Welcome to Sam Lynn Ballpark, home of the Bakersfield Blaze. Doesn’t that picture stink? It’s because Sam Lynn is the only ballpark left in Minor League Baseball that faces west meaning that the sun sets directly over center field creating the very unique sun delayed start time.
What I find interesting from a logo standpoint is that despite changing their logo in 2001, they have yet to really embrace it at Sam Lynn. See the Blaze logo on the front of the ballpark? That’s their last logo and it appears more often throughout the ballpark than the new one does, which for me is fine, because their new logo is really quite terrible.
What exists even more are Dodgers logos, this is a Dodgers town. In fact, I was under the impression while at the ballpark and from talking to a few people that Bakersfield was a Dodgers affiliate for most of their existence. But a little bit of research says that it’s just not true. They were a Dodgers affiliate from 1968-1975 and then again from 1984-1994. It seems that Bakersfield just longs for the Dodgers and has no interest in any of the other teams they have been affiliated (say what you will about Tampa Bay, but they did bring some solid prospect through town).
Anyway, back to the ballpark. The listed game time wasn’t until 7:30 and still they had to delay the game by at least 20 minutes while they waited for the sun to hide itself behind the giant center field fence. The sun setting over center is something to be seen and might be the only reason that you should make a special trip to Sam Lynn. There was something about waiting for the sun to set before the game could start that was very charming, I don’t even know why.
Even when the sun set and the game finally began, it still wreaked some havoc poking through an opening between the smaller fence, the trees and the huge fence that must be on stilts.
The other advantage to a west facing field is that you get to enjoy the colors created by the sunset. Usually you don’t get to see it because it’s behind you, but here it’s right in front of you to enjoy…
Sam Lynn is a very unique ballpark, but not in a good way. It’s a dump, plain and simple. But again, it’s an oddly charming dump.
The first four rows of the seating are great. They are sunk below the field so when you sit in the front row, which is where I sat, your head is basically level with the playing field making for a very intimate experience. And these rows stretch from base to base, meaning that there is no room for dugouts. Take a look at the above picture and notice that under the party tent in right field foul territory are both the bullpens and the dugout, combined. I’ve never been to a ballpark where the teams were that far away from the action.
And if you think that center field looks pretty close, that’s because it’s only 354 feet away. It’s a tiny place that’s surrounded by trees making it a very cozy ballpark.
My advice to you if you’re going to Sam Lynn Ballpark in Bakersfield is to shell out a couple extra dollars to sit close and let yourself forget just how ugly and mismatched the rest of the stadium is. The view, the field and the entertaining show that the Blaze management puts on make it worth a trip even if the rest of the stadium leaves a lot to be desired.
Team: Bakersfield Blaze
League: California League
Location: Bakersfield, California
Stadium: Sam Lynn Ballpark
Mascot: Heater – I can’t prove this, but I bet you anything they got Heater from the Chico Heat when they folded
Merchandise: From MLB.com shop