost and its buildings are in the style characteristic of Georgian Revival architecture, with all buildings no more than three stories tall.
The main college drag is High Street, a few blocks away from the campus and arena, where you find a bevy of commerce at its bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. The action starts early on the weekends with local watering holes packed with students. CJ’s, Varsity, Brick Street, and Steinkeller are a few of the hot spots if you choose to mingle with the young crowd.
The area offers a few upscale restaurants: Alexander House, High Street Grill, and Paesanos, and local favorites: Mac & Joe’s, Rapid Fire Pizza, Spring Hill Tavern, and Hitching Post Saloon. Skippers and Bagel & Deli Shop are next to one another and offer patio seating, half-yard pints of beer, and awesome sandwiches. It is a great way to fraternize with the local population on a warm fall afternoon.
It was a rather nice early March afternoon with temperatures approaching the 50s and enough to get people out and about for the unseasonably warm day. However, it was still cold enough for many to don a blanket or jacket to keep themselves warm. The small gathering of individuals is what you would expect at this time of the year and there was enough fun from cheering on loved ones on the field or others just enjoying the start of baseball in the new year.
Miami University is tucked away in its little bubble and the town feels miles away from the major metropolitans of Dayton, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Indianapolis. The small two-lane roads take you past farms, including one that houses llamas, and small towns but once on campus, it is easy to get around to and from the ballpark.
Return on Investment 4
There is no cost for baseball games and parking is free, but check during early afternoon games on the weekdays. The campus and town are a destination all to themselves and the ballpark is a charming little reminder that even the smallest packages are big and bright.
The campus itself has been described as “one of the prettiest campuses that ever was” by poet Robert Frost and its buildings are in the style characteristic of Georgian Revival architecture, with all buildings no more than three stories tall. If the weather is right, it could provide for a nice stroll before the game.
The ballpark’s location on campus and within easy walking distance of High Street is also a desirable feature when attending baseball games. Fans can come in, spread a blanket on the grass, and take a walk to some fun dining options.
Kids earn free rubber balls when returning foul balls to the information desk. A nice way to collect the various balls that fly out of the ballpark. McKie serves beer and that is something not common at other Midwestern ballparks of this size. They also take credit cards.
McKie Field at Hayden Park is a charming little ballpark in a very picturesque college town. On a warm spring day with the right type of crowd, there may be nothing more pleasing than enjoying nine innings of baseball with a hot dog or drink in hand. For a ballpark of 1,000 seat capacity, there is so much to like from a visit to Miami University.