Most in baseball remember Damaschke Field as the former home of the NY-Penn League’s Oneonta Tigers, a place with strong community ownership and no beer sold at the ballpark. Things have changed: the ballpark was renovated in 2007, the Tigers now are in Norwich, and a summer-collegiate team has taken up residence. One thing remains the same: Sam Nader is in the same seat he’d held forever.
Year Opened: 1940; renovated in 2007
Dimensions: 333L, 401C, 335R
Playing Surface: Grass
Level: Summer collegiate
Parking: Ample free parking next to the ballpark.
Address/Directions: 95 River St., Oneonta, NY. The address is a misnomer: the ballpark is actually off River Street (which is the main drag in downtown Oneonta), near the Main Street exit on I-88. There is plenty of signage pointing you toward the ballpark; if you get turned around, just remember that the ballpark is between downtown Oneonta and the freeway.
Damaschke Field is an older facility in a good location. Like much of anything associated with baseball in the region, there’s a long history in this specific area. Damaschke Field is located within Neahwa Park, where baseball has been played since 1906. The current ballpark was configured in 1940 and named Neahwa Park Field, and the current stadium configuration dates back to 1968, when it was renovated and then renamed after a local baseball booster.
Baseball at Damaschke Field is a true community affair: for decades former Tigers owner Sam Nader (the former mayor of Oneonta) ran the show in a very hands-on fashion, and because of the intimate nature of the ballpark you’ll find neighbors chatting up neighbors throughout.
The ballpark configuration is pretty simple. There’s a covered grandstand combining box seats for season ticket holders and general-admission bleachers; on a hot night the seats in the back of the grandstand usually expose you to a nice breeze. (And on a cold night they usually expose you to a brisk breeze.) There are bleachers down each line, with two rows of box seats sold as season tickets in front. The bleachers down the first-base line provide some relief against the sun at the beginning of a night game, while the third-base bleachers are a sun field early in the evening.
A 2007 renovation did many wonderful things to the ballpark. First, it added better bleacher seating down each line. Second, it cleaned up the grandstand. Third, it added a new building on the third-base side containing larger concession stands and new clubhouses, as well as a new entrance with a ticket booth.
Sadly, the changes done for the Oneonta Tigers didn’t mean much: in 2010 the team shifted to Norwich, Connecticut after being sold to Miles Prentice. The summer-collegiate NYCBL swooped in; the nonprofit Outlaws are probably a better fit for the market anyway.
Is Damaschke Field worth a visit on its own? With the renovations, yes. They added basic necessities to the mix while keeping the essential community feel to the place. And if you’re already in the area to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, you should make a point of dropping by the ballpark. It’s a pretty 25-mile drive between Cooperstown and Oneonta, and after spending the day in a museum an evening at a real ballpark is a nice antidote to too much time spent indoors.