Bill Masters Field at John Henry Moss Stadium – Gardner-Webb University Runnin’ Bulldogs
Photo by Brian Wilmer, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00
Bill Masters Field at John Henry Moss Stadium Stadium Dr Boiling Springs, NC 28152
Year Opened: 2010 Capacity: 550
Bill Masters Field at John Henry Moss Stadium
Boiling Springs, North Carolina sits just across the North Carolina-South Carolina state line. The rural North Carolina town is a quaint college community built mostly around the university and a handful of businesses on Main Street.
The Runnin' Bulldogs joined the Big South Conference in 2008 and have typically been toward the top of the conference standings at the end of each season.
Food & Beverage 2
Bill Masters Field does not offer a great deal of options when it comes to concessions, but prices are kept very affordable. The baseball classic hot dogs are the main item of note on the menu. There are also nachos and pretzels that can be paired with cheese dip, but the menu is limited; popcorn, candy, and peanuts are also available.
Beverages include Pepsi products, Gatorade, and bottled water. Gardner-Webb chooses not to sell beer or wine at its baseball games.
Upon initial approach to Bill Masters Field, fans can purchase tickets before passing through a brick archway into the stadium. A luminescent sign affixed to the end of the visiting team dugout welcomes all to Gardner-Webb University, as they make their way to the covered seating area.
The aluminum bleachers are built into the brick grandstand that gives the small seating area a much larger appearance.
Seating runs from dugout to dugout – the first two rows are fold-down seats and are separated from the bleacher seating behind it with a walkway. The five rows of bleacher seating are a combination of backed and backless benches. A large overhang runs along almost the entirety of the seating bowl, and provides a great deal of shelter from the elements, whether it be the sun or rain.
Gardner-Webb has done well taking rather non-descript aluminum bleachers and creating a charming brick grandstand around them.
The university's basketball arena, Paul Porter Arena, Green-Harbison Soccer Stadium, and the Tucker Student Center create a wonderful backdrop for college baseball.
Just over the right center field fence is the Lloyd Little Memorial Scoreboard; the scoreboard sits in a large brick housing, with pitch speed display attached. The scoreboard itself provides fans with basic inning-by-inning line score, along with ball, strike, and out counts.
The outfield fence runs 330' down both the left and right field lines, 360’ to left-center, and 365' to right-center – the centerfield fence is one of the shortest in college baseball at just 385'. The outfield fence is a consistent 8-feet from foul pole to foul pole.
The Runnin' Bulldogs play on a synthetic surface with traditional green and brown “grass” and “dirt” areas of the field. The university’s red "GW" logo adorns the large, black turf area behind home plate.
The presentation of the game keeps the action on the field as the main focus – other than player walk-up songs and music to fill the dead time between innings, there are not a lot of audio distractions. What is most noticeable is the lack of ad reads between innings; in a time where almost every opportunity to squeeze an ad in is taken advantage of, there are none during Gardner-Webb baseball games.
Overall, the game is refreshingly kept at the focus of the day and there is not a lot to distract fans from that.
Boiling Springs is a small town, neighbored by the more populous Shelby, North Carolina, home of the American Legion World Series, and just under an hour west of Charlotte.
Main Street in Boiling Springs runs directly through the middle of town. There seems to be just about all that would be needed on this stretch of road, from fast food joints like McDonald’s and Bojangles to locally owned eateries like College Pizzeria and Italian Garden.
Visitors who enjoy getting out into nature and looking to make a day of a trip to Gardner-Webb might enjoy exploring the nearby Broad River Greenway. If planning a baseball exclusive trip, a visit can be paired with stops to the nearby Gastonia Honey Hunters of the independent Atlantic League, or to the Charlotte Knights, AAA affiliate of the Chicago White Sox – each of these stops are within an hour of Boiling Springs.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs draw fairly well in comparison to other schools in the Big South. Even when students are not on campus, a couple hundred fans still file into a stadium that holds 550 fans. Gardner-Webb falls toward the top of the middle tier of conference foes in terms of baseball attendance.
Fans are actively into the game, and they recognize and respond to big, in-game situations. It would be a long shot to call the atmosphere rambunctious, but fans are into the game.
Even though Boiling Springs is a bit off the beaten path, it is rather accessible from nearby Charlotte or for those traveling on I-85 northbound from the Spartanburg area. Fans coming from the Charlotte area can use US Highway 74 to NC State Road 150 to get to Boiling Springs, while those approaching from the south would exit in Gaffney, South Carolina, and then take SR 150 directly to the stadium.
Most fans will park in the parking lot immediately through Bridges Gate; from here, it is just a short walk to the field. There is a small lot adjacent to the field that has a few parking spots, but those are mostly comprised of handicap accessible parking.
The stadium’s seating area is easy enough to access. A concrete walkway leads fans to the first base side of the grandstand and wraps around the back of the press box to the home side of the seating bowl. In good weather, most visiting fans choose to sit or stand in the grassy area along the right field line.
Return on Investment 4
With adult admission of just $5, free parking, and affordable concessions prices, the monetary investment of attending baseball at Gardner-Webb certainly is not cost prohibitive. The time investment might be a bit of a deterrent when it comes to traveling to Boiling Springs for some, but it can easily be negated if paired with another stop at a nearby ballpark.
The back side of the visiting dugout celebrates the careers of four former Bulldog players and coaches. Not only are their numbers enshrined on the back side of the visiting dugout, but plaques with the career exploits of each are also on display.
The large roof line gives a nice feel of a time gone past in stadium design. The covered seating also provides a great deal of shade, and a massive fan in the middle of the seating bowl helps bring even more comfort to the sometimes hot, uncomfortable spring and summer days.
Most might not consider Gardner-Webb as a target for a baseball experience, but fans of baseball in its purest form will find the game enjoyable due to the lack of distractions – constant sound effects, ad reads, and on-field games. It might not be the experience most are used to when it comes to the constant barrage of entertainment that has become almost commonplace in many ballparks today, but baseball at Bill Masters Field is a refreshing break where the game and the players on the field are kept as the main attraction.