Review by Gary
Alumni Field has been entertaining baseball fans since its construction in 1948. This bucolic ballpark can be found in the pretty little village of Keene, New Hampshire, a town of about 20,000 folks. Alumni Field is the home cave of the Keene Swamp Bats of the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL). It is also home to Keene High School as well as American Legion youth baseball teams, who were playing on the rainy day I stopped by. The Keene Blue Jays of the semi-pro Northern League played here in the late 1940s-1950s.
Not located near a major interstate nor even metropolitan town, Alumni Field’s setting is pure New England, right down to the red barn within a home run shot to right field and lush trees that form the batter’s eye in center beyond the outfield fence. The diamond rests on an ocean of natural grass, surrounded by an abundance of foul territory down both lines and behind the plate. This is because the playing field was once used for a variety of sports. Today, the park is used only for baseball.
With a seating capacity of about 4,100 people, the stadium consists of three separate structures whose main seating consists of a wonderful, covered grandstand that runs from home plate down the first base line. The steel-framed roof protects the bench seats and flooring, which are all constructed of long wood planks. Most of the benches are painted a hunter green while recently replaced sections have yet to taste their first coat of paint.
A small aluminum grandstand rests behind the home dish while fans supporting the team on the third base side can sit in a slightly larger, uncovered metal bleacher-style section beyond the two-story wooden enclosed press box. The third base dugout is built as part of this press box above and nicely flanks the first base dugout, which is at the base of the vintage grandstand.
The Swamp Bats have played here since the 1997 season and Alumni Field is just one of a few sports fields located on the campus of Keene High School, whose entrance to the parking area is off Arch Street. This aptly named avenue may refer to the two majestic stoned arch structures that may once have been the grand entrance to the high school grounds. Bronze markers on each stone structure date back to 1934. Alumni Field is a beautiful ballpark in a very natural setting.