Saturday, April 17th, two Rhode Island collegiate baseball teams squared off in a doubleheader at Newport’s Reynolds Field. The home team, Newport’s Salve Regina University played host to Bristol’s Roger Williams University. I had circled this game (doubleheader) on my calendar when the two teams posted their Spring 2021 schedules about a month ago. A Rhode Island school vs a Rhode Island school, both with tons of local Rhode Island baseball talent, that is a great story, I thought. However, a lot of colleges and universities are not allowing spectators to see live games on their campuses. Each Rhode Island school, college, and university has fairly similar policies on safety protocols – social distancing, mask wearing, CDC guideline procedures – and then has more specific school policies on campus spectators. I want to attend every game I can, but safely and within the guidelines of the school, the college, the organization. So, I emailed/reached out to Coach Eric Cirella of Salve Baseball who then put me in contact with Ed Habershaw, Sports Information Director at Salve Regina University.
Ed phoned me and left me a detailed voicemail on Thursday to let me know that I could attend the game, but there was a “no fan” policy in effect at Salve Regina for their home baseball games. Parking in front of Reynold’s Field was not permitted, so I would have to find parking on the two streets that form the perimeter of the field – Shepard Ave and Lawrence Ave. Also, fans would not be allowed inside the field area, in the bleachers, next to the dugouts, or along the grassy areas of the foul lines. I was allowed to view the game along the perimeter of the field, not inside it. I phoned Ed and voiced my okay to Salve’s policies and mentioned that I would definitely stop by on Saturday and stay to the perimeter of the field. Since there were two games on Saturday, 12 noon and 3, and with the weather being very iffy for baseball around 12, I decided to attend the 3 pm game.
I took the short drive from my home in North Kingstown, over the Jamestown then Newport Bridge, through Downtown Newport, passed Cardines Field, up to Bellevue Ave, passed the International Tennis Hall of Fame, then left on Shepard Ave and found a nice parking spot just a short walk to Reynolds Field. Newport is one of my favorite cities in the entire USA and I just love visiting and seeing all the historical landmarks and uniqueness. As I walked up to Reynolds, I could hear the sounds of baseball, a PA system was playing in between inning music, and the faint chatter of a few fans. I was so excited to be at Reynolds to catch this game and as I got to the entrance of the field, I stepped toward the moss covered stone wall to take my first game photos. “Excuse me, there are no fans allowed on this side of the street, can you please move back. Thank you,” said one of the student attendants at the front entrance area. It was then when I spotted the “No Spectator” signs lining the perimeter of the field, as Ed Habershaw had mentioned. “My fault,” I apologized to the student and moved back to the street. I turned to see a few fans on top of a wall across the street from the field and a few other fans who had found a space under a tree, also across the street. I couldn’t really see much from where I was so I decided to make my way around the perimeter of the field.
Reynolds Field is slightly raised up from street level, so this presented me with a bit of challenge viewing wise. I was able to catch some of the game action from about the first base, short right field area. Again, standing on Shepard Ave and adhering to the “no spectator” policy signs that lined the stone wall perimeter. The first base dugout blocked my view of the batter, but I was able to see the infielders and pitcher. And I was really excited to see North Kingstown’s and Salve student-athlete Patrick Maybach on the mound and to watch him throw. Tall, left handed Pitcher who is the all-time strikeout leader for Salve Regina University Baseball. Wow, what an accomplishment.
As I walked to the right field corner perimeter and made a left onto Lawrence Ave., I spotted a number of fan pockets along the stone wall. There was a pocket of students jawing at the opposing players and then yelling encouragement to their home team. There was a section of parents who had gathered around the centerfield area of the stone wall perimeter. And across the street, there were a few parents up on top of walls and in their cars. I stopped to chat with a few of the parents, who were very excited for Spring baseball but rather disappointed that they had to watch from so far away. I would ballpark their viewing spot to be about 400 feet from home plate, so it definitely was a challenging spot to view the game action. I found a spot nearby and took this video:
I left the parent fan section and continued walking up Lawrence Ave to the corner of the stone wall. Actually, from this spot in just about dead center field, I got the best view of the game. I could see the field, the American Flag was waving proudly next to me, I could see the bullpen area behind the left field fence. I watched a few innings from this spot on the stone wall, sitting with my feet dangling over the side, notebook next to me. The skies in Newport had started to clear up and the sun was shining brightly. The weather had gone from rainy and icky to pleasant and seasonal. I was really loving this view of Reynold’s Field.
On my way back down Lawrence Ave, I stopped to say good-bye to the parents and wished them and their players well. As a parent, I can certainly understand their frustration over not being closer to the game action. Watching a game in the bleachers behind home plate or along one of the baselines is ideal for a baseball fan and parent. Watching it online or 400 plus feet away doesn’t have the same personal feeling or affect, I get it. Salve Regina University, like some many schools, businesses, and organizations has an obligation to protect its student-athletes, its coaches, its faculty, its University, and the health/wellness of its visitors to the campus. These “No Spectator” policies are not meant to be personal or negative, in my opinion. They are put in place with the health/wellness and safety of everyone who attends these baseball games. My hope is that we can all work through these times in a positive manner so that these “no spectator” games become a thing of the past.
As I walked up Shepard Ave towards the front entrance of the field, I once again spotted a few students atop a wall across the street from Reynolds Field. I stopped to chat with them about their view and asked them to take a photo of what they saw. As with the views I encountered, they mentioned that their view wasn’t perfect, there were some obstructions in the way, but it was pretty cool overall. Here is a photo of their view and their spot:
Despite the obstructed views and the “no spectator” policy, I had a fantastic visit to Reynolds Field to watch Salve Regina play Roger Williams. I got to watch North Kingstown’s Patrick Maybach pitch. I caught some of the game action from various spots along the stone wall perimeter. I got a great vantage point in center field next to the American Flag. I chatted with some of the students and parents who attended the game, all along the perimeter of the field and obeying the “no spectator” policies laid out by Salve Regina University. The weather, which was really lousy in the morning, was quite pleasant for my time at the game with sunny skies and wispy clouds and just a light breeze. So, I couldn’t sit in the stands. No problem! I still got to experience the game of baseball on a beautiful Spring afternoon in Newport, safely and within the guidelines of Salve Regina University. And that is why it was a fantastic Rhode Island Baseball Experience.
By the way, the two teams split the doubleheader on Saturday. Roger Williams University won Game 1, 4-2. Salve Regina University won Game 2, 4-3. If you want to learn more about the two Rhode Island collegiate teams and view their upcoming game schedules, here are links to their baseball pages: