Flowers Park – Iona Gaels
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Not Much Blooming at Flowers Park
Richard “Dick” Caswell Field at City Park on Fifth Avenue in New Rochelle, New York is home to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s Iona Gaels Men’s Baseball team. City Park, also known as William “Brud” Flowers Park, is exactly what it sounds like, a simple, bare-bones place to play ball located between two softball fields just over a mile from Iona’s suburban campus, approximately 20 miles north of New York City in Westchester County. It’s about as modest a setup as any you’ll find for a Division I school, befitting the 4,000-student catholic school’s modest baseball program that has not broken .500 in conference play since 2003.
Twenty six Iona Gaels have been selected in the MLB draft since its inception in 1965, including relief pitcher Jason Motte, currently (as of 2016) of the Colorado Rockies, who earned a World Series ring with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011 and led the National League in saves in 2012. The bigger name, however, is former Iona pitcher and 2015 Washington Nationals draftee Mariano Rivera III, son of the surefire hall of fame from whom he received his name. The younger Rivera began the 2016 season with the Hagerstown Suns in the Single-A South Atlantic League and was named a league All-Star. One can imagine the delight of a local happening upon an Iona game at City Park with none other than baseball’s all-time saves champion cheering on his son from the modest metal bleachers.
Food & Beverage 0
There is no food or beverage available at City Field, and the neighboring area is fairly barren in this respect aside from gas station snacks. The nearest restaurants are located either 1.2 miles to the west on Iona’s campus, or .8 miles to the northeast surrounding the Larchmont train station. Fans should consider either bringing their own food or eating before they arrive. There is a water fountain attached to the bathroom facilities, but it may or may not be usable on any given day.
A mid-major baseball squad playing its games in a city park (literally named City Park) isn’t exactly Fenway on a Friday night. It looks like a Little League game with larger people. If not for the Iona sign hanging behind home plate and a pop-up tent next to the home dugout protecting the audio equipment, you’d have no idea who was playing in the game without reading the uniforms. The names of each batter are announced and each player gets their own walk-up music, both of which are played through a sole, team-provided speaker underneath the aforementioned pop-up tent. The speaker is far and away the loudest element of the game.
You’re not coming here to hang out. Across 5th Avenue from City Park is a long stretch of auto-body shops, a school bus depot, a few small homes, and an antique shop. Beyond that strip is a sprawling suburb, with Iona’s campus just over a mile away. Dick Caswell Field itself is part of the larger City Park complex, which also houses two softball fields, a soccer field, a football field, and one lone basketball court. The first base line runs parallel to a small patch of woods, and players not currently in the game are occasionally tasked with finding foul balls that have landed amongst the trees. Across the parking lot sits a three-building Boys & Girls Club. Simply put, there is not much to do in the immediate vicinity of City Park.
This is a family and (girl)friends crowd in the strictest sense. Many players on the 2016 Iona roster are from the surrounding area, and a few parents generally come to the games. The crowd of Iona students showing up to cheer on their classmates is generally limited to bored girlfriends of the players, who pass the time staring at their smartphones, possibly with a friend they dragged along to the game. Three dozen fans would be quite a crowd for an Iona tilt.
There are three separate parking lots within sight of home plate, all of which are free to use. Bathroom facilities are located between the first base line fence and the woods in a small building with a water fountain. They are generally clean, and do not appear to be heavily used. In terms of actual seating, there are small metal bleachers on either side of home plate, and the action is directly in front of you. You can sit wherever you’d like.
City Field is a 15 minute walk from the Larchmont stop on the Metro North’s New Haven line, which terminates approximately 35 minutes away by train at Grand Central Station in Manhattan. The entire MTA subway system is accessible from Grand Central. Directions by car are available on Iona’s athletics website, and City Field is located just a few minutes off I-95 and the Hutchinson River Parkway. There is also a bus station located on 5th Avenue within 100 yards of the field. It services Westchester County’s Bee-Line #61 bus, which runs from the Larchmont train station to the Fordham Metro North station in the Bronx.
Return on Investment 1
Attendance and parking are free. As such, the only investments you’re making to attend an Iona game are transportation and time. Unless you’re dating or related to a player, attending an Iona Gaels home baseball game is a perfectly pleasant diversion, but not really worth your time.
This is a middling college program playing in front of maybe a dozen fans in a city park.
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