(Third in a series about Alaska Baseball League ballparks)
PALMER — When you enter Hermon Brothers Field from the dirt-covered Alaska State Fair parking lot, your first sight is the nondescript back of a wooden outfield wall.
Walk past it in either direction, turn the corner, and prepare to gush over the greenness of all that natural grass.
“We live in a farming community, so the grass field would be most preferred,” said Pete Christopher, the Mat-Su Miners veteran general manager. “Five or six years ago, we got the chance to install the sprinkler system.
“Today, things are pretty lush.”
Given Alaska’s current dry spell, Hermon Brothers looks and almost feels like an oasis.
The all-grass look comes with a unique twist. While the infield features fine dirt, the kind you might see at a Major League Baseball diamond, the dirt doesn’t extend down the baselines from home plate. Chalk is dropped on nearly 90 feet of grass before the base paths turns to dirt near first base and third base.
Christopher credits local residents Terry Johnston and Bob Plumley for the field’s proper upkeep. The splendor of the field and the ballpark’s good-old-days vibe make for a fantastic experience for fans of all ages.
On an early July afternoon, most of Wasilla Youth Baseball’s Pirates team ignored the grandstands and the bleachers. The boys and girls, most of them 9 years old, sat on asphalt near a fence inches from the home team’s dugout, which sits slightly below ground.
“The kids love being out here because they learn about aspects of the game without it being us who is teaching them,” Pirates coach Brandon Sherrer said. “They get to see teamwork firsthand.”
Coby Romero, another Pirates coach, said the kids crowding near the dugout entrance happened organically, a concept that fits Hermon Brothers well.
You’ll catch a breathtaking view of Pioneer Peak just beyond the left field foul pole. Coincidentally, a view of the other side of the peak can be seen at Chugiak’s Lee Jordan Field. Just look out past right field.
Beyond the natural grass, bright colors burst out of advertisements on the outfield wall. On the grandstand wall behind home plate, nameplates are displayed with the names of past Mat-Su players and they colleges they played for.
All in all, Hermon Brothers is an experience for the senses.
“The setting out here is great,” Sherrer said. “It’s all trees and mountains.”
With lovely natural grass thrown in for good measure.
Matt Nevala co-hosts “The Sports Guys” radio show, Saturdays at 11 a.m. on KHAR AM 590 and FM 96.7 (@cbssports590). Find him on social media at @MNevala9.
(Next: Growden Park in Fairbanks)
HERMON BROTHERS FIELD
Alaska State Fairgrounds, Palmer
Distance to center field fence: 390 feet
Named for: Hermon Brothers Construction, the local company that built the ballpark. “They started in April and the team was playing ball in June,” Mat-Su Miners general manager Pete Christopher said.
Wednesday, July 10 — Miners vs. Oilers, 7 p.m.
Thursday, July 18 — Miners vs. Chinooks, 6 p.m.
Friday, July 19 — Miners vs. Oilers, 6 p.m.
Saturday, July 20 — Miners vs. Adult League all-stars, 6 p.m.
Monday, July 22 — Miners vs. Bucs, 6 p.m.
Tuesday, July 23 — Miners vs. Pilots, 6 p.m.
Friday, July 26 — Miners vs. Pilots, 6 p.m.
Sunday, July 28 — Miners vs. Pilots (doubleheader), 2 p.m.
Tuesday, July 30 — Miners vs. Chinooks, 6 p.m.