Russell Diethrick Park – Jamestown Tarp Skunk
Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00
Russell Diethrick Park
485 Falconer St
Jamestown, NY 14701
Russell Diethrick Park website
Year Opened: 1941
Baseball Goes Dark in Jamestown
On November 1, 2018, the Jamestown Jammers announced that they were ceasing operations at that their assets would be donated to a local nonprofit organization. It marked the end of the summer collegiate version of the Jammers who began operations in 2015 when the “original” Single-A Jammers relocated to Morgantown, West Virginia after the 2014 season. There is optimism that local ownership will resurrect a ballclub for the 2020 season at Russell Diethrick Park.
When what is now the New York-Penn League debuted in 1939, the city of Jamestown was one of its original members. Two years later when what was known as Jamestown Municipal Park opened, minor league baseball would have a home for the next 73 years except for six seasons.
However, by 2014 the ballpark was the second oldest park in the league and rumors of the team relocating elsewhere had been rampant the previous several seasons. The facility was becoming an old hat for professional baseball but fit comfortably in the world of summer collegiate baseball.
The stadium went through major renovations in 1984 and one of the men who was instrumental in the work was “Mr. Baseball” Russell E. Diethrick, Jr. In 1997 the ballpark would be renamed in his honor. Most recently, a brand new scoreboard and sound system were installed in 2006, and the press box was renovated before the 2010 season.
The first season the new Jammers played in the Prospect League–with a majority of its teams situated in the Midwest–before switching to the upstate New York-based Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. The college players were a new concept for many in town and crowds that had been around 1,200 fell sharply to 400 fans per game.
In 2018, the team would capture its first championship title in the new league and sported a home record of 22-1 during the regular season. However, due to scheduling conflicts with the local Babe Ruth League, all games had to be played at their opponent’s home in Amsterdam, New York.
Note: In 2020, the team name changed from the Jammers to the Tarp Skunk.
Food & Beverage 3
The stadium features the main concession stand on the main concourse level behind the backstop offering a selection of food typically found at a baseball stadium. Here, fans can enjoy the quintessential hot dog, peanuts, nachos, and cold soda pop during the game. The prices are reasonably priced and perfect for this level of baseball.
There are also a few interesting items that include eggplant parmesan sandwiches, Buffalo wing fries, grilled chicken sandwiches, and the ability to purchase a whole pizza. Then there are names for food items called the swashbuckler and Jolly Rodger. Coca-Cola and Budweiser products are sold at the stadium, along with Slush Puppies and Dippin Dots. Hop Sun, a summer wheat beer from nearby Southern Tier Brewing, is an enjoyable beer on a hot summer afternoon or night.
Tailor-made for a baseball game, Diethrick Park offers a large covered grandstand plus two bleacher sections down both the first and third base line. The best spot is underneath the roof for the perfect view of not only the field but the surroundings inside and outside of the venue.
There is a series of large light towers that add to the nostalgia in the foul territories that have been in place for quite some time, lush forestry and rolling hills dot the outside of the stadium walls, and large billboard ads make up the outfield walls of the ballpark.
The environment is quiet at times and many in the audience are there to view the game. There are casual promotions and in-between innings contests that are common in both the minor and collegiate wood bat leagues during the summer. One may witness a few kids running around the concourse, friends, and families cheering on a player on the field, or the die-hards who have been coming out to the stadium for years keeping score at their seats.
The environment is casual and laid back, much like the Southern Tier region where Single-A baseball was the norm just a few short years ago. The college kids provide a rich tapestry of baseball and it is not much different to the discerning eye that the throw from third to first is not handled by professionals. When one has the chance to enjoy baseball from a stadium such as Diethrick, time stops just a bit to notice every aspect of the game.
Jamestown has a population of 31,000 people and is known for the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center. The museum houses artifacts, memorabilia, and a replica of the I Love Lucy set and props. The town celebrates its favorite daughter every August with a festival on the streets of the town.
If you are looking for more laughs, the National Comedy Center should be the perfect spot for a few hours of laughter. Other spots in town include the Fenton History Center, Audubon Community Nature Center, and Enchanted Mountain Spirits Distillery. A few miles outside of town is Southern Tier Brewing Company which is housed in a giant outdoor cabin.
There are a few great local restaurants within a few miles of the ballpark that are worth checking out for cheap eats or interesting menu options including Coach’s Tavern Inn which is home to bacon marmalade chicken wings, banana pepper sandwiches, beef and wecks, and their version of Rochester’s hot plate (baked beans and potato salad topped with two hot dogs and covered with meat sauce) and AJ’s Texas Hots, a hot dog joint with good, cheap food. A more upscale dining option would include Shawbucks, upside-down meatloaf and steak options, and Havana Cuban Cafe, ropa vieja, and lechon (slow-cooked pork) plates.
If you are in town on a Saturday afternoon, drive down Falconer St, the main road in town, and look for the various barbecue pits and grills that line the streets. One of them is All-American BBQ & Catering, pull your car over and ask for a slab of ribs or a quarter chicken. The area has its version of regional barbecue that is not about the thick barbecue sauce, but all about the fire and technique.
The fans have taken their time to warm up to the college kids that make up the Jammers the past four seasons. However, the ones who support the club do their best to make the kids feel at home at the old ballpark. There is a lineage of baseball history in town and perhaps a league championship will reshape opinions in the future.
The stadium is large enough to move around freely without any hassle. The crowds, even at their largest, never make the facility cumbersome to move around. The majority of concessions are located behind the grandstand backstop and finding bathrooms inside the venue is quite convenient.
Return on Investment 3
The price of tickets is $5 and $7 for all home games and parking is free on an adjacent grass lot. The concession prices are very reasonable and most items are under $5. There is a souvenir stand with a nice collection of team merchandise.
The team was able to keep the nickname when it switched to the collegiate level and improved the logo dramatically. The colors neon green and navy look good on the uniforms as well as team merchandise at the stadium.
Diethrick Park is an old-school ballpark and many of the stadiums in the PGCBL were once home to either NYPL or Eastern League franchises. These stadiums are a bit sleepier than the likes in Brooklyn, West Virginia, or State College, but they are a reminder of baseball from another era.
A final point for the tasty barbecue that is available on the main drag in town between Jamestown and Falconer. Cars pull over to a spot, order up some grilled chicken and ribs, and take it home to devour. If you are in town on a Sunday afternoon, follow the smoke and enjoy a regional style of barbecue.
Hopefully, baseball will return to Russell Diethrick Park for the 2020 season. All it would take is local ownership and old-fashion marketing to get the crowds to return during the summer months. The ballpark is a friendly reminder of what baseball is supposed to be and how it can still be in the Southern Tier; there was a reason why a slew of minor league ballclubs operated here some time ago and why many of them are now summer collegiate ballclubs. Russel Diethrick Park is too good of a place to be without baseball for too long.
Follow all of Marc’s stadium journeys on Twitter @ballparkhunter and his YouTube channel. Email at Marc.Viquez@stadiumjourney.com