Purchased by Amby McConnell when he returned to Utica in 1937, Braves Field was near the Mohawk River. Often fog from the waterway made outfield play difficult. Of dubious comfort, its bleachers were known locally as â€œsplinters haven.â€� It was one of the largest- dimensioned fields in all of baseball, with distances of 389 to left, 503 to center, and 400 to right.
When lights were installed in 1939, eight towers with 100 bulbs per pole were erected at a total cost of $10,000. The park was renamed McConnell Field on August 12, 1942, after the late owner (a plaque was placed there in his honor) and from 1943 to 1950 served the Eastern Leagueâ€™s Utica Blue Sox. It was torn down in the mid-1950s to make way for an access ramp to the New York State Thruway.
â€œIt was a pretty good ballpark,â€� remembers Austin Knickerbocker. â€œIt was an older park, but it wasnâ€™t run down. It had one of the larger seating capacities in the League. Seats went even beyond the left field fence which was very unusual.â€�
â€œYou could probably compare it to the Rugmakersâ€™ field over there,â€� says the Blue Jaysâ€™ Charley Baker, who played for Utica in the Eastern League. â€œIt wasnâ€™t modernized like McNearney Stadium, but it was a decent ballpark. You know, it was never really brought up to date.â€�