Montgomery Field - Grand Lake Mariners
Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Montgomery Field 322 Grand Lake Rd. Celina, OH 45822
Year Opened: 2013
Baseball by the Grand Lake
The Grand Lake Mariners have been members of the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League since 1990 and were named for its connection to the St. Mary’s Grand Lake, which is a few hundred feet away from its home ballpark Montgomery Field. The Mariners have called it home since the 2013 season, but quite a bit has changed over the years.
In 2018 a new building was added on the first base line that would serve as the teams’ dugout, Press Box, concession stand, and indoor batting complex. The previous building had been destroyed by a tornado that previous fall resulting in heavy damage to the stadium’s fencing and the destruction of two light poles. The non-profit Celina Baseball Association raised money for the construction of the new building, and plans for a smaller version are planned for the 2023 season on the 3rd base side.
The Mariners began with a local fan writing a letter to the commissioner Lou Laslo in 1989 about placing a team in Celina, Ohio. When Laslo visited the town, he agreed, and the following season the club began operations. The ball club’s most successful era was between 1994 and 1998, when they appeared in 5 straight championship games, winning two in 1994 and 1997. The M’s would add another in 2006 and have seen eight players appear in Major League Baseball, including former Cleveland pitcher Paul Shuey serving 11 seasons in the big leagues.
Food & Beverage 3
The concession stand has two windows behind the home team dugout that serves hot dogs, brats, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and nachos. The booth also has freshly popped popcorn, an assortment of candy bars, chips, and soda. For dessert, the menu options include ice cream sandwiches and freeze pops. Perhaps the most popular food item is a condiment. Mariner Sauce is a brown, sweet-relish that is used on hot dogs, brats, and burgers. It is a secret homemade recipe with onions, brown sugar, ketchup, and a few other secret ingredients.
Beer is served on the opposite side of the dugout area in the beer garden and includes cans of macro and microbreweries. The local beers include varieties from Moeller Brew Barn, Tailspin Brewing Company, Second Crossing Brew Company, and Lake Rat Brewing in Celina. The two tailspin cans are 32-ounce, and fans can purchase a Mariners’ koozie or beer bat. The macro beers are Bud, Bud Light, and Busch Light.
Montgomery Field holds 300 fans, and close to 260 were on hand during our visit. It is a rather unusual design facility that has the main entrance from the left field corner of the ballpark. The beer garden, lined with trees and roped off by an orange fence, takes up the space behind the right field fence and is buzzing on a cool summer night by the lake.
Once you get around the large press box and batting cage complex, the main grandstands open up with kids running around chasing foul balls, older kids playing catch, and picnic tables set up for fans to enjoy a snack. It is where you will find the concession stand and merchandise table selling quite a bit of t-shirts and caps. Netting protects fans from a foul ball while providing a clear view of the synthetic field.
The grandstands are made of aluminum bleachers behind home plate and the 3rd base foul line, but more room extends down the left field corner where fans enjoy the game from a lawn seat or two. There is a pitching and batting cage where young fans take turns with their skill at the plate or on the mound.
There are a few things to do in town, including Grand Lake Marys State Park. The 13,500-acre state park offers camping, swimming, boating, fishing, and hiking around the man-made lake that dominates the town. Families can enjoy putt-putt golf at the St. Marys Miniature Golf range and enjoy the Belle of St. Marys Boat Canal. The Bicycle Museum of America is outside of town but worth visiting for its vast collection of two-wheel bikes.
The Boardwalk Grill is a fun hang-out spot after the game that overlooks the lake and includes an upstairs patio. The restaurant offers sandwiches, burgers, appetizers, and libations. A few other places include C-Town Wings, CJ’s Highmarks, The Willow, and the Speakeasy Steak & Alehouse.
The crowd is near capacity for home games, and many are wearing the Mariners colors of blue and green in the stands. There are a few who have the club’s old interlocking GL logo on worn-out caps. Many will be more than happy to tell you about the team’s history, the special sauce at the concession stand, and how the community supports the ball club.
The main entrance to the ballpark is off Grand Lake Road, which intersects with US-29. There is parking behind the main grandstand and outside the right field fence. Montgomery Field is not set up like your standard ballpark with the main grandstand and baseline seating, but there are more than enough areas to enjoy the game while in attendance.
Return on Investment 4
The price of an adult ticket is $5, concession prices for food are no more than $3 an item, and canned beers range from $4-$5 for 16-ounce cans. Fans can purchase koozies for $1 and a beer bat for $10. A baseball cap and t-shirt cost around $20, while a few game-worn jerseys are a steal at $20.
Montgomery Field earns a point for its selection of microbrew beers for a $5 can. A second point is for the secret concoction called Mariner Sauce which is topped on burgers, hot dogs, and brats. A third point is awarded for the giant clubhouse that offers players indoor batting cages, changing room for umpires, a large press box, and a concession area for food and beer. A final point is the Grand Lake St. Marys which is only a few yards away from the ballpark.
I have to admit that I had low expectations about Montgomery Field, and that’s due to a lack of information about the ballpark and town. It is by no means the most glamorous ballpark, but there is a lot to enjoy from the beer garden, the assortment of food and beverages, and its location in the pretty lakeside town. There is strong community support that adds a wonderful backdrop to any baseball game. This is a ballpark worth checking out when in the area.