Photos by Matt Colville, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29
Trustmark Park 1 Braves Way Pearl, MS 39208
Year Opened: 2005
The Road to Atlanta runs through Mississippi
If you grew up watching baseball in the Deep South during the 80s and 90s, more than likely you were watching the Braves on TBS Superstation. Millions of people, myself included, were introduced to professional baseball through the voices of Don Sutton and Skip Carey being welcomed into our homes every night. Because of this, and not having another MLB team in the region for so many years, it is safe to say that the Atlanta Braves are the South baseball team.
The Braves also keep their minor league teams close to home as well, ensuring that all of 'Braves Country' will be able to watch and keep up with their top prospects on their way to The Show. In 2005 the organization moved the Double-A Greenville Braves to the Jackson, MS suburb of Pearl with the opening of Trustmark Park.
It would mark the return of affiliated baseball to the Jackson area since the Double-A Jackson Generals were moved to Corpus Christi for the 2000 season. Before that Jackson was home to the Jackson Mets (1975-1990), with both teams playing at Smith-Wills Stadium about 5 miles away. The Braves Double A franchise is a historic franchise that has played in Austin (66-67), Shreveport (68-70), Savannah (71-83), and Greenville (84-04).
Food & Beverage 3
Trustmark Park features multiple concession stands lining the concourses, although some are only open for select games. The M-Braves also renamed most of their concession stands before the 2023 season – down the first base line there is now Big Dawg which sells the usual ballpark fare. Prices here range from $3 to $8, with combo meals including fries costing $13.
Also down the first baseline is the Southern Comfort fried food stand selling fried shrimp, chicken tenders, and fried pickles. Next to that is the Hickory Pit, which sells BBQ sandwiches and BBQ nachos, while behind home plate is the Nacho Mama stand that was not open during my most recent visit, but you can find a different variety of nachos and tacos at this stand.
Down the third base line, they have a stand called Hammer's Home Plate Grill which pretty much sells the same items that Big Dawg sells; however, you can also get gyros, fried bologna sandwiches, and grilled chicken sandwiches at Hammer's Home Plate Grill. They also have an Ice Cream Parlor stand down the third base line where you can get the M-Braves ice cream or Dippin’ Dots helmet for $6.
The highlight of the food and beverages at Trustmark Park can be found in the right field – a full-service restaurant called the State Farm Bureau Grill sits out there. The Grill is a functioning sit-down restaurant with a menu modeled after The Chophouse restaurant that sits in right field at Truist Park in Atlanta. The Grill has a bar that overlooks the right field, with an outdoor party deck so you can eat your food and drink your drinks while feeling the warm summer breeze.
For the alcohol selection here you can buy any of the beers at any of the concession stands, or get a cold one on tap at the Grill bar. You can also find an extensive selection of liquor and more beers available at the Liquor Cabinet, also located on the third base side. You can find a wide selection of craft beers on taps, as well as a few local beers – Mr. Sippi and Mississippi Queen are brewed at Key City Brewing, located right on the Mississippi River in Vicksburg about 40 minutes away.
It's hard to believe Trustmark Park is entering its 19th season hosting baseball in 2023. Upon entering the venue it becomes evident that the ballpark has aged well over the years. Trustmark Park was built at a time when ballparks were just beginning to utilize the open-air concourses found at many ballparks today.
The wraparound concourse extends from the main entrance at right field to left field, and you can see the whole field no matter where you are on the concourse, even from the concessions lines. Trustmark Park is also the second-largest ballpark in the Southern League, holding 8,480 seats, but because of the way the ballpark was built, all the seats are located below the concourse at street level. So even though there are a lot of seats, you will be able to see everything on the field from any of them, as there is not a bad seat in the house.
Mississippi is also the heart of Braves country, so if you are a fan of the Atlanta Braves you will fit right in here. As soon as you pull into the parking lot you will start to see the Braves logo everywhere, and as you enter the main gate you'll walk past the giant mural of Braves All-Star Ronald Acuna, who played a year in Mississippi in 2017. In the team store, you will be also able to buy various Mississippi and Atlanta Braves merch, such as jerseys, cards, hats, shirts, etc. Lastly, on the third base concourse, you will see the Braves Wall of Fame, a large mural that highlights past players and achievements of the M-Braves since the opening of Trustmark Park in 2005.
The ballpark features three entrances – the main entrance in the right field, the season ticket entrance behind the home plate, and a less frequented entrance in the far-left field. Upon entering the main entrance, you'll come to a wide-open concourse with the State Farm Grill in front of you, some inflatables and bump n' jump to your right, and the huge Braves team store to your left. The Grill makes for a great air-conditioned area to hang out to escape the heat, and you can't beat the views overlooking the right field from the bar. The team store is also a great place to stop to get some Braves gear.
Another thing that makes Trustmark Park so great is the concourse and half the seats in the seating bowl are covered by the press box and the 24 suites that make up the second level above you – you'll get plenty of shade and stay dry from the frequent Mississippi summer storms. The concourse is also wide enough that you'll have plenty of room to get around.
Down the far-left field line is the Yuengling Pavilion with picnic tables and a beer garden that is only open during select games. Along the outfield there isn't much of a view besides The Grill in right field and the berm seating in left field, with a large video board looming over left-center field; the video board measures 28 feet by 68 feet and is the largest video board in the Southern League.
Another cool thing about Trustmark Park is the bullpens are hidden behind the wall pads like you would see in the big leagues – most ballparks in the Southern League have the bullpens down the field on the first and third base lines.
Trustmark Park is located in the Jackson suburb of Pearl, about 3 miles east of downtown Jackson. The opening of the ballpark in 2005 was meant to revitalize the area that was once all woods right off Interstate 20 – the opening of Trustmark Park has created many businesses that have popped up over the last 10 years.
Just across the street from the ballpark you can get plenty of shopping done at The Outlets of Mississippi; with over 75 stores including brands like Nike, Under Armour, Forever 21, Coach, and Marshalls you are bound to find something to buy at Mississippi's largest outdoor shopping center.
In addition, right next door to the Outlets you can get the latest hunting and fishing gear at Bass Pro Shop, then hop on over to Cavender’s Outfitters next door and buy your gear to hunt and fish in; Chipper Jones has also been known to stop off at this Bass Pro when he is in town scouting players.
You can take a service road from the stadium that crosses over to the next exit at Bierdeman Road, which would be Exit 48 off I-20. Here you'll find mostly chain and fast-food restaurants such as Cracker Barrell and Waffle House, but a couple of places worth checking out are Frisco Deli, a family-owned deli-style restaurant, and Moss Creek Fish House, the only place in Pearl to get seafood. There is also a hibachi place and a movie theatre several blocks over from the ballpark as well.
For nightlife, Pearl is in a dry county, but alcohol can be sold in certain restaurants. The Mississippi-based sports bar Mugshots just opened on Bierdeman Road, where you can get a good selection of drinks or a burger before or after the game.
The Holiday Inn next to the Bass Pro also has a cool bar called the Alumni House, and of course, the Bass Pro Shop has a pretty unique restaurant/bar surrounded by giant fish tanks. Other than that, your best bet for nightlife would be to venture into Jackson's Fondren District, about 15 minutes away. Jackson is also the State Capital and has several historical attractions worth checking out, such as the new and old Capitol buildings and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.
The M-Braves average about 2,500 fans per game, which places them 7th in the 8-team Southern League in terms of attendance. This is quite disappointing, considering Mississippi's love affair with baseball. Nonetheless, you'll encounter a wide range of fans from the families to the diehard Braves fans coming out to Trustmark Park. In 2023 the M-Braves featured a wide range of promotions such as Bark in the Park on Tuesdays, First Responder Wednesdays, Thirsty Thursdays, giveaways and fireworks for weekend games, and kids running the bases on Sundays.
There may not be a lot of fans who come out, but the ones that do are usually in their Braves shirts, as almost everyone in Mississippi has at least one old Braves shirt; you will also see a lot of fans in Braves jerseys, with everything from current Braves stars like Ronald Acuna and Austin Riley to Chipper Jones and Tom Glavine.
There's also plenty to do for the kids, from the inflatables in right field to the three mascots Pearl, Diddly, and Trusty, who are a constant presence on the concourse. Diddly is the newest mascot for 2023, and the name pays homage to Mississippi's blues music history.
Getting to Trustmark Park is pretty easy. If coming from out of town I-20 or Highway 49 would be your best bet – the park is located right off the I-20 and Highway 49 interchange at Exit 48. As you are driving on the Interstate you can see the park next to the Bass Pro Shop and the Outlets, right before you get to the Jackson exit at I-55. Once you get off Exit 48 travel north on Highway 49 about a half mile, then get on Highway 80 and take the first right onto Bass Pro Drive, and you'll see the park up ahead.
Trustmark Park has a large footprint and is located in a huge parking lot, so you should have no problem finding a parking spot. If you don't want to pay the $5 parking, you can also park across the street at the mall and walk over. Once inside you'll have a wide and spacious concourse with plenty of room to roam around.
The Braves front office also does a great job at keeping a clean concourse, and you’ll be able to stand at the drink rails or anywhere on the concourse without blocking the view of other fans. Even with the lack of open concessions stands the lines run smoothly, and despite the lack of fans, everything is smoothly run at Trustmark Park.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets are easy to come by as M-Braves games rarely ever sell out. Tickets can be found for as low as $8 to sit on the outfield berm, and up to $30 to sit at the BCI Club directly behind home plate at field level. General admission seating down the first and third base lines goes for $10, while the diamond club tickets behind home plate go for $20. There are also 3 pavilions available to rent – the first and third base party decks and the picnic pavilion down the third base line.
Double-A baseball teams often have the best prospects in baseball, and that is true in 2023 with the Atlanta Braves having 23 players on their 40-man rosters having come through Mississippi. That said, there is a good chance you'll be watching the next big player for the Atlanta Braves playing on the field.
If you want to experience a part of Jackson's professional baseball history, I suggest taking a trip to the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, about 5 miles up the road. The Hall of Fame is a must-visit for all sports fans, and makes for a great stop before a Mississippi Braves game. Inside there is a minor league baseball in Mississippi exhibit, as well as the front office desk and chair from J. Con Maloney, the owner of the Jackson Mets from 1975 to 1990. You can also find all kinds of old jerseys and trophies on display from not just the J Mets and Jackson Generals, but also the M-Braves and all the rest of the teams that have called the Jackson area home.
Across the street you can visit Smith-Wills Stadium, which used to host minor league baseball in Jackson; the stadium has recently been redone to include the Hank Aaron Sports Academy, a year-long baseball training center. In addition, all kinds of murals of famous Braves players line the walls now at Smith-Wills Stadium, just like they do at Trustmark Park.
Trustmark Park also hosts several college games throughout the year, including the Famous Governor's Game between Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Southern Miss also usually plays one game here as well, and tickets are expensive and hard to come by for these games. Trustmark Park also serves as the home of the Belhaven Blazers baseball program, with their first year hosted in 2022. Belhaven is a small D3 university located in downtown Jackson, and they previously played at Smith-Wills Stadium from 2016 to 2021.
Every year since 2006 Trustmark Park has also hosted the Mississippi High School Athletics Association (MHSAA) Baseball State Championships, and Braves third baseman Austin Riley even played here in 2015 as part of the MHSAA State Championships – he would suit up for the M-Braves during the 2017 and 2018 seasons as well.
And of course, another extra for all the Braves legends who have come through Mississippi on the way to The Show; Freddie Freeman, Brian McCann, Jeff Francouer, Jason Heyward, Dansby Swanson, Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna, Austin Riley, Max Fried, Mike Soroka, and Spencer Strider are just some of the current All-Stars who came through here. In addition, Chipper Jones, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz all played here in their careers doing rehab stints – Braves skipper Brian Snitker was even the M-Braves first manager as well.
Trustmark Park may not be as flashy as some of the more modern ballparks, but after 19 years it still holds up well as a great place to catch a ballgame. The M-Braves may not pack out the house every night, but they take great pride in being affiliated with their big-league club, something you don't see at many minor-league ballparks. Hopefully, it'll be many more years of Braves players coming through Mississippi.