Wednesday Night Fireworks and A Baseball Game At Cardines Field Featuring Newport Gulls vs Mystic Schooners
by Nick Lemley
Wednesday night, June 29th, I got to experience one of the most iconic baseball fields in the entire United States – Newport’s Cardines Field. After spending four years in Kingston, Rhode Island attending URI and seeing the field every time I would take a trip to Newport, I finally walked into the Newport landmark to watch a baseball game. Very exciting moment and I couldn’t wait to get inside and check out the layout. The home team Newport Gulls of the New England Collegiate Baseball League faced Coastal Division opponents the Mystic Schooners on Thursday night and this is how I saw it.
According to the Newport Gulls website, www.newportgulls.com, Cardines Field has been around since the late 1800s and was originally used by railroad employees, who made a six team league. In 1919, the railroad gave permission to The Sunset League, the oldest amateur baseball league in the US to use the field. Then in 1936, the stadium we see today was built. Since then the field was in danger of being torn down in the 1980s for parking. Gladly it wasn’t and the Friends of Cardines Foundation as well as the former ownership of Newport Gulls and The City of Newport work each year to keep the historic field in great shape. Renovations have included; new lighting system, a public announcement system, concession stand, as well as new restrooms, bleachers, a scoreboard, an irrigation system, ticket booths, locker room facilities, and more. If you want to read and learn more about this historic landmark, the Newport Gulls have a multiple pages on their website about the history, rules of the field, and baseball in Newport – www.newportgulls.com.
The drive to Newport was about 2 hours up I95 and once in Newport the parking cost $2 for the night at the visitors center when I provided them a Gulls ticket. The field and grandstand itself feels very intimate. The press have their own area but fans are able to sit right next and below them and the entire grandstand is general admission wood bleachers allowing fans to sit almost anywhere and move seats if they want to. By the bottom of the 2nd inning the stands were packed, kids were running around and constantly talking to the Gulls players through the fence and bringing back signed balls, shirts and foam fingers to show their parents. The in-between inning games for the kids were great, there was a donut eating contest, run the bases race and a massive race to the mascot and back to the 3rd baseline for all the kids after the 6th inning there was even a wild bunny caught in the mix.
The game itself was great. It was scoreless and hitless until the 4th inning, where things changed and the pre-4th of July “fireworks” were set off. The home plate umpire was struggling to find consistency behind the plate. He appeared to be expanding the strike zone, making some questionable calls much to the dismay of the Schooners hitters. It got to the point where the home fans were agreeing with the Mystic coaches and ultimately one of them was ejected. The questionable balls and strikes and calls in general continued into the bottom of the 4th. The Gulls started the bottom of the 4th off with double hit by #7 Joshua Kuroda-Grauer followed by a single hit by #19 Kolton Freeman, putting a man on first and third. The Schooners then struck out the next two batters in the lineup making it 2 outs with a man on first and third. Up to bat was #4 Trent Farquhar who hit a double into center field scoring Kuroda-Grauer, Freeman made it around 3rd base and slid for home and appeared to be safe. However, the Schooners first baseman #37 Addison Kopack of Cumberland, RI got the throw in at home in time for the catcher to tag Freeman out, keeping the game at a one run differential, which sent the crowd into a rage. After the 4th inning, the home plate ump seemed to get the strike zone back and calls on both sides were consistent, much to the delight of the fired up crowd.
Speaking of Mystic Schooner and Cumberland, RI native Addison Kopack (University of RI), he went 1-4 and struck out twice and played well on the defensive end. In the second inning, he caught a runner stealing second, and was able to get the controversial last out of the 4th inning after cutting off a great throw from the center field.
The game ended 6-3 in favor of The Gulls. It was a great game and while no one enjoys seeing bad calls, it made the stadium come to life. The “fireworks” on the field brought a lot of energy from the crowd as both teams were held in check at the plate and scoring runs. Four years, a college degree, and several trips to Newport later I got to see my first game at Cardines Field. And a really fun and exciting one at that.
The Schooners will be back in Mystic on July 3rd when they face The North Shore Navigators. The Gulls have 4 home games this next week starting on July 4th against The North Shore Navigators, a double header against The Upper Valley Nighthawks on July 6th and on July 8th will face the Winnipesaukee Muskrats.
Baseball Parks, Fields, and Complexes New England Collegiate Baseball League News Nick Lemley Sports ri college baseball news
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