Review by Gary
In the summer of 1904, the University of Vermont purchased a 60-acre farm and designated the land for Centennial Field, a new baseball stadium. Named for the 100th anniversary of the school's first graduating class, the field opened on April 17, 1906, with Vermont defeating the University of Maine, 10-4. The park is one of the oldest still in use for pro baseball. The current concrete and steel grandstand was erected in 1922 to replace the original wooden one which had burned down in 1913. Modern comforts, like concession stands and rest rooms, were added in 1995. The current configuration holds 4,415 spectators.
The University of Vermont Catamounts baseball team were the longest-tenured residents of Centennial Field, playing here from the first year of the stadium’s existence thru the end of the 2009 season, when they moved to newer climes. During the era that UVM had a football team, Centennial Field had additional stands on both sides of the gridiron. The expansive foul territory today is a result of the need for the extra acreage.
Since 1994, the Vermont Lake Monsters have played at Centennial Field, first as members of the New York Penn League and later, after the MLB MiLB reorg, as members of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League. Teams that preceded the Lake Monsters included the Burlington Athletics (1950-1955), a Class C farm team of the Philadelphia A’s, the Vermont Reds of the Eastern League (EL) from 1984 to 1987 and 1988’s EL Vermont Mariners. Among the outstanding players who have graced Centennial's diamond are Tris Speaker, Robin Roberts, Kirk McCaskill, Barry Larkin, and Ken Griffey, Jr.
While many of the original individual wooden folding seats have been replaced, one vintage seat per row remains along the steps climbing to the top of the covered grandstand. I thought that this was a great touch to show fans what type of seating their forefathers would have sat in as far back as the early 1920s.
The stadium’s ticket window, offices, concession, and souvenir stands are all housed in separate buildings behind the grandstand while a massive 4-story wooden scoreboard towers over the left field fence. The scoreboard is flanked by high, advertisement-covered walls to protect the vehicles parked on the other side from balls leaving the yard.
If for the historical significance alone, Centennial Field should be on any ballpark fan’s list to see when in Vermont along with Montpelier’s Recreation Field, just down the road. Since rain foiled my second attempt to see a Lake Monsters game, I will just have to wonder what seeing action on the field would look like.