Ballparks of the PGCBL: East Field

Photo courtesy Glens Falls Golden Eagles
Editors’ Note: This is the third 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, Little Falls
Part 2: Colburn Park, Newark
Part 3: Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds, Watertown

East Field
Team: Glens Falls Golden Eagles
Location: 175 Dix Avenue, Glens Falls, N.Y.
Opened: 1980
Capacity: 10,000

Chronology of teams…
Glens Falls White Sox (Eastern League) 1980 – 1985
Glens Falls Tigers (Eastern League) 1986 - 1988
Glens Falls Redbirds (New York-Penn League) 1993
Adirondack Lumberjacks (Northeast League) 1995-1998
Adirondack Lumberjacks (Northern League) 1999 - 2002
Glens Falls Golden Eagles (New York Collegiate Baseball League) 2004-2010
Glens Falls Golden Eagles (PGCBL) 2011 – current

Glens Falls, New York…Hometown U.S.A.; the site of East Field, home of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League’s Glens Falls Golden Eagles. Built in 1980, East Field is one of the youngest parks in the PGCBL, only beaten out by Albany’s Bob Bellizzi Field at the Christian Plumeri Sports Complex which was opened in 2011. While East Field is relatively young compared to the other league parks, it will be celebrating its 32nd birthday this summer.

The City of Glens Falls, with a population slightly below 15,000 according to the 2010 census, sits around a one-hour drive north of Albany on the New York State Thruway’s “North Way.” Glens Falls lies closer to the New York-Vermont border than it does Albany; about 30 miles separate “Hometown U.S.A.” from the border town of Poultney, Vt. To the north of Glens Falls, the U.S.-Canadian border is about 2.5 hours away. The city itself is named after Colonel Johannes Glen of Schenectady; he took control of the settlement in the late 1780s.

East Field was built in 1980. It currently stands as part of a recreational complex that includes basketball courts and a swimming pool. East Field is a multi-sport facility hosting both baseball and semi-pro football. The Glens Falls Green Jackets semi-pro team of the Empire Football League plays its home games at East Field in the late summer and early fall. The facility was also the host of the 2005 and 2006 NJCAA Division III World Series. East Field is the largest in the nine-team PGCBL in terms of overall capacity. Between bleacher seating on each side of the diamond, a home plate grandstand and outfielder bleacher seating, East Field can house anywhere from 7,000 to 10,000 fans.

Walking through the entrance gate at East Field, one first notices the cavernous outfield and numerous sections of bleachers that tower up over the single-tier outfield fence. East Field’s outfield is one of the largest in the PGCBL, next to the outfield at Vet’s Park in Little Falls. The outfield seating is primarily used for football games and a wooden press box sits atop the bleachers in straightaway center field. A sea of green spans from the left field foul line to right field foul lines a sea that can contain a 100-yard football field beginning in mid-July. The rare wet and rainy football game can leave a mark on the outfield grass though one wouldn’t know it by peering on from the grandstand behind home plate.

The main seating area lies all around the infield, in the shape of a very wide “U.”  A home plate grandstand (no roof covering) is carved into a slight slope that gently takes one from the parking lot and the top of the concourse down to the field. Red and blue chair-back seats dominate the grandstand, red seats to the left and blue to the right. High above the grandstand and separated by a concrete concourse sits one building housing the team offices, box office and the press box. To the right and left of the grandstand are long sections of bleacher seating that run from the home plate area past first base and all the way into the outfield.

A single scoreboard rises above the left-field fence. The scoreboard, with “East Field” written across the top of large white letters, features a video message board. Light towers wrap around the playing surface. Both bullpens are located in the field of play; pitchers sit in chairs in the bullpens on the first and third base side. Just past the third-base side of the stadium is a neighborhood, with houses running up and down Dix Avenue. Not only is the outfield on the wide side, but the amount of foul ground behind home plate and up the lines is immense. A wooden plank at the bottom of the foul screen does give a defensive advantage, if the ball comes off of it quick enough.

Over the last 30 years, several baseball teams have called East Field home. Upon completion, the facility hosted the Eastern League’s 1980 Glens Falls White Sox. The Double-A Eastern League at the time featured eight teams spread across New York and New England – other franchises included the Buffalo Bisons, Reading Phillies and Bristol (Conn.) Red Sox. The inaugural season of the White Sox drew over 84,000 fans into East Field. The franchise spent six seasons in Glens Falls. The ’81 Sox topped the 100,000 attendance mark and finished first in their division with a franchise-record 83 victories. Future Major Leaguers that came through East Field included Doug Drabek (84), Ron Karkovice (84-85), Ron Kittle (80-81), John Cangelosi (84), Daryl Boston (83), Joel Skinner (82) and current Chicago White Sox general manager Kenny Williams (84-85).

The short-lived Glens Falls Tigers took up residence at East Field in 1986 and began a brief three-year existence. The Tigers made the Eastern League playoffs twice and finished first in their division with 80 victories in 1988. Future major leaguers from the Tigers include John Smoltz (87), Chris Hoiles (87-88), Lenny Harris (88) and Ken Hill (86). The Tigers departed after the 1988 season and professional baseball would not return to East Field until 1993 when the Glens Falls Redbirds joined the New York-Penn League. The Cardinals placed their short-season NY-P team in Glens Falls while waiting for a stadium to be built in northern New Jersey. The ’93 Redbirds topped the Penn League in attendance with over 78,000 fans for a circuit that featured fewer than 40 home games. Current PGCBL cities in the 1993 NY-P included Oneonta (Yankees), Watertown (Indians) and Elmira (Pioneers).

The Redbirds became the New Jersey Cardinals in 1994. The independent Adirondack Lumberjacks arrived in 1995 and would remain until 2002, members of both the Northeast League and the Northern League. The Lumberjacks were founding members of the Northeast League in 1995. Adirondack won the first-ever league championship in 1995 under manager Dave LaPoint. Five years later in 2000, the Lumberjacks captured the Northern League championship. The team won a franchise-record 52 games in 2002 however the franchise moved to Bangor, Maine, the following year.

Summer collegiate baseball debuted at East Field in 2004 in the form of the Glens Falls Golden Eagles. Over the last eight seasons, the franchise has enjoyed great success under manager John Mayotte. The Green and Gold have captured four division titles, including the PGCBL East in 2011, made six playoff appearances in eight years and competed for the league championship twice. John Mayotte’s Golden Eagles have won at least 30 games on four occasions and set a franchise record with a 34-6 (.850) mark in 2007. The ’07 Glens Falls nine posted the highest winning percentage of any summer collegiate team. Last season, John Mayotte celebrated his 200th victory as the head coach of the Golden Eagles. Through eight seasons, his Golden Eagles have amassed a 214-126 (.629) record.

John Mayotte has seen over 50 of his former Golden Eagles advance to professional baseball. There are currently 19 former Golden Eagles on minor league or independent baseball rosters. Three members of the 2007 Green and Gold are in Double-A: Kevin Mahoney (New York Yankees), Brian Moran (Seattle Mariners), Jake Shaffer (St. Louis Cardinals).

East Field has also been the site of several Golden Eagle franchise records. Three Golden Eagles have thrown a no-hitter; Mike LaFleur in 2006, Mike Wanamaker in 2007 and Shane Davis in 2008. Of the three no-no’s, Davis was the only Golden Eagle to toss a nine-inning no-hitter, his came against the Bennington Bombers on June 11, 2008. East Field was also the host of the 2010 NYCBL All-Star Game.

Last summer, the nationally-ranked Golden Eagles drew nearly 20,000 fans through the gates of East Field. The Green and Gold averaged 749 fans per contest with a season high of 1,512 for a Fan Appreciate Night doubleheader against the Albany Dutchmen on Aug. 3. The Eagles broke the 1,000 barrier five times and enjoyed a crowd of 1,310 for a Jul. 9 bout with rival Amsterdam. On the field, Glens Falls won the PGCBL East with a 31-17 (.646) record. Five Golden Eagles were named to the All-PGCBL first team led by infielder Josh Anderson, utility player Kyle Ruchim and starting pitcher Derek Mazzio. All three were also selected for the PGCBL Rising Stars team. Josh Anderson was one of the top orofessinoal prospects in the league, garnering the PGCBL’s number-one prospect ranking from Baseball America.

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