Review by Gary
I stopped by Municipal Stadium in Waterbury, CT during my travels to the Nutmeg State and this quirky stadium is certainly worth the detour if you’re driving on I-84 through the “Brass City” (Waterbury was once was the leading center in the US for the manufacture of brassware, specifically watches and clocks.) Municipal Stadium was originally built in 1930 as a dog racing track and the grandstand reflects that by having all of its seating on one side of the field. It looks more like a football field than a baseball diamond.
From the 1940s thru the 1970s, Municipal Stadium was home to half a dozen major league farm teams. There is an adjoining softball field named after Joan Joyce, a women's softball pitcher and super athlete who claimed baseball notoriety for having struck out Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky, in order, during a 1947 exhibition game at the stadium. The Waterbury Spirit of the Northeast League were the last minor league to play here in 2001.
Ms. Joyce and other notable Connecticans are honored with plaques in the main entry, a tunnel under the stands and past new ticket booths and offices that were built in 2011. The grandstand features a lovely granite façade that supports seating for 1800 on an aluminum deck with some individual reserved seats. An unfortunate chain link fence separates all of the seating from the field. There is also a smaller metal bleacher section along the left-field line. During my visit, I watched two Collegiate Conference teams take batting practice for a double header later that afternoon.
Municipal Stadium is right alongside the busy Watertown Avenue, across from a community of homes from the same era, on the outskirts of downtown Waterbury. The current grass field is in excellent condition and has major league baseball dimensions with 349’ to left, 400’ to center and 338’ down the right field line. The majority of fans park well beyond the right field fence or down the residential streets. While the original main entrance and stone structure of Municipal Stadium is the only notable feature of this stadium, the town of Waterbury did a very nice job of adding upgrades to the seating area to make this old ballpark an amiable host to many baseball games, from Little League to College Baseball.
"Here is one of those cases where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Municipal Stadium is not a great minor league ballpark, but it has a really nice feel to it. I attended a Waterbury Spirit game in 1997 and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The hot dogs were easily the best I had ever had at a ballpark at the time; large and grilled to a crunchy perfection. I agree that the ballpark warrants two dogs, but my experience was a solid four, so my official scoring is a three."