Chronological Tour: Stop 155

They Build ’em Nice in Jersey

Exterior of Somerset Ballpark, Jul-1999.

A look at the attractive interior, Aug-2010.

The unspectacular view is blocked by advertising signs.

Quick Facts: Rating: 4 baseballs
Everybody raved about Atlantic City and Bridgeport when they opened. Newark’s park is nice too. Somerset Ballpark in Bridgewater, N.J., home of the Somerset Patriots, topped them all when it opened in 1999 (after playing the league’s initial season as a road team) with this handsome red-brick structure. And the Patriots have also been a model for success in marketing independent baseball. Along with their league rivals out on Long Island, the Patriots have led the way in becoming part of the fabric of the community, drawing fans to this handsome yard season after season.

Just prior to the Atlantic League All-Star Game in July 2000, an area bank signed on to be the park’s naming sponsor. The park became known as Commerce Bank Park; it became TD Bank Ballpark in 2009 after Toronto Dominion purchased the financial institution.

Getting to the Game

The ballpark is convenient to I-287, the outer beltway 30 miles from New York. The highway runs within a thousand feet, but the nearest exit is a mile away. No matter: county roads connect exit 13, for NJ 28, to the ballpark on East Main Street.

On top of that, the park is next to a train station on NJ Transit’s Raritan Valley line. Trains regularly stop at Bridgewater, and the ballpark shares the adjacent parking lot with park-and-ride customers.

Watching the Game

When the ballpark opened, ticket prices were the highest in the Atlantic League. This is no longer true, as the team has largely held the line on the price of admission. Tickets in the upper half of the seating bowl can be had for as little as $10.50 (as of 2015). Seats below the cross aisle cost more, with prime seats behind home plate going for the highest prices in the bowl. There are luxury boxes, too.

Parking in the adjacent park-and-ride lot costs $2, which is quite reasonable, but if you’re pinching pennies, you can park in the shopping center across the street. Just don’t park in the immediate vicinity of the stores and take up the good spaces their customers deserve.

The seating bowl is roomy, not nearly as cramped as in some other stadiums, except that the very last row of the upper bowl has very narrow tread room. Foul territory does taper off, with the farthest sections getting smaller to accommodate 315 feet of foul line and the bullpens (which are in the field of play). And instead of being located directly behind the plate, the press box is offset by two sections, maximizing the number of behind-the-plate seats.

While there is no free handout program, the team does post the lineups on a board behind the press box. The message board below the scoreboard does a good job displaying information about the batters, and the public address announcement is competent.

Enjoying the Game

The Patriots have some sort of promotion nearly every night. For instance, their manager for the first 15 years was one-time New York Yankees closer Sparky Lyle, so the club has an annual Yankees Night. The team has other theme nights such as Star Wars Night, as well as a fair number of fireworks nights.

Also in honor of Lyle, the team’s primary mascot is an animal known as Sparkee. (He wears No. 98, in honor of the team’s founding in 1998.) Sparkee has since gained a sidekick known as Slider. The club, called the Patriots in honor of New Jersey’s Revolutionary War heritage, also employ a fellow in a costume of the day known as General Admission. The General appeared to have faded into history but was revived for 2014.

While tickets are relatively inexpensive, prepare to pay premium prices for concessions. The Patriots have mastered the art of luring the fans in with a low base price and then getting you to spend a few extra bucks once you’re in the door. This was enhanced further in 2017 as the club contracted with a new concessionaire.

I do have a problem with the total lack of view. The outfield wall is one of those triple-decked advertising monstrosities that blocks spectators from seeing anything beyond. However, the high wall is necessary to avoid distraction from the flashing lights of NJ Transit trains stopping at the station. And, in all fairness, there isn’t that much to see beyond the wall anyhow.

Game # Date League Level Result
362 Sun 11-Jul-1999 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 6, Newark 0
504 Mon 3-Sep-2001 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 6, Nashua 5
512 Tue 2-Oct-2001 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 7, Newark 4, 10 inn
571 Wed 11-Sep-2002 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 10, Camden 8
615 Thu 7-Aug-2003 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 5, Atlantic City 0, 6 inn, rain
657 Sat 22-May-2004 Atlantic Ind. Newark 6, SOMERSET 2
660 Sat 19-Jun-2004 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 4, Camden 3, 9 inn, 1st
661 Sat 19-Jun-2004 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 3, Camden 1, 2d
727 Sat 18-Sep-2004 Atlantic Ind. Newark 10, SOMERSET 5
796 Sun 18-Sep-2005 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 5, Camden 4, 10 inn
802 Thu 29-Sep-2005 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 5, Atlantic City 1
803 Sat 1-Oct-2005 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 5, Nashua 2
839 Wed 16-Aug-2006 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 3, Newark 0
869 Sat 21-Jul-2007 Atlantic Ind. York 7, SOMERSET 4
907 Thu 13-Sep-2007 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 4, Lancaster 2
912 Sat 21-Sep-2007 Atlantic Ind. Newark 7, SOMERSET 6
931 Sun 20-Jul-2008 Atlantic Ind. Bridgeport 7, SOMERSET 4
974 Sun 14-Sep-2008 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 9, Southern Maryland 2
983 Wed 24-Sep-2008 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 6, York 4
984 Sun 28-Sep-2008 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 14, Camden 4
1025 Sun 30-Aug-2009 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 5, Camden 1
1045 Fri 25-Sep-2009 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 5, Newark 0
1050 Thu 1-Oct-2009 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 8, Southern Maryland 2
1075 Sat 14-Aug-2010 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 6, Newark 1
1095 Mon 6-Sep-2010 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 7, York 3
1107 Fri 24-Sep-2010 Atlantic Ind. York 6, SOMERSET 5
1172 Mon 12-Sep-2011 Atlantic Ind. York 4, SOMERSET 1
74 Sat 17-Mar-2012 Colonial States Div III CENTENARY 6, Immaculata 2, 1st
75 Sat 17-Mar-2012 Colonial States Div III Immaculata 6, CENTENARY 3, 9 inn, 2d
1196 Wed 25-Jul-2012 Atlantic Ind. Sugar Land 4, SOMERSET 3
1243 Thu 20-Sep-2012 Atlantic Ind. Long Island 5, SOMERSET 1
1264 Wed 7-Aug-2013 Atlantic Ind. Bridgeport 12, SOMERSET 10, night
1298 Fri 20-Sep-2013 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 5, Sugar Land 4
1300 Sat 28-Sep-2013 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 2, Long Island 1, 16 inn
1301 Sun 29-Sep-2013 Atlantic Ind. Long Island 6, SOMERSET 4
1332 Thu 7-Aug-2014 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 3, Camden 2, 11 inn
1368 Sat 27-Sep-2014 Atlantic Ind. Lancaster 4, SOMERSET 3
1369 Sun 28-Sep-2014 Atlantic Ind. Lancaster 9, SOMERSET 1
1407 Mon 17-Aug-2015 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 5, Long Island 4
1444 Fri 25-Sep-2015 Atlantic Ind. Long Island 9, SOMERSET 4
1445 Sat 26-Sep-2015 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 4, Long Island 0
1446 Sun 27-Sep-2015 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 4, Long Island 0
1467 Sun 31-Jul-2016 Atlantic Ind. Bridgeport 3, SOMERSET 2, 1st
1468 Sun 31-Jul-2016 Atlantic Ind. Bridgeport 4, SOMERSET 3, 12 inn, 2d
1513 Tue 6-Sep-2016 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 10, Sugar Land 5
1526 Thu 22-Sep-2016 Atlantic Ind. SOMERSET 10, Long Island 0
1555 Thu 15-Jun-2017 Atlantic Ind. Long Island 3, SOMERSET 1
1615 Fri 22-Sep-2017 Atlantic Ind. Long Island 6, SOMERSET 1
1616 Sat 23-Sep-2017 Atlantic Ind. Long Island 4, SOMERSET 3
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