|In this era of minor league baseball being moved more and more into the suburbs of large cities and away from the smaller towns, it is refreshing to see a place like Slippery Rock get a chance to host a team, even if it is only on a temporary basis. Minor league baseball was meant to be played in smaller communities where games were a gathering spot on warm summer evenings. A trip to Slippery Rock is almost like taking a step back in time. Jack Critchfield Park, located on the campus of Slippery Rock University, is a rather basic collegiate ballpark. It consists of a metal grandstand with a covered roof and three rows of box seats. The rest of seating is all back-less benches. The views from the grandstand are all obscured by the netting, but with very little foul territory behind home plate, it has a very intimate feel. There is also a picnic area behind the left field fence, but it does not seem accessible from inside the park, so am not sure if this is technically part of the ballpark. The concourse area is located underneath the grandstand. There is just a single main concession stand and an ice cream cart. Menu choices include Italian sausages, kielbasa, and burgers besides the normal ballpark fare. Prices are very reasonable and the quality about average for ballpark food. The Sliders are being run by the Frontier League, but are almost completely staffed by SRU (and other college) interns. They didn't always seem coordinated or prepared, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing since many ballparks since too slick and too perfect now. While the ballpark is nothing special, the atmosphere is really what's so wonderful about this place. The crowd is lively and into the game and don't seem to be there just because it's "the cool thing to do." There is a mascot ("The Slider") on hand to entertain the kids and he seemed to do a good job at that. Strangely, he's a humanoid, something rarely seen in a mascot. The team does many between inning games (race the mascot, dizzy bat race, balloon toss, closest to the pin, etc.), which are all hosted by one of the interns posing as the on-field DJ. They certainly aren't polished, but this makes them more endearing than those over the top DJ's you'll see at many ballparks. I realize why there aren't many teams left in small communities (since it's all about the money), but still wish there could be more places like Slippery Rock. Unfortunately, 2007 was the only year the Sliders played here. For the 2008 season, the Frontier League opted to make the Sliders a traveling team. This is not at all surprising, so I'm sure glad I got to Jack Critchfield Park for a game in 2007.