Baseball belongs in Burlington

The exciting news that the Vermont Lake Monsters would remain in Burlington for at least the 2011 and 2012 seasons was revealed on Sept. 23.

For those who live far away from Burlington, this doesn’t seem like much of a story, but if you care about the city in which we all go to school, this story is monumental.

Minor League Baseball is a diamond in the rough, so to speak. Very few people respect or even acknowledge its existence, but those who do appreciate it oftentimes do so more than the major league game.

This is not because of the levels of talent, excitement of the games or anything that has to do with the level of play on the field. Instead, it is because it is a non-expensive way for families to spend time together in an atmosphere that is geared totally and fully to the family.

“This is one of the best forms of entertainment where families can get together at a reasonable price and spend time and just be together,” Katherine Picard of Winooski said, in an interview with the Burlington Free Press at the final game at Centennial Field last year.

This sentiment is echoed by hundreds of thousands of families around the country who utilize the treasure that is Minor League Baseball.

Many Burlington residents were extremely worried that the city would be losing something that was such a summertime staple for so long.

“I would like to hope that we are going to keep baseball here. I remember coming here when I was 5 or 6 years old. The old Northern League. It would be shame to see it go away,” Reg Robai a long time Burlington resident, said to the Free Press.

During the school year, Burlington is a rowdy, loud and drunken place that doesn’t necessarily draw a ton of visiting families. But in the summertime, Burlington is a place that transforms from a town full of students to a town bustling with family activities.

A crucial summertime activity has been baseball, the Lake Monsters and Centennial Field. If that had been stripped away from Burlington for the families who visit here and the residents who live here, it would have left a void that no event could fill.

Centennial Field needs to host baseball, and to do so properly, UVM needs to put time and effort into improving and maintaining the relic of history.

Athletics have been played on Centennial for more than 100 years, and the grandstand we see today was constructed in 1922.

The field is one of the oldest baseball stadiums in the country — its grandstand is the oldest in all of professional baseball, and it cannot be left to wither away and die as the University sits back and watches.

If you decide to stay in Burlington this upcoming summer, get out to Centennial Field one night. Go and experience the spectacle that is minor league baseball and finally understand why Burlington and baseball are inseparable in the most extreme way.  

Finally understand why residents are so desperate to cling to a game that may mean nothing to you, but means everything to where you are.