Spring, Featured Column, Column, Baseball

Shea It Ain’t So: Finding A New Home For BC Baseball

This winter of epic proportions has wreaked havoc on the Greater Boston area. Students and citizens of the City Upon a Hill have braved the harsh cold and unending snow, bundling up like a mountain climber just to walk next door on certain days. Fortunately, the worst has appeared to subside, and we’re even seeing the temperature approach the 60s.

And that means that we are in the middle of the obsessed Instagrammer’s least favorite time of year—the period of soggy, yellow grass, salt-stained sidewalks, and never-melting piles of mulch-covered snow. The weather is always too cold for shorts, but try wearing a jacket and you’ll be sweating bullets during your classes.

While this is merely an inconvenience for the majority of the Boston College student population—taking the path around to Mac rather than cutting through the Stokes lawn is not that big of a deal—it is much more than that to the BC baseball and softball teams. Shea Field spent roughly two months buried in snow after taking the usual beating from football tailgates, all but ensuring that it will not be ready any time soon.

With Birdball already 20 games into its 2015 campaign, it might be time to find a new field. The first eight home games for BC have already been relocated, and it will likely be another few weeks before Shea is in playable condition. Softball, meanwhile, has had four straight games postponed, and its first home game in less than a week is unlikely to be played at BC.

Birdball seems to have given up entirely on the state of Massachusetts, enlisting the help of the University of Delaware to host its next series against Duke University over the weekend. While the players might lobby to just keep going a little further south—I’m sure playing home games in Miami Beach would be a hit—that wouldn’t be sustainable for a full season.

Rather than waiting for the snow to melt and the puddles to evaporate, it would be in BC’s best interest to start thinking about backup plans. Fortunately, the Eagles won’t have to travel too far to find an open area that is suitable for athletics.

There are plenty of places on campus and in the surrounding area that would more than accommodate BC’s premier outdoor sports played with a bat on dirt.

STOKES AMPHITHEATER—It’s the perfect location for a game of wiffle ball. Leave the gloves at home and swap out the Louisville Sluggers for a classic plastic yellow bat—you’ve got yourself a game for the ages. Rumor on the street is that softball starting pitcher Allyson Frei is a wizard with the wiffle ball. Added twist—the game doesn’t end until someone’s mom calls them home for dinner.

FENWAY PARK—Sure, it’ll take a little bit of coaxing. Director of Athletics Brad Bates would have to cough up a fair share of cash. But I bet the big leaguers would be all right with giving up a few afternoons of batting practice to give Mike Gambino & Co. the thrill of a lifetime. And they wouldn’t even have to face the added pressure of making the Baseball Beanpot final.

DEVLIN 008—I mean, they have to play somewhere. It might be a little tough logistically, but it would be putting the room to better use than a scarcely-attended lecture would. The hill in deep center field at Minute Maid Park in Houston has proven to be a fan favorite—people would go bananas for a field that was entirely uphill.

NEWTON—The Newton Turf Field is basically a step sideways in quality from Shea, so the Eagles will have the advantage of familiarity over the competition. Plus, it will finally give Newton freshmen something to do on Friday nights.

THE GREEN LINE—Since it’s not moving anyway, the Eagles should have no trouble staging athletic events on the MBTA’s stationary cars. The T has the public address and ticketing systems already covered. No guarantee that games will finish on time, and the final three innings might have to take place on a shuttle bus.

THE TOP LEVEL OF THE BEACON ST. PARKING GARAGE—Just imagine the thrill of standing on what used to be Shea Field, waiting for Chris Shaw to blast homer after homer over the edge of the parking garage and into a sea of waiting fans below, like at McCovey Cove in San Francisco. BC would be paying further homage to the Giants with the football field-shaped diamond, a la Polo Grounds.

CONTE FORUM—Plenty of outdoor sports have translated well indoors, so why not baseball? The Arena Football League is a fast-paced, hard-hitting frenzy. The Major Indoor Soccer League—home to powerhouses such as the Philadelphia KiXX and Monterrey La Raza— played indoors with walls and no out-of-bounds area. It produced its fair share of excitement over its six-year history from 2008 to 2014. What makes baseball any different? Add some walls around the perimeter of the field, allow body-checking, and you’re set. Bonus: no other teams (or fans) will be inside the building, so scheduling for baseball and softball would be a breeze.

LOWER—The opportunity for BC Athletics to sell upper and lower deck seating to watch America’s Pastime is too much profit to pass up. The concessions from the dining hall are already expensive enough to be sold at a baseball stadium. Post game orange slices would be replaced by mozzarella sticks and regret.

NORTHBOROUGH—Why stop now? Birdball has its one and only conference win at the New England Baseball Complex in Northborough, Mass.—it might just be its good luck charm. The 45-minute bus drive is not ideal, but it’s a small and reasonable price to pay for victory. Sure, it’s cold, but so is Chicago, and they have two professional teams—you don’t hear any of them complaining. In the end, what’s really more important—winning or the feeling in your extremities?

BOSTON UNIVERSITY—Nah, it’s not worth it.

Featured Graphic by Francisco Ruela / Heights Editor

March 26, 2015