Robin Roberts Stadium, home of the Springfield Lucky Horseshoes (Prospect League), is your winner of the 2022 Summer Collegiate Best of the Ballparks fan vote, defeating venerable Cardines Field.
In the end, the vote was not close: 79 percent to 21 percent. Still, the margin should not detract from the fact that this was a marvelous matchup, with two ballparks steeped in baseball history and representative of the qualities that make summer-collegiate ball so endearing.
Robin Roberts Stadium is a former Triple-A and Low-A ballpark hosting Three-I, Midwest League and American Association teams, named for Springfield native and Hall of Fame Robin Roberts, best remember as a Philadelphia Phillies great. In December 2021 the former Springfield Sliders were acquired by an ownership group that includes wrestling Hall of Famer Jeff Jarrett and is led by industry veteran Jamie Toole. They embarked on a rebranding–yielding the Lucky Horseshoes name–and implemented some ballpark improvements.
Cardines Field, old enough to be considered one of the oldest in the country, is at a site hosting baseball games since the 1800s, and parts of the ballpark date back to 1908. It’s hosted plenty of traveling teams over the years–Satchel Paige and other Negro League teams played there while barnstorming–and became home of the Newport Gulls (New England Collegiate Baseball League) in 2001. (One additional ballpark quirk: the Cardines Field footprint is so small there is there is little foul territory and both dugouts are located side by side down the first-base line.)
“We want to thank everyone that voted for Robin Roberts Stadium throughout the process. Baseball Digest put together a very competitive list of 64 other ballparks, and to be voted number one is something we take a lot of pride in,” said Lucky Horseshoes Emperor of Engagement Andrew Miller. “Our entire staff and the Springfield Park District spent countless hours and put in a ton of effort into Robin Roberts Stadium to get it prepared for the inaugural Lucky Horseshoes 2022 season and all that hard work has paid off. We’re looking forward to defending our title in 2023!”
“This matchup shows why we love summer-collegiate ball: teams bring new life to treasured old ballparks and maintain baseball traditions,” said Ballpark Digest Publisher Kevin Reichard. “This is grass-roots baseball at its best, and we see continued for both teams at both ballparks.”
We began the 2022 Summer Collegiate Best of the Ballparks fan vote by compiling a list of 115 worthy candidates, and then we trimmed that list to 64 and began the vote without seeds. (Yes, 115 contenders makes for a large list, but it could have been larger: We run a separate competition for the 16 ballparks in the two leagues with direct MLB ties, the Appalachian League and MLB Draft League.)
“Making it through six rounds is quite a slog, and we are grateful for all the support in the baseball community for the Best of the Ballparks vote,” Reichard added.