With the traditional end of the Minor League Baseball season on Labor Day, we’re heading into the playoffs today—which gives you another shot at visiting our favorite MiLB and independent ballparks over the next week or two.
True, not every MiLB or independent circuit is in playoff mode: the Rookie Pioneer League won’t end until next weekend, the Short Season A NY-Penn League season ends Thursday, and play in the independent Atlantic League rolls along. But the long-season leagues wound down on Labor Day, with playoffs beginning tonight after a Tuesday travel day.
In the International League, it’s hard to go wrong with any of the four ballparks hosting playoff games: Victory Field (Indianapolis Indians), Durham Bulls Athletic Park (Durham Bulls, shown above), Coca-Cola Park (Lehigh Valley IronPigs) and PNC Field (SWB RailRiders). These ballparks have won their share of Ballpark Digest awards over the years, and they’re all worthy of a ballpark visit.
In the Pacific Coast League, you again have four really great ballparks hosting playoff games: AutoZone Park (Memphis Redbirds), Reno Aces (Greater Nevada Field), Southwest University Park (El Paso Chihuahuas; a previous winner of Ballpark of the Year) and the underrated Security Service Field (Colorado Springs Sky Sox).
In Double-A, look for games at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville (Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp), Riverwalk Stadium (Montgomery Biscuits home), ONEOK Field (Tulsa Drillers home), ARM & HAMMER Park (Trenton Thunder home), PNG Field (Altoona Curve) and Blue Wahoos Stadium (Pensacola Blue Wahoos home).
In High-A, the Florida State League has ended playoffs early because of hurricane concerns. In the Carolina League, we’d recommend taking in a game at Grainger Stadium, home of the Down East Wood Ducks: it’s a classic ballpark nicely updated for today. In the California League, a road trip to Banner Island Ballpark (Stockton Ports) is worth the drive.
Finally, we have the Low-A playoffs–an abundance of riches for any ballpark nerd. In the Sally League, you some great facilities in the form of First National Bank Field (Greensboro Grasshoppers), The Joe (Charleston RiverDogs) and a recently renovated Fluor Field (Greenville Drive). We recently visited Fluor Field and will be posting something shortly, but rest assured a visit will be worth your while. In the Midwest League Parkview Field (Fort Wayne TinCaps), Fifth Third Ballpark (West Michigan Whitecaps), Modern Woodmen Park (Quad Cities River Bandits) and Fifth Third Field (Dayton Dragons) are all hosting games in the first round of the playoffs.
Other pro leagues ended their seasons on Labor Day as well. In the independent American Association playoffs, you have an intriguing matchup in two fine ballparks: Haymarket Park (Lincoln Saltdogs, shown above) and Shaw Park (Winnipeg Goldeyes). Four teams make the American Association playoffs, and the other matchup features history vs. modern: Lawrence-Dumont Stadium (Wichita Wingnuts) and U.S. Steel Yard (Gary-SouthShore RailCats).
In the independent Frontier League, we have some strong ballparks to hit during playoff baseball as well. Four teams make the playoffs. In one bracket, we have another history vs. modern matchup, with Bosse Field (Evansville Otters) and Boomers Stadium (Schaumburg Boomers) hosting games. In the other bracket, you have the underrated UC Health Stadium (Florence Freedom) and CONSOL Energy Park (Washington Wild Things) hosting playoff games.
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