Delta Dental Park, Manchester, NEW HAMPSHIRE

WE’RE MOVING!

This page will only be here through 6/29, but I am saving these (and adding new parks as I see them) here, at paulsballparks.substack.com. See you on the other side!

 

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Number of states: 40
To go: 10
Number of games: 1
First game: August 5, 2022 (New Hampshire Fisher Cats 6, Richmond Flying Squirrels 1)

Click on any picture to see a full-sized version.

One benefit to New England is how small all of the states are. Rob, Matt, and I spent our first couple of nights on the 2022

College Buddy Baseball Tour in the same hotel, just zipping out to Brockton, Worcester, and New Hampshire. So much easier than it would be in the West (which is to say impossible). There’s a ton of baseball, affiliated and otherwise, that is accessible and which still allows one to sleep in one’s own bed. I’ve got to give a thumbs up for that.

I crossed the 40-state mark for minor leagues in New Hampshire on a hot August night in 2022, sitting in the front row right by third base. Double-A baseball–my favorite level–played out in front of us. The three of us got out our scorebooks.

This often leads to us getting some attention, and it did tonight, as the guy next to us asked us the magic question…

“Are you guys scouts?”

Man, as often as I am asked that, I still find it surprising every time. I was probably wearing my Julio Rogriguez sherzy and a Reading Phillies cap (my go-to cap for the college buddy tour). Matt and Rob were unquestionably equally nerdy in Twins and Phillies garb, respectively. How is it possible that someone would assume that is our work outfit? I am not too expert in scouting, but when I think of a scout, I think of someone sitting behind home plate with a radar gun wearing a short-sleeved polo adorned with a team logo. How in the name of God could someone think we were scouting out by third base? Do scouts buy mini-bats?

Still, this kind of thing does often lead to a conversation. The guys started talking to us about the ballpark and the history, which I appreciated.

It fairly quickly developed into a remember-this-guy? he’s from New Hampshire list of ballplayers from 20 years earlier. I enjoy the Remember Some Guys factor of the day, but have to admit that I grew tired of this conversation. It wasn’t just “yeah! he’s a good dude, that [insert name of serviceable major leaguer from New Hampshire]!” It developed into how this guy had gotten hits off of or struck out every major leaguer his age that he had ever faced. That’s a cool story to tell…once. But it did NOT take long before I found myself sucked into this guy’s personal history.

That’s not the kind of history I want to experience at the ballpark. Delta Dental ballpark did a good job of

giving me the rest of that information: their history of baseball in the state–especially affiliated ball–was commendable. I could read those Blue Jays of the past for a long time and enjoy it.

I also found the ballpark to be physically and architecturally interesting. It is just about impossible to notice there is a ballpark there, for starters: it is tucked behind and into a hotel. The Hilton Garden Inn shields the entrance to the ballpark, making it hard to find: within the ballpark, we can see patio seating for the hotel lounge: a strong home run to left could land in one of their drinks. 

Before the game, I walked along the path that squeezes between the third-base side of the ballpark and the Merrimack River.

The trees were dense enough that, while it provided a welcome shade on a hot evening, they prevented any really good views of the river. Traffic on I-283 across the river was audible: had I walked a while longer, it appears my path would have taken me across both the river and the interestate, but I wanted to double back to the ballpark to see if it had a view. It looks like there was this view from the second deck:
newhampshireview

Yeah–I’ve seen better, but I appreciate the effort.

The game itself was a bit of a snooze. Matt and Rob, in about the sixth inning, went off to find an IPA. I know Matt prefers a seat a little ways back, where I prefer to be close enough to make a play if called upon. but when Matt said he was going off, I

said “Hey, if you find a better seat, text me and I will join you.”

Matt, gracious guy that he is, said “Oh, it’s no big deal. We’ll be back.”

Matt missed my message. I made eye contact.
newhampshirefromhp
“No, Matt. If you find a new seat, you should text me so I can join you.”

Matt looked at me, and looked at guy-who-had-dominated-every-1990s-major-leaguer-in-New-Hampshire next to me.

“Oh. We’ll be sure to text you.”

That’s how I got to spend at least the last couple of innings with my buddies…in some quiet.

In the end, I think that Delta Dental Park was a tweener. Too old to be gleaming and modern, but not old enough to be charming. It had some quirks, and it had a sense of history, but I can barely remember it as I write this nine months later, and that’s not a good sign.

BALLPARK SCORE:

Regional Feel: 7/10

The historical stuff on the pavilion was appreciated. Look! It’s Gustavo Chacin!

newhampshirehistory

Charm 2.5/5. It’s a tweener.

Spectacle 3/5

Mascot/Name 4/5
I didn’t get a shot of Fungo the Fisher Cat, but a fisher cat (a weasel-like mammal native to the area) is a fantastic name for this team.

Aesthetics 2.5/5
We have a view of a hotel and a sort-of-view of the river-ish if you get way up high. Not quite right. But I do like the hidden nature of it: like a surprise ballpark. I wonder how much nicer this photo would have been without that giant Hilton Garden Inn:
newhampshirecloud

Pavilion Area 3.5/5

Scoreability 2.5/5. I missed a couple of decisions.

Fans 2.5/5. Nice enough people, but I’ve never had to manufacture a reason to flee someone before.

Intangibles 2.5/5.  Not a great game, and it was kinda hot.

OVERALL 30/50
newhampshire3b
BASEBALL STUFF I SAW HERE:

Fisher Cats’ pitching, led by Ricky Tiedemann and Gabriel Ponce, shut down the Flying Squirrels’ bats for the day.

Cameron Eden, whom I had seen four times prior as a Vancouver Canadian, knocks in three and homers. 

Ryan Gold and Sebastian Espino, also guys I had seen as Canadians, also homer. I have now seen Espino homer in two leagues, thousands of miles apart. Maybe he needs to pay me to start showing up.

Written May 2023.

 

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