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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

George H. W. Bush '48 Field – Yale Bulldogs


Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86

George H. W. Bush '48 Field 252 Derby Ave. West Haven, CT 06516


Year Opened: 1928 Capacity: 6,200

 

Historic Bush Field

 

George Herbert Walker Bush was the 41st President of the United States and the captain of the Yale baseball team during his senior season as an undergrad. In 2021 Yale honored Mr. Bush by dedicating its baseball field, known as Yale Field for almost a century, as George H. W. Bush ’48 Field.

 

The first baseball team to represent Yale University played in 1864. The team played at various sites around campus until 1882, when the university purchased an apple orchard and farm in neighboring West Haven. In 1927 the school replaced the open field containing a few bleachers with a concrete and steel structure that cost a half million dollars to build.

 

The ballpark was the site of many major league exhibition games over the years when teams would barnstorm to make extra money. Notable players such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Ted Williams played at Bush Field. With an original capacity of 12,000, the ballpark has been downsized and renovated over the years. Most recently, the grass turf, once lauded by Babe Ruth as one of the finest he'd ever played on, was replaced by a FieldTurf surface, a concession to the harsh weather in the northeast during the college baseball season.

 

In addition to serving as home to the Bulldog nine, Bush Field has been home to the New Haven Ravens of the Eastern League from 1994-2003 and the New Haven County Cutters of the independent Can-Am League from 2004-2007.

 

Over their long history, the Bulldogs have qualified for the NCAA Tournament six times, reaching the championship game of the College World Series twice (1947 and 1948). 24 Yale alumni have made it to the major leagues.

 

Food & Beverage 2

 

There is a small concession stand located at the top of the seating bowl behind the press box. This stand, with a menu consisting of hot dogs, pretzels, candy and Coca Cola products, exists solely to tide Bulldog fans over should they need a snack during the game. It certainly accomplishes this mission. No item sold here costs more than four dollars.

 

Atmosphere 2

 

As a rule, college baseball in the northeast is just not the big deal that it is in other parts of the country. The same is true here at Yale University. What does separate Bush Field from other facilities in the northeast is that this is an actual stadium with a long and storied history.

 

Visiting fans will find a laid-back, simple game day presentation at Yale. Dare I say the atmosphere is scholarly? With small crowds present at this historic venue, an over-the-top presentation just wouldn’t make sense. Music plays over the sound system between batters and innings, but otherwise there’s not a whole lot of extraneous noise at Bush Field. The PA announcer tries his best to inject some energy into the proceedings, which is not always easy to do with a typical small Ivy League crowd in attendance. There is a simple, hand-operated scoreboard in straightaway center field.


 

Neighborhood 3

 

Bush Field is not located on the school's campus in downtown New Haven, but about a mile and a half away in neighboring West Haven. Also located at the sports complex is the Yale Bowl, Reese Stadium, Coxe Center and DeWitt Family Stadium. Visiting fans will want to explore the Yale campus, renowned for its unique Gothic architecture. New Haven is developing a reputation as one of the country's best small cities for foodies, with excellent spots located throughout the downtown.

 

A couple of spots in particular may be of interest to visiting fans. Just blocks from the Yale campus is Louis’ Lunch, which claims to be the birthplace of the hamburger. New Haven is also home to a unique brand of brick oven pizza, called apizza by locals. Frank Pepe’s and Sally’s Apizza, located just over a block apart on Wooster Street, are world famous for this pizza style. Many locals tout a third location, Modern Apizza, located only a half mile from campus. To avoid the crowds of Wooster Street, Stadium Journey recommends nearby Zuppardi’s Apizza in West Haven.

 

Fans looking for lodging during their visit to New Haven will not find much in the immediate vicinity of Bush Field, but there is no shortage of choices around the Yale campus. The Yale Visitor Center contains a great deal of information about attractions in and around New Haven.

 

Fans 2

 

Crowds at Bulldog games at Yale Field would accurately be classified as a "friends and family" type of crowd. Typical crowds average between 100-250 fans, with a minimal turnout from the student body. Those fans that do come to Yale Field are usually connected in some way to the players on the field, and are knowledgeable, active and vocal. With the bulk of the Bulldogs' schedule consisting of local and conference rivals, it's not unusual to see fans of the visiting squad in attendance.


 

Access 4

 

Yale Field is fairly easy to get to. Simply take exit 44 off of Interstate 95 and follow Ella T. Grasso Boulevard for about a mile and a half. Take a left onto Derby Avenue and Yale Field will be on your left in about a quarter of a mile. Traffic can be heavy in and around New Haven, so give yourself enough time to get to Bush Field.

 

There is free parking at Yale Field in a small lot adjacent to the ballpark, or behind the outfield fence on busier days. There is an overflow lot a short walk down Derby Street.

 

The seating bowl at Yale Field runs from shallow left field to shallow right field. The seating at the ballpark consists of individual plastic stadium seats behind home plate, with molded bucket seats at field level further down both lines. Metal bleachers with backs make up the bulk of the seating. Standing room is available at the top of the seating bowl and on the party deck far down the right field line. Sadly, the old wooden seats that were original to the ballpark and comprised the last row of seating are no longer here, having been removed in recent years due to deterioration.

 

There is a cramped walkway beneath the stands. Luckily, since crowds at a typical Yale baseball game are sparse, it is not crowded. It is difficult to imagine how this concourse would handle a large crowd. Bathrooms are well-maintained and clean, and more than large enough for a typical Bulldog crowd. Inclusive restrooms are even available for fans who need them.

 

Return on Investment 5

 

Admission to Bulldog baseball games is free, as is parking in the area surrounding the ballpark. Fans can bring in their own snacks to enjoy during the game, but concessions are inexpensive should you need a little something to tide you over before heading downtown.

 


Extras 2

                                                                                               

Bush Field has been the site of many historic games. In 1981 Future Major League stars Ron Darling (Yale) and Frank Viola (St. John’s) hooked up in a classic pitcher’s duel that is considered by many to be the best college baseball game ever played. Darling threw a no-hitter for 11 innings before the winning run scored in the 1-0 final on a double steal in the 12th inning.

 

An extra point is awarded for the classic design of Bush Field. Recent repairs to the facility served to restore and refresh its façade while stabilizing the shell of the park to extend its useful lifespan. As a result, Bush Field has kept its vintage feel while looking renewed.

 

Final Thoughts

 

Bush Field stands out from its brethren in the northeast due to its history and aura. There are not many college ballparks in this part of the country which would be considered a destination for ballpark chasers. Bush Field should certainly be on any baseball fan’s short list.

 

If planning a trip to New Haven, keep in mind that the college baseball season takes place largely in the months of March and April, when the weather in this part of the country can be fickle. Postponements, cancelations and schedule changes happen regularly. Be prepared to be flexible with your scheduling.

 

Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter and Instagram @PuckmanRI.

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