By, Caroline McCarthy, Sports Editor
Manhattan baseball brought “baseball back to the Bronx” last Spring when they returned to playing home games at Van Cortlandt Park — a field that violated MAAC standards in 2015 and sent the Jaspers to Dutchess Stadium in Wappinger Falls, NY. The team played there from 2015 until the 2021 season. Now, the Jaspers are on the hunt for yet another home base.
Like most city schools, the Jaspers’ resources are limited when it comes to space for a full-sized collegiate baseball field. Van Cortlandt Park, the Jaspers’ original field, seemed like a convenient spot to house the team. But with the field being the property of the New York City Parks Department, there were renovation and privacy issues that became too much for Manhattan to bear.
“The conditions aren’t the best and we all wish they were better,” junior outfielder Mike
Campbell said. “Compared to other fields [Van Cortlandt] field is super underdone and doesn’t have the same look, feel or play. The outfield has divots that are pretty dangerous and sometimes we have people sleeping in the dugout when we arrive for our games or practices.”
His teammates, who asked to remain anonymous, shared a laugh while describing them- selves as a “blue-collar team” and told stories of practices spent picking weeds from the outfield while stepping in what was assumed to be human fecal matter. A few players suffered minor ankle injuries during the 2021 season after Manhattan College had made what they called the necessary renova- tions to the field.
“85 percent of the game is played in the infield,” said Manhattan College athletic director Marianne Reilly. “So we did a great job renovating the infield and the backstop.”
According to Reilly, the Manhattan athletic department was aware of the divots in the field but did not feel it was sustainable or financially smart to do major repairs on a public field.
“Remember, it’s still not our field. It’s the New York City Parks Department’s,” Reilly said. “So there comes a point where you say how much money you can invest in it and be able to secure it.”
Reilly confirmed that the drawbacks of Van Cortlandt’s field led the Jaspers to look for yet another place to play this Spring.
Manhattan College has since announced the Jaspers will be playing their home contests at Clover Stadium, formerly named Palisades Credit Union Park, home to the Rockland County Boulders.
A representative of Rama- po County confirmed that the Jaspers would be sharing field time with other collegiate and professional teams, making scheduling difficult.
“I would say the majority of our games are going to be there,” Reilly said.
According to Reilly, one possible option for the remainder of home games that cannot be scheduled at Clover Stadium would be the Jaspers traveling to their rivals, the Fordham Rams’ home at Jack Coffey’s Field in the Bronx.
“There were some week- ends coach Cole could not work out,” Reilly said. “So what we’ll do is we’ll have a couple of days maybe over at Fordham.”
According to the GoJaspers website, the Jaspers will play seven games at Clover Stadium. The first game played at the new stadium will be on Mar. 16 against Long Island University.
Despite the scheduling complications, Reilly said the move will allow the Jaspers a more formal Division I experience. The stadium is equipped with locker rooms, spaces for alumni events, press rooms, the ability for ESPN broadcasts, stands, concessions and most importantly, a well-kept field.
“No matter what we did to Van Cortlandt Park it would never match up with some of the other competitors’ programs,” Reilly said.
While the 30-minute drive to Pomona, NY is not as convenient for student-athletes or fans as the 3-minute walk to Van Cortlandt, the team is excited to make the move.
“Rockland [Clover Stadium] isn’t ideal as most college teams have a home field and their own facilities, but it will be nice to have a playable field that looks great and plays well,” Campbell said.
The athletics department expects the new stadium to aid in the recruiting process for new players. Thus, making Manhattan baseball a better all-around program.
“Really, you know, we all make sacrifices in athletics and I think they’re willing to make this sacrifice for the greater good,” Reilly said. “That was my goal when I first came was to bring the boys back [to the Bronx]. And I’m happy we did, but for the long haul I’m not sure it’s going to work.”
The Jaspers will open their season against the University of Notre Dame on Feb. 18 in Deland, Florida.