Chronological Tour: Stop 6

Wahconah Park

Main entrance to Wahconah Park, May-2010.

The main grandstand, as seen from the third-base bleacher.

The unusual effect of the sun setting behind center field is shown in this Jul-2001 photo.

Quick Facts: Rating: 3 baseballs
According to research contributed by David Potts of Pittsfield, the land known as Wahconah Park was first used for baseball in August 1892, when a semi-pro team from this seat of Berkshire County knocked off an Albany nine in a rain-shortened game. The first professional team played on the land in 1894.

Sometime after 1919, when the land was deeded to the city, the field took on its current layout, unusual today in that the batter faces west. This worked before teams installed lights, when games were played in the early afternoon. After lights came in, though, “sun delays” were common – until the trees grew big and thick enough. The only other current park with that effect is Sam Lynn Ball Park in Bakersfield, Calif.

Another feature of the current grandstand, built in 1950, is the presence of artificial owls in the rafters, there in an attempt to keep birds from nesting and making an unholy mess.

The park saw Eastern League ball from the 1960s to the 1980s, and then became home to the New York-Penn League in 1989, when the New York Mets moved out of Vets Park in Little Falls, N.Y., and took up residence for a dozen years.

The Mets relocated their affiliation to Coney Island (Brooklyn, N.Y.) after the 2000 season. An Astros farm team took over the franchise in 2001 but then moved it the next year to a new stadium in Troy, N.Y., 40 miles northwest. The venerable park remained in use for another two seasons, as the Northeast League placed a team at Wahconah Park for 2002, but in 2004 they moved into the vacated Yale Field in West Haven, Conn.

In 2005, the Berkshire Dukes of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, a summer wood-bat league, relocated to Wahconah Park from Hinsdale, several miles to the east. Also that season, the park was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, making it eligible for preservation funding. During the Dukes’ tenure, the amount of foul territory down the lines was reduced and the fences were shortened, allowing for expanded bullpens and additional spectator areas.

Pro baseball returned for 2010-11 with the Pittsfield Colonials, a Can-Am League team relocated from Nashua, N.H. and rebranded. The club celebrated the use of the Wahconah tract over three centuries as well as the discovery, early in the 21st century, of a town ordinance dating to 1791 that prohibited the playing of “base” in the immediate vicinity of the town meetinghouse, half a mile away. With the Colonials suspending operations after two seasons, college summer ball has returned to the park.

The outfield fence is a straight line for quite a distance here, owing to the field’s continued use for football. This is Pittsfield High School’s home field. The grandstand is not used for football; instead, temporary bleachers are set up in the outfield.

The exterior of Wahconah Park, Jul-1997.
Game # Date League Level Result
29 Sat 2-Sep-1989 NY-Penn A PITTSFIELD 2, Watertown 0, 2d
257 Fri 25-Jul-1997 NY-Penn A Watertown 7, PITTSFIELD 6
318 Thu 30-Jul-1998 NY-Penn A PITTSFIELD 8, NJ Cardinals 4
468 Thu 19-Jul-2001 NY-Penn A NJ Cardinals 5, PITTSFIELD 3
1057 Mon 31-May-2010 Can-Am Ind. PITTSFIELD 3, NJ Jackals 0
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This page updated 1-Aug-2012