Thomas Run Park
Bel Air, MD
Review by Gary
Thomas Run Park was home to the Atlantic League’s briefest member, the 2000 Aberdeen Arsenal, before the Aberdeen Iron Birds would drive the fledging Arsenal out of town. The Cal Ripken-owned Birds moved to the completed Ripken Stadium in 2002. Per Baseball Reference, the Arsenal club went 56-83 in one season, finishing ahead of only the Lehigh Valley Black Diamonds. Their attendance of 23,732 was more than Lehigh Valley (a traveling team primarily) but over 100,000 less than any other outfit. So it’s easy to understand how an MLB-affiliated team owned by a Hall of Famer building a swank multi-field complex just up I-95 a few miles would overcome a struggling Atlantic League team.
The ballpark once had a capacity of about 2,000, which has since been dismantled back down to the original bleachers and walkways. When the 2000 season opened, a Baltimore Sun article about the Arsenals’ new beginnings said that, “the Arsenal will have to cope with about 3,200 temporary seats that have been installed, limited parking, questionable lighting and a field without a clubhouse.” As mentioned in my review of the Ripken Stadium, the Iron Birds did play some of their inaugural home games in 2002 at Thomas Run Park as the new stadium was not quite ready and they could not very well return to their old digs in Utica, NY.
Today, the field is operated and owned by nearby Harford Community College and hosts both high school and college games. A completely turfed playing and foul territory surface replaced the grass and dirt field to accommodate today’s games. Thomas Run Park today looks almost nothing like it did when the Arsenal did battle here two decades ago, but the field looks like a decent place to catch a game, even if it is on a community college campus.