- Michael Rusignuolo
Dwyer Stadium – Batavia Muckdogs
Photos by Michael Rusignuolo, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14
Dwyer Stadium 299 Bank St Batavia, NY 14020
Year Opened: 1939
Muck in Name Only
Dwyer Stadium (named for Edward D. Dwyer, a long-time president of the Batavia ball club) encompasses a field that has been used for professional baseball in Batavia, New York since 1939. The current 2,600 seat incarnation was erected in 1996 and is primarily the home of the NY-Penn League Batavia Muckdogs, the only in-place charter franchise of the league, and owner of one of the most memorable monikers in minor league baseball. In addition to giving a home to the Muckdogs (for the last two years the short-season, single A affiliate of the Miami Marlins, after long affiliations with the Cardinals and Phillies), the park also hosts games for Genesee Community College teams, as well as local high schools.
While the neighborhood is strictly small town New York State and the park is showing its age in places, Dwyer Stadium serves up a good, affordable baseball experience for families and baseball fans alike.
Food & Beverage 3
Dwyer Stadium has a good selection of food and drink, especially for a short season A-ball field. The main concession area is located in the home plate plaza by the main entrance, along with a beer concession, a small treats concession by the kids area, and a beer-and-peanuts stand under the third base bleachers.
The main concessions deliver standard ballpark and regional fare, including Zweigles’ red and white hot sausages, burgers, fries, pizza, and chicken. The choice of the grub has got to be the Muckdog Signature Dog (red or white hot with “Muckdog Sauce” and onions for a reasonable $3.50). Or–how can you resist?–“Muckdog Chow,” a red hot, white hot, burger, or cheeseburger, served on top of macaroni salad and homefries, smothered in Muckdog Sauce, and served in a big plastic dog bowl, all for $5.75.
Small and large Budweisers are available at most concessions for $4 or $5.50 respectively, and the specialty beer concessions serve up Southern Tier Farmers Tan, Rohrbach’s Muckdog Red Ale, Rohrbach’s Highland, Genny Light, and Brooklyn Summer Ale for $4.75 for a small and $6.50 for a large. The beer booths also deliver 16-oz cans for $5, and 25 ounces for $7. You’re at their park, so you might as well give the fine Muckdog Red Ale a try.
Dwyer Stadium has one main entrance to the right of the ticket booth. It opens out into an entrance plaza behind home plate on the first base side in a wide walkway that runs from outfield to outfield outside of the seating area, with two openings at first and third base. Both walkways end in tented picnic areas just before the home and visitor bullpens and clubhouses, in left and right field respectively.
The only cover in the park (besides those tents) is the seats under the grandstand behind home plate, which is topped with the press box. The gates open an hour before game time, and home team fans can seek autographs at the dugout on the third base side. Wherever you’re sitting, you’ll have a good view of the field and the open sky beyond the outfield walls.
Mascot Homer, the dog, and the fan relations crew run the between-inning entertainment, which includes the minor league standard races, quizzes, and contests. One unique event during my most recent visit was a lucky young fan getting to hit the owner in the face with a shaving cream pie, which showed the good-natured relationship between the team management and the community.
All that said, there are signs of wear around the park that need addressing. The scoreboard has seen better days and is missing some lights; the visitors’ clubhouse in right is missing an “I” in its sign, rendering it “Vistor” and the sound system in the bleacher seats is reminiscent of the NYC subway speakers in the 80s; nearly unintelligible.
The park is located as part of a neighborhood Little League complex, which gives you an idea of the surrounding area. It is very much in a small town in Western New York, and perhaps the best you can say for Batavia is that it is under an hour drive to both Rochester and Buffalo. In town, there are a couple of standard small-town historical attractions, the Batavia Downs Racetrack, and the Darien Lake Amusement Park is a short drive out of town.
Meat-lovers are in luck, as there are quite a few steakhouses and BBQ places in town, including Larry’s Steakhouse, T.F. Brown’s, Center Street Smokehouse, and Alex’s Place.
Bar stops include Tully’s, O’Lacys, and City Slickers. For those with kids (or kids at heart), Oliver’s Candies (with hand-made chocolates, candies, and ice cream) is a must-visit downtown. A surprising amount of chain hotels are mostly right off the NY Thruway, including Best Western, Comfort Inn, Hampton Inn, Quality Inn, Super 8, Days Inn, Clarion, and Red Roof Inn.
A regional holdout from when seemingly every little burg in Western NY was home to a NY-Penn League franchise, Batavia still seems to have a good deal of local enthusiasm for its team. “Muckdogs Home Tonight” lawn signs are regularly seen while driving around town, and they still put in a respectable showing in the park.
The fans are mostly local families and not baseball purists, to be sure, but they are involved with the game and show support for their local pride and joy as you might expect.
Batavia is an easy exit off the NY Thruway (I-90), as well as state roads 98, 63, 33, and 5. A large, free parking lot is right next to the stadium, and additional parking is also free in the adjacent parks. It is under an hour to both Rochester and Buffalo, and Batavia is about 2.5 hours to Toronto, and four hours to Albany or Pittsburgh. Those not driving can take the Batavia Bus Service Route 2 or 3 from downtown to the UMMC Station ($1), and a small regional airport (Genesee County) is north of town.
In the park, an inner walkway in the seating area splits the box seats below from the general admission seats above, and a wide outer concourse runs from outfield to outfield around the diamond to get people where they need to be.
Return on Investment 4
The strength of minor league ball is its value for the dollar, and the Muckdogs are no different. Box seats are $7.50, and general admission seats are $6.50, so there’s no sticker-shock there. Coupon books of eight games are available for both kinds of seats and bring the cost per game down to $5.75 and $4.75 respectively for box or GA seats. Group rates for 20 or more get the price down to $5.50 per person, and all-you-can eat seats are available on the Hot Corner picnic area for $15 or $17.50 per person, with slightly expanded menu choices for the higher amount.
Nearly all the food items (even the special items) are under $5. Small beers go for $4, and 20 oz cans go for $7, and the large specialty beers don’t top $6.50. It is just an affordable experience all around.
For a low minor league park, Dwyer Stadium has a more than average amount of extras. In addition to the standard stadium commemorative plaques (on the outside of the park by the ticket window), there is a revamped Batavia Wall of Fame and three plaques dedicated to Batavia as the birthplace of the NY-Penn League, Gene Baker (first black manager in professional baseball), and Whitey Loos (local baseball star in the 40’s and WWII casualty) on the main concession building. A boosters’ plaque is by the main entrance, and a small art installation called “I Am Someone in the Crowd” is located on the back of the home third base bleachers. The press box behind home is dedicated to Wayne H. Fuller (long-time PA announcer).
A small shed by the main entrance houses the team store and fan relations booth, and a modest kids area is located down the right field line. Booths sell programs in the main entrance plaza, and in a nice tip of the hat to scorers, a slanted resting shelf is located underneath the game lineups to make it easier to prepare your scorecard.
Dwyer Stadium is full of little surprises for the visitor and provides a straight-forward, cost-conscious evening of baseball for all comers.