Veterans Memorial Park in Little Falls, N.Y. (Courtesy MV DiamondDawgs)
Veterans Memorial Park
Team: Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs
Location: 247 Burwell Street, Little Falls, N.Y.
Chronology of teams…
Little Falls Mets (New York-Penn League) 1977-1988
Little Falls Diamonds (Northeast Collegiate Baseball League) 1990-1994
Mohawk Valley Landsharks (Can-Am League) 1995
Knickerbocker Baseball Club of Little Falls (NCBL) 1996-1997
Mohawk Valley Redlegs (New York Collegiate Baseball League) 2002
Little Falls Diamond Miners (NYCBL) 2006
Little Falls Miners (NYCBL) 2007 – 2008
Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs (NYCBL) 2009-2010
Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs (PGCBL) 2011 - current
DigitalBallparks.com Gallery (From 2002) - Here
Veterans Memorial Park in Little Falls, N.Y. opened in 1949. It is among the oldest parks in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. When the gates opened at Vet’s Park, gas cost 27 cents a gallon, the first computers took up an entire room and the Cleveland Indians were coming off their first and only World Series championship.
The hidden jewel of a ballpark is nestled on the corner of Burwell and Ray Streets in the hilly city of Little Falls (incorporated as a village in 1811), located about 25 miles east of Utica and around 75 miles west of Albany.
Upon arrival at the ballpark, one notices the unique configuration of a facility that runs right up against a street corner, nestled into a small nook next to a small cluster of tennis courts. The ballpark itself is located at the end of Burwell Street, just a long toss away from small houses that line Burwell Street. Inside the gate, well-kept bushes and hedges lead fans to their seats whether on the first or third base side.
The view itself from the seats on either side is picturesque. The park overlooks the many rolling hills off in the distance. Bleacher seating lines both the first and third base side though there is single chair box-seating available. A wooden deck sits atop the home team dugout which sits on the first base side. The deck opened for the 2011 season and by all accounts was a rousing success.
The actual playing field is awash in mostly green, grass that is. The spacious outfield at Vet’s Park features a distance of 373 feet down the left field line and massive power allies to both left and right center. The scoreboard is tucked in amongst the trees in the right field corner. According to the Little Falls Times
, it was damaged by a violent storm in 1998 however rebuilt with steel beams. The left field foul pole
has also been the victim of weather damage. The Little Falls Times
reported that the pole was nearly bent in half in 2010 when it was hit by the infield tarp during a massive wind storm.
Aside from being the current home of the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs, Vet’s Park has housed many teams, most notably the New York-Penn League’s Little Falls Mets from 1977 through 1988. It should be noted that the NY-P in the late 70s and into the 80s was a much different league from the current version which has flagship clubs in good-sized markets including Brooklyn, Staten Island, Lowell, Mass., and State College, Pa. For the 1978 season for example, the league was comprised of 10 teams, all in upstate New York – Geneva, Jamestown, Batavia, Niagara Falls, Newark, Oneonta, Utica, Auburn, Little Falls and Elmira. Presently, just Auburn, Jamestown and Batavia remain in the NY-P.
Overall, the Mets struggled on the field though in 1984, Little Falls finished first in the East Division and went on to win the NY-P championship. The ‘84 Mets featured seven players that would go on to compete at the Major League level. Many future New York Mets got their start in Little Falls and Mets alumni includes Rick Aguilera, Wally Backman, Billy Beane, Kevin Elster, Dwight Gooden and Todd Hundley. However, the Mets packed up after the 1988 season as an investment group moved the team to Pittsfield, Mass.
Modern-day Vet’s Park has hosted summer collegiate baseball since 2006 when the Little Falls Diamond Miners joined the New York Collegiate Baseball League. The franchise, in its first season, wowed the crowds and finished in second place in the NYCBL’s East Division. The Diamond Miners ended up just four wins shy of a league championship. The following year, one of the wildest games in the long history of the facility took place as the newly-named Little Falls Miners edged the Watertown Wizards 15-12 in nine innings. Little Falls raced out to a 15-0 lead and then Watertown scored 12-straight runs over the final three innings including seven in the top of the ninth. The Wizards hit four home runs including a grand slam in the final frame.
Later in the 2007 season, another game for the record books happened at Vet’s Park when the Amsterdam Mohawks and Little Falls Miners collided in a 19-inning marathon – the longest game in the modern history of the park. James Donaldson of the Miners ended the game in the bottom of the 19th with a walk-off grand slam.
The 2011 summer baseball season at Vet’s Park saw nearly 20,000 fans come through the gates. The Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs averaged 859 fans per game which ranked fourth of eight teams in the PGCBL. The Dawgs welcomed in over 1,000 fans six times and had a season and franchise-record crowd of 2,396 saw the Dawgs down the eventual league champion Newark Pilots, 5-1, on June 15.