SaveMiLB Spotlight: Vermont Lake Monsters

Vermont Lake Monsters
New York-Penn League (Short-Season A-ball)
Centennial Field
Burlington, Vermont

While Fenway Park claims to be the oldest professional ballpark still in use, real baseball fans know that some 215 miles North of Boston is the real oldest ballpark still used in Pro Ball. Burlington, Vermont is home to Centennial Field and the Vermont Lake Monsters, short-season low-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics. The field opened in 1906, with renovations in 1922, again in 1994-95, and more recently in 2010s, this ballpark is a reminder of a bygone era in baseball’s past while showcasing the future of the game.

The Lake Monsters have been under continuous operation since 1994, when Ray Pecor Jr. bought Montreal’s Jamestown (N.Y.) affiliate and moved the organization to the Champlain Valley. Despite having a total state population (626,000) approximately the same to Louisville, Kentucky (620,000) the Lake Monsters have packed 3,000 fans a night into the cozy confines of Centennial Field since the turnstiles re-opened in 1994. The ballpark has a long history of entertaining fans, both as the former home of the University of Vermont Catamounts (UVM ended its baseball and softball programs in 2009), the Vermont Reds (AA- Eastern League) from 1984 to 1987, winning league titles in 3 of the 4 seasons. In 1988, the team switched affiliations and became the Vermont Mariners (Eastern League) for the next two seasons before departing to Canton, Ohio. Since professional baseball returned in 1994 it has thrived, thanks largely in part to its mascot Champ, based on Lake Champlain’s legendary Lake Monster of the same name.   

Very much in tune with the local spirit of community and the love of all things fun, the Lake Monsters developed a strong partnership with Vermont’s own Ben & Jerry’s every year for its “Summer of Love” Night. The 1960s-themed evening celebrates Burlington’s “crunchy vibe” with ice cream from two of Vermont’s favorite adopted sons. Keeping in the tradition with celebrating Vermont heritage, in 2018 the Lake Monsters announced that for a series against the Staten Island Yankees the affiliate would become the Vermont Maple Kings to celebrate the time-honored Vermont tradition of sugaring.

In 2019, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders publicly condemned Major League Baseball’s position to reduce the Minors, citing the Lake Monsters in his statement. Opposition to the PBA proves to be one of the few issues that draws bipartisan support in Washington.

Fun Facts:

  • On multiple occasions the short-season Vermont Expos drew more fans to their games than their parent club in Montreal.
  • The Lake Monsters currently lease Centennial Field from the University of Vermont at the rate of $1 per year for 20 years, making it the best rental agreement in all of professional baseball.  
  • The affiliate was the last team in professional baseball to use the name “Expos” before switching over to the Lake Monsters in 2006.

MLB Alumni:

  • Barry Larkin (Vermont Reds)
  • Chris Sabo (Vermont Reds)
  • Rob Dibble (Vermont Reds)
  • Ken Griffey Jr. (Vermont Mariners)
  • Omar Vizquel (Vermont Mariners)
  • Orlando Cabrera (Vermont Expos)
  • Michael Barrett (Vermont Expos)
  • Jamey Carroll (Vermont Expos)
  • Jason Bay (Vermont Expos)
  • Ian Desmond (Vermont Expos)
  • Milton Bradley (Vermont Expos)
  • Jordan Zimmermann (Vermont Lake Monsters)
  • Brad Peacock ((Vermont Lake Monsters)
  • Derek Norris ((Vermont Lake Monsters)
  • Steven Souza Jr. ((Vermont Lake Monsters)
  • Addison Russell ((Vermont Lake Monsters)
  • Sean Murphy ((Vermont Lake Monsters)
  • And many more

Published by savemilb

A lifelong baseball fan that frequently spends many spring and summer evenings enjoying Minor League games across the country. #SaveMiLB

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