Recreational baseball fields just don’t get any better than the fine fields in the city of Manhattan Beach, CA. They would even impress Leslie Knope, the earnest parks and recreation director portrayed by Amy Poehler on NBC comedy “Parks and Rec.” Green, well-maintained fields, active kids and adult leagues, and strong city parks and recreation support make the city a baseball paradise. Here are some of my favorite local ballparks. Contact the city of Manhattan Beach Parks and Recreation department for more information on availability for all of the fields. www.ci.manhattan-beach.ca.us.
Marine Sports Complex
1751 Marine Avenue
The largest and newest of the city’s parks features three baseball fields and one softball field, which are also used for soccer. These fields are packed with Little Leaguers on spring weekends, but are open later in the evenings (with lights) for adults with reservations. Don’t forget to wear long sleeves: this is one of the windiest parks on which you’ll ever compete, unless you get called up to the big leagues and play for the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Marine Avenue Park
1625 Marine Avenue
The names are confusing but this smaller and older field, hidden behind some outdoor basketball courts and a parks and rec department building, is next door to the Marine Sports Complex. The field, used by older little leaguers and Mira Costa High School’s baseball team, was freshly updated with new lights and a scoreboard dedicated to Henry Pearson, a 25-year-old Mira Costa baseball alumnus killed in a car crash by a drunk driver along with Anaheim Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart.
Live Oak Field
1901 N. Valley Drive
What I love the about this field, one of two at the Live Oak Park recreational area, is that it is in the heart of town and has such a community feel. Passersby stop to watch games while out walking their dogs, or on their way to the beach or dinner. The field is part of a larger complex that includes tennis and basketball courts and a toddler playground. Like all of the parks in town, you can try to reserve Live Oak Field when it is not being used by Little Leaguers, for your own games or for a birthday party. You can also try to reserve along with it a neighboring area of picnic tables and grills for a great outdoor kids’ party.
1901 N. Valley Drive
This field is located at the north end of Live Oak Park and is the larger of the two Live Oak fields. Adult men’s softball leagues use it regularly during weekdays. Concrete bleachers sit above the field, giving fans a commanding view of the action in the ballpark along with pretty views of the surrounding neighborhood. A kids’ playground behind the field is handy if the family turns out to watch your game.
Herrin St. & 18th St.
This little gem is a great place to enjoy a game on a warm spring day, with a hint of breeze giving the ball an extra push. Ballparks don’t get more picturesque than Premier, which has lovely Polliwog Park and its peaceful pond as a backdrop. The field is somewhat hidden, tucked away at the end of dead-end Herrin, behind Polliwog Park and Manhattan Beach Middle School. A fancy scoreboard and banners make this field as American as well, America’s favorite pastime.