Harry Grove Stadium
Review by Gary
Located right off I-70 in Maryland, the stadium is named for Harry Grove, one of the founders of the Frederick Hustlers, a professional team that existed between 1915 and the World War II era. The Grove family also donated money to the city to help build the park and was thus honored in the naming of it. Built in 1990, the Frederick Keys were the longtime Class A affiliate of the nearby Baltimore Orioles. While the fans, the seats and the black and orange team colors of both clubs are all around the ballpark, there is little to show any history or homage to either club. Harry Grove Stadium now shares its name with a local credit union paying to have the ball field named as part of the title. The team now plays in the MLB Draft League.
I attended an 11:00 am weekday game that is usually targeted to school groups or kid’s groups, but there didn’t seem to be any thing advertising such either during the game or on any of the print material. As it was spring break in Maryland, there were a good number of kids at the park. Sadly, there was not much by way of fan participation activities other than “Daniel Tiger”, a special guest mascot, whom I only saw lurking under the stands early in the game and finally in the seats around the 8th inning. While the main attraction is baseball (The Potomac Nationals won, 5-3, with the teams combining for 25 hits!), minor league baseball IS known for its between-inning activities and crazy competitions on the field. There was nothing like this except for some video trivia and “Best Hat-Hair” in the crowd and the spectacle of 2 employees atop each dugout goading the fans to stand up and “Shake Your Keys for the Keys!”. Sadly, not many people shook their keys. Unfortunately, the game experience I have come to expect from minor league baseball was lacking.
As for the fans’ experience, other than missing between-inning interactions, attending the game was enjoyable as there is a plethora of food and drink options all around the concourse. Of particular note, the crab cake sandwich on a huge bun with chips was a tasty and hearty portion that hit the spot. The field itself is in great shape and the sight lines from every seat in the stands are excellent. The most notable thing about Harry Grove Stadium was the massive outfield wall that spanned from foul pole to foul pole with dozens of local advertising signs, my favorite being the “Free Breakfast, Free Internet” sign. If you make a stop in Frederick, look forward to some good baseball and take a walk in their historic downtown. Tell them Francis Scott Key sent you.
History by Gary
I must confess that I had absolutely no idea what the Frederick Keys were named for. I consider myself to be fairly intelligent and pretty knowledgeable of both baseball and American history. For some reason, I couldn’t figure out if the Keys had something to do with islands, like the Florida Keys or something to do with actual locking keys (After all, Lansing has its Lug Nuts). An earlier non-baseball trip in 2017 to Frederick had me wondering what else as going on in this fair town. My Google search revealed that Frederick was the final resting place of Francis Scott Key, the author of our National Anthem. I decided to check out his grave site and memorial. Upon arriving, it then dawned on me who the Keys were named after. DUH! As if to add injury to insult, Mr. Key himself is pointing to the ballpark whose team bears his name plays in! Yes, I am a dimwit.