In 2019, Amanda the Librarian and I thought we were going to a Brockton Rox game at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton. The Rox’ team website had tickets available and a countdown to first pitch. We got two tickets, jumped in our car and drove out to the City of Champions, Brockton, Massachussetts. When we pulled into Brockton High School parking lot (home of the Brockton Boxers), we realized that there was a Puerto Rican music festival happening at the stadium.
Turns out, the Rox were playing the Westfield Starfires in Westfield. That night, we rallied, and ended up at Paul Walsh Field to see the New Bedford BaySox. Lucky thing, too. The BaySox folded at the conclusion of the 2019 season, so I’m glad I had one last chance to see the team play. Hopefully another team moves into Whaling City. New Bedford is an up-and-coming town in Southern Mass.
This afternoon, Amanda and the Librarian again made the trip to Campanelli to see the Rox play. This time I double checked the triple check to make sure the team was at home.
Campanelli Stadium is a sad place. It is slowly becoming a ghost of it’s former self. Or what I assume was it’s former self. In a past life, the Rox were an independent pro team, competing in the Canadian-American League (which is now a division of the Frontier League). The Rox were one of a dozen or so New England-based teams that passed through the Can-Am. After struggling to make the grade in pro baseball, they did what a lot of indy ball & minor league teams have done in the past half decade or so. They went college showcase, joining the Futures Collegiate Baseball League in 2012.
Today the stadium is a husk. Walking in from the first base side, you’re lead behind the grand stand and up unremarkable steps to the concourse level. Once on the concourse, one quickly realizes that there is precious little to see. One concession stand, which was staffed by over a half dozen people. Then restrooms and that’s about it.
The stadium, which reminds me of a dozen other small indie ball parks, is wearing it’s age. The facade of the pressbox is a faded gray. The padding that lines the fence all the way around the stadium is wearing threadbare. Weeds are growing up through the chainlink fence that lines the infield grandstand. The scoreboard in left-centerfield has a video board, but that goes unused. The linescore on the scoreboard only announces the home “ROX”, and the At Bat number is quite often wrong. There is no souvenir stand, no game day program, no line-up sheets.
The game day staff, which almost outnumbered the crowd were fine. Unobtrusive, and when three innings of “Hey runner, right hand boobs, left hand butt” escalated to mild insults of the umpire’s strikezone, a staff person did come down and warn the other people in our section, and then remained for the rest of the game. He did so pleasantly but firmly. By the way, announced crowd for tonight’s Rox vs Vermont Lake Monsters tilt was 600+, but that number must include staff, players, coaches, umpires and several passersby. My guess would be less than 100. Makes me wonder exactly how many fans made it past the gate for Thursday night’s game, announced at just over 300 fans.
When the game got underway, which was right on time at 6:00PM (in a cool, but comfortable 70 degrees), the game was pretty exciting. Quality of play did not speak to the NCAA D1 quality of players this evening. Several errors, passed balls, wild pitches and lots of walks from the visiting side. The Lake Monsters’ pitching staff struggled from the jump, with the starter failing to get an out in the third inning and one of the relievers walking the bases loaded, then walking a fourth consecutive batter to give up a run. The Rox eventually blew the game open in the 8th, hanging a 6-spot on Vermont on their way to an 8-1 victory.
Just a note, the Rox have 2 numbers retired, neither are for former Rox. “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler & Rocky Marciano are remembered on the outfield wall, honoring Brockton’s status as a boxing city.