I look at photos of the former Heritage Park site in Colonie, New York, and I can see everything.
I can see the view from behind home plate in the photo above (massive thanks to ballparkreviews.com for that and all the other photos you’ll see here), out past the scoreboard in right-center field.
I know that Albany County Airport is across the street, just down the road.
I can see the metal bleachers on the first-base side, the gate and concession. My favorite seats were at the very top — high enough to see all the action unfold below but not very far away at all.
Not only can I see the park and everything around it, I can see the route from my parents’ house, maybe 40 to 45 minutes away. The last turn was a left, and then the ballpark was on the left, next to a Shaker site, the parking lot inside what my memory tells me was a white picket fence.
The gravel main parking lot was behind the scoreboard, the ticket booths just behind the outfield fence.
Get your ticket, walk around the outside of the ballpark in right field to the gate next to the first-base bleachers and the concession stand, hand the usher the ticket, and you’re in.
Go find a seat.
I can not only see what Heritage Park looked like; I can remember how it felt.
The park opened in 1982, when I was 10, as home to the Albany-Colonie A’s of the Eastern League. Each trip, especially before I could drive and even after I had my license but hadn’t moved closer to Albany, was an outing.
I’d start getting excited as soon as I knew we were going, and it would build the closer we got, first though the hill towns where I grew up, then into Altamont, Guilderland and Colonie.
I was about ready to jump out of the car by the time we got close enough where I could see the ballpark out the driver’s-side window, around those last couple turns and into the parking lot.
As a ballpark, Heritage Park was ordinary, at best, especially by the standards of minor league stadiums today. You would be hard-pressed to believe it was in the same league as Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester, New Hampshire, is now.
Ballpark Reviews gave it a grade of C, which is probably about right.
There was nothing special about the park. Across the street from the former Albany County Airport … it was a utilitarian, symmetrical ballpark with mostly metal bleachers unless you ponied up a few more bucks to sit behind home plate.
But it was ours.
Yet Heritage Park, for all of its ordinariness, was extraordinary.
I’m 46. My 16th wedding anniversary is later this week. My bachelor party was at Heritage Park its last season, as home of the Albany-Colonie Diamond Dogs after the Yankees left for Norwich, Connecticut.
My wife and I go to games at Yankee Stadium pretty much annually. Fenway Park is a drive and train ride away. I’m hoping to go to Wrigley Field in September.
All we have to do to go to Manchester or a Lowell Spinners game is get in our car.
What was left of Heritage Park is gone, and the airport is now Albany International Airport.
It’s a shame that it’s gone.
Once again, a huge thanks to Ballpark Reviews for letting me use these photos. Follow Ballpark Reviews on Twitter, but be warned, you’ll find yourself wanting to go to ballparks all over the country!