J. O. Christian Field – Connecticut Huskies
The Homering Huskies
J.O. Christian Field is named for the University of Connecticut’s longtime baseball coach and athletic director J. Olean Christian. Christian served as the school’s baseball coach from 1936 to 1961. He also served as UConn’s football coach and basketball coach during his tenure. He was the first commissioner of the Yankee Conference. Christian led the Huskies to 254 wins and two College World Series appearances while serving as head coach.
Baseball has been played at the University of Connecticut since 1896. In their lengthy history, the Huskies have qualified for 18 NCAA tournaments, and have made 5 College World Series appearances, most recently in 1979. Sixteen former Huskies have made it to the major leagues, most notably 1950 American League Rookie of the Year Walt Dropo, along with pitchers Charles Nagy and Roberto Hernandez.
Food and Beverage 3
There is a small concession stand behind the visitor’s dugout on the first base side of J.O. Christian Field. It offers a basic menu, including hot dogs, hamburgers and grilled cheese sandwiches. Assorted snacks, including nachos, popcorn, cotton candy and pretzels can be purchased here. Fans looking for more snack foods can select Oreo or Reese’s Pie as well as assorted flavors of Dippin’ Dots.
Thirsty Husky fans can choose from assorted Coca Cola products. There is no alcohol served at this on-campus facility.
Veteran fans of college baseball in the northeast will find a lot that feels familiar at a UConn baseball game, including a small but dedicated crowd in attendance and a scaled-down gameday presentation that limits extraneous noise and distractions.
It’s a laid-back, comfortable atmosphere at which to watch some quality baseball. UConn does provide a couple of extras not often seen in these parts. The Husky mascot, Jonathan, can be found interacting with younger fans. The athletic department offers a couple of contests during the game, giving prizes to the fan who can correctly guess the timing of the seventh inning stretch as well as giveaways after each Husky home run.
The tiny town of Storrs, Connecticut is dominated by the university. Storrs’ population of nearly 11,000 is overshadowed by UConn’s undergraduate enrollment of 16,000, with an additional 5,000 enrolled in graduate programs. The university is located over a sprawling 4,000 acres, and is largely self-contained, which is a necessity given Storrs’ rural location. UConn’s origins as an agricultural school help to explain its rural location.
Fans looking to stay in Storrs will find their choices limited. Most fans who come to the area will do so as a day trip, moving on after the game to the larger cities of Hartford, 45 minutes away or Boston, located 90 minutes from the UConn campus. The twin casinos of Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun are located a short 45 minute drive from Storrs.
Fans looking for places to dine before or after a Husky game will find a growing number of eateries on either Storrs Road or North Eagleville Road. Geno’s Grille, named for UConn’s legendary women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma, Dog Lane Café and the Altnaveigh Inn are popular spots. Hotel accommodations near campus include the Best Western Regent, the Countryside B&B and the Hampton Inn.
If visiting UConn for a baseball game, you must be sure to stop at the UConn Dairy Bar after the game. The Dairy Bar, operated entirely by students, has been in operation since 1953 to sell dairy products that are made on site. While enjoying your ice cream you can see the cows grazing in the adjacent fields. Visitors to the Dairy Bar can watch the cows being milked or the ice cream being made every day.
While UConn baseball enjoys larger crowds than most of their fellow New England teams, typical crowds are still quite small when compared to other parts of the country. Even the largest Husky baseball crowd generally tops out at 500 fans. Most of the fans in attendance on any given day have a personal connection with the players on the field. There is a minimal turnout by the student body. While the crowd may be small, they are very knowledgeable about the home team and enthusiastic about the action on the field.
The University of Connecticut is located in rural Storrs, Connecticut, a village in the town of Mansfield. The campus is a 45 minute drive from Hartford, the capital and largest city in the state. Fans wishing to drive to the UConn campus will be well served in knowing that no highway serves Storrs directly, and a drive through the scenic eastern Connecticut countryside is necessary no matter what direction one is coming from. The closest interstate is route 84, which runs in a north-south direction connecting Hartford with the Massachusetts Turnpike. From I-84, fans will have to navigate local highways for about seven miles to the UConn campus.
For fans traveling by train or bus to UConn, be aware that there are no stations in the town of Storrs. However, the Union Station Shuttle transports round trip from the Storrs campus to Union Station in Hartford. The closest airport to the UConn campus is Bradley International Airport just north of Hartford. Shuttles are available to the airport from the university.
J.O Christian Field is located on the southwest edge of UConn’s campus. Adjacent to the baseball field are several other athletic facilities, including the impressive Shenkman training center and Gampel Pavilion, the largest on-campus basketball arena in New England.
Parking is available across the street from J.O. Christian Field in the large lot next to Frietas Ice Forum. Four sets of metal bleachers scattered around the field provide the seating here, with plenty of standing room available for fans wishing to stretch their legs. While there are no permanent restroom facilities here, there are a bunch of port-a-johns for use. Be warned that there are no paved paths at Christian Field, so be wary of where you step.
Return on Investment 4
There is no charge for admission or parking at J.O. Christian Field. Concessions sold here are reasonably priced, so you will not break the bank at a Husky baseball game. Of course, you have the option of bringing your own snacks to enjoy during the game, so it’s entirely possible to not spend any money during your trip to Storrs.
An extra point is awarded for the gameday elements not usually found in this part of the country, including the presence of the school’s mascot, as well as the giveaways and contests held during the game.
As of the writing of this review (May 2017), UConn was moving forward with a plan to renovate and relocate several of their on-campus athletic facilities. This project will cost an estimated $46 million, which will be paid for through donations and ticket surcharges. J.O. Christian Field will be demolished and replaced with a 1,500 seat facility, which will have lights, a press box and dugouts with restrooms, and luxury boxes. It will be located across the street on the present site of Morrone Stadium. A new ballpark would aim to improve fan experience and help in recruiting. While J.O. Christian Field is among the nicer college ballparks in New England, it can’t compete with the larger college fields elsewhere in the American Athletic Conference.
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Best Western Regent Inn
123 Storrs Rd
Storrs, CT 06269
Nathan Hale Inn & Conference Center
855 Bolton Rd
Storrs, CT 06269
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Mention UConn, and immediately the very successful men’s and women’s basketball teams come to mind . However, Huskies work as a team to achieve their goals, and the UConn Huskies baseball team is no exception. Over the years the baseball Huskies have made five College World Series appearances, 18 NCAA Tournament appearances, have been three time Big East Tournament Champions, 17 time Yankee Conference champions and sent 12 players on to Major League Baseball.