To this point in the Cape League review series, I have been remarkably positive. I’ve not found many faults in the parks I’ve visited. And today, that line will continue. I might be spoiling the review a bit, but I find Veterans Field in Chatham to be on par with Brewster and Orleans. Does it surpass them? Let’s take a look. This is Veteran’s Field, home of the Chatham Anglers.
One brief word on past experience at this place. I’ve come here for many games in the past. Two things I remember clearly: Watching 8 bats break in one game in the late 2000’s with my dad. Maybe 2009? Somewhere around then. The other thing is standing behind the plate with my friend Jim who was raised on this field and told me stories of Thurmon Munson blasting a ball to beyond the hill in center. For context, the center field fence is 385 feet away. The top of the hill is even further. He’s got tons of stories like that. Anyway, on with the review!
I wish I could give this a higher mark. The location is absolutely superb. Every ounce of praise I gave Orleans regarding location applies here. For starters, Veterans Field is right on Rt 28 and Depot Street, the biggest street in the town and another fairly big street. There’s no way you can miss it. It’s well signed, but it’s so obvious as you drive in that there isn’t any signage needed.
To make it even better, it’s just a short walk from downtown Chatham. The business district of Chatham is where the rich and fancy go to hang out. So one word of warning, don’t be shocked if you burn a hole in your wallet, it is THAT expensive. That’s about the only issue there. There’s plenty to do, buy, see and enjoy. My favorite movie theatre I’ve ever attended is in town, there’s an excellent stage there, and all of it is a stone’s throw away from the ballpark. You can park at the field in the afternoon, enjoy the town, and catch the ballgame at 7pm. No other field in the league can provide you with such direct access to a complete town experience the way Chatham can.
The only thing that can kind of be complained about is the parking. There’s one small lot right in front of the field that fills up painfully quickly and another one at the adjoining Chatham Community Center that’s only a touch bigger. For the crowds that Chatham can draw, that is a decent complaint. But it only holds up if there’s no where else to park. And there are other spots. The lot near the elementary school and fire station on Depot street is a good place. There’s plenty of side street parking in that direction too, and some of the local businesses that close before game time let people park there for the game. The only complaint that can be lobbed against Chatham can be easily diffused by either showing up early or parking above the field. The location is nothing short of perfection.
Veterans Field has the best variety and some of the best general seating in the league. Like Orleans, there is a hill for seating. Chatham’s is in right and center field. It’s steeper than Eldredge, but I actually think the views are better than in Orleans. In general. There’s no net and you’re not over the dugout, which can obstruct the view on the first baseline if you’re close to home plate. The hill is also not the only seating section. There are extensive and distinctive bleachers behind home plate that provide an excellent view and a beautiful backdrop for the outfield crowd. There’s also picnic tables on the right field foul line near the visiting bullpen. They provide a good place to sit and see the game while eating some food.
Chatham has the best mix of good views and variety of seat type in the league. You can get any kind of experience you want here. The Only downside is the fact that some individual places are badly obstructed. Outfield seats behind the light towers, the edge of bleacher seats behind the dugout, and picnic tables hidden behind other picnic tables. There’s not enough for me to be mad about it, but it’s still kinda annoying. Everything else is pretty much perfect.
The consessions stand is right down the first baseline and is a short walk from everything. It’s perfectly located. The food is also good. No exceptional menu options other than the chili dogs, which I’m not a big fan of myself (I don’t like chili dogs in general) but it all tastes good and they get it to you quickly and with a smile. Their popcorn comes in souvenir cups that you can keep and the costs of everything are fairly low. And they have one touch that I absolutely love: they play Angler’s home radio broadcast at the concessions stand. You can get food and still keep tabs with what’s going on even when you can’t see it. Plus they do $1 hot dogs in the ninth inning. Chatham gets this part absolutely perfect.
This is among the prettiest ballparks I’ve ever seen. The stands behind it are distinctive and serve as an excellent backdrop to the action. The hill is distinctive and green, the trees in left are a nice touch and the scoreboard fills out the rest of the picture well. Playing under the lights is also a lovely touch. It gets even cooler when playing in the fog, as long as it’s not a blinding fog. Basically, nothing to complain about here.
General Atmosphere: 9.5/10
What a great place to see a ballgame. It’s an old park that has aged perfectly. You can walk in, sit, and enjoy the game easily and watch some of the best baseball in the country with absolute ease. There’s also a spectacular playground that has seen some recent renovation. It can keep the kids happy and active for hour and hours on end. I mean if I were a kid and I could play in this or watc the game, I may well choose this play ground.
There’s also a Gaga pit and a Little League sized ballpark right next to the field with kids playing a game there. So all bases are covered for the kids to either play at the park, the sandlot, or watch the game with family. It’s pretty sweet.
The only issue I can find is the occasional snobbishness of the Chatham fans. And mind you, I’m talking about locals, not the visitors or parents of the players. Chatham can be a snooty old money New England town and can be unwelcoming. I’ve seen it and my friends have too. But don’t let that point turn you away, it happens one out of every hundred trips. And the experience isn’t soured by the one obnoxious fan I can encounter infrequently. This is still one of the best experiences in baseball.
Total Score: 49/50
I’m not exaggerating when I call this one of the best sports experiences I’ve had as a fan. This park gets everything right and in my opinion, not only serves as the best park in the Cape League, but is a beautiful slice of Americana that must be experienced. This is the definitive Cape League experience. You can go at any stage of your life and enjoy the park, the playground, the game, and the company you keep at the ballpark. Its the most versatile park with the most complete experience. I have only tepid complaints at best. Veterans Field is not only a must for any baseball fan, it is a must for anyone visiting Cape Cod.