Recreation Field - Vermont Mountaineers
Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Montpelier, VT 05602
Year Opened: 1940
Green Mountaineer Baseball
Built in 1940 by the WPA, Montpelier Recreation Field served as home of the Montpelier Senators and Twin City Trojans of the long-extinct Northern League through the 1940’s and early 1950’s. Ten players from these teams went on to play major league baseball, including Hall of Famer Robin Roberts. When the Northern League folded in 1952, the picturesque little grandstand on Elm Street went without organized baseball for a half century until the Vermont Mountaineers were granted a franchise in the New England Collegiate Baseball League in 2003. The Mountaineers have won three championships during their time in the NECBL, most recently in 2015. Fifteen Mountaineer alumni have played in the Major Leagues
Food & Beverage 4
For a small ballpark, Recreation Field offers a good variety of food and drink options for the hungry Mountaineer fan.
A pair of concession stands underneath the grandstand sell assorted ice cream treats and pizza slices from Domino’s. For more variety, head down the right field line, where a food truck from Gus’ Catering serves up items ranging from typical ballpark fare to more unique items including BBQ pork sandwiches and since we’re close to the Canadian border, poutine.
There is a beer garden located in deep left field which sells a variety of brews from Three Penny Taproom. Pepsi products are featured at Recreation Field. Be sure to try out the Mountaineer Root Beer, brewed by Hosmer Mountain Soda Company and sold only at Recreation Field. Look for it at Skip’s Souvenir Stand.
Baseball in the summer college leagues is generally a more laid-back experience than its minor league counterpart, and games at Recreation Field are no exception. The game is the main focus in Montpelier, but there is enough distraction around to make the casual or younger fan happy without upsetting the hard-core baseball fan.
The team employs the obligatory mascot, Skip the woodchuck, who interacts with fans young and old alike. During the 2019 All-Star Game Skip even performed a perfect sky-dive into Recreation Field. The team runs a 50-50 raffle to help fund operations, along with a few giveaways and contests scattered throughout the game. An over the top game day presentation just would not feel right in this quaint setting.
Montpelier is the capital city of Vermont, and in terms of population, it is the smallest state capital in the country, with a population of under 8,000. Recreation Field is located in the northern part of the city, about two miles from the State House and downtown Montpelier. The downtown area may be small, but it’s very walkable and features a vibrant arts scene, along with several museums, shops, and restaurants. Three Penny Taproom and Sarducci’s are among the many great options in the area. Fans looking for recreational activities will be pleased with Montpelier’s many trails, bike paths, and parks.
Burlington, located about 45 minutes away, is Vermont’s largest city and a popular tourist destination in its own right. Visiting fans will want to take a trip 15 miles up the road to nearby Waterbury, where the Ben and Jerry’s factory offers tours for the ice cream fanatic and Prohibition Pig serves up some of the best barbeque and craft beer you’ll find anywhere.
The Mountaineers enjoy great support in the Green Mountain State, landing in the top five in terms of attendance every year since joining the New England Collegiate Baseball League. They average between 1,000-1,200 fans per game.
A typical crowd at a Mountaineer game consists of families mixed in with your casual and die-hard baseball fan. While Vermont crowds are supportive of the home team, they are baseball fans first and foremost. Great plays by both teams are appreciated and applauded.
Recreation Field is located about two miles from downtown Montpelier, and is easy to get to from I-89. Take exit 8 off of 89, follow Route 2 (Memorial Drive) to Taylor Street, take a left over the bridge, take a right onto Elm St., and follow until you reach the ballpark on your right. Parking is available in lots next to the ballpark at the Vermont Community College and Turtle Island Children’s Center.
The ballpark consists of a large, covered grandstand which was built in 1940. The Mountaineers have invested a lot of money and effort into improvements on many aspects of the park, such as the drainage, fencing, concession stands, the playing surface, and the grandstand. Their efforts show, as this ballpark is considered to be among the nicest in the NECBL, both from a player’s standpoint as well as a fan’s.
Since the grandstand often fills up for Mountaineers games, overflow seating is available down the right field line in the form of several picnic tables. There is also room for many fans to sit or stand along the fences down either foul line, and many fans bring their own chairs to take advantage of these vantage points. Some fans choose to camp out beyond the outfield fence, where there is plenty of room for younger fans to run around. Fans requiring special accommodations should have no problem getting around Recreation Field.
Rest rooms are located in a separate building behind the grandstand, and are adequate for a typical Mountaineers crowd.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets for Mountaineer games cost six dollars for general admission seating. Parking is available in a very small lot next to the ballpark, or a very short walk away at the Vermont Community College or the Turtle Island Children’s Center for two dollars. With inexpensive concession prices, a Mountaineers game is an affordable entertainment option for central Vermont sports fans.
An extra point is awarded for the display honoring Robin Roberts, who spent two summers in Montpelier pitching for the Twin Cities Trojans during his younger years. Also honored is Ray Fisher, a local man who pitched for ten years in the Major Leagues and was a member of the 1919 World Champion Yankees.
A historic marker is located outside the ballpark on Route 12, which outlines the history of Recreation Park.
A final extra point is awarded for the mountain backdrop at Recreation Field. Along with the 1940 wooden grandstand, it makes for a most picturesque setting for some small-town baseball.
Any baseball fan who enjoys travelling to different ballparks would do themselves a favor to consider a visit to Vermont. The ballparks in Montpelier and nearby Burlington have been around for a combined 180 years. These ballparks may be old, but they are still quite functional and contain enough modern amenities to satisfy any baseball fan.
The NECBL boasts over 150 Major League alumni and has close to 100 players drafted every year. It is ranked by many insiders as one of the premier collegiate summer leagues in the nation. The action on the field in Montpelier can rival the beauty of its surroundings.
Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter and Instagram @PuckmanRI.