Chronological Tour: Stop 3

The Little Vet

The main entrance to Veterans Memorial Park has not changed much since its days as a minor-league ballpark.

A regulatory notice signed by league president Vincent McNamara still adorns an entranceway in late 1998.

Quick Facts: Rating: 2 baseballs
In the late 1970s, the New York Mets made an arrangement to place a New York-Penn League team in the old Erie Canal city of Little Falls, N.Y.

The Mets did right by the town, installing what was acclaimed at the time as the best lighting system in the league at the city-owned Veterans Memorial Park. They also brought in a full scoreboard, stationed beyond the right-field wall.

When I made my first trip to Cooperstown, 25 miles (40 km) south of here, in August 1986, the manager of the Little Falls Motor Inn told me at check-in, “You know, there’s a minor-league team playing just down the road. Wanna go?” I wound up with the motel’s box seats for what would be my first-ever minor-league game, a rain-shortened 2-0 loss to the rival Utica Blue Sox.

I made one more trip to Vets Park, the next season. In 1989, the Mets took their show on the road, relocating at Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Mass. It wasn’t until 28-Nov-1998 that I was able to return to the field and take the photos on this page. Remarkably, not much had changed in ten years aside from the missing scoreboard, which I had thought the Mets took with them but which, I now understand, had been blown down in a storm.

Yes, I could still hear the echoes of “Meet the Mets” and the hot dog vendor as I strolled around the perimeter of the locked facility. A father and son were playing catch on an adjacent Little League field; two men were playing tennis on the nearby courts on an unusually warm afternoon. But professional baseball was nowhere to be found, the same as it had been for ten summers except for a brief fling with the independent North Atlantic League.

Little Falls was, and is, a town in need of an economic boost. The city’s population dropped 15.7 percent, to 5,188, between 1980 and 2000. The Mets did their best to help, but it just didn’t work out for them.

Veterans Memorial Park has most recently hosted a team in the New York Collegiate Baseball League, a summer wood-bat league. In addition, reports site visitor Dan Bennett, the site has been expanded to include three additional fields. So at least baseball is alive and well in the Home of the Pledge of Allegiance (the Pledge was penned by a Little Falls pastor back in the 1890s).

Game # Date League Level Result
25 Fri 15-Aug-1986 NY-Penn A Utica 2, LITTLE FALLS 0, 5 inn, rain
26 Thu 13-Aug-1987 NY-Penn A LITTLE FALLS 6, Batavia 4, 11 inn
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This page updated 10-Aug-2009