Smokey Joe Williams Field – Seguin River Monsters
Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14
Smokey Joe Williams Field 950 S Austin St. Seguin, TX 78155
Year Opened: 1960
River Monsters Make Smokey Joe Home
The Seguin River Monsters are members of the Texas Collegiate League and play at Smokey Joe Williams Field. The ballpark is named after the hometown hero who played 28 years in the Negro Leagues from 1903-1932. Williams was considered the best Negro League pitcher in a 1952 poll, edging out Satchel Paige, and would have a career 20-7-1 record with 12 shutouts against major league teams in exhibition play. He would be enshrined in Cooperstown in 1999. Two years later, the ballpark would be renamed in his honor.
The baseball field opened as Fairgrounds Park in 1960 and was part of a complex that houses the Seguin Arena for rodeos, Seguin Coliseum, volleyball courts, and softball fields. The Guadalupe County Fair is held annually on the grounds. There is a lot of activity taking place at any given time, as baseball, rodeo shows, and league volleyball matches could all take place at the same time.
The River Monsters began operations in 2022, and the ballpark is also home to the Seguin High School Matadors baseball program. The Matadors are building a new home, but its presence is felt on signage around the stadium. The Matadors’ name appears on the outfield wall to its 1960 State Championship banner in the main concourse.
However, it has not been home to minor league or summer collegiate baseball since the 1976 Seguin Toros operated in the Gulf State League. The Toros made national headlines when its owner refused to pay for lodging in Corpus Christi, insisting players make the 330-mile drive between each game. Players then brought out tents and sleeping bags to sleep on the beach after the second game, after making the round trip commute. The club folded after the season with a 29-48 record.
Just in case you were wondering, a river monster is a colloquialism for a catfish. It became the 20th city to call the league home, adopting the colors green and blue. For a city with a hall of fame pitcher and only one season of minor league baseball, the River Monsters hope to satisfy its fans with a baseball game during the summer months.
Food & Beverage 3
There is one main concession stand underneath the grandstand that handles all of the food and drink during games. The items include hot dogs, nachos, candy, peanuts, popcorn, ice cream, and Hot Cheetos covered with cheese. The soda options include Coke products and the Texas mandatory drinks of Big Red and Dr. Pepper. However, the stadium was not selling beer, but it could change in the future.
The food products are not varied, but the hot dogs were steamed and tasty. The cheese-covered Hot Cheetos made for a different type of ballpark snack, and ice cream helmets were available. The only problem is that the ice cream sold out rather quickly. It’s suggested to have dinner before the game since the items here are clearly for snacking.
Hot Cheetos at Smokey Joe Park, Photo by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
The covered grandstand can hold around 900 people and comprise aluminum bleachers. A simple press box is located at the top of the grandstand seating, while open bleacher seats are on each baseline. The club has set up a few banners around the concourse to promote its brand, but that does not include the team mascot.
What was interesting was the number of children chasing foul balls out of the ballpark throughout the night. Kids were running in pairs to collect the elusive baseball souvenir, with a few picking up two on the night. When they weren’t chasing foul balls, they were chasing one another down the third-base side of the field in the open spaces.
A table is set up with limited tech merchandise near the entrance, a local band played Take Me Out the Ballpark during the 7th inning stretch, and the sound system was working quite well with the PA announcer coming through loud and clear. There were no promotions on the field in-between innings, no silly sound effects, or an overabundance of advertisement. It was simple baseball with a nice gathering on a cool Texas evening.
Seguin is 30 miles east of San Antonio and offers a downtown square surrounded by a courthouse. Some eateries range from local barbecue to Italian cuisine. It is advised to eat something before the game, and there are more than enough establishments to choose from in town.
Dixie Grill specializes in Southern comfort food, Johnnie’s Bar-B-Que is a local area staple, Mary’s Tex-Mex is worth a visit, and Hawaiian Bros Island Grill offers a taste of Hawaii. There are still more, including The Powerplant, Giuseppe’s Italian Grill, 1838 Grill, and Kirby’s Korner for specialized burgers. If you are a fan of craft beer, Seguin Brewing Company has a few pints ready to drink.
Seguin is a new franchise on the TCL, but the fan base appears to be paying attention. A great crowd was on hand that provided a pleasant backdrop to the game, including Little Leaguers, season ticket holders, and curious onlookers enjoying the new team in town. The concession lines are packed, and kids were able to keep the balls they fetched in the parking lot.
Smokey Joe Williams Field is easy to access. It consists of a covered grandstand with concessions and bathrooms on the main concourse. The parking is free of charge and easy to find with signs throughout the city.
Return on Investment 4
The price of a ticket is $6 and is one of the best deals in any league in the state. The concession prices are reasonable, and so is the merchandise. Parking is free for all home games, and Seguin is a great town to spend a few hours in before the game.
The River Monsters earn a point for a local band playing “Take Me Out the Ballgame”. The second point is for the tasty food that includes steamed hot dogs and cheese-covered Hot Cheetos. The last point is for the kids chasing and keeping foul balls instead of returning them for a food item.
There is a lot to enjoy at a River Monsters game, but there is a lot more to improve. The promotions and on-field gimmicks did not take place during our visit, and one could imagine what could have been done with all those kids in the audience. It was a shame to see little merchandise, but that could be due to the current shipping situation. The club has a wonderful ballpark to play in and needs a little more seasoning to make it a truly enjoyable experience