Yogi Berra Stadium (opened in 1998) is home to the New Jersey Jackals of the independent Can-Am League. Located on the campus of Montclair State University, the ballpark resides at the top of the campus, built into a bowl. Minus large office building protruding from centerfield, the ballpark looks out onto a backdrop of blue romantic sky. The majority of the seats are the traditional individual ballpark folding chairs, which is nice. Inevitably when I am dealing with benches, also found in this park as well as any bleacher in America, I always have a fat guy who would like to share my seat with me. Does the folding chair ruin the “bleacher bum” feel some fans thrive on? Yes. Do I appreciate not being sat on? Absolutely.
There is a large grassy berm in right field for the overflow crowd during firework nights. Nonetheless, it’s not uncommon to also spot restless kids running around or rolling down the hill. I worked there from 2003 to 2006. I think I’ve even rolled down that hill once or twice.
I can’t get in trouble for that anymore. I think the statute of limitations is up.
For fairly a new ballpark, the sightlines are not that great. The seats do not seem sloped as much as they should. There are also a lot of metal rails that can obstruct the view. Also, the seating is a bit cramped. How was a ballpark built post 1970, without luxury boxes?
When I was there, a Jackals game was an overload of the senses. A movie clip was played after every play. Almost every pitch seemed to be accompanied by sound effect. As of recently though, the organization has toned it down a bit. People actually seem to be there to see a ballgame.
There is an arcade room off the concourse area, which sticks out like a sore thumb. It doesn’t belong at a ballpark and malfunctioned often (when I worked there). Wrestling with children’s birthday parties in 90-degree weather, the arcade was overall more trouble than it was worth.
Concessions are average, both in quality and price. Besides the normal ballpark fare, cheese steaks, sausages, and chicken salad wraps are offered. The ice cream though is always beyond the pale. Unfortunately, the team never seems to have enough concession stands open during most games. It gives the park a depressing feel.
In addition to the ballpark, the Yogi Berra Museum is housed in a building adjacent to the first base line. I recently went to revisit the museum, which prompted my second look at the ballpark. The museum overlooks the field and has one luxury box which Yogi uses on occasion.
Looking back from the view of the museum, Yogi Berra Stadium is most definitely in need of some serious upkeep. Many of the structures (the press box, concession stands, and dugouts) appear to be quite dirty and could use a washing. The colors are faded and the stadium overall could use some paint.
Why is Continental Airlines still on the dugouts? That airline technically doesn’t exist any more.
The stadium has become very barren and concrete, which is starting to look starker as the concrete has begun to wear over the years. This ballpark was once the jewel of the Can-Am League (formerly the Northern League), but it has been overtaken by almost all the other parks in the league now. Yogi Berra Stadium is still a decent place to see a game, but it’s time for it to get the love and attention it deserves.