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  • Andy Mantsch

Sam Lynn Park – Bakersfield Train Robbers


Photos by Andy Mantsch, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.14

Sam Lynn Stadium 4009 Chester Avenue Bakersfield, CA 93301



Year Opened: 1939

Capacity: 3,500

 

The Sun Sets at Sam Lynn Ballpark

“Historic” Sam Lynn Ballpark lies just north of downtown Bakersfield. The word historic tends to be a distinction thrown around a lot in baseball to align with venues like Fenway Park and Wrigley Field, but sometimes in the minor leagues the word “historic” can be confused with the word “old”. Sam Lynn Ballpark is decidedly old, but historic feels like a bit of a misnomer.


Built in 1941 for the Bakersfield Badgers, a charter member of the California League, the stadium has been home to Bakersfield minor league ball clubs ever since with a few yearly exceptions. The stadium was named for local businessman Sam Lynn who used his success to fund San Joaquin Valley youth baseball.

The ballpark was home to Minor League Baseball for 75 years before the California League decided to downsize to 8 teams for the 2017 season. The Bakersfield Blaze was the last tenant at the facility at the old dusty stadium. The next season the Bakersfield Train Robbers of the Pecos League debuted and captured the league championship the very next year.


There are many who think the stadium has outlived its time as a ballpark as there are numerous issues concerning it as a viable professional facility. However, you have to give it to this little ballpark that has hosted professional baseball every single season the same since Joe DiMaggio began his 56-game hit streak and Ted Williams hit .400


Food & Beverage 2

There’s very little unique in the one available concession stand here. A few local craft beers and some spiced up everyday ballpark options are about the top of the list here.


Food options top out at hot link ($5), Nachos with jalapeno ($5-$6), Pizza ($3) and Grilled Chicken Sandwiches ($6). While these are cheap and decent, there’s nothing on the menu that will jump out at you.

Pepsi products are available for $4 with Gatorade ($4) and bottled water ($3) also available. There are a few local-ish craft beer options available for the beer drinker, with Firestone 805 and Sequoia Brewing topping the list for $7.


So what would I recommend? Probably just grab a hot link and pair it with a Firestone off the beer menu. All-in-all, that’s just not that unique.


Atmosphere 2

When you approach, you may even wonder whether this is the actual stadium. The low profile and mass of bleachers hardly look like professional baseball. One of the odd quirks of the park is that the seating extends from home plate down the right field line to the fence in a series of bleachers.


Everything to the 3rd base side is picnic area seating with no bleachers at all. It gives the park a bit of an off-center setup. The outfield wall is tattered and old and the field shows no unique characteristics. And facing the setting sun means there’s no shelter during the day from the heat except a covered section in the picnic area with a poor view of the field.


Oddly, the stadium faces the setting sun in one of the hottest parts of the country. This design flaw may add to some of the “historic” piece and has several potential backstories, but it’s not the kind of history you’ll enjoy on a hot summer day.


There’s almost no way to escape the sun and take in the game here, but if you grab a spot in the picnic area next to the home team dugout you can get a very unique perspective on baseball. The stadium is quiet enough and you’re close enough that you can overhear the players and coaches conversations just feet away. The only shaded spot in the stadium is only a few yards behind you in the back of the picnic area should you need to retreat.


Neighborhood 3

Bakersfield has a population of 380,000 and there are few attractions to see in town. The ballpark is a safe and somewhat quiet neighborhood near retail outlets and fast food chains, however, the best bet is to hop in your car and head downtown or to the various local restaurants and attractions.


The city is home to the largest concentration of Basque restaurants in the U.S. The foods in the region of the North of Spain and South of France are highlighted in Benj’s French, Chalet Basue, and Wool Growlers.

Local attractions feature the Kern County Museum, California Living Museum, The Park at RiverWalk, and Buena Vista Museum of National Arts and Science. The city also houses sever breweries including Crusader, Temblor Brewing Company, Great Change, and Lengthwise Brewing Company.


Fans 1

Fan support in Bakersfield had been pretty low during its final years as a minor league affiliate that reached a low point of an average of 740 fans a game in 2015. The Train Robbers have note reached anywhere close to those numbers since arriving in town and with such a low turnout, crowd noise is almost non-existent.


While that does allow for some unique engagement in the game, it doesn’t speak well for the fans at all.I t’s a very casual and quiet experience at the ballpark.


Access 3

While the central valley is removed and can be a bit of a haul for those coming from major cities and airports, the Bakersfield area itself is pretty easy to get around.


Public transit isn’t really an option in the area, but it doesn’t really need to be. The parking lot is large and generally (for better or worse) empty. It’s free to park and you’ll be just steps from the main gate.


Tickets range from $8 for General Admission up to $13 for the Bud Light Cool Zone. It’s pretty easy to get through the gate and to seating with such low attendance.


Getting around the stadium in general is easy. Low attendance means you can get just about anywhere you need to very quickly in the small park. The main concourse goes behind the bleachers, so you won’t always have direct line of sight and this really isn’t a standing stadium. Restrooms are located behind the home plate bleachers and are sufficient, but not very clean.


Return on Investment 3

Price saves this park from being an all out loss.There’s no need to pay anymore than the $10 General Admission price because the stadium is going to be basically empty anyways. Food will run you less than $10-$15 (depending on beer), so you’re looking at a $20 trip. Unfortunately, the ballpark itself is only a $20 experience for a hardcore baseball fan.


Extras 1

Most of the things that make this park “historic” aren’t particularly favorable to the average fan. The aptly named vendor Froggy (due to his voice) adds a unique touch, but the lack of attendance, lack of cover from the heat and ancient stadium conditions make this hard to praise for uniqueness.


Final Thoughts

Overall, I’d say this park is pretty low on your list for needs to travel to and in fact is questionable in terms of its future existence. Baseball in Bakersfield has had a long and historic run, but without change in setting that run is justifiably in doubt.

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