Chronological Tour: Stop 275

Gill Stadium

Main entrance to Gill Stadium, Aug-2004.

The main seating bowl is used for both baseball and football.

Distinctive church spires line Beech Street beyond left field.

Quick Facts: Rating: 3 baseballs
Manchester’s minor-league stadium was built in Varick Park in 1913. The park had hosted the national pastime for about a decade before being leased to the Amoskeag Textile Club, a house team of Amoskeag Manufacturing, who built the stadium. Site visitor Arnold Bates advises that the inaugural game, 8-Sep-1913, was between the Manufacturers Baseball League All-Stars and the Boston Red Sox (an off-day for the Sox in the American League schedule, between a road series against the Philadelphia Athletics and a home stand that opened with the Detroit Tigers).

In 1927, Amoskeag turned the stadium back to the city, which then used it for the municipal Sunset League as well as American Legion Baseball. The park hosted the American Legion World Series six times between 1932 and 1977, and it is still used by the Legion program as well as for high school baseball and football.

Twice, New York Yankees farm teams played at Gill. Their New England League team spent two years there in the late 1940s, while they got an Eastern League team in the early 1970s. In 2003, the New Haven Ravens announced an agreement to move to a new park being built for them in Manchester in 2005; as part of the deal, Gill Stadium received an upgrade and the club played there in 2004. After originally announcing that the team would be known as the New Hampshire Primaries, a nod to the quadrennial political event that keeps the Granite State in the national news, the club ultimately opted for the name New Hampshire Fisher Cats. (The fisher is a weasel-like mammal who lives in trees; some folks call it a fisher cat because of its resemblance to a cat.)

The stadium upgrade included all-weather FieldTurf, a popular artificial turf that has the unfortunate effect of “splashing” black pellets into the air whenever a ball bounces on it or a player dives for a ball.

Gill Stadium (named in 1967 after a long-time city parks and recreation director) can seat 2,500 in the main seating bowl and another 1,000 in the bleachers (set up in the football end zones along each foul line). Picnic areas have also been established in temporary fencing areas that encroach upon the massive foul territory, making for an oddly-shaped playing area. The stadium parking area only has room for 300 cars. Area businesses have set up impromptu game parking lots; there is also limited parking on streets south of the field.

I was unable to give more than three baseballs to this historic structure because, for one, I am not a fan of baseball on artificial turf, and for another, the scoreboard in left field is a football scoreboard with very limited information, unable to even flash hit-or-error scoring decisions. On the other hand, it was a very pleasant experience seeing a game in what, for 2004, was the second-oldest full-season park in professional baseball behind Fenway Park, 70 miles to the south.

Game # Date League Level Result
681 Sun 1-Aug-2004 Eastern AA Portland 7, NEW HAMPSHIRE 5
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This page updated 8-Jul-2015