Review by Gary
Mackenzie Stadium is used by both the Valley Blue Sox of the New England Collegiate Baseball League and the Elms College Blazers of the New England Collegiate Conference. It was once home to the Holyoke Millers of the Double A Eastern League from 1977 to 1982.
I was fortunate to visit with Tim and John, employees of the Holyoke Parks Department, who not only let me roam around the ballpark, but also spent time sharing memories of going to games to see the likes of Mark Wohlers and Trey Mancini before they made the Bigs. Mackenzie Stadium was also used as a high school football and track field, but baseball is what is played here today, as it was when the stadium was constructed in 1933. A WPA grant added the main seating area and clubhouse in 1939.
The park is named for John Mackenzie, a World War I Medal of Honor recipient and later Holyoke restauranteur. The 4,100 seats are divided by four distinct areas, with the majority of them on the huge concrete grandstand set into a hill along the first base line. The press box is located at the top of these stands. The hill continues on towards home plate providing a steep grassy berm for those daring enough to throw down a blanket, and perhaps some grappling hooks to secure it and themselves, lest they tumble down and slide into home plate accidentally.
A narrow and rickety 10-row grandstand sits directly behind home and is flanked by a collection of wood and aluminum bleachers that look like they’d collapse if asked to support anything heavier than 75 pounds. Separated from the grassy sections by a chain link fence, this perilous seating joins a more modern and covered picnic cabana located on the other side of the third base dugout. This appears to be the safest place to catch a Blue Sox game, mainly because it is on ground level.
With quaint residential homes lining the street that runs along the left field fence and a high school behind the third base bleachers, Mackenzie Stadium appears to be a quaint place to catch a ball game, as long as you’re sitting on flat earth.