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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

Paul Walsh Field – New Bedford Bay Sox

Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.29

Paul Walsh Field

230 Hathaway Blvd

New Bedford, MA 02740

Year Opened: 1910

Capacity: 2,000


Down By the Bay

Dr. Paul Walsh Field, originally named Sargent Field, is located on the campus of New Bedford High School. It has been the home of the New Bedford Bay Sox since their inception in 2009. The field, which is part of a larger athletic complex, serves as home to New Bedford’s high school and American Legion teams in addition to the Bay Sox. Dr. Walsh was a long-time member of the city’s school board and was a strong supporter of the school’s athletic department. He spearheaded many committees that developed and expanded the facility.

The Bay Sox franchise has played in the New England Collegiate Baseball League since 1997, starting out as the Torrington Twisters. While in Torrington, the team made the league championship series four times, losing each time. Now in their tenth season in the Whaling City, the Bay Sox have made the playoffs four times, losing in the opening round on three occasions.

Food & Beverage 2

The Bay Sox run a concession stand in the first floor of the press box building directly behind home plate. The menu has been downgraded in recent seasons, but still offers value, as no item is priced over four dollars. All your ballpark basics can be found here including hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza slices and french fries. Snacks, including peanuts, sunflower seeds, popcorn and assorted candy and ice cream are also available.

Pepsi products are featured at Walsh Field. No alcohol is sold at this facility.

There is a souvenir stand on the concourse offering a nice variety of Bay Sox t-shirts, hats, and other memorabilia.

Atmosphere 2

The Bay Sox have put a lot of effort into improving their game day experience and the results have been positive overall. The team has increased its presence in the community, and as a result has attracted more sponsorship from local businesses. The team has beefed up their promotional schedule, offering deals and giveaways for most home dates.

The team has also attempted to make the in-game experience livelier. Music blares over the PA system between innings and batters, and the team involves the younger fans in attendance with some between innings contests. The mascot, a whale named Slamu, roams the crowd throughout the game, posing for pictures and engaging fans in some good-natured shenanigans.

As is the case at most summer collegiate games, the team runs raffles for items including Red Sox tickets, team card sets, as well as the standard 50/50 raffle. The area behind home plate has become a focal point for activity, including raffles and giveaways from local sponsors, a fast pitch cage, and on some nights, a dunk tank.

Neighborhood 2

Walsh Field is located in a residential area, without a whole lot of businesses or attractions in the immediate area. Visiting fans can find a few eateries on nearby Route 6, but to get the best bang for your buck while visiting New Bedford, head downtown, a few short miles away from the ballpark.

New Bedford is another New England city which has suffered through some hard times and is struggling to rebuild both their infrastructure and their reputation. Thanks to a great deal of investment from civic leaders and local businesses, downtown New Bedford has a great National Historic Park, a number of museums, shops, galleries, restaurants, and bars. It’s a nice place to visit, and improving all the time.

Still, New Bedford isn’t really considered to be a destination city, especially with popular tourist spots such as Cape Cod, Newport and Providence all close by. New Bedford is not the dangerous wasteland it is sometimes made out to be. Check it out, you will be pleasantly surprised.

Fans 2

The Bay Sox have consistently averaged about 500 fans per game over the past few seasons. This ranks the team in the middle of the NECBL attendance standings. Many of the fans that show up are regulars, and are very enthusiastic and knowledgeable about their Bay Sox. You are also very likely to find many children running around the vast expanses around the ball field, playing catch or chasing foul balls around. Kids who shag down foul balls can cash in three balls for a Bay Sox t-shirt.

Access 3

Walsh Field is located on the campus of New Bedford High School in the city’s North End. Take exit 13 off of Interstate 195 (Route 140 South) to the traffic light located at the intersection with Route 6. Follow Route 6 to Rockdale Ave, turn left, and then bear right onto Hathaway Boulevard. The athletic fields of New Bedford High School will be on your right.

There is ample parking available on the streets surrounding Walsh Field, but you will be better served to park in the large lot across the street at the high school, as foul balls leave the facility regularly. Once inside the park, there is a large paved area behind home plate where the souvenir stand, a few games for the kids, and the concession stand are located. On either baseline is a large raised grandstand high enough to see over the fences that surround the field. Unfortunately, netting obstructs the view from all seats. Fans bringing their own chairs can camp out behind home plate or on grassy areas down either line. With the small crowds present at Walsh Field, spreading out is not an issue. There are rest rooms in a small building down the right field line.

Fans looking to use public transportation to a Bay Sox game will be disappointed to learn that SRTA’s #2 bus only stops at New Bedford High School while school is in session. Driving is the best way to get to Walsh Field, as the closest bus stop is several blocks away.

Return on Investment 4

Admission to a Bay Sox game is $5 for adults, with tickets for children and seniors discounted by two dollars. Children under 6 years old are admitted free of charge. Showing a Stop and Shop card at the gate can save you an additional dollar. All seating is sold as general admission. In addition, the tickets come with coupons to a local restaurants and stores on the back, making it possible to get back more money in coupons than you spent on the ticket.

There is no charge for parking in the high school’s lot across the street from the ball field, and there is ample free parking on the nearby streets as well. On-street parking, while convenient, is not recommended, as your car may be hit by one of the many foul balls that leave Paul Walsh Field.

With inexpensive concession prices, a night out at a Bay Sox game is an affordable alternative to many other activities in the area.

Extras 1

An extra point is awarded for the improvements in the game day atmosphere here in New Bedford. Increased involvement with the community has resulted in more sponsorship, an enriched promotional schedule, and increased attendance. The Bay Sox seem to be growing roots in the New Bedford and are carving out their own niche in the community.

Final Thoughts

While not boasting the most dynamic facility in the area, New Bedford is not necessarily a bad place to see a game. A Bay Sox game is very affordable, and the baseball being played is of a high level. Many players have gone on from the NECBL to professional and major league careers.

New Bedford’s biggest drawback may be simply its location. The Bay Sox are surrounded on the east by the Cape Cod League, with the Wareham Gatemen located just 17 miles away; on the west by the Newport Gulls, who have become the flagship franchise of the NECBL and are consistently ranked as one of the top 10 summer college teams in the country; and to the north by the Future League’s Brockton Rox, who play in a former professional ballpark. Anything the Bay Sox do in undersized and plain Walsh Field simply pales in comparison.

Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter and Instagram @PuckmanRI.

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