Sunday, May 5, 2013

Robin Roberts Baseball Field

All photos of Robin Roberts Baseball Field available on Flickr.

This past Tuesday, the mercury reached an unexpected but welcome 85º, so I scrambled to find a ballgame to go to and enjoy the weather, and Madison Area Technical College was what I came up with.  Even though I now live only a few minutes away, this was actually my first visit to the campus, and I was surprised to see all of the new buildings going up there and that it was relatively consolidated.  This includes the new-ish Robin Roberts Baseball Field, which was dedicated in 2000.  The field is not named after the Hall-of-Fame pitcher nor the fetching newscaster, but rather a former Madison College ballplayer and project benefactor.

Even though Robin Roberts Field is only 13 years old, it looks at least three times that old.  Part of the reason is because it is not surprisingly a very barebones facility, and part of it is because the field does not look like it is maintained too well.  But a large part of the implied age has to do with the fact that they used old Milwaukee County Stadium seats for the grandstand, which are all some combination of rusty, cracked, faded, or just flat-out broken.  I appreciated the sustainable homage to County Stadium and that a park this small has chairs instead of bleachers, but it was not comfortable resting my elbow on rusted armrests.  Another inconvenient thing is that the grandstand is in three discontinuous sections with no front aisle.  The park has a lot of foul ground and a large dugout/clubhouse/concessions building on the 1st base side, so even at a park this size I felt far away from the action and balls hit to right field were obstructed.  One particularly odd thing about the park is that the roof of this aforementioned building is habitable.  There are a few benches up there in the front close to the field, but the rest of the roof is just covered in used astroturf and is mostly wasted space.  I suppose that the team does not draw well enough to warrant installing a set of bleachers up there, but it is disappointing that the roof is really just accessible for its own sake.  I stood up there for an inning and mingled amongst the Madison College softball team that clearly just came from their own game to watch the boys play.  On my way down, I had a good view of the bullpens and batting cages further up the line, and watched a pitcher warm up for awhile.  The park definitely has all of the pieces that can make a park of this size interesting, but none of them are done well.  The roof is a good example of this, or the concession stand that only sells hot dogs and chips, or the dugouts that are built dangerously wide open on ground level.

The game itself was a quick one, only about 90 minutes; it was a 7-inning affair and the second half of a doubleheader.  I got to the park literally as the first pitch of Game 2 was being thrown so I didn't get to see any of the first game.  The Madison College schedule is actually comprised almost entirely of doubleheaders, of which I am a big fan.  In sweeping the doubleheader against College of Lake County, the Wolfpack improved to 28-9 and were ranked #11 nationally in Division II as of my visit.  In the early years of the Mallards, before the Northwoods League was the hotbed of talent that it is now, very often the club would field players from MATC, and I always just assumed it was because they were local.  Yes, that was probably still part of the reason, but it turns out the Mallards weren't doing the MATC kids any favors; they actually perenially field a pretty legit squad.  The Wolfpack won the game I was at courtesy of a 3-spot in the 6th.  Dan Schmidt went 2-2 with an RBI for the home team, and starting pitcher Hayden Hughey provided a serviceable 5 innings.  Nathan Hoffmann picked up the win in relief despite surrendering a run.

This concludes my brief and uneventful Madison community college baseball tour, unless I find out that Madison Media Institute has like a D-6 club team.  Not the greatest of facilities, but certainly not the worst I've been to either.  My experiences at Edgewood College and MATC were unfortunate reminders of how disgusting it is that UW is the only Big 10 school without a baseball team.

park rankings and statistics:
aesthetics - 1
views from park - 2
view to field - 3 (obstructed along first)
surrounding area - 2 (campus, airport)
food variety - 1
nachos - n/a
beer - n/a

vendor price - 10
ticket price - 10 (free)
atmosphere - 2
walk to park - 2
parking price/proximity - 10 (free adjacent lot)
concourses - 1 (there really isn't one)
team shop - n/a

best food - dog?  I guess?
most unique stadium feature - roof of concessions/clubhouse building
best jumbotron feature - n/a
best between-inning feature - PA guy pumpin the tunes

field dimensions - n/a
starters - DJ Engle (CoLC) v. Hayden Hughey (MATC)
opponent - College of Lake County Lancers
time of game - 2:45 (total for both games)
attendance - n/a (I counted about 30)
score - 4-3 W
Brewers score that day - 12-8 W

Brewers 14-16, -5.5 (2 v. Rangers, 3 @ Reds)
Reds 18-14, -2.5
 (3 v. Braves, 3 v. Brewers)
Twins 13-14, -4.0 (4 @ Red Sox, 3 v. Orioles)

Erik - 3
Peter - 8

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