When I worked in newspapers, I had the chance and fortune to cover a professional baseball team for six seasons.
The team was the Oneonta Tigers, the short-season Single-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. There was a storied history with this team, dating back to the 1960s. The same owners had run the team through the years, which included more than 30 as an affiliate with the New York Yankees.
But, in 2009, the owners sold to a group who fled Oneonta after one season and went to Norwich, Connecticut. The city had lose its AA team and now had the blessing of the New York-Penn League to bring a squad there — and that team turned out to be the Tigers.
Since that move, one in which I’m still heavily disappointed about, I’ve said I wanted to catch a game here.
Allow me to say this — though the stadium itself is better than Damaschke Field in Oneonta, it’s just not the same. Short-season A ball is something I like to be more intimate. Norwich is definitely a stadium for a larger league, though it seems the area didn’t support it well enough (thus why the AA team left).
With all that in mind, two of us made the trek to Dodd Stadium on July 4 to watch the Tigers take on the Vermont Lake Monsters.
There was a good crowd that night, one in which fireworks were to follow the game. An announced crowd of 3,776 watched the home team win, 7-6, in just under three hours.
So, let’s take a look at the stadium itself.
First, one issue I’d have is it’s not easy to get to this spot. It’s in an industrial park area and one way in is closed on game days. So after winding and weaving and such, you come to the stadium.
It’s definitely baseball here. The parking cost a few bucks, even though we got there before they started collecting. They came and asked for it when they did start collecting and then told us we also had to move elsewhere, even though the whole parking lot was … empty.
It was a bobblehead day, so we got there early enough to snag our bobbleheads and in we went.
A couple of things to note — it’s definitely more of a stadium feel here than in the past. While Oneonta was intimate and “old school,” Dodd stadium is much like many parks in the current day. In others words, there’s a large selection of food and drink. The team store, while a tad cramped for space, is well stocked with the normal items people might want.
The food selections were pretty solid (hot dogs were good) and the beer selection, too, was good. An interesting side to it — there was one beer stand that had some “older” favorites, such as Schlitz and Schmidts. That’s a pretty cool feature and one I’ve not really seen at a park. Heck, there was even PBR, if I remember right.
Lines for ice cream that night were pretty long all night (as to be expected on July 4), but there was a small Ben and Jerry’s cart that people seemed to walk right past, so you could get some ice cream without issue.
The sight lines for the stadium were pretty good. Seats were normal, though felt a little tighter because there was a strong crowd. Therefore, one couldn’t stretch out as much.
The ambiance was decent as people seemed to be watching baseball. We were lucky to see a pretty decent game with some good action, so that helped.
People were also quite friendly here, which is always a good thing. Outside of the one or two people we dealt with in the parking lot (who seemed to be a little pushy), everybody was welcoming and friendly, which is always good in a small-league team.
In the end, I’m glad I finally had the chance to go see the Tigers in Connecticut. It made for a good end to a two-game weekend and is a place I’d likely visit again, especially with two new teams (New Britain in the independent Atlantic League) and Hartford (Eastern League) going to be in Connecticut this upcoming season.
Home of the Connecticut Tigers (Short-season Single A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers)
Visited on: July 4, 2015
Opponent: Vermont Lake Monsters (Short-season Single A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics)
Ratings (out of 10)
- Stadium: 7.5/10
- Concessions: 8/10
- Parking: 7.5/10
- Ambiance: 8/10
- Friendliness: 9/10
I am continuing the Summer of Baseball from 2014 and hope to blog about each new stadium I visit in 2015. Ones visited in the past can be viewed linked up in the 2014 version.
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