When it was first announced earlier this year that a NY Penn League team would be moving to State College, most people (including myself) assumed that the team moving would be one of the western New York franchises, most likely Jamestown.But rumors have been swirling the past couple months that the team headed for State College is the New Jersey Cardinals.While on paper this would seem surprising, the reason is apparently because of an unfavorable (expensive) lease.And during my most recent visit to SkylandsPark this past weekend, it is easy to see that the team is desperate to increase revenues.Box seats are a whopping $12.Parking is $4.Programs are $4.Concessions are expensive, portions are rather small, and quality is subpar.But the biggest indicator to me was the unusual appearance of attendants in the bathrooms.After visiting over 200 parks, this is something I've never seen before.The attendant was there to hand out paper towels, but his purpose seemed more to collect tips as he had a jar with a prominent sign that read "Tips are greatly appreciated".Just ridiculous.
While it would be a shame if Augusta lost their NY Penn League team, I'm sure that one of the independent leagues (probably the Can-Am League) would scoop up this ballpark in a heartbeat.Being only 12 years old, SkylandsPark is simply too nice to sit idle.
I made my annual voyage to Cooperstown this past weekend, and as usual was able to take in a game at Damaschke Field in Oneonta. I'm glad to report that nothing has changed - the atmosphere is still pure baseball. No between inning games, no mascots, no beer, no bratty kids. They do use some music and sound effects, but even many of these are baseball related and don't detract from the experience. Oneonta is the closest thing to the minor league experience I remember as a kid growing up in the early 80's and attending games in Holyoke (MA) and Burlington (VT). Damaschke Field really is like a time machine. Hopefully it will remain for many more years as an example of what the minor leagues were before corporations and sponsorship took it over.
Speaking of time machines, did someone put Ryne Sandberg in one ? Or did he just forget when he played baseball. From listening to his Hall of Fame speech, you'd think he played 50 years ago. Apparently to get on the good side of all the HOFers, Sandberg felt it necessary to bash the current ballplayers as having no respect for the game, swinging for the fences too much, and for using steroids. Sorry to tell you Ryne, but you are part of the same generation that you are criticizing.
I have spent my summer vacations since 1988 visiting minor and major league ballparks around the United States and Canada. In 1997, I started BallparkReviews.com in order to share my photos and thoughts on all the ballparks I have visited.