Despite being considered one of the more professional ball fields in a city comprised sadly of almost all, 100% dirt fields; many residents I have spoken to around Yonkers have never made the trek up the 45 degree climb of Prescott St. to the top, arriving at one of the Yonkers’ Water Towers to your right and to your left, James L. Fleming Field.
For some residents, they may recall this park being refered by as “The Eagles” or more recently, Prescott Field, but whatever you call it, the place has been the scene of great and not so great baseball games over the past half century or more.
Sitting atop Nodine Hill, the field has received a recent facelift of sorts in the last few years and a brightly colored soccer/softball field, that can easily accommodate night games simply by the reflection of the neon colors on the field.
As early as the 6th grade, I began playing baseball games here, more so as I moved up to the Babe Ruth leagues and High School ball. For me, Fleming Field is as close to Yankee Stadium as I ever got in my endeavors to be a ball player and while I do statistically carry with me 3 home runs, all of which sailed valiantly over the left field wall, I recently came back to my old ballpark and reminisced about my playing days and even the supernatural.
For most guys who ever played the game of baseball, the movie The Natural with Robert Redford always seems to tug hard on our heart-strings, whether it is the idea of the farm boy who never made it until the bitter end or just the sheer cinematography and score of the movie, both being top-notch and will hold up even 100 years from now.
Standing atop the concrete bleachers, the only such kind I have ever seen in the world, well unless you visit other such fields in Yonkers such as Lennon, Redmond or Richter, (more parks of which I hold HR stats), I began thinking about the movie and the main character Roy Hobbs.
Since the field sits atop Nodine Hill, you can see straight across to Valentine Hill and the Yonkers Seminary, let alone the Cross County Parkway that snakes its way between the two.
I imagine my hypothesis would yield positive results, not only would Hobbs hit one out of Fleming, but I believe the shot that he hit in the final scene of the movie would have travelled onto the Seminary property and maybe beyond.
As I mentioned earlier, I was struck by the neon colored soccer field that has been built adjacent to the baseball field.
I guess “good job” is in order to the Parks and Rec department? I was just taken back though with how artificial it looks, seems and is. And considering that dirt and grass existed here prior to the make-over, makes me wonder if we are progressing or regressing here…
I did like that the signage was Bi-lingual at the park, as it should be in many areas of the city.
One eyesore however was the absence of the wooden sign denoting the name of the field, not sure if this is the work of vandals or mother nature, Fleming field does get hit with lightning often during thunderstorms. This also may be a hold-over from Super Storm Sandy.
Fleming Field has created many memories for those of us whose childhoods have past through the city of hills and hopefully, Yonkers and its residents will work to maintain the field for generations to come.
It’s probably impossible to know what the furthest shot was that was ever hit out of Fleming so I have no problem giving the distinction to Roy Hobbs, since at least we know for sure that it would have happened.
Picturing the ball sailing in an upward trajectory, over the tree line in the outfield and toward the Seminary, sigh…that would have been an awesome sight!