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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

Yale Field – Yale Bulldogs

Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00

Yale Field 252 Derby Ave. West Haven, CT 06516

Year Opened: 1928 Capacity: 6,200


Historic Yale Field

Yale University fielded their first baseball team in 1864. The team played at various sites around campus until 1882, when the university purchased an apple orchard and farm in neighboring West Haven and built a modest ball field on the site. In 1927 the school replaced the open field surrounded by few bleachers with a concrete and steel structure that cost a half million dollars to build.

The ballpark was the site of many major league exhibition games over the years, when teams would barnstorm throughout the year to make extra money. Notable players such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Ted Williams played at Yale Field, as did President George H. W. Bush. With an original capacity of 12,000, the ballpark has been downsized and renovated over the years. Most recently, the grass turf, once lauded by Babe Ruth as one of the finest he’d ever played on, was replaced by a FieldTurf surface, a concession to the often harsh weather during the college baseball season.

In addition to serving as home to the Bulldog nine, Yale Field has been home to the New Haven Ravens of the Eastern League from 1994-2003 and the New Haven County Cutters of the independent Can-Am League from 2004-2007.

Over their long history, the Bulldogs have qualified for the NCAA Tournament six times, reaching the championship game of the College World Series twice (1947 and 1948). Twenty-four Yale alumni have made it to the major leagues.

Food & Beverage 2

There is a small concession stand near the front entrance to Yale Field. This stand, with a menu consisting of hot dogs, pretzels, candy and Coca-Cola products, exists solely to tide Bulldog fans over should they need a snack during the game. It certainly accomplishes this mission. No item sold here costs more than four dollars.

Atmosphere 2

As a rule, college baseball in the northeast is just not the big deal that it is in other parts of the country. The same is true here at Yale University. What does separate Yale Field from other facilities in the northeast is that this is an actual stadium with a long and storied history. Any dedicated ballpark chaser will want to include Yale Field in their travels at some point.

That said, there’s not much going on at Yale Field that will stand out to visiting fans. The atmosphere here is decidedly laid-back, with a small crowd in attendance most days. The standard between-inning music and walk-up songs for each batter play over the PA system, which is otherwise quiet except for lineup announcements. There is a simple, hand-operated scoreboard in straightaway center field.

Neighborhood 3

Yale Field is not located on the school’s campus in downtown New Haven, but about a mile and a half away in neighboring West Haven. Also located at the sports complex is the Yale Bowl, Reese Stadium, the Coxe Cage and the Connecticut Tennis Center. Visiting fans will want to explore the Yale campus, renowned for its unique Gothic architecture. New Haven is developing a reputation as one of the country’s best small cities for foodies, with excellent spots located throughout the downtown.

A couple of spots in particular may be of interest to visiting fans. Just blocks from the Yale campus is Louis’ Lunch, which claims to be the birthplace of the hamburger. New Haven is also home to a unique brand of brick oven pizza, called apizza by locals. Local legends Frank Pepe’s and Sally’s Apizza, located just over a block apart on Wooster Street, are world famous for this pizza style. Many locals tout a third location, Modern Apizza, located only a half mile from campus.

Fans looking for lodging during their visit to New Haven will not find many choices near Yale Field, but there is no shortage of choices around the Yale campus. A detailed list of area hotels can be found here.

Fans 2

Crowds at Bulldog games at Yale Field would accurately be classified as a “friends and family” type of crowd. Typical crowds average between 100-250 fans, with a minimal turnout from the student body. Those fans that do come to Yale Field are usually connected in some way to the players on the field, and are knowledgeable, active and vocal. With the bulk of the Bulldogs’ schedule consisting of local and conference rivals, it’s not unusual to see fans of the visiting squad in attendance.

Access 4

Yale Field is fairly easy to get to. Simply take exit 44 off of Interstate 95 and follow Ella T. Grasso Boulevard for about a mile and a half. Take a left onto Derby Avenue and Yale Field will be on your left in about a quarter of a mile.

There is free parking at Yale Field in a small lot adjacent to the ballpark, or behind the outfield fence on busier days.

The seating bowl at Yale Field runs from shallow left field to shallow right field. The seating at the ballpark has a little something for everyone. Individual plastic stadium seats are located right behind home plate, with molded bucket seats at field level further down both lines. Metal bleachers with backs make up the bulk of the seating. The last row in every section consists of original wooden seats from the stadium’s debut in 1928. A party deck is located down the right field line, which offers great views of the action.

There is a cramped, dark walkway beneath the stands. Luckily, since crowds at the typical Yale baseball game are sparse, they are not crowded. It is difficult to imagine how this concourse would handle a large crowd. Bathrooms are plentiful for the typical Bulldog crowd. Restrooms are painted pink for ladies, and blue for gentlemen.

Return on Investment 5

Admission to Bulldog baseball games is free, as is parking in the area surrounding the ballpark. Fans are able to bring in their own snacks to enjoy during the game, but concessions here are inexpensive should you need a little something to tide you over before heading downtown.

Extras 3

An extra point is awarded for All-Star Alley, a series of plywood baseballs that line the concourse honoring famous players who have appeared at Yale Field. Baseball legends such as Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Lou Gehrig are honored here, as well as more contemporary players such as Frank Viola, Ron Darling, Nomar Garciaparra, and Vladimir Guerrero. Famous names such as President George Bush, Brandon Tartikoff, A. Bartlett Giomatti and Roger Staubach can also be found here.

Yale Field has been the site of many historic games. In 1981 Future Major League stars Ron Darling (Yale) and Frank Viola (St. John’s) hooked up in a classic pitcher’s duel. Darling threw a no-hitter for 11 innings before the winning run scored in the 1-0 final on a double steal in the 12th inning. In addition, Yale Field was a popular spot for Major League exhibitions during the 1930s and 1940s.

A final extra point is awarded for the overall historic aura of Yale Field. Touches such as keeping some of the original wooden seats feels so appropriate for this venue.

Final Thoughts

As a rule, college baseball in the northeast is just not the big deal that it is in other parts of the country. The same is true here at Yale University. What does separate Yale Field from other facilities in the northeast is that this is an actual stadium with a long and storied history. Any dedicated ballpark chaser will want to include Yale Field in their travels at some point.

If planning a trip to New Haven, keep in mind that the college baseball season takes place largely in the months of March and April, when the weather in this part of the country can be fickle. Postponements, cancellations and even changes in venue happen regularly. Be prepared to be flexible with your scheduling.

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