National Baseball Hall of Fame

Inside the National Baseball Hall Of Fame (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

The National Baseball Hall Of Fame, located in the picturesque village of Cooperstown, NY, represents baseball Mecca to many fans, including my brother and me. Arguably the most famous sports hall of fame, the Hall keeps alive the past, as well as integrating the present, making it a prime target for any passionate fan. For years we talked about going, but transportation issues, and coordinating work schedules proved formidable for planning a trip. At that time, I was living in southern Maine, further complicating the situation. All of these factors resulted in us putting off the trip early 2000. We have made two subsequent trips to the Hall, and each visit occurred in different times of year, lending a unique perspective to the museum and village of Cooperstown.

First visit : Sunday, March 12, 2000

Our first visit occurred on Sunday, March 12th 2000. Though we were only about 10 days from spring, the weather was decidedly winterlike, with cloudy skies and cold temperatures in central NJ, where our trip began. Not unexpectedly, weekend traffic afforded us some relief from the normal commuting issues in NJ, and the drive was rather uneventful. From central NJ to the village of Cooperstown measured about 250 miles, which we covered in a bit less than four and one-half hours. Since our visit was out of season, Cooperstown was quiet, as was the Hall. It was so quiet that we were able to park just across the street from the museum, a pleasure we would not have in subsequent visits.

Google Maps showing our trip from central NJ to Cooperstown NY.

After purchasing tickets in the the Main Lobby, we headed almost immediately to the Plaque Gallery, located on the first floor. The Gallery houses the famous plaques for each member of the Hall of Fame, and the view was better than I had imagined. During much of my life, I had seen pictures of the plaques, but now here we were in their presence. At first, my brother and I walked through the Gallery together, but soon we split up, as each of us gravitated to our favorite players and eras. Time passed incredibly quickly, and since we had only carved out enough time for a brief visit, it seemed all too soon that we had to move on and see the main part of the museum, referred to as the Baseball Timeline., located on the second floor.

A ticket from the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Baseball came alive for me in the Baseball Timeline. In this section of the Hall lies the vast majority of the historical items and memorabilia collected over the past 150 years. Being Mets fans, we searched for the Tom Seaver display, as he is the only Mets player to be enshrined in the Hall. We spent most of our time here, as the history of baseball was laid out before us. Because of time constraints, we were limited to visiting only a fraction of the Hall. Unfortunately, we either did not take pictures during our visit, or those photos have been lost. Either way, we did not have much in the way of visuals to display here. Nonetheless, it was a trip all true baseball fans should make at some point, as I do not believe there is a greater collection of baseball history in any one place. We left in the mid afternoon, as I needed to be back in Maine in less than 24 hours. There was so much to see, and we did not give ourselves nearly enough time to see it. We will return again, as the call will be too strong to ignore.

Unfortunately, our trip back to the central NJ shore shaped up to be much trickier than the trip here. Shortly after leaving the Hall, snow began falling, and as we reached the NY Thruway, it became heavier, covering the road. There was not much traffic, which was a blessing, as we needed to reduce speed in order not to end up on the side of the road. Snow ended as we crossed back into NJ, with an uneventful trip ahead of us the remainder of the way.

Second visit: July 23/24, 2014

Apparently, the call of the Hall was not as loud or enticing as I expected, because our second visit occurred more than 14 years after our first. To be fair, we were crisscrossing the US visiting major league ballparks, checking off all but Oakland-Alameda County Stadium in Oakland CA in the process. Though we had begun visiting minor league ballparks, we managed to carve out time to return to Cooperstown, this time in the heat of the summer. We were unaware that the following weekend was Induction Weekend, but in all honesty, I am glad we were not present at that time. Cooperstown is small, and resources (like parking) become stretched when large crowds are present.

Tickets from our Hall visit in 2014. The price of admission had near doubled since the last time we were here.

This time, we devoted two days to the visit, traveling from central NJ to Cooperstown on Wednesday morning, July 23rd. Warm and sunny weather made the trip uneventful, though the GPS we employed chose a peculiar route for us, taking us through what appeared to be a working farm as we approached the Hall. After finding our hotel and dropping off our bags, we went in search of lunch. As might be expected, Cooperstown and environs offer mainly American cuisine in local diners. and we chose one not far from the Hall.

Not surprisingly, the Hall was much busier than our last visit, as Induction Weekend was just days away. Ticket prices had risen considerably since 2000, which should not have been a surprise, but I must admit I was taken aback by the steep increase. Like our last visit, he headed straight for the Plaque Gallery. To my mild surprise, the Gallery was not crowded, which suited us just fine. Unlike our last time here, we had the luxury of time, and we took much more time to appreciate the simple but distinguished tribute the members of the Hall.

Plague Gallery at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, during a relatively quiet moment. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Since our last visit, another New York Met was enshrined into the Hall of Fame. Mike Piazza, traded to the Mets during the 1998 season, arguably had his best seasons as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, winning the Rookie of the Year award with them in 1993. Though Piazza never topped his best offense seasons with the Dodgers, he led the up and coming Mets to the playoffs in 1999, and the World Series in 2000. However, Piazza’s home run against the Atlanta Braves in the aftermath of 9/11 cemented his place in Mets history. Piazza was just the second Hall of Famer inducted as a New York Met, so seeing his plaque was a must.

The two Mets enshrined in the Hall of Fame: Tom Seaver (left) and Mike Piazza (right). (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Few of the plaques contained names we did not recognize, but the plaques are ordered by the year the dignitary was inducted, so there were a couple surprises when it came to chronology. After tracking down the plaque of Mike Piazza, I looked for the plaque of Willie Mays. Considered by many (including myself) to be the greatest player ever to lace up spikes, I caught a fleeting glimpse of Mays’ career, as a New York Met in 1973. Only a shadow of his former self by that time. Mays still seemed to possess a love for the game, as if time itself had come to a stand still. Despite his subpar play in the 1973 World Series, Mays remains my favorite player, even if his best days occurred before I was born.

The plaque for Wille “Say Hey” Mays at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Following our stint in the Gallery, we headed for the Baseball TimeLine. Naturally, there were many new items added, but perhaps the most interesting was the ball from home run number 756 by Barry Bonds. The ball itself was defaced with an asterisk, clearly by someone unhappy with the crowning of a dubious new home run king. Rather than honor Bonds for the feat, the Hall constructed an elaborate display featuring Hank Aaron. Whether you believe Bonds is indeed the home run champ or not, it is clear that the Hall was sending an unambiguous message by celebrating Aaron over Bonds. During our tour we spotted a glove worn by Gary Carter. A member of the Hall, Carter was enshrined as an Expo, which was a personal disappointment. Like Piazza, Carter may have had his best years with the another team, but his impact on the Mets teams in the 1980s cannot be overstated. Carter was generally regarded as the final piece of a team that would win the World Series in 1986.

Uniform worn by Hank Aaron in the early 1970s with the Atlanta Braves. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Perusing the seemingly endless stream of displays, I was drawn to a picture of Jackie Robinson at bat. Having seen many pictures of Robinson, this photo did not appear to offer much about the player that I did not already know. However, it did have something in it that is no longer seen, and in fact has probably not been seen since the 1950s or 1960s. The image that drew my interest in the picture was a photographer in the field of play, barely on the foul side of the third base line. Camera equipment was not nearly as sophisticated as it is today, and to get good action shots, photographers needed to be on the field. That image reminded me that the coverage of the game has changed so much that something this subtle would catch my notice.

Notice the photographer on the field snapping a picture of Jackie Robinson during an at bat, just feet away from the batter’s box. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

We called it a day after working our way through the Timeline. Following a local dinner, we headed back to the hotel to rest following a long day.

Sunshine and moderate temperatures for late July greeted us the next morning, tempting us to get outside before heading back to the Hall. Our target that morning was Lake Otsego, the nearest point of interest. Cooperstown lies on the southern end of the lake, which meant is was just minutes away from the hotel. Being a workday, the area was nearly deserted, which meant the dock area was ours alone. We spent nearly an hour exploring the southernmost end of the lake, as well as its environs. The heat and humidity began to increase, signaling to us that it was probably time to get moving and head back to Cooperstown.

The southern end of Otsego Lake, located just minutes from the Hall of Fame, on a warm and increasing humid morning. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Returning shortly after the Hall opened, we scanned the museum for treasures we had missed. Our next stop was Doubleday Field, the baseball field and complex located adjacent to the Hall. Once the home to the Hall of Fame Classic, we saw the field as it was being prepared for the Induction Ceremony just days away. At first glance, Doubleday Field closely resembled many of the low Class A ballparks we had visited in the previous few years. It came as quite a surprise to learn that the capacity of the stadium was approximately 9,700, far more than expected.

On this day, there were no ball games being played, nor were any scheduled. We watched as the playing field was slowly transformed into the shape it would serve for the induction ceremony. Clouds began to thicken, blotting out the sun, and it was clear that thunderstorms would follow shortly thereafter. We took this as a hint to make our escape back to central NJ before the weather became a problem during our four and one-half hour drive home. Our second visit to the Hall was much more satisfying than the first, and allowing ourselves additional time made all of the difference. At the time, we were not sure we would visit again, so I was glad we made the trip.

Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, NY being transformed into a venue for the upcoming Induction Weekend. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Third visit: October 7th/8th, 2017

My brother and I found ourselves back in Cooperstown in early October 2017, as the MLB baseball playoffs were underway. Expecting the region to be undergoing a transition from summer to fall, we were mildly disappointed, as there was not nearly as much color as expected for the time of year. Much of the Northeast was in the midst of a return to summer with high heat and humidity covering the region. Instead of finding refreshingly cool air with billowy clouds, we were greeted upon our arrival with temperatures near 90 degrees, and thunderstorms in the area!

Having learned from the mistakes of our first visit, we scheduled the weekend around exploration of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, leaving plenty of time to acquaint ourselves with the haven of baseball fans worldwide. Arriving in the early afternoon of Saturday, October 7th, we found that the area was much more active that usual, especially considering football season (both college and the NFL) was well underway. When paying for out tickets to the Hall, a nice woman at the desk convinced it was cheaper to become members of the Hall, particularly because we were visiting twice that weekend. One of the perks of membership was a reduced price of admission, but the best perk was a membership card, which quickly became one of my most prized possessions.

Outside the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

As had become our custom, we visited the Plaque Gallery first. Something about this exhibit screams the Hall to me, where the greats of the game have been immortalized. Every time I visit the Gallery I notice something I had previously missed; this time, it was that the initial induction class had been give a section to themselves. In 1936, the Hall of Fame enshrined Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner and Babe Ruth, though the Hall would not formally open until nearly three years later. Being a history buff as well as a lifelong baseball fan, I appreciated the special treatment these greats were afforded, among the very best baseball had to offer from its first 75 years.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame’s inaugural class, enshrined in 1936. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Viewing the plaques, it is clear that the New York Yankees were well represented. From Ruth and Gehrig through DiMaggio and Mantle, the Hall is replete with examples of the dominance of the Yankees. Being a die hard Mets fan, I confess to a certain amount of envy, but it is difficult to debate the profound impression the storied franchise has left on baseball history. Just as we were exiting the Gallery to head to the Baseball Timeline, I noticed wax figures of Babe Ruth and Ted Williams. While it was here during our last visit, it did not receive the proper attention from me at that time. Aside from Ty Cobb, these two are arguably the greatest left handed hitters in the history of the game. Sadly, their careers did not overlap, but they are here together at the Hall.

Babe Ruth and Ted Williams, side by side near the Plaque Gallery in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

While there was not much new in the Baseball Timeline, we did spend a fair amount of time studying jerseys and equipment from various eras of the game. There is a large enough age spread between us so that we have a different perspective of the game (my love for baseball was based in the 1970s; my brother’s love for the game is rooted in the 1980s). We wandered among the relics, enjoying the history of the game with the aid of items from those eras. One of the newer displays was based on The Simpsons and their take on the game. Many players from the 1970s and 1980s did voiceover work in this episode, so there was plenty for the both of us to enjoy in this display.

Almost as iconic in the culture of America as baseball, The Simpson paid tribute to the National Pastime. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Following our initial pass through of the Hall, we walked over to Doubleday Field. Unlike the last time we were here, there was some actual baseball being played. A collection of players (seemingly from different teams) were playing, and with umpires being present, I suppose this was a fall league game. Clouds were building ahead of a cold front and its attending showers and thunderstorms, but we did explore the park for a bit. Heat and humidity cut our visit to the field short, as the conditions felt more like mid July than early October.

Fall League baseball at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, NY. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Showers and thunderstorms during the evening and early overnight changed the season from summer back to fall as we began Day Two of our visit. There were many, many people in the streets of Cooperstown that morning, and the breeze almost felt cool when compared to Saturday. It was almost a festival like setting, with many vendors hawking their wares on the sidewalk on Main Street. Supposedly Pete Rose was signing autographs at a sports shop down the street, but we did not have enough interest in him to battle the crowd to glimpse a view of one of the most controversial players in MLB history.

A view along Main Street in Cooperstown, NY. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

As we prepared to bid adieu to the Hall, we spent some time walking around the museum. We found sculptures outside of the Hall, mainly in the back of the museum. From a distance, it was difficult to discern the identity of the people in the sculpture, but as we got closer, we could identify at least a few. In the center of the courtyard, Johnny Podres was delivering a pitch to Roy Campanella, with Satchel Paige to the right of Podres, as well as an unidentified “Woman at Bat”, a tribute to the All American Girls Professional Baseball League.

Sculptures outside of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Finally, it was time to go, and we left Cooperstown during the mid afternoon, listening to the Jets lose to the Browns on the way home. It is not clear whether we will visit Cooperstown again anytime soon, but considering the 14 year gap between our first and second visits, we could come back again. If you have never been to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, GO! Not only is the Hall worth the trip from anywhere, Cooperstown NY is a charming village, worthy of exploring as well.

Altoona PA Part 2: August 20th and 21st 2022

Aerial view of the People’s Natural Gas Field complex, including the Skyliner Roller Coaster and go carts at Lakemont Park. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Following an ill-fated visit to People’s Natural Gas Field in August of 2019 (the details of which are available here), my brother and I scheduled another visit for the end of August of 2022. From my current home, the ballpark is about two and one-half hours away, which would have been a long day combining travel and seeing the game, so we opted for a weekend visit, attending games on both Saturday and Sunday evenings.

Leaving my home in central PA in the early afternoon of Saturday, August 20th placed us at the hotel in Altoona about 400 PM. Since the gates did not open until 500 pm (ahead of a 600 pm first pitch), we had some time to relax before the game. However, I recently acquired a new drone and was eager to use it on the trip. Heading out to the park early, we parked in the nearby parking garage (where the fee was a very reasonable $3.00) and climbed to the top deck. From there, we launched the drone, and since we were so early, not many people were around to witness the flight. You can see a short video from the flight here.

People’s Natural Gas Field from behind home plate.

Batting practice was underway, and has become the custom across baseball at all levels, the public was not permitted to view it. With the drone, we were able to view batting practice and more. People’s Natural Gas Field is one component of the larger Lakemont Park facility, which includes a roller coaster and go kart track. After capturing video and images from the air for about 25 minutes, we returned to the vehicle to secure the drone and grab the camera equipment.

A view of batting practice at People’s Natural Gas Field in Altoona PA.

The parking deck, just across the street from centerfield, is a longer than expected walk to the front of the stadium, leading me to believe the walk could be uncomfortable during hot or inclement weather. We were blessed with sunshine and seasonable temperatures for late August as we waited in line for the gates to open. Once inside, we eschewed our normal tour of the ballpark, as we had been here once before. Instead, we explored the upper deck, which we neglected on our previous visit, due to a lack of time. This brief visit allowed us to get a better look at the Kids Zone, located behind the right field bullpen, as well the excellent auxiliary scoreboard (which I did not notice during our last visit).

For this game, we chose seats in the upper deck, just to the right of home plate, giving us a different perspective. The seats did not disappoint, as there does not seem to be a bad seat in the house, and sitting behind home plate gave us a great view of the Allegheny Mountains in the distance. Rather than procure a baseball dinner (there are a number of good choices for food at the park), I chose to focus on the game and the location. People’s Natural Gas Field has one of the best views I have seen in a minor league ballpark, perhaps third behind Truist Field in Charlotte NC and Canal Park in Akron OH. In fact, our initial visit was based primarily on the word of others stating that this minor league ballpark was the best they had ever seen. Our view this evening was surely a validation of those recommendations.

The view from the upper deck behind home plate at People’s Natural Gas Field. Note the mountains in the background. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

This evening’s matchup featured the Harrisburg Senators (my newly adopted minor league home team, and the AA affiliate of the Washington Nationals) and the Curve, the AA affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Senators sent right hander Ronald Herrera to the mound, who was in the midst of a disappointing 2022 campaign. Altoona countered with right hander Luis Ortiz, who was also experiencing a down season. Despite the seemingly underwhelming starting pitching, no runs were scored in the first three innings, which took only 34 minutes to complete. Harrisburg scored twice in the top of the fourth inning, as Herrera was cruising along through the fifth inning.

Great action shot from People’s Natural Gas Field, Altoona PA. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Altoona broke through with five runs in the top of the sixth inning, ending Herrera’s night and effectively putting the game out of reach for Harrisburg. Even as the competitiveness of the game waned, my rapt attention turned to the surroundings. As evening slipped into night, I could not help but admire the beauty of the ballpark and the terrain beyond it. We saw both the go karts in action, as well as people enjoying the roller coaster, the subtle lighting accenting the visually pleasing structure.

A closeup of the roller coaster beyond the right field fence at People’s Natural Gas Field. It had my attention for much of the game. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Despite the outcome of the game having been decided, the large Saturday night crowd remained, probably due to the promise of fireworks following the final out. As is our custom, we used the fireworks as cover for a quick getaway, essential when using a parking garage. Our visit today went a long way toward washing away the memories of a rain out last time we were here. Hopefully the weather would cooperate tomorrow, and allow us one more game in this impressive stadium.

Night approaching at People’s Natural Gas Field in Altoona, PA. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Sunday, August 21st 2022

The Railroaders Memorial Museum in Altoona, PA (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Overnight thunderstorms left cloudy and humid conditions in their wake Sunday morning. Based on the radar, it would not be long until the next round of storms approached Altoona, forcing us indoors for our plans. We decided on the Railroaders Memorial Museum, located in downtown Altoona. Our choice fed into my latent obsession with trains, which has been growing since my relocation to central PA. Resembling a train station (though it is actually a Master Mechanic’s Building during the height of train operations in western PA), the museum houses a wide array of displays and exhibits.

Status board for the PA Railroad at the Railroaders Memorial Museum in Altoona PA. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Perhaps my favorite part of the museum was the section dedicated to the science of better (and safer) train travel. Several of the exhibits depicted rail accidents that resulted in lost lives, and others showed just how dangerous it was working for the railroad was during the first half of the 20th century. An entire section was devoted to the problem, and I must admit to marveling at the amount and variety of research that was on display here. My brother and I are both scientists, which allowed us to truly appreciate the effort and dedication employed to improve the rail experience. While the tools may seem primitive now, they were state of the art at this time, demonstrating the commitment of the PA Railroad. To my great surprise, we learned that the results of the research conducted was given to rival companies free of charge, something that seems unimaginable now.

Old fashioned clock outside the Railroaders Memorial Museum in Altoona, PA (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Following our exploration of the main facility, we visited Harry Bennett Memorial Roundhouse, which housed trains and equipment in various states of repair. On the way, we saw locomotives and cars in decay, aping the decline of train ridership since its peak so long ago. Seeing these once majestic machines rusting in the elements also felt sad, as warriors from the past slowly faded away. Finally, we were prepared to visit the World Famous Horseshoe Curve, an outdoor exhibit featuring excellent view of trains cast against the terrain of the Allegheny Mountains. Unfortunately, impending weather drove us back inside, as storms would have marred the visuals of the area.

A rusting giant fading away in a lot behind the Railroaders Memorial Museum in Altoona, PA (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Just ahead of the storms, we headed back toward the hotel, choosing to eat lunch at La Fiesta Mexican Bar & Grill, just steps away. The food was good and reasonably priced, but I soon discovered that the food was indeed too rich for me, and I would pay the price. In the wake of the most recent storms, the sun reappeared. Rather than relax after the big meal, my brother suggested another drone flight over the stadium, from a nearby park. Skies had become almost sunny, allowing us to fly over the deserted ballpark and Lakemont Park. As might be expected, the humidity was high during our flights, and we could see storms already developing off in the distance. The forecast for game time was problematic, but we hoped to squeeze the game in before the next round of storms arrived.

The view from the centerfield gate at People’s Natural Gas Field. Note the ominous clouds gathering in the distance, a harbinger of things to come. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Following the drone flights, we headed back to the room to relax before heading out to the ballpark. During that time, storms had formed and began their approach. Arriving just before the gate opened, it was clear that we would have to contend with at least one rain delay, but because we were staying in Altoona that night, we were prepared to stay as long as necessary. To pass the time, we explored the center field area of People’s Natural Gas Field, an area we had not yet visited. By the time we found our seats on the 3rd base side of the ballpark, it was becoming increasingly apparent this would be the only time we sit in those seats.

The view from our seats for the Sunday evening game, featuring a good look at the roller coaster. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

As the rain commenced, people abandoned their seats and headed for the concourse. Knowing it would be a long rain delay (based on the radar trends displayed on our phones), we found a bench on the outer concourse, near some open windows. For more than an hour, we listened to the rain falling, interspersed with the occasional peal of thunder. Occasionally, the rain fell so hard that we needed to close the windows or risk becoming soaked. After about 45 minutes, it was obvious that the field had absorbed more water than it could handle, and the inevitable announcement followed; the game was canceled. Because it was so late in the season, there was likely no time that would fit the schedules of both teams for a makeup game, so the contest was simply cancelled.

We waited for a time to leave the park after the official announcement, and it was still raining when we headed back to the vehicle. In fact, it rained all the way back to the hotel, heavily enough at times to obscure traffic. Though the Curve did what they could to play the game, we were destined to miss yet another game to rain. In total, we saw only one complete game of the three that we had hoped to see. While .333 may be a good baseball batting average, it is poor average for seeing baseball games. However, we did not let the weather ruin what was a good visit overall, and we did get to see the park at its best Saturday night. People’s Natural Gas Field (and surroundings) was worth the trip and then some. If you find yourself within range of this beautiful ballpark when the Curve are in town, do yourself a favor and GO!

Incredibly, we were rained out AGAIN at People’s Natural Gas Field, for the second time in three tries. The message on the centerfield video board says it all. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

PeoplesBank Park, York PA June 13th 2021

Welcome to PeoplesBank Park in York PA!

On a cloudy Sunday afternoon, with the threat of thunderstorms looming in the distance, my brother and I set out for PeoplesBank Park in York, PA, the home of the Atlantic League’s (ALPB) York Revolution. About 45 minutes from home for me, the ride was relatively simple, as traffic was generally light during the early afternoon. Parking at PeoplesBank Park is spread across the general area of the stadium, with the most popular lot across the Codorus Creek from the park at the Smalls Athletic Field (using Google Maps with this location should make finding parking fairly simple). At $4.00, parking was a bargain, with the walk from the lot to the stadium taking less than 10 minutes. For those fans with mobility issues, there is a parking lot next to the field, but you may want to check on availability.

My brother and I had been here once before, as we headed home following a trip to eastern OH/western PA to see ballparks out that way. Just ahead of some deteriorating weather, we walked around the outside of the ballpark, which did not afford much of a sense of the place. Leaving just as the rain began, we left without knowing much more than we did before we arrived. Since the ballpark was within range of both of us, we planned to visit PeoplesBank Park in 2020, but the pandemic resulted in the cancellation of the Atlantic League season. Our first proper visit to York would have to wait…until today

The view of PeoplesBank Park from the Smalls Athletic Field across the Codorus Creek in York PA. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

PeoplesBank Park is located on the edge of a neighborhood in York, and we saw row houses somewhat reminiscent of those found in Philadelphia. We found the architecture similar to what we saw in Harrisburg as well, so it seems to be a common theme across southeast and central PA. In fact, I would have been interested in walking through the neighborhood to get a better feel for the area, but we did not leave sufficient time for a side trip. Perhaps if time permits in a subsequent trip, we will investigate this portion of York more thoroughly.

Though we were briefly here less than two years before, my memory of the event is fuzzy at best, so it was as if we were seeing the ballpark for the first time. PeoplesBank Park features Brooks Robinson Plaza, located to the right of the main entrance to the ballpark. A statue of Robinson graces the plaza, along with a plaque outlining information about the Hall of Famer’s storied career. Opening in 2007, PeoplesBank Park was constructed to resemble Orioles Park at Camden Yards, the favorite MLB team in this portion of PA. Without much to see on the outside of the park, we entered the stadium through the home plate gate.

A statue of Brooks Robinson and young fans in Brooks Robinson Plaza at PeoplesBank Park. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Upon entering the stadium, we quickly walked around the lower concourse, which encircled the ballpark. Not knowing what to expect, I was immediately impressed with the park, which seemed colorful and vibrant, even on this cloudy Sunday afternoon. With only minutes before the first pitch, we quickly walked from right field to left field before finding our seats along the third base side. Though I did see why others thought PeoplesBank Park looked liked Camden Yards (especially the picnic area in right field), another ballpark came to mind: Regency Furniture Stadium, located in Waldorf, MD. Also home to an Atlantic League franchise (the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs), there was more than just a passing resemblance to that ballpark, which we would discover during the game.

PeoplesBank Park from the centerfield concourse. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Perhaps the most prominent feature in PeoplesBank Park is the wall in left field. Known as Arch Nemesis, the forest green wall stands 37 feet 8 inches tall (six inches taller than the Green Monster in Fenway Park), making it the highest wall in professional baseball. Creation of the highest wall in baseball was apparently in response to the short distance from home down the left field (a mere 300 feet), due to the presence of train tracks just beyond the wall. We saw the wall in “action”, as the ballpark held a couple of balls that may have left other ballparks with shorter fences. There is also a manually operated scoreboard at the base of the Arch Nemesis, which bares some resemblance to the one in Fenway.

The Arch Nemesis, located in left field at PeoplesBank Park in York PA. Note the hand operated scoreboard at the base, like the one at Fenway Park in Boston MA. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

We reached our seats in the lower level behind the dugout just as the first pitch was thrown. Minutes later, to our surprise, a beautiful sight appeared. A bald eagle passed nearly overhead, and it seemed as though the entire crowd noticed its passage. Based on the murmuring in the crowd, I got the impression that the eagle had been there before, and PeoplesBank Park could be on its normal route through the area. Quick reactions by my brother allowed him to capture the moment perfectly with his camera. Unfortunately, the eagle did not pass by again during the game.

This was not the first time we were graced by the presence of a bald eagle. While exploring Lock #1 on the Mississippi River in St Cloud MN on an overcast and cold late September afternoon, a bald eagle passed overhead, flying south along the river. That time, we were caught completely off guard by the eagle’s passage, and neither of us managed to snap a picture before it disappeared into the distance.

A bald eagle passing overhead on a cloudy Sunday afternoon at PeoplesBank Park in York PA. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Following the excitement of our unexpected visitor, we turned our attention back to the game. For this Sunday matinee, the York Revolution were hosting the Long Island Ducks for the finale of their series. There is a strong tie between the Ducks franchise and the New York Mets. Ducks manager Wally Backman was the starting second baseman for the the 1986 World Championship team, and the Ducks starting left fielder, L.J. Mazzilli, is the son of perennial Mets fan favorite Lee Mazzilli. Coming into the action this afternoon, the Ducks held a three game lead over the Revolution in the North Division of the ALPBA.

Settling into the game, I began to take a better look at PeoplesBank Park. As mentioned earlier, I felt as though it had more than a passing resemblance to Regency Furniture Stadium, and the more I examined my surroundings, the more I saw the similarities. Like the ballpark in Waldorf, MD, the bullpens were located in foul territory just behind the bases. Seating for the respective bullpens is near the railing, with line drive foul balls putting the relievers in a precarious spot. On this day, most relievers were either in the dugout or further down the line, a testament of the danger these players face sitting in prime line drive areas.

Most of the chairs in the Revolution bullpen area were empty, as line drive foul balls off the bats of right handed hitters puts the pitchers in danger. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

In addition, the main seating area was structured similarly to Regency Furniture Park, with seats on the left and right field lines angled such that they faced the pitcher’s mound. When the seating in left and right field along the rail is considered, PeoplesBank Park hold about 7,500 fans, which is large for an ALPB stadium.

In addition to the hand operated scoreboard, there is a more modern scoreboard, located in centerfield, just behind the picnic area. Modest in size and resolution, this scoreboard was mainly informational, with occasional video replays presented. During the game, I noticed to auxiliary video boards near centerfield (that seemed to play mainly advertisements). Finally, sandwiched between the Arch Nemesis and the centerfield score board was a tightly packed kids zone. Complete with a carousel and several slides, these facilities offered something else for the kids to do while the adults enjoyed baseball.

The kids zone at PeoplesBank Park, nestled between the Arch Nemesis and the centerfield picnic area. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Though I did not exactly know what to expect as we drove toward York, PeoplesBank Park far exceeded my expectations. The more I saw of the park, the more I liked it. Placed along Arch Street (on the edge of a neighborhood), the ballpark has an urban feel to it, providing the stadium with an appealing backdrop. Not long after the first pitch, I felt as though PeoplesBank Park was possibly my favorite ALPB ballpark (sorry Southern Maryland Blue Crabs).

During our brief tour of the ballpark, we did notice places to eat, especially on the concourse in right field. Given our time constraints, we did not examine any of the cuisine at PeoplesBank Park, instead choosing standard baseball fare (sodas, hot dogs and pretzels) at the nearby concession stand. Considering that my palette is relatively unsophisticated (and I do not drink alcohol at ball games), it is likely that I would be unable to render an intelligent review of food and drink at the park. For that, you are on your own.

The view from our seats. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Following a quiet top of the first, the Revolution scored three runs in the bottom of the frame. After that outburst, the game did not see any more scoring until the top of the sixth inning. However, due to the 16 walks issued by both teams (as well as a number of deep counts), the pace of play slowed to a crawl at times. This is not atypical for an ALPB game, as the rosters mainly consist of ex MLB/MiLB players, as well as those that went undrafted. For comparison, the level of play in the ALPB is roughly similar to that seen at the Double A level in affiliated baseball, though players (with the notable exception of pitchers) are typically more polished in the ALPB, due to the experience level of the players.

It is not unusual for ALPB rosters to have familiar names on it, which helps with attendance in most cities, but many of these players are past their best days. Some hang onto the notion of being picked up by an affiliated team (which happens fairly often, given there is a player development deal in place between MLB and the ALPB), while others play baseball for as long as they can before hanging up their spikes for good. The ALPB also brings baseball to underserved areas, in places where there are no MLB or MiLB teams close by.

A view of the scoreboard/video board in centerfield. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Though the crowd was not particularly large (as often happens for Sunday afternoon games), the fans were vocal, especially those close to us. That enthusiasm was also evident on the field, as the Revolution third baseman pretended to swat at the York shortstop who got too close on an infield popup. Though the sample size is admittedly small, there seems to be a good repertoire between the fans and the team, and that is refreshing. All too often when teams play badly, so called fans seem to turn on them, but that does not seem to be the case here.

Revolution shortstop and third baseman converging on a popup. Feeling the shortstop got too close, the third baseman playfully swatted at him after making the catch. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

In the top of the sixth inning, the Ducks scored two runs, drawing within a run of the Revolution. However, York tacked on another run in the bottom of the seventh inning, and a trio of Revolution relievers held off Long Island for a 4-2 victory. Unlike most crowds, many Revolution fans stayed until the last pitch. Thankfully, the threat of thunderstorms held off, providing a cloudy but dry experience at PeoplesBank Park. As we filed out of the park, I was still surprised how much I enjoyed the place. Obviously, a great deal of thought went into the design of the stadium, and the place still looks great years after first opening its gates. Being just 45 minutes away, I plan to visit this beautiful ballpark as often as it feasible.

Walking back to the parking lot after the game, I once again enjoyed the surroundings. Being relatively new to the area, I found this part of York fascinating, and could spend time here simply exploring. The entire visit was enjoyable, and PeoplesBank Park is worth a visit if you are within range during the ALPB season.

The York Train Station, just outside PeoplesBank Park. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)