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  • Writer's pictureMeg Minard

EAC Baseball Field - Eastern Arizona Gila Monsters


Photos by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.71

EAC Baseball Field 615 N Stadium Ave Thatcher, AZ 85552


Year Opened: 1963 Capacity: 100+

 

Gila Valley Baseball

The Eastern Arizona College (EAC) Gila Monster’s baseball team is an NJCAA – Arizona Community College Athletics Conference (ACCAC) member.  The team plays their home games at the school’s Thatcher campus in the Gila Valley of Eastern Arizona, nestled amongst attractive farms, ranches, hills, and Mount Graham. 

The baseball team began play in the 1909-10 season.  They paused between 1927-33, and the team didn’t play during WWII.  The school discontinued the baseball program from 1982-96.  The college has played baseball continuously since the 1996-97 season.  The Monsters have not yet made it to any NJCAA championship rounds.


So far, one player, Chris Mabeu, has made it to the MLB.  Chris played one game for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2006.  MLB has drafted thirteen other Monster players.


Food & Beverage 2

EAC Baseball Field has a small concession stand that also services the adjacent softball and soccer stadiums.  It sells basic snacks at extremely affordable prices.  Fresh cooked hot dogs and nachos cost $3; popcorn and candy are $2.  A pickle is $1.  For drinks, Pepsi products, water, and Gatorade run $2. 


Fans can bring in their own food and drinks.  We recommend bringing several bottles of water as it can get hot on the stadium bleachers. 


Atmosphere 3

The Monsters provide an enjoyable, relaxed game day experience. 


EAC Baseball Field was completed in the fall of 1963.  The school replaced the bleachers within the last three years.  The seating is two sets of bleachers behind home plate, five rows high, with a handrail on one side of each bleacher set.  The bleachers sit far back from the backstop.  They do not provide any shade, so bring an umbrella.  Many fans bring their own chairs and set up shop in the shade, under the pine trees, on the third base side. 


The backstop and dugouts are painted in vibrant purple (purple and gold are the team’s colors).  A new, sturdy, thin net protects spectators and hangs from dugout to dugout.  The scoreboard is a basic dot matrix structure in right field which shows the line score.  It can be a tad difficult to read when the bright AZ sun is shining full force.


A PA announcer calls the starting lineups and announces players when they come to bat.  Not all ACCAC baseball fields have announcers, so it is a nice feature.  A container near the home plate backstop provides roster sheets (for both home and away teams). 


EAC Baseball Field Rosters, Photo by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey


Music is only played between innings, as it should be.  The volume is acceptable; fans can converse with their neighbor without yelling to be heard.  All nicely done.  Like all ACCAC ball clubs, the players groom the field after batting practice. 


The field is a nice plush green made of winter rye grass.  The baselines have dirt.  Pine trees line the outer right field wall.  The majestic snowcapped Mount Graham provides a dramatic view beyond first base.  The stadium does not have lights, so the team only plays day games; seven-inning doubleheaders are common, with the first game starting at noon.


Mount Graham, Photo by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey


Neighborhood 2

The town boasts a population of over 5,000. 


Nearby hotels include Springhill Suites and Comfort Inn.  Several other familiar chains are three to four miles away.

For places to eat, try Eagles Roost (hearty breakfast and lunch choices), Kainoas Hawaiian Grill (authentic Hawaiian cuisine), or Gila Hank’s Café (on-site campus restaurant),    The best place for a beer or adult beverage is JD’s Corner Sports Bar & Grill.


Nearby activities include Roper Lake State Park (natural mineral water hot springs, camping, and fishing) and Mt. Graham Municipal Golf Course.  Eastern Arizona College offers a variety of events, from theater to other sports matches. 


Fans 2

Visitors at the Monsters baseball games are mostly families and friends.  Several of the school’s other athletes stop by to support the ball club.  All are welcoming and friendly and cheer the team on well. 


Gila Monster Fans Cooling Off Under the Trees, Photo by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey


Access 2

Thatcher, AZ is about a three-hour drive east of Phoenix, a little over two hours from Tucson, in the Gila Valley.  The closest airport to Thatcher is Tucson Airport (TUS) which is 86 miles away.  The best way to get to the venue is via automobile off US 70. 


The baseball field is on the south edge of campus after the soccer field on Stadium Ave.  Plenty of free parking in a gravel lot is available on the first base side.  We recommend parking closer to the soccer field as spots nearer to the baseball field may be foul ball targets.


The stadium has clean restrooms next to the concessions area. 


Return on Investment 5

EAC Monsters do not offer a fee for watching a baseball game.  Concessions are inexpensive.  Rosters are available for no charge.   Watching America’s future take the time to play the game, support their teammates, and put forth a good effort on the diamond is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon in Eastern Arizona.

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Extras 3

Eastern Arizona College is Arizona’s first community college, founded in 1888.  No other community college west of the Mississippi goes back to 1910 for baseball.


Having printed rosters and an announcer calling the game deserves additional mention. 


Extra kudos goes to the helpful staff, athletic department, and marketing individuals.


Final Thoughts

Yes, it’s a bit of a drive from the Phoenix metro and even the Tucson metro area.  But if you’re looking for a few hours of unpretentious baseball with a community-oriented fan base, pack your sunscreen, water, and umbrella.  Then take a scenic drive to Arizona’s Gila Valley to watch the Gila Monsters.

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