Summer of Baseball: Sussex County felt a little dusty
As the World Series is underway, I thought it was time to continue the Summer of Baseball posts and reviews. With going to 75 games this summer, I saw a lot of new stadiums and I have a lot to catch up on.
We’ll start the return with the Can-Am League, which is an independent professional league based in the Northeast and Canada.
Sussex County was the second Can-Am game of the year, following a trip to the Rockland Boulders. The experiences were extremely far apart.
The Sussex County Miners grabbed me with their cool logo and such, so it was a Sunday afternoon trip down. I did pick up a hat, for the record. Once there, it was easy to find parking (there were no more than 150-200 people there the day we were there — tops) and in we went. It was hot as could be that day, so we basically were looking for shade. The ticket person was an excellent help and set us up.
In we went.
First impressions go a long way though, and the impressions weren’t positive. The team store was decent, but was based outside the actual stadium. The inside area for team items wasn’t bad, either. Food choices were average and normal for baseball.
The field had seen better days, that’s for sure.
Let me preface that by saying we were in a drought, but I’ve played on bad softball fields that were better than this field — and that’s saying something. It was dry all over and just didn’t have the feel of a “professional” team.
I realize, too, that I’ve been spoiled going to Atlantic League games. But Rockland County’s stadium and such was excellent as well, so I was shocked at how downtrodden Sussex County seemed to be.
Skylands Stadium, in Augusta, New Jersey, isn’t the newest of stadiums, being built in 1994. Still, it’s only a little beyond 20 years, so it shouldn’t feel this down. The seats are the ones that are already down and boxy, so that usually just irritates me, too.
I couldn’t get a vibe, either. Of the workers I spoke with, I thought there was a friendly aspect. But at the same time, you have to wonder how many of them enjoyed being there through a game like that with nobody in the stands.
It was in the mid 90s that day — and I only saw one or two people go to the ice cream vendor on the main concourse in the stands. The poor girl kept searching for shade when nobody was there.
Kids did run rampant, dashing all over the field for foul balls and such. That can get annoying when nobody is in the stadium because they don’t care where they go in search of the ball.
Let me give an example — with the full story. When we got there, we checked out where we were sitting and then went for a snack and to walk around. When we came people we in our seats. I wasn’t going to create a stink over it, so we just went to the aisle across from where we were sitting. In the second inning, those people got a foul ball.
Later in the game — in the fifth or sixth inning — an elder lady (probably in her 80s) slowly walked up the steps. We were sitting in the top row. She informed us that I was sitting in her seat.
They say fans in Los Angeles show up late?
Anyway, we decided to pack up and head to the main bleacher area (where like five people were sitting) because it was now in the shade. So I told the lady to give me one moment as I packed up my stuff. As I did, a foul ball came flying up, hitting the “luxury” suites over me and then dropped right in front of me. I picked it up, packed the rest of my stuff and started walking down the steps.
Then came the mad rush of 10 kids rushing for the ball asking where it was. All the while it was in my bag.
Look — I don’t mind if you give a ball to a kid who is sitting near you and acting nice all game. But kids who are running all over the stadium, jumping over seats, and not caring about other people for one — they ain’t getting it.
Not to mention the section we were in was one where a lot of people were because there was shade.
Anyway, that’s my story.
In the end, the experience was that of a baseball game on a sub-par field. The action wasn’t the best that day, which made it worse. Overall, it was a below average experience and one I likely won’t look to replicate. The lack of a crowd didn’t help, either, as the ambiance was basically non-existent. It seemed like a group of people were there for when one of the original Batman helicopters landed and made a dust storm. I was actually shocked it left before the game started as it didn’t seem like it was going to.
The hot dogs were pretty solid, though, so that’s a good thing. The hat I got was excellent as well. Prices, as it seems to be in independent ball, were a little high all around, making the subpar experience a little more of a sting.
Augusta, New Jersey
Home of the Sussex County Miners (Independent)
Visited on: June 26, 2016
Opponent: Quebec Capitales (Independent)
Ratings (out of 10)
- Stadium: 4/10
- Concessions: 7/10
- Parking: 9/10
- Ambiance: 4/10
- Friendliness: 7/10
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