Photo courtesy James DiBianco/Albany Dutchmen
Editors’ Note: This is the seventh feature in a series on the nine ballparks that make up the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. The series will feature each park and will conclude prior to the start of the 2012 PGCBL regular season in early June.
Part I: Veterans Memorial Park, Mohawk Valley
Part II: Colburn Park, Newark
Part III: Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds, Watertown
Part IV: East Field, Glens Falls
Part V: Doubleday Field, Cooperstown
Part VI: Damaschke Field, Oneonta
Bob Bellizzi Field at Christian Plumeri Sports Complex
Team: Albany Dutchmen
Location: 20 Frisbe Avenue, Albany, N.Y. 12209
Chronology of teams…
Albany Dutchmen (PGCBL) 2011-present
The very first baseball game was played in the Christian Plumeri Sports Complex at Bob Bellizzi Field on Mar. 20, 2010 between the College of Saint Rose Golden Knights and the St. Anselm College Hawks. Today, the sparkling 4.7 million-dollar complex is home to not only Saint Rose athletics but also to the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League’s Albany Dutchmen.
The Christian Plumari Sports Complex, officially dedicated on Sept. 25, 2010, is located in Albany’s South End, just off of Route 787 and not far from the Hudson River. The facility contains a natural grass baseball field and softball diamond, a synthetic turf field for soccer and lacrosse and a natural grass practice field. Bellizzi Field, home of the Dutchmen, includes an enclosed playing surface, energy-efficient lighting, protective dugouts and enclosed bullpens.
The baseball field is named after the late Bob Bellizzi, the longtime head baseball coach at the College of Saint Rose. Bellizzi spent 28 seasons as the skipper at Saint Rose and he won over 700 games. The Golden Knights made World Series appearances at both the NAIA and NCAA Division II levels. The Saint Rose manager was heavily involved with summer collegiate baseball as well. He served as the Team President for the Amsterdam Mohawks and spent three seasons as the Mohawks manager, winning a league championship in 1988.
The overall facility, the Christian Plumeri Sports Complex, is named after the late son of Joseph Plumeri, chairman and CEO of Willis Group Holdings Limited, the world’s oldest insurance broker. Joseph Plumeri, part owner of the Eastern League’s Trenton Thunder, began the push for a new Saint Rose baseball field in 2006 with a $100,000 donation; this came a short time after the passing of Bob Bellizzi. Two years later, he made a $1 million dollar challenge gift to the City of Albany and the College of Saint Rose to help jumpstart the project.
Bellizzi Field sits in one corner of the Plumeri Sports Complex. Behind the baseball field is the natural grass practice field. In the distance beyond the outfield fence, the view is lined with lush green trees and white houses with brown roofs. A sea of green grass and wide expanses of foul territory dominate the home-plate area. Large dugouts with ample space stand on both sides of the field with a medium-sized restraining fence in the front to protect players from foul balls. The backstop, a ways away from home plate, consists of a low wind-screened fence marked with six tall, black poles. The poles run straight up from the ground and hold up the foul screen which wraps completely around the home-plate area.
The simple main-seating area looms behind the foul screen with a large area of metal bleacher seating. Smaller sections of bleachers are on the right and left of the main bleachers. Behind the bleachers rises a wide, three-window press box painted maroon with a slanted roof. In the outfield, the scoreboard with electric and glowing yellow lights flanked by white text on a black background, lies just above the fence in left-center field. During the summer season, colorful advertising signs are draped over the outfield wall and those cover up the black windscreen.
The Dutchmen, born in 2009, played their first game at Bellizzi Field on June 10, 2011 against the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs. The team spent its first two seasons in the Capital District at Bleecker Stadium, just outside of downtown Albany. Manager Nick Davey is entering his third baseball with the Dutch. Last season, his Albany side set a franchise record for victories and the team led its league in stolen bases for the second year in a row. Another franchise record was set in July when seven Albany players were selected for the PGCBL All-Star Game and four of the seven were voted into the game as starters. Outfielder Andrew Deeds (Morehead State) and pitcher Justin Brantley (Siena) were tapped for the All-PGCBL second team and three Dutchmen made the PGCBL Rising Stars squad. Off the field, the franchise set an attendance record in 2011 and welcomed over 5,000 fans into the Christian Plumeri Sports Complex.