The campus of the University of Rhode Island sits about 15 minutes from my hometown of North Kingstown. In fact, it is in Kingston, RI – not South Kingstown or simply Kingstown. A bit confusing for the non-Rhode Islander I’m sure. The URI campus was a familiar site for me growing up, as I attended football games, watched my siblings compete in swim meets at Tootell, played in and watched countless basketball games in Keaney Gym, then the Ryan Center, and visited friends from NKHS who attended the University of Rhode Island to advance their studies. URI was always a larger than life experience for me with its apartment like dorms and massive athletic complexes and tons of students flooding the streets and arenas. Over the years, the campus has expanded and improved its facilities to even more impressive levels.
The baseball field at the University of Rhode Island is Bill Beck Field. Bill Beck was a URI Football and Baseball coach in the 1940s, and the university honored his dedication to sports by naming the field after him in 1966. Originally, a traditional grass and dirt/clay field, the University renovated Bill Beck field starting in 2007 with a new field surface which still exists today. The renovations were completed in 2009. Durable, reliable astroturf really helps with the unpredictable weather of New England, especially in the Spring time when field maintenance is a real challenge on natural grass surfaces. Additional field, dugout, press box, and grounds upgrades have happened since the big renovation in 2009. I visited Bill Beck field yesterday to get a closer look.
I was jogging my memory to recall if I had played on Bill Beck Field. I did play a few games in the 1990s for my Post 39 American Legion team at that field, which was natural grass and I believe clay back then. I also remember having a tryout there when I was a Senior at North Kingstown High School, although I later chose Springfield College to play baseball at. It was a cold, windy day and I bundled up as I walked around the field, sat in the stands, walked through the dugouts, and out behind the fences. Here are few photos and videos from my trip around Bill Beck Field:
The view from behind home plate was spectacular. Despite being a frigid cold day, the sun was shining bright and there were just a few “annoying” clouds in the sky. Fast forward one month and add 20 degrees of warmth, this would have been a perfect day to play baseball. I love the trees lined up in centerfield. And the huge logo behind home plate.
Bill Beck Field stone monument is at the opening of the field entrance.
One of the things I love about visiting baseball fields is walking the perimeter outside of the fenced area of the outfield. This centerfield view of the field gives me a lot of perspective as to how big the park is. And I always look for baseballs outside the fenced in area and wonder who may have hit this, what did their swing look like, what was the emotion of the team and the player. This particular baseball was found in the trees (I knocked it off a branch) some 400 plus feet away from home plate. Quite a shot and it must have been an awesome experience to hit it, watch it, and be in that moment.
The gates to each side of the field were open, so I took a quick walk through the dugouts to get a player’s view of the field. Just a side note, if you come to a field and the gates are locked, please be respectful and do not enter the field, whether it is the University of Rhode Island or your local youth baseball park. As the gates were left open, I took a fast walk through the field and exited respectfully and happy to have gotten a few photos on the field.
Here is a video from the right field corner of Bill Beck Field. The distance from home plate to the fence in right field is 330 field, as is the same in left field. The power alleys, which refer to the gaps between right and center/left and center are 375 feet from home plate. The center field fence is 400 feet from home plate. No funky corners or tricky angles. Just a perfectly arced fence spanning the perimeter of the outfield.
The University of Rhode Island Baseball team has already begun its 2020 Spring Season. They have been travelling down south to play games and get their season underway. Their first home game at Bill Beck Field is Wednesday, March 18th vs Sacred Heart at 3pm (weather permitting). One thing I am sure of, the field and the grounds will look even more amazing as the seasons change and Spring’s colors emerge around the ball park. I look forward to watching games and getting some game photos this Spring as the URI Rams Baseball team competes against some of the top colleges and universities in the country.
To see when you can catch a URI baseball game, go to Rhode Island Baseball Schedule to learn more.
The RIBBE is The Rhode Island Baseball Experience. It is promoting the game of baseball here in the great state of Rhode Island for the entire baseball world to see. The RIBBE is positive stories, photos, videos, and responsible social media posts. The RIBBE is an information resource for families looking for an AAU team or a summer camp or a great place to buy a first baseman’s mitt. The RIBBE is a network of coaches, tournament directors, parents, leagues, and baseball junkies whose passion of the game of baseball is unquestioned. I believe that providing expert analysis, information and directions to ballfields, and coaching advice from some of the top RI baseball minds will help promote the game of baseball here in RI to a whole new level.