Sunday was a beautiful spring day as I zig-zaged my way from NW NJ to Central Connecticut via the Interstate System. Before making a visit to Stadium #134, I stopped 10 miles short in Bristol, CT, where the franchise I was about to see first started. Muzzy Field was home to the Bristol Red Sox from 1972-1982 before moving to New Britain and this old neighborhood ballpark has been standing since 1939. There was a brief stint with an NECBL team, but now the field is only sporadically used for high school. I couldn’t get inside, but did walk around the brick grandstand. Certainly an old place, but one that looks to have a lot of charm and it’s a shame the summer-collegiate team didn’t work out.
Then it was on to New Britain, 20 minutes to the east. It’s interesting in that England has a huge influence on the state of Connecticut from city names (New London, New Britain) to rivers (Thames) and architecture (Yale). Yet in New Britain there is a large Polish population and one section is quite the Little Poland. Before the ballgame, I went to check out this section and after first navigating thru a Spanish-speaking part of the city, I came on to Broad Street and found a nice surprise. It was the Polish Festival and instead of just trying a restaurant (Cracovia), I instead walked through the festival and tried many different foods including Pyzy and Kotlet Schabowy. This is only the second year of the festival and it was a great time…hope they have many more years and keep adding on to it. On the way out of downtown, I stopped at another New Britain staple, Capitol Lunch, to pick up a pint of famous sauce, then it was off to New Britain Stadium
The ballpark is not in a glamorous location, within Willow Brook Park across from a car dealership and near the high school. However, the stadium has two neighbors that are interesting. The first is Veterans Memorial Stadium, home of football, track and soccer events, while to the left is Beehive Field. Interestingly, Beehive was the place that the Bristol Red Sox moved to and let me tell you, it is a dump. Why in the world they moved here from the more charming Muzzy, I have no idea, but it only lasted 12 years until the stadium was outdated. Imagine nowadays, a stadium built in 2001 being deemed unfit. That’s where New Britain Stadium comes in. The outside fits the mold of the era with a brick exterior and green awnings. Though the concourse is enclosed underneath the seating bowl, I was mighty impressed with what they did with it as displays are plentiful and the blue/red paint gives it some life. Plus it was quite open and clean. Inside has more of a mid 90s look back with the green as seats are that color. For a park that is under 20 years old, there was a sort of throwback appeal to it and I liked it. Maybe it was the lack of suites or just the general toned-down appeal, but there was a certain something I appreciated here. The seating bowl was split by a walkway and it was angled with a look like this: \_/….how about that for keyboard art!). Overall, it was a nice afternoon for a ballgame. Be sure to check out the full review (#134 New Britain Stadium) with more on the stadium experience including parking, food and the good ushers. As for the game, the Rock Cats lost 4-2 to Richmond and the Squirrels never seemed terribly threatened, despite NB leaving 8 on-base. About half of the stadium was full for this matinee and Richmond took control in the third inning with three hits and two runs.