Thursday, June 12, 2008

Travel Log: Sanford, June 11

The seating bowl at Sanford, Maine's Goodall Park is forest green - same as Fraser Field.

That's about where the similarities end between Fraser and Goodall.

While the ride from Lynn to Sanford isn't all that long - about 90 minutes - upon pulling into Sanford, it doesn't feel anywhere close to home. Goodall Park is a cozy, small ballyard carved into some very thick woods, which stretch as far as the eye can see beyond the centerfield fence.

To get to the park, you drive down a main road that seems ripped out of Disney's "Main Street USA." On the side of the road there's a big sign: WELCOME TO SANFORD, ME, HOME OF THE SANFORD MAINERS.

We passed by a little league field on the right, and I was temporarily horror-stricken, thinking that would be the park they were playing in:

But on the other side was Goodall, a charming little park that seats about 800-900 fans.

Spike, a regular patron at Lynn, Sanford, and Nashua (NH), calls Goodall Park the "gem of the league." He may be right. The field is well-groomed, the stadium is impeccably clean, and the fans are very supportive of their team. On a personal level, the press box was excellent, although it didn't have wireless internet access (WTF? Get with the 21st century, Mainers).

The PA system boomed out every hokey country music song about baseball ever created.

Concession options were excellent. Bruce E. Moose's snack shack has drinks, chips, and candy; an outdoor barbecue offers hot dogs, burgers, chicken, and french fries, all at very cheap prices. (Apparently overcharging for food, like wireless internet and rock music, has not made it up to Sanford just yet.)

The crowd was about 550, which filled up a good chunk of the seating bowl. There was also a bleacher section along the first base line that was a kids' club, where a few youth groups were taking in the game.

Between innings, local softball and little league teams were honored and challenged to 'race an old man around the bases.' The old man won.

Overall, Goodall Park was a nice place to take in a ballgame. I don't mean for this to sound like an insult, although it surely will - Sanford seemed to me like a throwback to the days where minor league baseball was played in backwater towns with nothing else to do. It was a very personal, friendly atmosphere, and one I greatly enjoyed. It's amazing what a difference a 90 minute drive can make.

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