Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field - Worcester Bravehearts
Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field 1 College Street Worcester, MA 01604
Year Opened: 1905 Capacity: 3,000
A Great Fitt for Ten Years
Baseball has been played on the site of Fitton Field at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, since 1905. Properly named Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field, the ballpark is named in honor of the Reverend James Fitton, who donated the land on which the baseball and adjacent football stadium is located.
In addition to the Holy Cross baseball team, the Futures Collegiate Baseball League’s Worcester Bravehearts play at Fitton Field. The name “Bravehearts” refers to the hearts in the city’s official seal and the city’s nickname as “the heart of the commonwealth.” Fitton Field has also hosted professional baseball in the past, as the Can-Am League’s Worcester Tornadoes spent eight seasons here before folding in 2012.
The Bravehearts joined the Futures Collegiate Baseball League in 2014. The team instantly became one of the more successful teams in the circuit, annually leading the league in attendance by a wide margin and winning championships in 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019.
Despite the success experienced by the Bravehearts, there was real concern about the viability of the team once the city of Worcester committed to build Polar Park and move the Red Sox’ AAA team to town. Despite the presence of the top Red Sox farm team just two miles away from Fitton Field, Worcester continues to be one of the better draws in the Futures League.
Food & Beverage 5
For a small ballpark like Fitton Field, there is a really good variety of food items available at a Bravehearts game. Concessions are sold out of a stand on the first base side of the ballpark near the entrance.
All your ballpark staples can be found here, including ¼ pound hot dogs and burgers, BBQ chicken sandwiches, chicken fingers, and sausage and pepper sandwiches.
Fans looking for a more unique item will find grilled chicken Caesar salads on the menu and on Friday and Saturday games, lobster rolls. Portable carts serve up fried dough and some of the largest, freshest servings of cotton candy this writer has ever seen in a ballpark. An ice cream truck sets up shop behind home plate serving assorted treats.
Pepsi products are featured at Fitton Field, in both bottles and fountain varieties. A good selection of adult beverages are also sold at Braveheart games. National brands, including Coors Light, Sam Adams, Bud Light, Budwieser and Miller Lite are sold in both cans and draft. In addition, local brews from Wachusett, Wormtown and Greater Good are sold at the beer stand. Sparkling wine, White Claw, Del’s Shandy and Carlson Cider are also available.
While most summer leagues in New England tend to put on a minimal show and let the game itself be the focus, teams in the Futures League tend to present the game in a fashion similar to their minor league counterparts. The Bravehearts are no exception, with lots of distractions presented throughout the game geared towards the younger fans in attendance.
The team’s mascot, Jake the Lion, is a constant presence throughout the game, both roaming the stands interacting with fans and taking part in between-inning shenanigans. T-shirt tosses, pie eating contests, races with the mascot and hot dog tosses are just some of the things that go on at Fitton Field. At one point every game, all the kids in the stands get a chance to run across the outfield. After each Bravehearts run, the entire stadium, players included, clap their hands to the team’s victory song.
Fitton Field, located on the northern edge of the Holy Cross campus, sits adjacent to a residential area outside of downtown Worcester. As a result, there are not many dining options to choose from in the immediate vicinity of the ballpark.
Historically Worcester has not been considered a city to spend a whole lot of time in, but that is changing as the city experiences a revival.
As you may expect, a great deal of attention is being given to the Canal District, the site of the new Polar Park, as a great deal of development is happening in that area. There are many options for dining in that neighborhood, which is located a short drive from Fitton Field.
Visitors to Worcester would be well-advised to check out Shrewsbury Street, home to “Restaurant Row,” where over 40 eateries ranging from fine dining to diners, from brew pubs to Italian bistros are lined up along a two-mile stretch of road. Located a five-to-ten-minute drive from Fitton Field, it’s a great place for a stroll on a nice summer afternoon.
There was a great deal of consternation around the Bravehearts when the Worcester Red Sox announced they were moving to town. After all, the Bravehearts were annually among the national leaders in attendance for all summer collegiate teams, averaging over 2,000 fans per game. The team energized the baseball community and had a dedicated fan base, but would the mom-and-pop Bravehearts be able to compete with the juggernaut Red Sox organization?
Since the arrival of the WooSox, attendance at Fitton Field has declined, but has not bottomed out as feared. The team is averaging about 1,300 fans per game in 2023, holding steady since the arrival of the WooSox and good for the top half of the Futures League attendance rankings.
By positioning themselves as a more affordable, family-friendly alternative to the big-money WooSox, the Bravehearts continue to attract both die-hard fans and families to Fitton Field.
Out of towners may be surprised to learn that Worcester is the second largest city in all of New England, behind only Boston. Worcester is centrally located in New England, less than an hour's drive from Boston and 45 minutes to Providence. Four major airports are located about an hour from Worcester, and the city is served by Amtrak train service, Greyhound Bus Lines, and Peter Pan Bus Lines. Both train and bus terminals are located in downtown Worcester, a five minute drive from the Holy Cross Campus.
Fitton Field is located on The College of the Holy Cross campus in Southwestern Worcester, at the junctions of Interstate 290 and Route 146. Fans using public transportation can catch the 25 bus to city hall or the 42 bus downtown. Both bus routes stop at Southbridge Street at the bottom of College Hill adjacent to Fitton Field. There is ample free parking near the stadium in a parking garage adjacent to the ballpark.
Fans will enter the ballpark on the first base side of the field, at the top of the seating bowl. Concessions and merchandise stands flank the sides of the entrance, and a building housing the bathrooms is located on the third base side.
The majority of the seating at Fitton Field is made up of individual seats. There are a few sections of metal bleachers with backs down either foul line. The concourse can get a bit crowded with all the tents and tables set up all over the place. Fans requiring accessible seating will find Fitton Field easy to navigate.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets for Worcester Bravehearts games are priced at ten dollars for general admission seats and twelve dollars for premium box seats. Tickets for children under 12 are discounted by two dollars, with seniors and veterans admitted for $5. Members of the Kids Club are admitted for free. Fans can purchase all you can eat tickets for $25.
Parking is free in both the garage next door to the ballpark, as well as on the streets near the campus. Add in affordable prices for food and beer, and a night at the Worcester Bravehearts will certainly not break the bank.
The connection between the team and community is strong, as several longtime fans who have passed away are memorialized on the wall behind the press box. Outside the box features such as a post-game home run derby and the annual “fans make the rules” games are popular additions to the schedule.
While not worthy of an extra point, if you are going to Fitton Field during the latter part of the 2023 season you should get a kick out of the scoreboard, which caught on fire during the early days of the season, but still overlooks the field. A temporary scoreboard is located at ground level behind the center field fence.
When the Worcester Red Sox moved into the city and built their $159 million ballpark a mere two miles from Fitton Field, everyone wondered what would become of the Bravehearts. Central Massachusetts baseball fans need not worry. The Bravehearts are alive and well and continue to thrive in the Heart of the Commonwealth.