June 19, 2022
Muzzy Field (4,900)
Bristol Blues vs Ocean State Waves
Final Score: 2-1
A Father’s Day gift brought me a fun day of exploring a new town and a stadium visit with the family. We drove a couple hours to the Nutmeg State and the small city of Bristol. Situated along the Pequabuck River in Central Connecticut between Hartford and Waterbury, this suburban-ish locale of 60,000 people has its own little history and sense of community. Before it became the touted home of ESPN, it was the center of clock making for the country in early times. Bristol also houses an annual Mum Festival that is quite popular. A historic ballpark lies in the city as Muzzy Field has been home to local high school and minor league clubs since 1939. In 2015, a summer-collegiate team began play here after some renovations to the ballpark and the Blues now reside in the NECBL.
Prestige Ranking: 4 out of 5
Despite this small city (really, it’s a big town) being sketch in spots, there is a surprising amount of things to do as we filled the day before the baseball game. The New England Carousel Museum features a beautiful look at the incredible craftsmanship involved in the rides as they have hundreds of pieces. There’s also a museum highlighting clocks and watches, which is a nice insight into Bristol. For something more adventurous, head to Lake Compounce, the oldest amusement park in the country. There are several wooden roller coasters here to go along with other classic rides. Historic Muzzy Field is located in the West End section of Bristol and the ballpark is right next to Rockwell Park. That proved to be nice as the kids were able to enjoy the playground and splash pad there before the game (you can exit / re-enter the stadium if they get antsy during it). There’s also a small bar across the stadium entrance, but for more restaurant options, you’ll have to go deeper into town.
Location Ranking: 5.5 out of 10
Accessibility / Parking
Parking is in the form of small surface lots on either side of the ballpark. Thankfully, that’s enough on most nights, otherwise you will have to search out street parking, which seemed doable in the nearby neighborhood. Reaching the area will involve a healthy distance of roads that are two lanes and/or have stop signs. Route 6 is the connector for I-84 or I-91.
Accessibility / Parking Ranking: 7.5 out of 8
The exterior grounds are wonderfully manicured as there is plenty of open space in front of the ballpark and they make the most of it with flowers, shrubbery and small trees. The lawn is even beautifully cut and green (something I appreciate as a homeowner). A new-ish cast iron fence separates the inside and at the end of it is a small ticket window. That is next to a pair of entrance gates which use the same iron to spell out Muzzy Field at the top. You can also enter behind home plate and that view provides a better look at the brick facility, which includes bold lettering in silver for the stadium name. The whole introduction just shows that some TLC can go a long way.
Exterior Ranking: 7.5 out of 10
Behind the main stands is a wide walkway and it’s ok that there is no cover since the inside of the ballpark provides a roof. The walkway narrows quite a bit on the other side as it butts up against the fence and nearby street. There are two bathrooms and two concession stands.
Concourse Ranking: 2.5 out of 5
While they put forth a good effort on the food front, the burger and hot dog were bleh. Pizza slices and other snack options make up a very limited menu. Beer choices include several brands and there is also an IPA from Two Roads Brewery in nearby Stratford. There are multiple ways to enter the seating bowl and the most pleasurable in my opinion is using the tight enclosed ramp on the 3rd base side.
Food Ranking: 2.5 out of 8
Because the stadium is also built for football, the seating design is not traditional. While there are plenty of flaws for the viewing experience, Muzzy Field has history and charm going for it as the nostalgic set-up is enjoyable for many. The third base side contains four sections of wooden bleachers with backs to them. The roof above and brick wall behind the seating (with windows for ventilation) really closes things in and it makes for an intimate viewing setting. A lack of foul territory also helps with that closeness. Comfort is not ideal however as the backs make legroom limited and there is not just support beams in the way of the view, but also a light post. Plus, there is a walkway in front of most seating as people walking by make for another obstacle. A connection to seven rows of home plate seating (a little off-center) is open and unobstructed, but the sun coming from the left-field corner is quite annoying. An impressive, modern glass-enclosed press box is located behind the seating. Up on the first base side and directly into view of the sun are metal bleachers. These are set back a little from the field, but perched high above the brick wall and visitors’ dugout. Renovations have led to an overhead cover and a better look. There are also some standalone bleachers located on the other side of the field in foul territory. These seats give an interesting perspective on the very high press box used for football, which includes access stairs that look like you are accessing a ski jump. Surrounding the park are plenty of towering trees, including many pines. It adds to the wonderful aesthetics that Muzzy Field has.
Interior Ranking: 6 out of 14
In right-center is a basic box score type board that at least is quite new and that means the digital red numbers are clear. There’s a couple of sponsors on there and the stadium name is displayed at the top. In the left corner (end zone), you’ll see a separate scoreboard just for football.
Scoreboard Ranking: 1 out of 4
Between the park and Muzzy Field is a statue of a soldier on top of a rock in a display to honor veterans. Upon walking to the ballpark, the expansive plaza before the stadium features a stone arch with the ballpark name on one side and on the other side, an inscription for who it is honored for (the two sons of Adrian Muzzy, who donated the land for the stadium). This arch was originally at the home plate entrance before being moved to its current location. Inside, you won’t find details on Blues team history, but you’ll see painted numbers on the outfield wall. They are for Babe Ruth, who hit a home run here during a barnstorming tour…Jim Rice, who played some of his minor league career with the Bristol Red Sox…and Ryan Costello who tragically passed away shortly after playing for the Blues.
Displays Ranking: 2 out of 6
Bristol baseball is probably the best deal around as parking is free and tickets are $6. Concessions are cheap as well ($3 for a hot dog, $4 for a cheeseburger, $2 for a water).
Cost Ranking: 8 out of 8
Given that Hartford is nearby for other sporting options, I wasn’t expecting much of a turnout and the end result was about as expected. Announced attendance was 705 and that looked correct as the team is generally in the middle of the NECBL when it comes to attendance. It’s a far cry from how much better they did in 2018. Still, this game at least had an energy and it looked like a fair showing from the stands as those in the crowd were a mix of folks out for a singular night and regulars who seem to come often in the summer, including several who are host families. There were many that had “Blues” apparel on, which is impressive given that the small stand outside the ballpark is probably the only place to find them. There even is a small local newspaper (the Bristol Press) that gives the team some media coverage.
Fan Support Ranking: 3 out of 8
The atmosphere is good with a few rhythmic claps trying to rally the team at times. Big hits are met with most people clapping. The sound reverberates so well inside the grandstand and I can’t imagine what a winning hit would sound like (especially with a full house).
Atmosphere Ranking: 6 out of 14
There is a highly recommended book for those interested in historic stadiums as Douglas Malan’s “Muzzy Field: Tales from a Forgotten Ballpark” is available on Amazon…..While the current grandstand dates back to 1939, the site has been hosting sports since 1914…..This season, the player that gets the biggest hit of the day will be presented with the Blue Box Chicken Parm. Welcome to Collegiate Wood-Bat League Baseball!……With many sports teams going digital for their tickets, it was very refreshing for this ticket collector to get an actual stub for the game and it was a beaut with the background of the paper ticket being the ballpark…..Don’t miss the middle of the 7th inning, where instead of Take Me Out To The Ballgame, we have “the stampede”, a running of kids around diamond. It was a highlight of my visit as I ran with my kids on Father’s Day.
These are the kind of baseball games I like! It took just 2 hours and 16 minutes to play this one as the pace zipped along thanks to both starting pitchers going six innings and giving up only a combined three hits. Despite the stellar outing, a shaky first inning by Nick Payero of the Waves led to the deciding run as his opening walk and wild pitch proved costly. Ryan Wilson scored the insurance run for Bristol in the 8th and they ended the game on a double play as Bristol went to 10-2 on the season.