First National Bank (FNB) Field – Harrisburg PA

FNB Field in Harrisburg PA. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Yet another move placed me near Harrisburg, PA this spring, and I am once again in a hot spot for baseball. Just 11 miles away is First National Bank (FNB) Field, the home of the Harrisburg Senators, the Double A affiliate of the Washington Nationals. My brother and I visited FNB Field once before, on our way back from a baseball trip that took us to eastern OH and western PA during August of 2019. There was no baseball that day (as the Senators were out of town), but we were able to wander through portions of the park. Of course, we could not get the true essence of the ballpark that day, but we vowed to come back here at some point in the future.

Fast forward nearly two years, and we did indeed return. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of FNB Field is that it is located on an island in the Susquehanna River. Known as City Island, the mile long island is home to the ballpark, as well as other attractions. We approached City Island from Harrisburg, taking the Market Street Bridge to the main parking lot adjacent to the ballpark. Concerned about the availability of parking on an island, we arrived well before the first pitch. Despite my trepidations, there was plenty of parking available in the main lot, as well as a lot just over the bridge.

Google Maps image showing the location of FNB Field on City Island in the middle of the Susquehanna River.

A short walk from the parking lot to FNB Field ensued, which involved climbing stairs and an uphill walk before reaching the gate. The trek could present some issues for those fans with mobility issues, but free rides from the parking lot to the gate are available via bicycles equipped with a rider seat. Though I did not see anyone take advantage of this service, I imagine it would be helpful for those in need. Per our usual approach, we walked outside the stadium taking pictures. About halfway across the outside of the park, we entered through a gate behind first base. Pleasant staff members working at the gate welcomed us warmly as we presented our mobile tickets, reminding me we were in neither the New York City Metro area nor Maryland/DC.

Once inside the park, we wandered taking pictures. Our visit occurred during the pandemic, and masks were worn by most fans. Because of the continuing pandemic, I was concerned that our movements within the ballpark would be restricted to limit exposure. However, we were able to encircle the playing field, as the main concourse wraps around the park. The layout of the outfield and the seating along the concourse vaguely reminded me of Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf, MD (home of the Atlantic League’s Southern Maryland Blue Crabs).

The view of the outfield in left center field. Note the seats above the wall. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

As we walked from the right field line to the left field line, I was surprised to discover than FNB Field held more than 6,000 fans. Even with a sizable seating area behind home plate. at first glance, I would have thought the maximum capacity was closer to 5,000, which would have been on the smaller side for a Double A team. However, when the bleacher seating along the first base side, and the “Cheap Seats” in the left field corner are considered, the ballpark holds about the average number of fans for Double A ballparks.

Located on the concourse near the left field foul pole was the Senators Team Store. Seemingly smaller than most team stores, it contained most of the standard fare fans would expect, and had much more of an Expos presence than Nationals Park (the Montreal Expos moved to DC following the 2004 season). After browsing in the team store, we headed down the left field course to our seats

The main seating area of FNB Field from the right centerfield concourse. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Seating in FNB Field was arranged in pods to limit interaction among fans. Unlike the pods we occupied the week before in Arm&Hammer Park in Trenton NJ, seating here was not as restrictive. Being closer to fans, we wore our masks, removing them only to eat and drink. Sitting in section 201 (near third base), we had a great view of the entire park. Our vantage point afforded us a view of the hills to the north and northwest of the stadium, reminding me of our visit to FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading, PA. In addition to a standard videoboard/scoreboard in right centerfield, there was a supplemental horizontal videoboard in the left centerfield. This board contained information on the inning/score, the pitcher’s statistics, as well as the pitch speed. For avid baseball fans like us, the additional treasure trove of data was quite welcome.

The weather could not have been better, as remaining clouds melted away with the setting sun. Clear skies and pleasantly warm temperatures for mid May set the stage for a perfect evening for baseball. Though the crowd was necessarily small for the contest, that did not stop those in attendance from showing their affection for the Senators. Because of the pandemic, there was no minor league season in 2020, and the pent up frustrations of the faithful resulted in an almost raucous crowd.

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

Though there are a number of places to eat, we grabbed a standard baseball dinner at the concession stand on the concourse level behind the main seating area. Servers were friendly, prices were reasonable, and the service was relatively quick. After some of the BAD experiences we have had at other parks (especially MLB parks), cheerful faces were a welcome change of pace. Perhaps as I get a number of visits under my belt, I can comment further on the cuisine offered at FNB Field.

As evening blended into night, the view of the hills to the north and northwest disappeared, but the feel of the stadium unchanged. Unlike many Saturday night minor league games, the crowd did not leave early, as the game remained relatively tight until the end. Even with a small crowd, I became concerned that exiting an island from one parking area could take a considerable amounts of time. Reversing our course from the stadium to the parking lot, we took some time to admire the view of Harrisburg across the Susquehanna River. It was worth the detour; Harrisburg alit was quite a sight, especially since it was our first visit. If you have the time after a Senators night game, make sure to take in the skyline.

FNB Field at night. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

As expected, exiting the parking lot was a slow process, as several lines that developed in the lot bottlenecked at the confluence of the lines near the turn onto the bridge. Having been in parking lots that were slow to clear in the past, we knew that patience was key, and eventually we managed to get out of the lot, heading back toward the east side of Harrisburg. FNB Field is an excellent minor league facility, providing a great fan experience among the passionate faithful. Since this facility is my new “home” ballpark, I was very pleased to find such a great stadium so nearby.

Harrisburg at night from the banks of the Susquehanna River just outside of FNB Field. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Richmond, VA, May 20th and 21st, 2017

The first baseball trip of the 2017 was a short one, at least with respect to distance. Our target was The Diamond, home of the Flying Squirrels in Richmond, Virginia. From home in Maryland, Richmond is just two hours away on Interstate 95 South, making it an ideal choice for the first baseball trip of the season.

Being a member of the Eastern League, the Flying Squirrels are a familiar team, as both of the us live near Eastern League teams and see the team at least a couple of times a year. Since The Diamond was so close, we didn’t leave Maryland until early afternoon to arrive in Richmond early enough to check into our hotel and get to the ballpark.

1. The Diamond, Richmond Virginia, Saturday May 20th

The Diamond, Richmond VA. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Arriving about 60 minutes before game time, we found that parking was not an issue at The Diamond. Like many suburban ballparks, there is parking on site, and the price was average for a minor league park ($5). Walking from the parking lot, The Diamond looks huge, due in part to the concrete construction of the seating area stretching from foul line to foul line.

The view of The Diamond from the parking lot. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Originally constructed for the Triple A Richmond Braves, the capacity of nearly 10,000 is larger than the typical Double A Stadium. Though the ballpark has undergone a few renovations, the stadium has the feel of a 30+ year old structure, which is not necessarily a bad attribute.

After walking the concourse taking pictures of the park, we perused the concession stand closer to home plate on the field level. The main concession area offered standard fare, though there was a wider food selection in concession locations located on the field and upper levels.

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

We settled into our seats behind the visitors dugout about 30 minutes before the first pitch. The Flying Squirrels’ opponent was the Harrisburg Senators, the Double A affiliate of the Washington Nationals. Mainly clear skies and temperatures in the 70s set the stage for a pleasant evening for baseball in Richmond.

The Diamond was somewhat reminiscent of Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton, New Jersey with its two tiered row of advertising billboards in left field. The ballpark has a modest video board/scoreboard in left center field; otherwise, the ballpark was unremarkable. In some respects, the lack of multiple video boards was a blessing, allowing fans to concentrate on the game, rather than the technology.

The video board/scoreboard in left center field of The Diamond. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

It is typical for Saturday night minor league games to draw well, and this evening was no different at The Diamond. While the crowd was sizable for the contest, the number of people in the ballpark that evening was nowhere near the announced attendance of just over 9,000.

After the Squirrels scored a run in the first inning, the Harrisburg Senators took the lead in the third inning, scoring three runs. The Senators tacked on two more runs in the fifth, taking a 5-1 lead as the evening gave way to night in Richmond.

The Flying Squirrels completing a 1-4 sacrifice during the third inning, as the Senators took a 3-1 lead. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

Though the Squirrels scored single runs in the sixth and seventh innings, the Senators held on for a 5-3 victory. As often happens when the home team fall behind, the crowd started thinning out after the seventh inning, and by the time of the last out, the stadium was almost empty. The parking lot was nearly deserted, allowing for a quick getaway to the nearby hotel.

The Diamond at night. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

2. The Diamond, Sunday May 21st

During the night, a cold front pushed through the Richmond area, and the morning dawned with cloudy skies and drizzle. Temperatures were cooler than Saturday, and humidity levels increased as well. With the game at The Diamond scheduled for a 1200 pm start, we decided to spend a part of the morning exploring Richmond.

The cool, humid and occasionally drizzly conditions precluded a walk through Richmond, so we opted to conduct a driving tour of the city. Being the capital of the Confederacy for the bulk of the Civil War, Richmond is replete with historical sites, which deserved more attention than a driving tour could afford. Being a history buff, I will need to return here in the future to better appreciate the history of Richmond.

The Diamond on a cool, overcast late Sunday morning. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

We arrived at the Diamond about an hour before the first pitch. Unbeknownst to us, fans were invited to play catch on the field prior to the game. Unfortunately, not knowing about this opportunity, we were not prepared to take advantage of it. So, rather than take the field, we spent the time before the game wandering around the park, taking pictures and exploring the offerings of the concession stands on the field level.

For the Sunday matinee, the Flying Squirrels donned alternate home jerseys. Sporting their “waffle” jerseys, the Squirrels took the field for the first pitch, which occurred just after noon.

Jordan Johnson, sporting the “waffle” jersey, delivers a pitch in the first inning. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

The clouds and cool moist flow made watching the game this afternoon a bit less enjoyable than last night, but not that out of line for weather just prior to Memorial Day over the Mid Atlantic.

The matinee’s lineup cards posted on the wall of the Squirrels’ dugout. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

As often occurs for Sunday afternoon minor league games, the crowd was much smaller than the night before, though the weather might have had an influence of people’s plans. In any event, the starting pitchers dominated the much of the game, with the Senators taking a 2-1 lead into the the top of the seventh inning.

The view from our seats. Note the sparse crowd on this cool and drizzly afternoon. (Photo credit: Jeff Hayes)

The Senators broke the game open in the seventh, scoring four runs and putting the game out of reach. By this time, the bulk of the crowd had left, leaving few people in the park when the final out was recorded. Rather than linger to get more pictures of the park, we headed north back to Maryland.

Though The Diamond has some interesting aspects, it is an unremarkable ballpark in a city with a rich history of baseball. Based on my impression of the ballpark, I felt that one visit would suffice. However, we would visit again about a year later, the last stop on a longer baseball tour.