Centennial Field
Centennial Field is the name of two sports facilities at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vermont. One is used for baseball and the other is now primarily used for men's and women's soccer. It once serving as the home field for the school's football and lacrosse teams. The baseball field is also the home of the Vermont Lake Monsters minor league baseball team. The field takes its name, Centennial Field, from the fact that the land on which it was built was dedicated to its current purpose on July 6, 1904, at the conclusion of the three-day celebration of the 100th anniversary of UVM's first graduating class. It officially opened on April 17, 1906 with UVM's 10-4 victory over the University of Maine. Larry Gardner was the first batter for UVM. Future- Boston Red Sox pitcher Ray Collins started the game for Vermont and threw the first pitch at the ballpark. Gardner and Collins are among 10 former Catamounts to reach the major leagues, the latest being Kirk McCaskill, who hurled for the Angels and White Sox from 1985 to 1995. In addition to the baseball field, the adjacent soccer field was used by the University of Vermont football team until 1974, and UVM's men's and women's lacrosse teams in the 1990s through 2006. The school's men's soccer team has played there since 1975 and the women have played there since 1995. This stadium seats 5,000 and drew America East record crowds during the 1989 postseason when UVM advanced to the NCAA Men's Soccer Championship East Regional Finals. Vermont hosts the long-running Smith Barney Men's Soccer Classic that has featured many national powers including UCLA, Stanford, Old Dominion, San Francisco, New Mexico and North Carolina. Its recent women's soccer tournament has featured Indiana, Notre Dame and Villanova. On occasion, Centennial Field hosts the Vermont boy's and girl's high school soccer championships. During the era the Catamounts had a football team, Centennial Field had stands on both sides of the gridiron and UVM's game with UMass in 1966 had a record crowd of 10,000 fans. Vermont that season featured Little All-American halfback Bobby Mitchell and UMass had future NFL QB Greg Landry. The football field also was the home to several Vermont high school state championship games. The baseball ballpark was part of the sports complex constructed as part of the UVM Centennial celebration. The original wooden baseball bleachers burned on March 12, 1913. The current concrete and steel main grandstand was erected in 1922. Today, it seats 4,415 for baseball. Common treats at Vermont Lake Monsters home games include Dippin' Dots, grilled foods, and Rhino Foods' Chessters. The first UVM hockey game was played on Centennial Field. The field's large foul territory comes from the running track that at one time circled the park. On occasion, the University has held its commencement ceremonies at the soccer field. Centennial Field in the summer of 2005 was the Vermont stop on ESPN's "50 States in 50 Days" tour. In 2007 it was recognized by ESPN.com's Jim Caple as one of the top 10 ball park destinations in the U.S. It is also featured in the 2008 book, "101 Baseball Places To See Before You Strike Out" by Josh Pahagian (2008, The Lyons Press).

The field was described as "dilapidated" in 2010. A major league report suggested that it needed improvement to continue hosting the Lake Monsters.

Centennial Field Baseball
In addition to the Lake Monsters and collegiate baseball, Vermont high schools also use it a few times during the regular season and also hold the four divisions championships at Centennial. It also hosts American Legion baseball and was home to the Northeast Regional tournament in 2007. On February 20, 2009, the University announced that it would eliminate the varsity baseball program following the 2009 season. UVM Athletic Director Dr. Robert Corran announced that he expected that the university would continue to maintain and use the baseball field. The UVM baseball team played its last home game of the 2009 season at Centennial Field on May 12, 2009 when they hosted Bryant.

Professional Franchises
Centennial Field has been home to minor league baseball teams through the years.

Burlington Cardinals
The semi-professional Northern League (baseball, 1934-1952) Burlington Cardinals played at Centennial Field from 1935 to 1941 and from 1946 to 1952. Among the many future major leaguers who played for the Cardinals, Johnny Podres made his professional debut at Centennial Field in 1950 pitching for Cardinals. In 2005, the Vermont Expos invited Podres back to Centennial Field to throw out the first pitch in honor of the 50th-anniversary of the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers World Series championship.

Burlington Athletics
Clarence Beecher brought the Philadelphia Athletics' Provincial League Class C team to play at Centennial Field in 1955. The Provincial League was founded in 1935 and based in Quebec. The League was affiliated with the National Association from 1940 to 1943 and 1950 to 1955. Between 1950 and 1955, it was a Class C minor-league; the Philadelphia Athletics had an affiliate during this time. In 1954, the American League Athletics were based in Philadelphia and their Provincial League club in Drummondville, Quebec. Dr. Clarence H. Beecher, former Burlington-mayor and dean of the UVM College of Medicine is seen to be responsible for bringing the club to Burlington. Dr. Beecher had been president of the Burlington Cardinals during the Northern League's final season and assumed the same position with the new club when the Provincial League Dummondville club became available in the fall of 1954. The 1955 Burlington A's attracted 51,267 fans to Centennial Field for the season, the second highest attendance in the League. Burlington went 65 and 64 to finish in third-place, 20.5 games behind the first-place St. Jean Canadians. Burlington pitcher Jack Hale tied for the league-lead in wins with 17. In the playoffs, Burlington beat first-place St. Jean in the first round but lost the championship to the Quebec Braves, four games to one. The League was not financially sustainable and disbanded prior to the 1956 season.

Vermont Reds
Minor League baseball returned to Centennial Field in 1984 when Mike Agganis moved his AA Eastern League Lynn Pirates from Lynn, Massachusetts to Burlington. The club had been affiliated with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Agganis signed a four-year agreement with the Cincinnati Reds. The club was renamed the Vermont Reds. The club finished in fourth-place in 1984 and 1985, and in second-place in 1986. The Reds excelled in the post-season and won the Eastern League championship each of these three years. Vermont finished fourth again in 1987 but lost in the League finals. Barry Larkin, Jeff Montgomery, Rob Dibble, Chris Sabo, and Norm Charlton all starred in Burlington and became the core of the 1990 World Champion Cincinnati Reds.

Vermont Mariners
After the 1987 season, Cincinnati signed a new affiliation agreement with the Chattanooga Lookouts. The Seattle Mariners had themselves been affiliated with Chattanooga and signed with Agganis and the Burlington franchise. The Vermont Reds became the Vermont Mariners. The team finished second in the Eastern League behind the Glens Falls Tigers. Vermont made the playoffs but lost to the Albany-Colonie Yankees in the finals. Mariners manager Rich Morales was named Eastern League Manager of the Year and Jim Wilson and Omar Vizquel were Eastern League All-Stars. Ken Griffey, Jr. had been drafted by the Mariners with the first pick in 1987. Griffey played for the Bellingham Mariners in 1987 and spent most of the 1988 season with the Class A California League San Bernardino Spirit. Griffey was promoted to Burlington and played at Centennial Field late in the 1988 season. He played in 17-games for the Mariners and hit two home runs. By September 1988, with the team in the Eastern League playoffs, Agganis had decided to move the franchise to Canton, Ohio. Canton was building a brand-new ballpark, Thurman Munson Memorial Stadium, which would have a capacity of 5,700. More so, the Canton metropolitan area offered twice the population of Burlington. Agganis told the New York Times, "Our attendance has averaged out to about 85,000 over five years in Burlington. In Canton, we can probably do between 225,000 and 300,000 attendance." The franchise moved to Canton after the 1988 season, affiliated with Cleveland, and became the Canton-Akron Indians.

Vermont Expos & Lake Monsters
Minor league baseball returned to Centennial Field in 1994. Burlington businessman Ray Pecor, owner of Lake Champlain Transportation Co. in Burlington since 1976, purchased the franchise rights of the Jamestown Expos and brought minor league baseball back to Burlington. The Vermont Expos debuted at Centennial Field on June 16, 1994. They lost 6 to 5 to the Pittsfield Mets but more than 5,000 fans attended the game. The Expos passed 1,000,000 in cumulative attendance during the 2002 season.

Historic Marker
The Vermont Division for Historic Preservation erected a marker at the ballpark in 1997. It reads, Named to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the University of Vermont's first graduating class, Centennial Field has been the home of UVM athletics since 1906. The three ballparks that have stood on this site have hosted semi- professional and minor league baseball, as well as exhibitions by visiting Major League and Negro League ballclubs. The current grandstand, constructed in 1922, is one of the oldest still in use. Among the outstanding players who have graced Centennial's diamond are Larry Gardner, Ray Collins, Tris Speaker, Jesse Hubbard, Robin Roberts, Kirk McCaskill, Barry Larkin, Vladimer Guerrero and Ken Griffey, Jr.