The Rise and Fall of The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach, Maine
I remember back when I played little league baseball, a new baseball stadium was opened in Old Orchard Beach that was going to host minor league baseball, a full 10 years before the Portland Seadogs arrived in Portland. It was a really big deal in 1984 but didn't have the success that we all were hoping for.
The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach was the home of the Triple-A International League's Maine Guides, an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians from 1984 to 1987. The Indians left the team and the Philadelphia Phillies took over as their Major League affiliate in 1987, renaming the team the Maine Phillies, which never really did sound right.
Turnout for Maine Guides games was great for the first season, but over the next few years slowly started to dwindle and the team pulled out of Old Orchard Beach leaving an empty ballpark. So what was the town of Old Orchard Beach to do? They became a concert venue.
Some very big names in music played at The Ballpark from the summers of 1986 to 1997. Aerosmith, Chicago, Cher, Whitney Houston, AC/DC, Van Halen, and New Kids on the Block. A total of 75 concerts were held at The Ballpark over those 11 seasons. You can read the entire list of acts that played at The Ballpark here.
The music died in 1997 after residents of Old Orchard Beach complained about the noise late at night and The Ballpark was neglected and fell into disrepair as seen in this video.
In 2009 a volunteer organization called The Ball Park Group began to clean up and renovate The Ballpark, in hopes of getting baseball back out on the field. With help from local contractors volunteering and donations from local residents and businesses, The Ballpark reopened in October of 2009 with the Woofstock Festival an annual family-friendly, dog-friendly food and beer festival.
Baseball returned to The Ballpark after reopening. High school teams, college teams, and exhibition games have all been played there.
Beginning in 2011, the Old Orchard Beach Raging Tide collegiate summer baseball team called The Ballpark home until the owners sold the franchise in 2014. The Ballpark quickly found a new tenant in the Old Orchard Beach Surge, a team in the Empire Professional Baseball League that played there from 2015 to 2018.
In 2020, the Old Orchard Beach Town Council voted to transfer the operation of The Ballpark to the town's Rec Department after a proposal to shut it down completely was met with disapproval from residents.
There's a lot of history at The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach. A lot of ups and downs too, but it's still there and hopefully with be for years to come.
States with the most registered hunters
Gallery Credit: Meagan Drillinger
LOOK: See how much gasoline cost the year you started driving
Gallery Credit: Sophia Crisafulli