First Responder Field - Olney Cropdusters
Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71
First Responder Field 4501 Olney Laytonsville Rd Olney, MD 20832
Year Opened: 2022 Capacity: N/A
Crop Dusting in Olney
The Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League consists of seven teams from across the Washington, D.C. metro area, in Maryland, Virginia, and the District itself. The newest team in this league is the Olney Cropdusters, who play their home games in Olney, Maryland, at First Responder Field, formally known by the much more verbose name First Responder Field by ServPro at OBGC Park. Whatever the name of the stadium, it is located on the grounds of the Olney Boys and Girls Club.
The team just joined the Ripken League in 2022, and while Phase 1 of construction on the stadium was completed in time for the 2022 season, there is still a lot of work to be done, including adding lighting and permanent seating.
Food & Beverage 4
Although there is no permanent concession stand at First Responder Field, the team partners with local food trucks, who will be parked down the right-field line for each game. Selection will vary by game and may or may not include a local beer vendor, but will generally be high-quality food if a bit on the pricier side. The Cropdusters post a list of the food vendors on social media before each home game, so check there if you want to know before you go. Water is available at the team store for $2.50 a bottle, but if you want to eat or drink anything else, you will have to buy it from one of the trucks.
First Responder Field is a very basic stadium at the moment, as of the summer of 2022. It is not even really a stadium at all, more of just a field. There are a few hay bales fans can sit on, but other than that, fans will need to bring their chair or blanket and set them up behind home plate. We recommend that fans either set up right behind the backup or further back, on the hill. Anywhere in between will have poor sightlines. The sightlines are not great from the hill either, but they are decent enough. The PA system is far too quiet, although the announcer is passionate and does a great job of getting fans involved when he can be heard.
Despite the lack of infrastructure, the Cropdusters do put on a good show here. There are multiple between-innings contests, including a race at the “third-inning stretch” where kids race miniature tractors down the two baselines, and a relay race at the “fifth-inning stretch.” There is music and giveaways which will vary by night but serve to keep the fans in the game and entertained. Unfortunately, the quality of the stadium itself (if you can call it that) takes this down a couple of notches, but that should be resolved by 2023.
Olney is a thriving suburb of Washington, D.C. with the typical options one might expect there. Lone Oak Farm Brewing Company is just down the street from the field, but your best bet is to head a couple of miles away to the downtown area near the intersection of Georgia Avenue and State Route 108. Unless you are coming from within Olney, you will have to head through that intersection anyway on your way to and from the ballpark, so it is not as burdensome as it seems.
The Greene Turtle is a popular regional sports bar, and the Olney Grille is a nice restaurant as well. You can find a wide range of cuisines here ranging from traditional American to seafood to Vietnamese. The Olney Theatre is a short drive east of the intersection, for those looking for some non-sports entertainment.
Despite being a new team, the Cropdusters draw very well for the Ripken League, attracting several hundred fans a game. Most of those in attendance are young families with small children, but the fan base represents a wide swath of the Olney community. Given a couple of years to develop a fan base, the crowds could be even larger.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of the seating area, the crowd does not seem as loud here as it would if there was permanent seating. That is not their fault, but it does bring this score down a notch.
First Responder Field is located a few miles off State Route 200 (the Intercounty Connector, a toll road, and an expressway) via Georgia Avenue (State Route 97) and State Route 108. Once you get to the OBGC, you will see large signs announcing that there is a Cropdusters game that night and prompting you to turn into the stadium.
Once you get in, single-game ticket holders, and those looking to purchase single-game tickets, will enter using the right lane, while those holding season tickets will use the left lane. Tickets are purchased at the entrance and are $10 for adults, but children are free of charge. Although this is officially the cost of the game ticket, and parking is officially free, it functions as more of a de facto parking charge. There is plenty of parking available in the lot once you get through the checkpoint.
Restrooms are available in the red pavilion down the right-field line by the food trucks and are of sufficient size for the crowd. However, the lack of permanent seating and the need to bring your chair or blanket hurts this score significantly. As mentioned above, this will be resolved in 2023.
Return on Investment 4
As mentioned above, tickets are $10 per person and children are free. It had previously been $10 per carload. Concessions are a bit pricey, but worth the cost given they are much higher quality than most stadium food. Parking is officially free, but it may be easier to think of the $10 as a parking charge rather than the ticket cost. Regardless of how you classify it, it will cost $10 for your party to get into the stadium, no matter how many people are in it.
This is a stadium with a lot of potential, and it will likely earn a higher score in this category once construction is complete, but it’s hard to give it the top score in value when the infrastructure is currently so basic.
There is a team store down the first baseline which sells Cropdusters merchandise.
Free programs are available at the team store as well.
The hay bales certainly provide a unique way to watch a game if you get there early enough, but there are only a few of them so be sure to arrive early if you want one.
Although Stadium Journey does not usually focus on team uniforms, the Cropdusters’ jerseys are unique enough to merit a star here. They are designed to replicate the overalls and checkered shirts worn by farmers in the area, although they are standard uniform shirts and pants. Perhaps this would make them fauxveralls. In any case, the most unique jerseys in baseball are certainly worthy of a star here.
Although First Responder Field isn’t quite finished yet, an Olney Cropdusters game is still an enjoyable way to spend a summer evening as long as you remember to bring your chairs. Once the permanent seating and lights are added for the 2023 season, and hopefully, a better sound system, the atmosphere here will be even better. If visiting a Cropdusters game during the 2022 season, it is important to remember the stadium is still very much a work in progress and not be discouraged from attending a game in future years because of the very basic setup. This is a great place to watch a game, and it will only get better.