Review by Gary
The ballpark’s exterior features a great wooden grandstand with single ticket office windows right on the corner of America’s Cup Avenue and Marlborough Street. A cheerful sign over the ticket windows invites fans to “Come In…Relax…and Enjoy the Game.” Which, regardless of the sign’s age, I thought was awesome!
Cardines Field is one of the oldest ballparks in the country. The stadium dates back to 1908 with renovations having been done in 1938 and again in 2000. This grand old field sits just a few short steps from the yacht-filled Newport Harbor and minutes from the “summer cottage” mansions of the Gilded Age millionaires. The ballpark’s current residents, the Newport Gulls, play in the New England Collegiate Baseball League. In its heyday, Cardines Field hosted numerous barnstorming games featuring Satchel Paige and Jackie Robinson. Baseball greats Phil Rizzuto, Yogi Berra and Bob Feller played here in the Sunset League while serving in the Navy and stationed in Newport during World War II. The league, which was formed in 1919, is still in operation today.
A fantastic wood roof hangs over the all-wood bench seats with stone and concrete bleachers running down both base lines that were erected as part of a 1936-1937 WPA project. A second roofed section of seating lies further down the right field line and faces more towards the infield than straight to the outfield. There are quirky angles in the outfield fence as it borders the back yards of adjacent homes. There has been many a broken window since the late 1800’s, when railroad employees first started playing at this location, known originally as Basin Field. Due to limited space along the third base line, both dugouts were placed along the first base line, which is certainly a unique feature for ballpark aficionados.
This ballpark is right along the sidewalk of both streets, like Coors Field or Fenway Park. A lone, miniscule LED scoreboard sits just beyond the dugouts along the right field foul line almost as if to keep the fans’ focus on the field and not on a state-of-the-art video board, which has no place in this early 20th century time capsule.
Cardines Field is certainly a gem of the ballpark world and has been spared the wrecking ball so far. Located right across the street from the sleek Newport Visitors Center and city bus stop, this Grand Daddy of a field invites any true baseball fan to at least venture over to look through the fence. What they will see is a classic old ball yard.