Old Orchard Beach, ME
The Ballpark was the home of the Old Orchard Beach Surge of the independent Empire League. I came across The Ballpark as I was driving from Portland to Boston in 2012. I’m not sure how I knew it was there as at that time it was home to collegiate baseball, not usually on my radar.
Review by Mike
What I found at the end of a tree-lined road was a nice little ballpark tucked away amongst the woodland of coastal Maine. The friendly groundskeeper allowed me to wander the stadium and onto the field to take my pictures. He also told me the story of the ballpark. Built in 1984 for the AAA Maine Guides, the stadium was obsolete from opening day as the stadium standard for the high minors was about to increase dramatically.
After 5 seasons, the AAA team was gone and the park eventually fell into disrepair, became overgrown and even suffered a fire. It appeared to be doomed until a massive community effort saved The Ballpark and breathed life back into it. Collegiate summer ball came next and now the pros have returned in the form of The Surge.
The stadium itself is a basic wraparound grandstand with no roof, fixed seats on bleachers and the minimum of amenities. I didn’t see a game, so I can’t comment on the experience, but I am told that the black flies can be a problem. On the other hand, the ballpark is lovingly maintained, painted a lush green, with a nice manual scoreboard in the right field corner and a field that looks immaculate.
As a ballpark, it probably warrants no more than 2.5 hot dogs, but I am giving it extra relish for the heart-warming story of a community ballpark saved from the brink, the salty air and the beach just a half-mile away. If you are in the area, try to get out and support independent baseball and the good folks of Old Orchard Beach.
Gary had a chance to drop in at The Ballpark in 2021 and found it pretty much the same as when Mike visited in 2012, if a little more worn around the edges.