Muzzy Field - Bristol Blues
Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14
Bristol, CT 06010
Year Opened: 1939
Muzzy Field has been in use since 1912. Its brick grandstand, which was built in 1939, has a capacity of 4,900. In addition to serving as the home to the Bristol Blues of the summer wooden-bat Futures Baseball League, three local high schools use the field for both baseball and football.
Muzzy Field has been home to many teams over its century of use. In fact, the field’s history goes so far back that local legend states Babe Ruth hit the first home run here in 1919. Muzzy Field was home to the Bristol Owls of the Colonial League in 1949 and 1950, and the Eastern League’s Bristol Red Sox from 1972 to 1982. Notable future Red Sox who passed through Bristol on their way to Boston include Jim Rice, Fred Lynn and Butch Hobson.
The Hartford Hawks used Muzzy Field as their home field prior to opening Fiondella Field, and the Big East Conference held their annual postseason tournament at Muzzy Field from 1985 to 1995. More recently, the New England Collegiate League placed the Bristol Nighthawks (1994-95) and the Bristol Collegiate Baseball Club (2000) at Muzzy Field.
The Bristol Blues joined the Futures League as an expansion team in 2015. They have made the playoffs in two of their first three seasons in the circuit, advancing to the championship round in their inaugural season.
Food & Beverage 4
For a smaller ballpark, Muzzy Field has a decent variety of concession options. There are two stands, where hungry Blues fans can select from standard ballpark fare, including hot dogs, burgers, pizza slices and bratwursts. Fans wishing to upgrade their hot dog can purchase a “Blues Dog,” which adds chili and cheese. Assorted snacks, including nachos, sunflower seeds, peanuts, pretzels and candy are also available. Prices are reasonable, and quality is decent.
Thirsty Blues fans can select from a variety of Pepsi products. Fans looking for an adult beverage will be pleased to find a good variety of beer sold at Muzzy Field, including Corona Extra, Guinness, Blue Moon Belgian White, Coors Light, Miller High Life and Miller Lite. Arnold Palmer’s Spiked Half and Half, Smirnoff Spikes Sparkling Seltzer, Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy and local favorite Two Roads Li’l Heaven IPA are also available.
Local dairy Dunphy Farms sells varieties of their ice cream at one stand, and fans will be pleasantly surprised to find the ice cream served in souvenir helmet bowls.
While the game day presentation in the Futures League is decidedly more akin to the minor leagues than their brethren in other summer leagues, visiting fans can expect a laid-back experience at Muzzy Field. There is the typical walkup and between innings music played over an old PA system, but not a whole lot going on to distract from the action going on down on the field. In a classic ballpark like Muzzy Field, this is as it should be.
There is a zoot-suited mascot named B.B. (after B.B. King) who roams the ballpark interacting with kids, and between inning games for the younger fans in attendance. Some of the more unique intermissions feature a llama race, where two young fans walk actual llamas around the field and the mayhem race, where most of the kids in attendance race from foul line to foul line.
Many typical elements of a game at a collegiate level game can be found, including giveaways and raffles from local businesses and a 50/50 raffle. For those who may not know, a 50/50 raffle takes half the money collected on any given night to defray operating costs and gives the other half to one lucky fan.
Bristol is a small city in western Connecticut with a population of just over 60,000 residents located about 20 miles southwest of Hartford. Sports fans will recognize Bristol as the home of ESPN. While the ESPN campus does not do tours, travelers wishing to sneak a peak of the Worldwide Leader’s home will find ESPN headquarters about four miles southwest of Muzzy Field on Route 229.
Visitors to Bristol will probably not stay in the city, but continue on to the nearby larger cities of Hartford, about 20 miles to the northeast or New Haven, about 40 miles to the south. The Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos are located just over an hour’s drive to the east.
While there are not many dining or lodging options within walking distance of Muzzy Field, visiting fans will find many dining and shopping choices nearby. Route 6, which runs about a mile from the ballpark, contains many options, most of which are national chains. Several hotels are located within a ten minute drive of Muzzy Field, most of them clustered around Interstate 84 and the ESPN campus. The biggest local attraction, Lake Compounce amusement park, is located 4 miles from Muzzy Field.
The Blues draw decent crowds to Muzzy Field, generally landing in the middle of the Futures League attendance rankings. The average crowd here ranges between 1,000 and 1,500 fans, a good turnout for this level of baseball.
You’ll find a good mix of young and old, casual and diehard fans taking in the action at this old ballpark. With the Futures League’s emphasis on filling team rosters with local, New England talent, many of the fans in attendance have a personal connection to the players on the field, and as a result are quite knowledgeable and vocal in their support.
The city of Bristol, Connecticut is located about 20 miles southwest of Hartford. Muzzy Field is most easily accessed by car, as it is located on Route 72 (Park Street). Interstate 84 runs in a north-south direction just a few miles away from the ballpark.
Recent renovations to Muzzy Field have greatly improved the flow and accessibility of the old ballpark. Concessions and restrooms are located on the exterior side of the grandstand, which is encircled by a wide concourse.
The majority of seating in the brick grandstand is in the form of wooden bleachers with backs, which run from behind home plate down the third base line. There are aluminum bleachers on the first base line, which are raised about eight feet above the field behind the visitors’ dugout, as well as a pair of aluminum bleachers further down the left field line to handle larger crowds. Some fans will gravitate towards the picnic tables in the grove further down the right field line. The seating area is cozy, but not cramped. With the typical crowds at a Blues game, there is room to spread out.
Be warned that if you are sitting anywhere in the grandstand, nets will obstruct your view of the field. In an unusual quirk, the light poles at Muzzy Field are located in front of the grandstand, meaning that some seats have obstructed views.
Return on Investment 4
Taking in a game at Muzzy Field is a most affordable entertainment option for central Connecticut baseball fans. Reserved seats in the old grandstand cost six dollars, with general admission tickets priced at five dollars.
Free parking is available in a pair of decent sized lots adjacent to the ball field, and additional free parking is available on the streets around Muzzy Field. Concessions are reasonably priced.
A pair of extra points are awarded for the sense of baseball history present here at Muzzy Field, from the old brick grandstand with the wooden bleachers to the ring of tall pine trees that line the outfield.
Many ballparks throughout New England claim “Babe Ruth played here,” much in the same way that you might see “George Washington slept here” in old hotels. Muzzy Field honors Ruth’s visit to central Connecticut with a large #3 banner on the right field fence, colored half in Yankee pinstripes and half in Red Sox colors. This decor is even more fitting when you consider that this area is the dividing line between Red Sox and Yankee country. Jim Rice is also honored with his number 14 hanging on the left field wall.
A final extra point is awarded to the Blues theme, honoring part-owner Elliot Scheiner, a Grammy and Emmy Award winning producer. From the Dodgers-inspired uniforms to the zoot suited Mascot who carries a saxophone, named B.B. after B.B. King, the theme permeates much of the game day experience at Muzzy Field.
The Futures League has given new life to many abandoned ballparks throughout New England. With its long history, Muzzy Field fits perfectly into the landscape of this circuit. For fans looking to find quality baseball without the cost and distractions present at so many minor league ballparks today, summer collegiate leagues like The Futures League offer a great alternative.
Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter and Instagram @PuckmanRI.