LF: 339' CF: 399' RF: 322'
Affiliate: Minnesota Twins
2017 E-Twins Schedule
Nearby Major Airports:
Charlotte Douglas International
Nearest Pro Ballparks:
Howard Johnson Field in Johnson City, TN (8.1 miles)
DeVault Stadium in Bristol, VA (22.9 miles)
Hunter Wright Stadium in Kingsport, TN (32.8 miles)
Pioneer Park in Greeneville, TN (35.5 miles)
McCormick Field in Asheville, NC (67.6 miles)
L.P. Frans Stadium in Hickory, NC (89.5 miles)
Smokies Stadium in Kodak, TN (94.1 miles)
Distance to the Twins organization's ballparks:
Target Field in Minneapolis, MN (1,027 miles)
AAA - Rochester Red Wings
Frontier Field in Rochester, NY (681 miles)
AA - Chattanooga Lookouts
AT&T Field in Chattanooga, TN (231 miles)
A - Fort Myers Miracle
Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, FL (833 miles)
A - Cedar Rapids Kernels
Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids, IA (823 miles)
The Baseball Travel Map is one of many great items in our Baseball & Ballpark Store.
|Year ||Total ||Rank *
|6 of 10
7 of 10
6 of 10
4 of 10
7 of 10
7 of 10
7 of 10
5 of 9
6 of 10
7 of 10
5 of 10
6 of 10
8 of 10
8 of 10
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10 of 10
9 of 10
10 of 10
9 of 9
10 of 10
10 of 10
10 of 10
10 of 10
10 of 10
10 of 10
8 of 10
10 of 10
8 of 8
8 of 8
7 of 7
5 of 8
4 of 7
7 of 8
5 of 6
6 of 6
5 of 6
4 of 6
5 of 6
6 of 8
4 of 8
2 of 8
|* The Elizabethton Twins' total home attendance ranking in the Appalachian League, which has had a various number of teams in it since 1974
Where the pursuit of baseball never ends.
Joe O'Brien Field in Elizabethton is as about as simple as they come, which is a folksy sounding way to say the small ballpark in the small town ain't much.
The smallest ballpark in all of minor league baseball, it has a haphazard looking way to reach its 1,500-person listed capacity, as three vastly different looking sets of stands are situated in the standard places -- behind home plate and along the first and third base lines -- but there's plenty of room between them as identical boxes -- one for the press, the other is a sky box -- are elevated on poles (think a beach house on stilts) so that they thereby consume and cover the intervening and undeveloped spaces below. The unfilled areas don't remain empty during the game though, since fans can and do bring in their chairs and set them up directly behind the brick backstop. Adding to the homey ambiance there, ferns hang from above. Prettier plant life can be found nearby in the stands behind home plate, as potted flowers front the sole permanent seat sections in the house. Bleachers are found everywhere else, the bulk of them in the fairly sizable grandstand on the field's first base side. The upper row there is left bleacherless, which enables the ballpark's signature, and very down-home, tradition: the "permanent" placement of collapsible chairs in the grandstand's bare "top shelf." The normally temporary type of seating found in what would be the 11th row of the concrete grandstand can be considered permanent because the colorful variety of brought from home chairs remain in the ballpark from the beginning of the season through the end. Most are fastened to the chain-link fence atop the grandstand when not in use, remaining covered (often by a trash bag) until they are. The same folks sit here year after year, staking out their spots on Opening Day...and sometimes before.
While the charm here is brought in on a night by night or seasonal basis and the ballpark itself isn't much to look at, nature provides a beautiful backdrop that isn't going anywhere. Joe O'Brien Field is notable for its proximity parallel to the Watauga River, which flows right to left a short distance from the park's perimeter wooden fence, and is the reason why when the ballpark debuted in 1974 it was named Riverside Park. While water can be seen from portions of the first base-side stands, everyone can see what the field overlooks: the Appalachian League's namesake hilly terrain, the Appalachian Mountains. Views of the river, mountains and surrounding woods aren't affected by the protective netting that is between the fans and field in every section except for one (rows behind the first base dugout are spared), as the netting is annoying to watch the game through from two-thirds of the stands (the entire first base side is the exception).
So depending on what you want to see, this place is nicer or not than most ballparks. Likewise, depending on one's point of view, Elizabethton's park can be described as ramshackle or quirky. What is easier to definitely state is the collective structure is a simple one, and the vistas of what's not within the stadium's confines are mighty fine.
Joe O'Brien Field is found within the Carmon Dugger Sports Complex, although calling it a "sports complex" is a stretch, as a single softball field and minor league baseball's smallest stadium are the only sports facilities in the 9.8-acre complex, which was named for the man who served as Elizabethton's Parks and Recreation director from 1966-1991. Carmon Dugger also had a baseball background, as he played in the minors from 1953-55, and was the person most responsible for converting what had been a youth field into one good enough to host professional baseball when the Twins agreed to put a team in Elizabethton in 1974.
The Dugger complex is accessed from Mill Street and the ballpark is the furthest thing from the street in the complex. Besides its parking lot, Joe O'Brien Field is bordered by woods, homes and a park. The 6.8-acre Riverside Park runs alongside the ballpark's third base side and is all that stands between Joe O'Brien Field and the Watauga River, which flows north and is so close that its rustling water can be heard from the third base stands. The wooded area hovers over the perimeter of the ballpark's first base side and the treeline continues to Mill Street, tracing the backside of the parking lot in the process. Only about 20 feet beyond the left field fence is Ash Street. Single story homes line the side of the street opposite of the ballpark and their front lawns are where many a home run ball come to rest.
The parking lot is a big unpaved one that doesn't cost anything to park in. It's found beyond right field, on the foul side of the foul pole. The loose gravel lot is first-come, first-served and lacks designated spaces, with the exception of a few near the ticket booth for those with handicapped tags.
There's also a limited amount of parking available in the small paved lot at Riverside Park. To get there, from Mill Street turn onto Ash Street and follow Ash until it dead ends a short distance later at W Riverside Drive, upon which you turn left and then should be able to drive in to the lot, on your right, within 30 seconds. Same as the main parking lot, parking here is free and then it's a very quick walk to an entrance gate where tickets can also be bought. The little lot at Riverside Park is far enough away from home plate that foul balls are unlikely to land there on the fly, although they do occasionally bounce or roll back into the lot, which is about 100 feet from the ballpark.
|There's not a lot of fixed seats but there's a lot of poles to hold up a lot of netting at Joe O'Brien Field, which notably features the press box and a sky box on stilts.
Much like small ballparks of its ilk, there is no true facade. The focus is instead on the main gate area that's parallel to deep right field, where a small ticket office is next to the building that has the clubhouses for both teams. Very near the clubhouses and continuing towards the outer limits of the stadium's confines are open-air but covered batting cages. The pitched dark green roof that covers the cages is the same color and style that top other structures in the vicinity.
In addition to the main gate in the right field corner, there's also an entrance near home plate. Through no wider a space than a regular-sized door, fans can buy tickets and enter there. The small gate is found where it is due to the stadium's proximity to Riverside Park, for which a small parking lot is a very short walk away. In fact, for those that need/prefer shorter walks to their seats from the parking lot, the distance between the paved Riverside Park lot to the side door-looking gate behind the 3rd base side of home plate is a much quicker option than from where just about everybody else parks and enters the stadium, which is beyond (parking) and near (main gate) right field.
Seating here is spread out in three distinct set of stands. Behind home plate, there are 7 rows of bucket seats, painted blue, fastened to an aluminum base. They're referred to as Reserved seating. All other seats in the ballpark are general admission bleachers that lack backs. Along the third base line, 5 rows of high school-style bleachers (no connected flooring) are found. Bleachers on the first base side are concrete based and reach 10 rows high, with an additional empty row left bare at the top for those who provide their own seats.
The stadium isn't big enough to have section numbers (e.g. section 101). Instead, player names are used to orient fans to the various sections in the stands. The players used in the designations are among the most famous ones to have played in Elizabethton. For example, the reserved seats behind home plate have long sported a banner atop them in honor of Kirby Puckett, who was an E-Twin in 1982.
Has a single sky box, which can hold 12 people. It's found on the third base line, where it's elevated a story above field level by steel poles. The sky box is an exact replica of the press box on the other side of the field, which feels oddly placed at its first base line location. The identical free-standing boxes are white paneled rectangular structures, neither of which are ADA accessible, and are quite noticeable because of their perches in very visible areas near home plate.
The protective netting continuously spans the length of the three not connected grandstands, excepting for a single section-wide opening that is behind the first base (home) dugout. The netting is obstructive for those sitting in the home plate or third base stands, but is nowhere near the same eyesore for those in the first base side seats. That's because the first base grandstand is pushed back a sidewalk's width from the field while the other two stands start too close to the field's netting. The first base grandstand is also steeply banked -- the others have a normal incline -- and has more rows. Since eyes are able to adjust better to netting the higher up you get, the protective net fronting the first base stands becomes more "see through" than "trying to see through," which is the problem you encounter everywhere else, even in the open areas underneath the press and sky box. Also, the netting is pole supported. Although the poles really aren't visually problematic for those in the either side bleacher seats, they are an obstacle issue for those sitting in the reserved seats behind home plate, where the poles are thicker.
Alcohol sales are not permitted, so this is a rare no beer ballpark. Concessions are also limited and there's just a single bathroom building, but it is air-conditioned. That's worth pointing out for praise, as having restrooms with AC is very nice for a brief respite from the often humid summer nights during which games are played here. All facilities are located at the back of the concourse, which is behind the grandstand, on the stadium's first base side. Also included within the connected buildings there is a small walk-in team shop. So in one stretch of a continuous structure the stadium has its sole bathrooms, permanent concession stand, and souvenir shop.
Pictures of current/recent Minnesota Twins that include when they played for the Elizabethton Twins can be found along the wall on the backside of the first base grandstand, where the area is designated as a picnic zone since a small number of picnic tables are on the concourse in that location.
This is a ballpark that's not really big on aesthetics. An exception is the backside of the field-level backstop wall, which is brick on its field-facing side but was given a decorative touch on the side facing fans, who get to see rough textured stone blocks that are maroon in color.
A Twins-colored scoreboard is in right-center, near a league standings board. Painted blue and showing red-colored electronic numbers, the sole scoreboard in the stadium is the basic line score with ball/strike/out panels kind. Not far from the not fancy scoreboard is a previous one that was hand-operated, but is now tarp-covered and displays, a) in permanent pennant form, every year the Elizabethton Twins have been Appalachian League Champions, and b) the league's division standings (West and East), ordered by place but not showing any won-loss records of the teams, which are only listed by city name. And because the old manual scoreboard is covered, you can't really tell it was a scoreboard. But it once was, as old-timers at the stadium will be able to tell you.
Bullpens are alongside the outfield lines. The Twins' is less out in the open, as it's all the way down the right field line. The visitors' 'pen is near their (third base) dugout, with the tarp stationed between their warm-up area and the dugout. Because the dugout is so small, and rookie league rosters so big, players often sit on top of the tarp during the game.
Contributing to the overall old-timey atmosphere of the place are its perimeter fences, which are wooden walls on each side of the park, with the third base-side wall, which runs alongside Riverside Drive, showing wear well down the left field line, where some of the wood has rotted away to allow glimpses of the outfield from outside of the ballpark, which has a corrugated tin outfield fence. Hence, the batters' backdrop in straightaway center field is simply a darker colored expanse of the ridged metal.
|Some of the chairs that are always there, during the baseball season anyway, are shown bundled up and waiting to be used atop the first base grandstand. Fans that bring in their seats on a nightly basis position themselves underneath the sky box (pictured) or press box. In the picture on the left, note the banner saying "Mauer" and 2001, as that's how actual seating sections are denoted: by the name and year that a future Minnesota Twin played in Elizabethton.
Joe O'Brien Field Facts, Figures & Footnotes
Construction cost: $125,000
Operated and maintained by the City of Elizabethton's Parks and Recreation Department, whose director also serves as the E-Twins general manager.
A baseball field stood on the site before the arrival of the Elizabethton Twins, although it was a youth-level (Babe Ruth) field. Besides the addition of basic stadium facilities around it, converting the field into a professional ballpark necessitated that part of a street had to be dug up, while new lights were installed to replace the then existing ones.
Was renovated in 1996, at which time the reserved box seat sections were built behind home plate. To commemorate the renovations, a home plate-shaped plaque was placed atop a tall brick pedestal. It stands not far from the entrance gate and up against the back wall of the clubhouse building.
There are 159 ballparks used in Minor League Baseball and, based on capacity, Joe O'Brien Field is the smallest by an official count of 200. The runner-up to Elizabethton for the minors' smallest ballpark is the 1,700-seat Kindrick Field in Helena, MT.
Was known as Riverside Park or Riverside Stadium until 1980, when it was officially renamed in honor of Joe O'Brien, who served as the original chairman of the baseball committee that was responsible for returning pro baseball to Elizabethton after an absence of 23 years.
Still referred to often locally, including in the press, as Riverside Stadium. In addition to being occasionally mentioned as such in the local newspaper, the Elizabethton Star, a very visible sign on the city's main thoroughfare, Elk Avenue, near the ballpark points drivers to "Riverside Stadium."
Although you won't find an original dedication plaque on stadium grounds, a home plate-shaped plaque placed atop a tall brick pedestal commemorates the 1996 Joe O'Brien Field Renovation. It's found standing against the clubhouse building's concourse side wall, beneath a very visible painting of the Minor League Baseball logo.
Lacks a roof, but one isn't really necessary as the bulk of seats, which are in the first base-side grandstand, are always shaded by the time games typically start (evening) thanks to where the sun sets and the tall treeline behind them. For the record, the sun sets behind the ballpark, slightly on the third base side behind home plate.
The current lighting system debuted for the 2005 season, after $120,000 was spent to replace the original lights, which were mounted on wooden poles. The stumps of the replaced and removed wooden poles can still be seen near the grandstands. Prior to the installation of the current light towers -- eight steel poles -- the stadium had failed to meet minor league baseball's minimum lighting standards since 1994. In fact, in 1999 a report produced by Minor League Baseball inspectors declared that, "Elizabethton has the poorest infield lighting in professional baseball." Still, it took until June of 2004 before the Elizabethton City Council voted unanimously (6-0) to approve the lighting improvement project.
Is also the home field for the Elizabethton High School Cyclones baseball team.
Official Ballpark Firsts
First game: June 24, 1974; the Bristol Tigers beat the Elizabethton Twins, 15-2, before an announced crowd of 605
The first game was actually scheduled for 2:00 p.m. on June 23, 1974, but was postponed due to rain.
The honor of throwing the ceremonial first pitch went to Elizabethton Mayor Dean Perry.
Other official ballpark firsts (all of which occurred on 6/24/74, unless noted):
|Pitch ||Batter ||RBI ||Home Run (6/29) ||Winning Pitcher ||Losing Pitcher ||Save (6/29)
|Kent Smalling ||Mel Jackson ||Curtis Morgan ||Archie Amerson ||James Taylor ||Kent Smalling ||John Gomez