Mud Hens Former Roost – Ned Skeldon Stadium/Lucas County Stadium

May 10th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Ned Skeldon Stadium is located at 2901 Key Street in Maumee, Ohio. The ballpark was the home of the International League Toledo Mud Hens from 1965 to 2001.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

The ballpark is located in the Lucas County Recreation Center and originally was part of the Lucas County Fairgrounds.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

In 1955, when the Toledo Mud Hens departed Swayne Field and moved to Wichita, Kansas, Toledo was left without a minor league team. Ned Skeldon, who served as Toledo Vice Mayor and four terms as a Lucas County Commissioner, led the drive to bring minor league baseball back to area and to convert a former racetrack (Fort Miami Park) and football field on the Lucas County Fair Grounds into a minor league facility. The racetrack turned ballpark opened in 1965 as Lucas County Stadium.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

The former International League Richmond Virginians moved to Maumee in 1965, thanks in large part to the efforts of Skeldon, and in 1988 Lucas County Stadium was renamed in his honor, just three months prior to his death.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Several Major League franchises were affiliated with the Mud Hens during the team’s years in Maumee. Primarily, the Mud Hens were an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, for 22 seasons from 1967 to 1973 and from 1987 to 2001. Other Major League teams affiliated with the Mud Hens during the team’s years at Skeldon Field include the New York Yankees from 1965 to 1966, the Philadelphia Phillies from 1974 to 1975 (with future Hall of Famer Jim Bunning as manager), the Cleveland Indians from 1976 to 1977, and the Minnesota Twins from 1978 to 1986.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium’s grandstand is uniquely configured because of its past as a racetrack for harness racing.

Front Entrance to Former Fort Miami Park, Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Front Entrance to Former Fort Miami Park, Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Fort Miami Park opened in 1917. It’s grandstand is located along the third base foul line and dates back to at least the 1920’s. In the late 1920’s, Fort Miami Park became the first harness racetrack in the country to feature night racing under electric lights.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

When the ballpark was enclosed for baseball in the mid 1960’s Lucas County added a grandstand behind home plate that wrapped around to the first base.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

The break in the grandstand between home plate and third base is somewhat reminiscent of the third base grandstand at Washington’s Griffith Stadium.

Former Fort Miami Park Grandstand at Ned Skeldon Stadium, Maumee, Ohio

Former Fort Miami Park Grandstand at Ned Skeldon Stadium, Maumee, Ohio

Concourse Underneath Former Fort Miami Park Grandstand, Now Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Concourse Underneath Former Fort Miami Park Grandstand, Now Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

In 2002, the Mud Hens moved eight miles northeast to brand new Fifth Third Field, located at 406 Washington Street in Toledo, Ohio.  In case you were wondering, the name Fifth Third Field is a reference to Fifth Third Bank and the early 1900’s merger of two Cincinnati Banks, Third National Bank and Fifth National Bank.

Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

After the Mud Hens departed Ned Skeldon Stadium, the ballpark, as part of the Lucas County Recreation Center complex, has continued to host amateur baseball, as well special events such as Fourth of July Fireworks. Private companies such as Line Drive Sportz have leased the facility and helped provide funds for its upkeep.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium hosted Minor league baseball for 37 seasons. Prior to that, as Fort Miami Park, facility hosted harness racing for 40 years. The good news is Ned Skeldon Stadium does not appear to be in danger any time soon of becoming another lost ballpark.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

If you are a baseball fan in Toledo, be sure to visit not only Ned Skeldon Stadium but also the site of Swayne Field, where the Mud Hens played from 1909 to 1955. The site is now the Swayne Field Shopping Center. Behind the shopping center is one of the oldest ballpark relics still standing in its original spot – a concrete wall that was once the left field wall at Swayne Field. The wall was built in 1909, the year Swayne Field opened, and is located just 10 miles northeast of Ned Skeldon Stadium at the intersection of Detroit Street and Council Street. Swayne Field also is located just two miles northwest of Fifth Third Field.

Original Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Left Field Corner From Detroit Street, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Swayne Field’s Original Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Left Field Corner From Detroit Street, Toledo, Ohio

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Toledo’s Swayne Field And Its Century-Old Outfield Wall

May 8th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Swayne Field was located at the intersection of Monroe Street and Detroit Avenue in Toledo, Ohio. The ballpark opened on July 3, 1909, as the home of the American Association Toledo Mud Hens. The ballpark was named after Noah Swayne, Jr., who purchased the land for the ballpark and leased it to the team.

Swayne Field Postcard (no publisher stated)

Swayne Field Postcard (Postcard Published by Harry Hamm, Toledo, Ohio)

Toledo’s American Association franchise played at Swayne Field through the 1955 season, with the exception of 1914 and 1915 when the team relocated to Cleveland and played at League Park to keep the Federal League from establishing a team in that city. As a replacement for the city baseball fans, the Southern Michigan League Mud Hens played at Swayne Field in 1914.

Toledo’s team was known primarily as the Mud Hens, although the team changed names twice, beginning with the Toledo Iron Men from 1916 to 1918 and the Toledo Sox from 1952 to 1955. Many great ballplayers passed through  future Hall of Famer Casey Stengel who managed the team from 1926 to 1931.

Swayne Field Postcard (Publisher not stated)

Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio, Showing 12,000 Interested Baseball Fans (No Postcard Publisher Stated)

Negro League baseball was played at Swayne Field, including the Negro National League Toledo Tigers in 1923, the Negro American League Toledo Crawfords in 1939 (featuring future Hall of Famer Oscar Charleston), and the United States League Toledo Cubs in 1945 (featuring future Hall of Famer Norman “Turkey” Stearnes). Swayne Field also was the site of many Negro League exhibition games over the years.

Professional Football also was played at Swayne Field. The Ohio League Toledo Maroons played at Swayne Field from 1909 to 1921 and the National Football League Toledo Maroons played there in 1923.

"Wayne Field Base Ball Park Toledo Ohio" Postcard With Error in Name (Published by Boutelle, Toledo, Ohio)

“Wayne Field Base Ball Park Toledo Ohio” Postcard With Error in Name (Published by Boutelle, Toledo, Ohio)

The ballpark was demolished in 1956 to make way for Swayne Field Shopping Center and what was then the largest Kroger store store in the country.

Location of FIrst Base Grandstand, Infield, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Save-A-Lot Grocery Store, Former Koger Store and Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

A McDonald’s Restaurant sits in the former site of right field, just as a different McDonald’s sits in the former site of left field at Baltimore’s old American League Park. St. Ann’s Catholic Church is visible behind Swayne Field’s former right field corner, just as a different St. Ann’s Catholic Church is visible a few blocks from Baltimore’s old American League Park.

Former Site of Right Field, Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Former Site of Right Field, Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

The building that comprises the Swayne Field Shopping Center is located in what was once left and center field.

Location of Left Field Grandstand, Left Field, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Location of Left and Center, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Home plate and the grandstand behind home plate was located mid block on Monroe Street between Detroit Street and former Toledo Terminal Railroad tracks. A Sherwin-Williams store now marks the spot.

Location of Infield Looking Toward Home Plate, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Location of Infield Looking Toward Home Plate, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

First base ran parallel to Monroe Street. Some of the buildings dating to the time of Swayne Field remain near the site on Monroe Street.

Center Field Looking Toward First Base Foul Line, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Center Field Looking Toward First Base Foul Line, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Most remarkable, however, is that a portion of Swayne Field’s original concrete wall remains at the site.

Original Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Left Field Corner From Detroit Street, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Original Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Left Field Corner From Detroit Street, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

The concrete wall once enclosed the the ballpark along Detroit Street (the first base foul line) around to Council Street (left and center field).

Swayne Field Opening Day 1909 (Bryan Postcard Company, Bryan, Ohio)

Swayne Field Opening Day 1909 (Bryan Postcard Company, Bryan, Ohio)

The portion of the wall that remains today was once part of the left center field wall, and is located behind the shopping center, parallel to Council Street.

Original Outfield Wall, Center Field, Intersection of Detroit Street and Council Street, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Original Concrete Outfield Wall at Intersection of Detroit Street and Council Street, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

The structure is over one hundred years old and in desperate need of repair.

Hole In Original Left Field Wall (Looking Toward Council Street) Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Hole In Original Left Field Wall (Looking Toward Council Street) Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

How historically significant is the Swayne Field wall? As an actual ballpark relic, the Swayne Field wall is one year older than both Rickwood Field, the oldest former professional ballpark still standing, which opened in August 1910, and the 1910 renovation of League Park in Cleveland (League Park’s ticket house may date to 1909). The wall is three years older than Fenway Park, the oldest Major League ballpark still standing, which opened in 1912. The wall is five years older than the somewhat famous Washington Park Wall, a relic of Brooklyn’s Federal League Tip Tops ballpark, which was constructed in 1914, and Wrigley Field, which opened in 1914 as Weeghman Park, home for the Federal League Chicago Whales. The wall is six years older both Bosse Field, the third oldest professional ballpark still in continuous use, built in 1915, and the remnants of Braves Field, which opened in 1915. Athough Forbes Field was constructed in 1909, the same year as Swayne Field, the outfield wall that remains at the Forbes Field site was built in 1946.

Brooklyn's Washington Park Wall, A Relic of the Federal League Brooklyn Tip Tops, Built in 1914

Brooklyn’s Washington Park Wall, A Relic of the Federal League Brooklyn Tip Tops, Built in 1914 (photo circa 2006, note: a portion of the wall has since been demolished)

All that is left of the Swayne Field wall closest to the left field corner are some of the concrete pillars.

Concrete Pillars From Original Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Center Field, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Concrete Pillars From Original Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Center Field, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Original Concrete Pillars of Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Left Field Corner, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Original Concrete Pillars of Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Left Field Corner, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Out beyond what was once the left field corner is a brick building that dates back to the time of Swayne Field and is now Burkett Restaurant Supply.

Industrial Building (Currently Burkett Restaurant Supply), Beyond Left Field Corner, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Industrial Building (Currently Burkett Restaurant Supply), Beyond Left Field Corner, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

After Swayne Field was demolished, Toledo was without a minor league affiliate from 1956 to 1964. In 1965, the Mud Hens returned to the area, playing in what was then called Lucas County Stadium, a converted race track at the Lucas County Fairgrounds, ten miles southwest of Swayne Field in Maumee, Ohio. Lucas County Stadium was subsequently renamed Ned Skeldon Stadium after the person  who helped bring minor  league baseball back to the Toledo area.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

In 2003 the Toledo Mud Hens left Ned Skeldon Stadium and returned to downtown Toledo, playing in brand new Fifth Third Field located just two miles southeast of the Swayne Field site.

Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio, Home Of The Toledo Mud Hens

Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio, Home Of The Toledo Mud Hens

On the Fifth Third Field club level is a display dedicated to the memory of Swayne Field.

Swayne Field Display, Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

Swayne Field Display, Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

Included in the display is a piece of the original Swayne Field Wall.

Swayne Field Display, Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

Swayne Field Display With Piece of Original , Outfield Wall, Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

If you are a fan of the game and the history of baseball, a stop at Swayne Field Shopping Center is a must, if for no other reason than to see a ballpark relic that is over one hundred years old. There are not many professional baseball stadium structures in the United States older than the Swayne Field wall. The portion that remains is located at the corner of Detroit Street and Council Street.

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Knoxville’s Lost Ballparks – Caswell Field, Smithson Stadium, Bill Meyer Stadium

May 6th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Since at least 1917, baseball has been played at a ball field located at 633 Jessamine Street near the intersection of East 5th Street and Jessamine Street in Knoxville Tennessee. In 1916, William Caswell, a former confederate soldier, donated land to the city in East Knoxville for construction of a public park, including a ball field, which became known as Caswell Park. Caswell was one of the original longtime fans of the game, having participated in what may have been the first game of baseball played in Tennessee – an 1865 contest between the Holstons, Caswell’s team, composed of former Confederate soldiers, and the Knoxvilles, composed of former Union soldiers.

Home Plate, Formerly Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Ball Field at 633 Jessamine Street, Formerly Caswell Field, Smithson Stadium, and Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Professional baseball was first played at 633 Jessamine Street in 1921, when the Appalachian League Knoxville Pioneers called Caswell Field home. In 1925, Knoxville changed leagues and names, joining the South Atlantic League as the Knoxville Smokies, in honor of the nearby Great Smoky Mountains. Knoxville did not field a team in 1930, and shared a Southern Association team with Mobile in 1931 (playing their games in Mobile, Alabama).

Former Site of Caswell Field, Smithson Field, and Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Former Site of Caswell Field, Smithson Stadium, and Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

In 1932, Caswell Field was replaced with a new ballpark, Smithson Stadium, named in honor of the Knoxville City Councilman W.N. Smithson who spearheaded a drive to bring professional baseball back to the city.  The Southern Association Knoxville Smokies returned that same year, playing their home games at Smithson Park. In 1946, the Smokies joined the Tri State League and in 1953 played in the Mountain States League.

Memorial Garden, Former Site of Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Memorial Garden, Former Site of Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

In 1953 Smithson Stadium was demolished by a fire and the city constructed a new ballpark, Municipal Stadium, on the site. In 1954 the Smokies rejoined the Tri-State League for one season, playing at new Municipal Stadium. Knoxville did not have a professional team in 1955, but half way through the 1956 season the South Atlantic League Montgomery Rebels moved to Knoxville.

Bill Meyer Stadium Postcard

Bill Meyer Stadium Postcard

In 1957, Municipal Stadium was renamed Bill Meyer Stadium in honor of Knoxville native and former major league player and manager William Adam Meyer. In 1964, the Smokies joined the Southern League, where they have played ever since. In 1972 the team changed its name to the Knoxville Sox and in 1980, the Knoxville Blue Jays. In 1993, the team changed its name back to the Knoxville Smokies.

Plaque Honoring Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Plaque Honoring Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Professional baseball departed Bill Meyer Stadium after the 1999 season. In 2003 the stadium was demolished and in 2008 the ball field was renamed “Ridley-Helton Ballfield.” Neal Ridley was a former owner of the Knoxville Smokies and was largely responsible for keeping minor league baseball in Knoxville in the 1950s. Todd Helton is a Knoxville native and former Major League player who provided funds to renovate the ball field.

Plaque Honoring RIdley/Helton Ballfield at Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Plaque Honoring Neal Ridley and Todd Helton at Former Site of Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Although the Bill Meyer Stadium structure is long gone, the field remains, as well as modest bleachers and covered dugouts.

Fence Surrounding Infield, Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

First Base Foul Line and Dugout, Ridley-Helton Field, Knoxville, Tennessee

The stadium grandstand behind home plate once sat in what is now an extension of Jessamine Street, which runs behind home plate and a memorial park.

Former Location of Third Base Grandstand, Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Former Location of Third Base Grandstand, Bill Meyer Stadium, Now Ridley-Helton Field, Knoxville, Tennessee

A metal storage shed remains on the site from the time of Bill Meyer Stadium, still painted Knoxville Smokies blue.

Storage Shed Remaining At Site Next to Former Terminus of Third Base Grandstand

Storage Shed Remaining At Site Next to Former Terminus of Third Base Grandstand

Out beyond left field is the former Standard Knitting Mills Building. The building has loomed large over the outfield wall since its construction in the mid 1940’s.

Standard Knitting Mills Building Out Beyond Left Field, Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Standard Knitting Mills Building Out Beyond Left Field at Ridley-Helton Field, Formerly Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Detail of Standard Knitting Mills Building, Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Detail of Standard Knitting Mills Building, Knoxville, Tennessee

Several light stanchions original to Bill Meyer Stadium remain at the site as well.

Light Stanchion, Memorial Garden, Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Light Stanchion, Ridley-Helton Field, Formerly Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Today Ridley-Helton Field continues to host youth and high school baseball, helping insure that baseball will continue to be played into the field’s second century.

RIght Field Line, Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Right Field Line, Ridley-Helton Field, Formerly Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

In 2000, the Knoxville Smokies moved 20 miles east to a new ballpark, Smokies Park, located in Kodak, Tennessee. Having departed Knoxville, the team changed its name to the Tennessee Smokies.

Smokies Stadium, Kodak, Tennessee, Home of the Tennessee Smokies

Smokies Stadium, Kodak, Tennessee, Home of the Tennessee Smokies

Smokies Park also serves as a visitor center for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Smokies Park and Smoky Mountain Visitors Center, Kodak, Tennessee

Smokies Park and Smoky Mountain Visitors Center, Kodak, Tennessee

Out beyond right field are four wood stadium seats from Bill Meyer Stadium, painted Knoxville Smokies blue.

Seats from Bill Meyer Stadium, Located Beyond Left Field Wall, Smokies Stadium, Kodak, Tennessee

Seats from Bill Meyer Stadium, Located Beyond Left Field Wall, Smokies Stadium, Kodak, Tennessee

Smokies Park is a fine minor league facility and a great place to watch a game of baseball. However, it has another 85 years before it can match the nearly 100 years of baseball that has been played at the Smokies former home in Knoxville.

Chicago Cubs Prospect Kris Bryant at Smokies Stadium, Kodak, Tennessee

Chicago Cubs Prospect Kris Bryant at Smokies Stadium, Kodak, Tennessee

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Pullman Park – From Railroad Cars to Kelly Automotive Park

May 5th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Pullman Park was located at 100 Pullman Park Place near the intersection of Pillow Street and Plum Street in Butler, Pennsylvania.

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

The ballpark (first base side) was located alongside the former Standard Steel Car Company plant which manufactured railroad rolling stock (railroad cars) beginning in 1902.  Standard Steel was acquired by Pullman Car and Manufacturing Company in 1929 and merged in 1934 to become the Pullman-Standard Car Manufacturing Company.

Building that Once Housed Pullman Standard Manufacturing Company, Butler, Pennsylvania

Cut Stone Office Building that Once Housed Pullman Standard Manufacturing Company, Butler, Pennsylvania

In 1934 Pullman-Standard provided the land and and constructed Pullman Park. The company then donated the ballpark to the City of Butler.

Ticket Window, Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Ticket Window, Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

In 1935, Pullman Park was the home of the Class-D Pennsylvania State Association (PSA) Butler Indians, an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

In 1936 the PSA Butler Yankees arrived in Butler and played their home games at Pullman Park. The Butler Yankees played through the 1942 season in Butler. During World War II, Butler did not field a team. The Butler Yankees returned to Pullman Park in 1946, playing in the Middle Atlantic League. The 1947 season was notable because it saw the professional debut of future Hall of Famer Whitey Ford who pitched for Butler that season. The Butler Yankees departed after the 1948 season.

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

From 1949 to 1951, the Butler Tigers played their home games at Pullman Park. In 1949 and 1950, the Butler Tigers were an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. In 1951 they were an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

First Base Seating, Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

First Base Grandstand Bleacher Seating, Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Negro League exhibition games also were played at Pullman Park. At least one such game was played on July 8, 1937, when the Negro National League Homestead Grays played the NNL Pittsburgh Crawfords at Pullman Park.

Homestead Grays Poster (On Display at Kelly Automotive Park), Butler, Pennsylvania

Homestead Grays Poster (On Display at Kelly Automotive Park), Butler, Pennsylvania

Professional baseball departed Pullman Park after the 1951 season, and the ballpark thereafter was used primarily for high school baseball.

Light Stanchion, Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Light Stanchion, Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

In 2005, the city closed Pullman Park. The ballpark was demolished in 2007 to make way for an entirely new baseball facility at the site. Below is a video of Pullman Park filmed in 2006, after the city had stopped utilizing Pullman Park for high school baseball, but before demolition had begun on the ballpark.

In 2007, the City of Butler began construction of new Pullman Park, designed to host both high school and college games. The ballpark includes a turf infield and natural grass outfield. In 2014, the name of the ballpark was changed to Kelly Automotive Park. The transformation of the ballpark from old Pullman Park to Kelly Automotive was remarkable. Although it is unfortunate that none of the original ballpark could be saved and preserved, by 2007 apparently there wasn’t much that could be reused, other than the field itself.

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Grandstand, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Grandstand, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

To get a sense of the transformation from Pullman Park to Kelly Automotive Park, below are before and after pictures of the ballpark taken from approximately the same angle and location. In 2006 I was unable to gain access to the park, so all the pictures of the old park are from outside looking in.

The front entrance from the third base side:

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

The exterior of the third base grandstand:

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

The front entrance from the first base side:

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Exterior of the ballpark looking south:

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler,  Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

The first base grandstand:

First Base Grandstand, Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

First Base Grandstand, Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

First Base Grandstand, Kelly Automotive Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

First Base Grandstand, Kelly Automotive Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Interior of the first base grandstand:

Pullman Park Grandstand, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park Grandstand, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

View of right field with former American Bantam Car Company visible beyond the right field fence (in 1940, the American Bantam Car Company developed a Reconnaissance Car for the Army which was the prototype of the Jeep):

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Industry Beyond Outfield Wall, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Industrial Buildings Beyond Right Field Wall, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

View of center field:

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Looking Through Grandstand Toward Center Field, Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

View of left field:

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Park includes several displays on the concourse behind home plate that celebrate the history of Pullman Park.

Pullman Park History Display at Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park History Display at Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park History Display at Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park History Display at Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park History Display at Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park History Display at Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park History Display at Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park History Display at Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

The ballpark is surrounded by the buildings and industry that date to the time of Pullman Park.

My Buddy's Bar, With Pullman Park Mural, Across Street From Kelly Automotive Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

My Buddy’s Bar, With Pullman Park Mural, Across Street From Kelly Automotive Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

View of Houses Fronting Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

View of Houses Fronting Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Concrete Plant, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

DuBrook Concrete Plant, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Although the original ballpark is long gone, Kelly Automotive Park is a wonderful place to watch a high school or college game.

PSAC Baseball Tournament Banner at Kelly Automotive Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

PSAC Baseball Tournament Banner at Kelly Automotive Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

During summer months, Kelly Automotive Park is the home of the Butler Blue Sox of the collegiate wooden-bat rospect League.

Prospect League Standings Board at Kelly Automotive Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Prospect League Standings Board at Kelly Automotive Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

And if you do see a game at Kelly Automotive Park, be sure to notice the outfield advertisement for Jones Turkey Farm posted on the right field fence. It certainly gives new meaning to the term “fowl ball.”

Turkey Farm Wall Sign - The First Such Ad I Have Ever Seen in a Ballpark, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Fowl Ball! East Stroudsburg University Right Fielder Christian Rishel Playing Under the Watchful Eye of a Jones Turkey Farm Turkey, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

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Railroads and Lookouts – Chattanooga’s Historic Engel Stadium

April 29th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Engel Stadium is located at 1130 East Third Street in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The ballpark is the former home of the Chattanooga Lookouts.

Historic Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Historic Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Engel Stadium was built on the site of the Lookout’s prior home, Andrew Field. In 1910, the franchise moved from Little Rock Arkansas to Chattanooga and in 1911 began playing their home games at Andrews Field.

Center Field, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Center Field, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Center Field, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Center Field, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

In 1929, Clark Griffith purchased the Lookouts and Andrews Field from Sammy Strang, a former major league player and Chattanooga native. Griffith hired former major league pitcher and scout Joe Engel to run the franchise and oversee construction of the new ballpark.

Engel Stadium Home of the "Lookouits" Chattanooga, Tennessee

Engel Stadium Postcard, Home of the “Lookouts” Chattanooga, Tennessee

When the ballpark opened in 1930 it was named Engel Stadium in recognition of Engel’s efforts. As a player with the Washington Senators, Engel roomed with teammate Walter Johnson and as a scout was responsible for discovering future Hall of Famers Goose Goslin, Joe Cronin, and Bucky Harris. Engel remained with the Lookouts until the early 1960s, becoming in the process one of the most successful and colorful promoters in the game.

Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

When Engel Stadium opened in 1930, it was considered one of the finest minor league ballparks in the country.

Left Field Fence, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Left Field Fence, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

The ballpark is situated next to Southern Railway’s Citico Yard (now known as Norfolk Southern Railway Debutts Yard).

Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee, View from Train Tracks Looking Toward Lookout Mountain

View of Norfolk Southern Railway’s Debutts Yard, Engel Stadium (right), and Lookout Mountain (left), Chattanooga, Tennessee

View of Grandstand Roof From Highway

View of Grandstand Roof From East 3rd Street Bridge Over Norfolk Southern Railway Yard

Engel Stadium also is located adjacent to the University of Tennessee College of Medicine’s Erlanger Hospital and Chattanooga’s historic Fort Hood neighborhood.

Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee, View From Street

Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee, View From Erlanger Hospital at Central Avenue

Engel Stadium’s all brick construction is reminiscent of Bosse Field in Evansville, Indiana. Like Bosse Field, Engel Stadium was used as the backdrop for a major motion pictures. In 2012, the movie 42 was filmed at Engel Field. In 1991, A League Of Their Own was filed at Bosse Field.

Exterior, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Exterior, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

The Chattanooga Lookouts played their home games at Engel Field from 1930 through 1961 as member of the Southern Association. Chattanooga did not field a team in 1962, but the Lookouts returned in 1963 and played one season in the South Atlantic (“Sally”) League.

Exterior, Third Base Grandstand, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Exterior, Third Base Grandstand, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

From 1964 to 1965 the Lookouts were members of the Southern League. The team departed after the 1965 season and from 1966 to 1975 Chattanooga did not field a team. The Lookouts returned to Engel Stadium in 1976, once again as a member of the Southern League and continued to play at Engel Stadium through the 1999 season.

Exterior, First Base Grandstand, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Exterior, First Base Grandstand, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

In the 1940s the minor league Negro Southern Association Chattanooga Choo-Choos played their home games at Engel Stadium. A young Willie Mays, still in high school, reportedly played for the Choo-Choos in 1945 and 1946 as an unsigned player. In 1947, he officially started his professional career with the Birmingham Black Barrons who played their home games at Rickwood Field. In 1926 and 1927, when the ballpark was still known as Andrews Field, the Negro Southern League Chattanooga White Sox played their home games at Andrews Field. Satchel Paige made his professional minor league Negro League debut at Andrews Field in April 1926. In 1927 Paige’s contract was sold to the Black Barrons.

Gated Entrance Along Third Base, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Gated Entrance Along Third Base, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

The following Major League teams were affiliated with the Lookouts during the time that Engel Stadium fielded a professional, affiliated team: the Washington Senators from 1932 to 1959, the Philadelphia Phillies from 1960 to 1961, and 1963 to 1965, the Oakland Athletics from 1976 to 1977, the Cleveland Indians from 1978 to 1982, the Seattle Mariners from 1983 to 1986, and the Cincinnati Reds from 1987 to 1999.

Scoreboard, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Scoreboard, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

In 2000, the Chattanooga Lookouts moved to brand new AT&T Field located at 201 Power Alley in Chattanooga, just one and one half mile northwest of Engel Stadium.

AT&T Ballpark, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Home of the Chattanooga Lookouts

AT&T Ballpark, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Home of the Chattanooga Lookouts

AT&T Field, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Home of the Chattanooga Lookouts

AT&T Field, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Home of the Chattanooga Lookouts

In 2009 Engel Stadium was added to the National Register of Historic Places. That same year, the Engel Stadium Foundation was established to help renovate and restore Engel Stadium. If you are interested in making a donation to the Foundation, contact them here.

Right Field Looking Toward Center Field, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Right Field Looking Toward Center Field, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Although the stadium received some repairs in 2012 as part of its role in the movie 42, there is still much that needs to be done to restore Engel Stadium and help preserve it for future generations of baseball fans to use and appreciate.

View of Grandstand From Left Field Corner, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

View of Grandstand From Left Field Corner, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

In April 2015 the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, and the Engel Stadium Foundation, announced a partnership wherein Engel stadium will be renovated and converted to an Intramural Complex for students at the University. The details of the proposed renovation have yet to be determined.

Light Stanchion, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Light Stanchion, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Although the ballpark will undergo some changes to accommodate its new purpose, the good news is that Engel Stadium will not become just another lost ballpark.

Exterior of Right Field Fence, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Exterior of Right Field Fence, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

If you have never visited Engel Stadium and are interested in seeing the ballpark before its transformation, now is the time to do so.

Exterior of Right Field Fence, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Exterior of Right Field Fence, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Old ballparks such as Engel Stadium have a certain, worn charm that often times is wiped away when the ballpark is renovated or repurposed. Although I could not gain access to the ballpark in 2014 when I took these pictures, there was plenty to see just walking around the exterior of Engel Stadium. It is definitely worth the trip for any true fan of the game and is only a mile and a half from the Lookouts current home.

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Rainbow Stadium/Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

April 28th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Les Murakami Stadium is located on the campus of the University of Hawaii, Manoa, at 1337 Lower Campus Road in Honolulu. Constructed in 1984 for use by the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors baseball team, the ballpark originally was known as Rainbow Stadium.

Les Murakami Stadium, University of Hawaii

Les Murakami Stadium, University of Hawaii

In 2002, Rainbow Stadium was renamed Les Murakami Stadium, in honor of the former University of Hawaii, Manoa, Head Coach Leslie S. Murakami. Murakami was the first baseball coach at UH Manoa, beginning in 1971 through 2000. Murakami also played for the University of Hawaii from 1955 to 1958.

Plaque

Plaque Honoring Rededication of Rainbow Stadium as Les Murakami Stadium

Although primarily a college stadium, Les Murakami Stadium has a connection to professional baseball, and thus it’s inclusion on this website.

Student Section Sign, Exterior of Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Student Section Sign, Exterior of Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

In 1986 and 1987, the Pacific League Hawaii Islanders played some of their home games at Rainbow Stadium.

30th Anniversary of Les Murakami Stadium, 1984 to 2014

30th Anniversary of Les Murakami Stadium, 1984 to 2014

The Hawaii Islanders played at Honolulu Stadium from 1961 to 1975. From 1976 to 1985, the Islanders played their home games at Aloha Stadium. The final two season the Islanders played their home games at both Aloha Stadium and Rainbow Stadium.

Exterior of Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Exterior of Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

The entrance to the stadium is at field level, behind the home plate grandstand. The grandstand seating area is accessed on the second level (and above) of the stadium.

Clubhouse Entrance, Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Clubhouse Entrance, Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Concourse, Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Concourse, Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Les Murakami Stadium is just two miles northeast of Waikiki Beach on the southern end of the University of Hawaii.

Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

The Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve provides a striking backdrop beyond the left field foul line.

Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

The vast majority of the over 4,000 seats are covered by a double deck grandstand that stretches from first base to third base.

View of First Base Grandstand, Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

View of First Base Grandstand, Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

View of Third Base Grandstand, Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

View of Third Base Grandstand, Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Although Les Murakami Stadium’s history in the annals of minor league baseball may be barely a footnote, it is a ballpark where the professional game once was played.

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Long Beach State Dirtbag Player at Les Muralami Stadium

Moreover, Les Murakami Stadium is the only remaining venue where professional baseball could be played in Honolulu. Although the Aloha Bowl still stands (Honolulu Stadium was demolished in 1976), because of changes made to the stadium seating in 2007, the Aloha Bowl no longer can be configured for baseball.

Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

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Rock Cats Celebrate 20th Anniversary at New Britain Stadium By Leaving

April 27th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

New Britain Stadium is located in Willow Brook Park at 230 John Karbonic Way in New Britain, Connecticut.

New Britain Stadium, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

The City of New Britain constructed the ballpark in 1995 as a replacement for Beehive Field, which the city had built only 12 years earlier in 1982 to entice a professional minor league team (the Bristol Red Sox) to move to New Britain.

View of New Britain Stadium from Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

View of New Britain Stadium from Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium was built adjacent to Beehive Field, which remains at the site just a few hundred feet from New Britain Stadium and is used by the local high school and American Legion teams.

View of Beehive Stadium from New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

View of Beehive Field from New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium with Beehive Field in Backgrouind, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium with Beehive Field in Backgrouind, New Britain, Connecticut

In 1996, the Eastern League Hardware City Rock Cats played their home games at New Britain Stadium. The name Hardware City is a reference to New Britain’s nickname (Stanley Black & Decker’s headquarters is located in New Britain).

Concourse, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Concourse, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

In 1997, the team changed its name to the New Britain Rock Cats.

New Britain Rock Cats Warming Up Prior to 2014 Game, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Rock Cats Warming Up Prior to 2014 Game, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

From 1995 to 2014, New Britain was an affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. In 2015, the Rock Cats became an affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.

Concourse, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Concourse, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

In addition to holding approximately 2,000 more fans than its predecessor Beehive Field,  New Britain Stadium is enclosed by a brick and concrete facade and stadium structure that is more in line with minor league ballparks built in the 1990s. New Britain Stadium, unlike Beehive Field, also has a covered concourse behind the grandstand with many more concessions options.

Stairway to Grandstand Seating, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Stairway to Grandstand Seating, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium includes a small covered grandstand with a press box behind home plate.

Grandstand, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Grandstand, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Much of the ballpark seating is uncovered, metal bleachers.

Bleacher Seating New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Bleacher Seating New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Bleacher Seating, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Bleacher Seating, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

The seats in the grandstand behind home plate and close to the field between first and third base, are made of plastic and have distinctive formed plastic arm rests.

Box Seats, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Box Seats, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

With its placement in the middle of a public park, New Britain Stadium has a rural feel, especially looking out beyond the center field fence.

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium’s scoreboard includes a video board. Mounted next to the scoreboard is a one story tall plastic milk bottle advertising Guida’s Dairy.

Jumbo Tron and Scoreboard, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Jumbo Tron and Scoreboard, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

The milk advertisement is perhaps a nod to the famous Hood plastic milk bottle sign that once sat atop the right field roof at Fenway Park and later was moved to LeLacheur Park, home of the Lowell Spinners.

Giant Milk Bottle, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Giant Milk Bottle, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

With racing mascot mania reaching new heights in professional baseball, New Britain features a 7th inning fast food run of donuts and coffee sponsored by Dunkin’ Donuts.

Racing Donuts and Coffee! New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Racing Donuts and Coffee! Caution Contents May Be Hot. New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Although a tour of New Britain Stadium does not leave one with the impression that the ballpark needs replacement, the Rock Cats after only 20 seasons in the ballpark are leaving anyway, and 2015 will be the last season of professional, affiliated minor league baseball at New Britain Stadium

Beautiful Sunset, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Beautiful Sunset, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

In 2016, the Rock Cats are moving 14 miles up Highway 9 to a new ballpark located at Main Street and Trumbull Street in the “Downtown North” section of Hartford, Connecticut.

Route 9, the Road Out of New Britain Stadium Which Leads to The Rock Cats New Home in Hartford, Connecticut

Route 9 Can Bee Seen Behind New Britain Stadium’s Right Field/First Base Foul Line. It Is the Road North Out of New Britain And Leads to The Rock Cats New Home in Hartford, Connecticut

The team’s move to Hartford is a bit of a homecoming for the city. From 1921 to 1952, Hartford hosted an Eastern League team at Bulkeley Stadium, once located on the southeast corner of Hanmer Street and George Street and currently the site of a nursing facility.

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Hopefully professional baseball will continue to be played at New Britain Stadium. The unaffiliated Atlantic League has expressed interest in placing a franchise in New Britain Stadium. Another option is the addition of a collegiate wooden bat league team at New Britain Stadium.

Thus, beginning in 2016, New Britain will have the distinction of having two former professional, affiliated ballparks standing in tact, side by side – presumably a claim that no other city in the United States can make.

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Beehive Field – Still Abuzz With Baseball In New Britain

April 26th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Beehive Field is located in Willow Brook Park on John Karbonic Way in New Britain, Connecticut.

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

The ballpark was constructed in 1982 by the City of New Britain in hopes of bringing a professional baseball franchise to the city.

Plaque Honoring Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Plaque Honoring Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Beehive Field’s name is perhaps a nod to Joe Buzas, the legendary minor league baseball owner who moved his team, the Bristol Red Sox, to New Britain in 1983.

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticutt

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticutt

Built on top of what once was a swamp, when it opened Beehive Field had one of the most expansive outfields in minor league baseball. The large outfield and thick air (because of the former swamp) tagged the ballpark as a pitcher’s park.

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Although perhaps considered “modern” when it was built in the early 1980s because it was new, the simplicity of the design more resembled a 1930’s era ballpark.

Under the Third Base Grandstand, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Under the Third Base Grandstand, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

The stadium seating is constructed of metal risers that wrap around from the infield, with no exterior wall to close in the structure.

Stairs to the Grandstand, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Stairs to the Grandstand, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

From 1983 to 1994, it was the home of the Eastern League New Britain Red Sox.

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

One of the most distinctive features of Beehive Field is that it is located just a few hundred feet from New Britain Stadium, the ballpark that replaced Beehive Field in 1996 as the home of professional baseball in New Britain.

Beehive Field, with New Britain Stadium in Background, New Britain, Connecticut

Beehive Field, with New Britain Stadium in Background, New Britain, Connecticut

By the early 1990s, with the Boston Red Sox threatening to leave New Britain unless the city built the franchise a new ballpark, New Britain began construction of a new ballpark next to Beehive Field. The Red Sox affiliate departed after the 1994 season anyway.

Grandstand, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Grandstand, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

In 1995, Buzas affiliated his New Britain team with the Minnesota Twins and the New Britain Rock Cats played their first season at Beehive Field (known then as the Hardware City Rock Cats).

First Base Dugout, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

First Base Dugout, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Third Base Dugout, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Third Base Dugout, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Beehive Field remains at the site today. The left field bleachers of New Britain’s current ballpark provide an excellent panoramic view of Beehive Field.

View of Beehive Stadium from New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

View of Beehive Stadium from New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Light Stanchion, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Light Stanchion, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Beehive Field is currently the home field of the New Britain High School Canes varsity baseball team.

Scoreboard, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Scoreboard, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Although the ballpark is in need of repair, it remains an important part of the New Britain community and, in 2015, additional funds were provided by the city to upgrade the facility to make it ADA compliant.

First Base Bleachers, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

First Base Bleachers, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

The New Britain Rock Cats currently are playing their 20th season at New Britain Stadium.

New Britain Stadium, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

The team has taken the unusual approach of celebrating their 20th anniversary by making it their last season in New Britain Stadium.

View of New Britain Stadium from Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

View of New Britain Stadium from Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Beginning in 2017, the Rock Cats will play their home games in Hartford, Connecticut, as the Hartford Yard Goats. Yes, the Yard Goats.

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Hopefully professional baseball will continue to be played in New Britain Stadium, thereby allowing the high school to play its games at Beehive Field. The Atlantic League has expressed interest in placing a franchise in New Britain Stadium. Another option is the addition of a collegiate wooden bat league team at New Britain Stadium. Regardless, New Britain, beginning in 2016, will have the distinction of having two former professional, affiliated ballparks standing in tact, side by side – presumably a claim that no other city in the United States can make.

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Salem Municipal Stadium/Kiwanis Field – Still A Fine Old Ballpark

April 22nd, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Salem Kiwanis Field is located at 731 Indiana Street in Salem, Virginia. Opened in 1932, the ballpark was constructed by the City of Salem for use as a local town and high school baseball and football field. Originally known as Salem Municipal Stadium, the ballpark’s name was changed to Salem Kiwanis Field at some point subsequent to 1995.

Salem Municipal Stadium, Kiwanis Field, Salem, Virginia

Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

From 1939 to 1942, the Virginia League Salem-Roanoke Friends played their home games at Salem Municipal Stadium. In 1943, the team moved to Maher Field in Roanoke. Professional baseball returned briefly to Salem in 1946, when the Blue Ridge League Salem Friends played at Salem Municipal Stadium for part of that season.

Exterior of Outfield Wall, Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Exterior of Outfield Wall, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

In 1955, the unaffiliated Appalachian League Salem Rebels began playing at Salem Municipal Stadium. The team included future Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda, who signed with the New York Giants as an amateur free agent that same year. Salem’s professional team affiliated with several different Major League franchises over the years, beginning with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1957. The Pirates organization departed after the 1959 season, but returned from 1964 to 1980, and from 1987 to 1994. From 1960 to 1963 Salem was an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. From 1981 to 1983, Salem was affiliate of the San Diego Padres, and from 1984 to 1986, Salem was an affiliate of the Texas Rangers.

Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

The Rebels joined the Carolina League in 1968. In 1972, the team changed its name to the Salem Pirates. From 1981 to 1986, the team was known as the Salem Redbirds. From 1987 to 1994, the team was known as the Salem Buccaneers. In 1995, the team switched affiliations to the Colorado Rockies and became the Salem Avalanche.

Scoreboard, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Scoreboard, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

On August 22, 1974, a tragic accident occurred at Salem Municipal Stadium when 17 year old right fielder Alfredo Edmead died after colliding with second baseman Pablo Cruz. A plaque in memory of Emead was placed at the ballpark but subsequently was moved to the Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame.

View of Field and First Base Dugout From First Base Bleachers, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

View From First Base Bleachers, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Situated in the Roanoke Valley between the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains, the ballpark offers commanding views of the surrounding mountain.

Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Salem Kiwanis Field is an earthen ballpark, with grandstand and concrete bleacher seating set into the side of a hill that runs along the back of the ballpark.

Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

As such, there is no traditional stadium structure located behind the ballpark seating bowl.

Grandstand Roof, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Grandstand Roof, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Grandstand Roof, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Grandstand Roof, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

A later addition to the ballpark was the construction of a press box behind the back of the home plate grandstand.

Press Box, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Press Box, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

The covered grandstand includes wooden seats dating back to at least the 1950s.

Wood Seats, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Wood Seats, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Wood Seats, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Wood Seats, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Concrete bleachers are located on either side of the covered grandstand. Because the ballpark was designed and used for both baseball and football, the concrete bleachers do not curve around the infield as they would in a baseball-only ballpark.

First Base Concrete Bleachers, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

First Base Concrete Bleachers, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

The dugouts, like the surrounding seating area, are set into the side of the hill.

View of Field and First Base Dugout From First Base Bleachers, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

View of Field and First Base Dugout From First Base Bleachers, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

The bullpens are located along the first and third base foul lines, out of play.

Bullpen, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Bullpen, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

The concrete block concession stand located behind the first base bleachers harkens back to an earlier era when the game itself was the main attraction.

Concession Stand, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Concession Stand, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Salem Kiwanis Field currently is the home of the University of Roanoke Maroons baseball team and the Salem High School Spartans. The local American Legion team, as well as the Roanoke Rails of the Carolina-Virginia Collegiate League, play their home games at Salem Kiwanis Field.

Salem Kiwanis Field, Home of the Salem Spartans, Salem, Virginia

Salem Kiwanis Field, Home of the Salem High School Spartans, Salem, Virginia

The Salem Avalanche played a portion of the 1995 season at Salem Municipal Stadium while construction was being completed on a new ballpark located just a half mile east of Salem Municipal Stadium.

Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

On August 7, 1995, the Avalanche played their first game at Salem Memorial Baseball Stadium, and professional baseball at the old ballpark departed, presumably forever.

Salem Memorial Baseball Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Salem Memorial Baseball Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Salem Memorial Baseball Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Salem Memorial Baseball Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Fortunately for fans of old-time ballparks, Salem Kiwanis Field remains an important part of the Salem community, hosting both college, high school, and summer collegiate baseball. Hopefully Salem’s continued use of the ballpark will help insure that it does not any time soon become just another lost ballpark.

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Jamestown’s Gem – Russell E. Diethrick, Jr. Park

April 19th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Russell E. Diethrick, Jr. Park is located at 485 Falconer Street in Jamestown, New York.

Jamestown Municipal Stadium/Russell E. Diethrick, Jr. Park, Jamestown, New York

Jamestown Municipal Stadium/Russell E. Diethrick, Jr. Park, Jamestown, New York

Constructed in 1940 through a public/private partnership, the ballpark is owned and maintained by the City of Jamestown.

Jamestown Municipal Stadium Postcard (Curteich-Chicago Art Colortone, Weakley-Olson, Jamestown NY)

Jamestown Municipal Stadium Postcard (Curteich-Chicago Art Colortone, Weakley-Olson, Jamestown NY)

When it opened in 1941, the ballpark was known as Jamestown Municipal Stadium and was the home of the Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York League (PONY) Jamestown Falcons.

Plaque Honoring 1941 Dedication as  Jamestown Municipal Stadium, Jamestown, New York

Plaque Honoring 1941 Dedication as Jamestown Municipal Stadium, Jamestown, New York

In the early 1960s, Jamestown Community College built a new campus adjacent to Jamestown Municipal Stadium (just beyond left field) and the college baseball team began playing their home games at the ballpark. In the mid 1960s the ballpark was known locally as College Stadium and, in 1984, was renovated as College Stadium. Jamestown Community College’s baseball and softball teams still play their home games there.

Plaque Honoring 1984 Stadium Rededication as College Stadium, Jamestown, New York

Plaque Honoring 1984 Stadium Renovation of College Stadium, Jamestown, New York

In 1997, the name was changed to Russell E. Diethrick, Jr. Park in honor of a local Jamestown resident who had dedicate his life to both professional and amateur baseball in Jamestown.

Russell E. Dietrick, Jr. Park, Jamestown, New York, Former Home of the Jamestown Jammers

Russell E. Diethrick, Jr. Park, Jamestown, New York, Former Home of the Jamestown Jammers

Plaque Honoring 1997 Ballpark Rededication as Russell E. Diethrick, Jr. Park , Jamestown, New York

Plaque Honoring 1997 Ballpark Rededication as Russell E. Diethrick, Jr. Park , Jamestown, New York

As with every professional ballpark that reaches a certain advanced age, there is an abundance of historic plaques and markers at Diethrick Park.

Plaques Honoring History of Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Plaques Honoring History of Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

The ballpark was home to the PONY League Jamestown Falcons from 1941 to 1956. In 1957 the league’s name was changed to the New York-Penn League. The Falcons continued play in the New York-Penn League, but only for half a season when the team ceased operation. Professional baseball returned to Jamestown Municipal Stadium in 1961 with the arrival of the New York-Penn League Jamestown Tigers, who departed after the 1965 season. The ballpark continued its affiliation with the New York-Penn League with the Jamestown Dodgers in 1966, the Jamestown Braves in 1967, the Jamestown Falcons from 1968 to 1972, the Jamestown Expos in 1973, and from 1977 to 1993, and the Jamestown Jammers from 1994 to 2014.

Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

View from the First Base Bleachers, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Since 1941, the team has affiliated with the following major league organizations: the Detroit Tigers from 1941 to 1942, from 1944 to 1956, from 1961 to 1965, and from 1994 to 1998, the St. Louis Cardinals in 1943, the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1957 and from 2013 to 2014, the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1966, the Atlanta Braves in 1967 and from 199 to 2001, the Boston Red Sox from 1968 to 1970, the Montreal Expos from 1971 to 1973, and from 1977 to 1993, and the Florida Marlins from 2002 to 2012.

View From Behind Home Plate, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

View From Behind Home Plate, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Although Diethrick Park has undergone several renovations during its 75 years in existence, the ballpark maintains much of its classic ballpark charm.

Grandstand, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Grandstand, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

The all-brick exterior hearkens back to an earlier era.

Grandstand Exterior - Behind Home Plate, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Grandstand Exterior – Behind Home Plate, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Grandstand Exterior, First Base Side, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Grandstand Exterior, First Base Side, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

The bullpens are located along the first and third base lines, with the visiting team located just past the first base bleachers and the home team just past the third base bleachers.

Visitor's Bullpen, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Visitor’s Bullpen, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Home Team Bullpen, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Home Team Bullpen, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

The light stanchions are original to the ballpark, installed when Diethrick Park opened in 1941.

Right Field at Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Right Field at Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Light Stanchion, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Light Stanchion, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

The electronic scoreboard is old-school as well. Who needs a Jumbo Tron at a minor league game?

Scoreboard, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Scoreboard, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

In 2014, Diethrick Park was the second oldest ballpark in the New York-Penn League. Despite of, and because of, its age, it is a wonderful place to watch a baseball game.

Night Game, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Night Game, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

The people of Jamestown, New York, are proud of their association with the game of baseball. Organized baseball has been played in Jamestown since the Civil War.

Plaque Honoring the History of Professional Baseball in Jamestown, New York

Plaque Honoring the History of Professional Baseball in Jamestown, New York

The responsible for helping run Jamestown baseball at Diethrick Park are friendly and ready to assist.

Get Your Program, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Get Your Program, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

A Wonderful Place to Buy Beer Under the Grandstand, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

A Great Place to Buy Beer Under the Grandstand, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Jamestown Jammers Team Store, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Jamestown Jammers Team Store, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

For additional history and information about Diethrick Park, see the excellent Star News Daily Article Celebrating Dietrick Park’s 70th Anniversary Season.

Night Game, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Night Game, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

In 2014, the Jamestown Jamers played their last season of baseball at Diethrick Park. The franchise relocated in 2015 to Morgantown, West Virginia, where they will play as the Black Bears in a new facility shared with the University of West Virginia.

Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York,

Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Although professional baseball may have left Jamestown, starting in 2015 Diethrick Park will be the home of the Prospect League (college wooden bat league) Jamestown Jamers, who will retain the name of the former professional team.

Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Luckily for the City of Jamestown, Diethrick Park will not anytime soon be joining the ranks of another lost ballpark. If you are a fan of old-time baseball stadiums, and find yourself in the Jamestown area during the spring college season or the summer wooden bat season, be sure to take in a game at old Jamestown Municipal Stadium. The citizens of Jamestown will be glad to welcome you to their gem of a ballpark.

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Bush Stadium Apartments – There’s No Place Like Home

April 17th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Bush Stadium was located at 1510 Stadium Way, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Constructed in 1931, the ballpark originally was known as Perry Stadium, named after the family responsible for its construction.

Entrance to Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Entrance to Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

In 1942, the ballpark was renamed Victory Field in recognition of the country’s entrance into World War II. In 1967 the City of Indianapolis purchased the ballpark and renamed it Owen J. Bush Stadium, in honor of Donnie Bush, a part owner and President of the Indianapolis Indians, as well as a former major league player and Indianapolis native.

"Entrance to Victory Field, Indianapolis, Indiana" Postcard (Craft Greeting Card Co., Indianapolis, Indiana, Publishers)

“Entrance to Victory Field, Indianapolis, Indiana” Postcard (Craft Greeting Card Co., Indianapolis, Indiana, Publishers)

The ballpark was constructed by Osborne Engineering, an architectural and engineering firm responsible for designing many major league ballparks. In 1995, because of its cultural significance and its Art Deco design, Bush Stadium was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Stadium Flats, Bush Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana

Stadium Flats, Bush Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana

The ballpark was the home of the American Association Indianapolis Indians from 1931 to 1962, and from 1969 to 1996. In 1963, the ballpark was the home of the International League Indianapolis Indians, and from 1964 to 1986 it was the home of the Pacific Coast League Indianapolis Indians.

View of Former Bush Stadium Infield and Grandstand, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

View of Former Bush Stadium Infield and Grandstand, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Bush Stadium also hosted many seasons of Negro Leagues baseball. According to Philip Lowery’s Green Cathedrals, the ballpark was the home field of the Negro National League Indianapolis ABC’s in 1931, the Negro Southern League Indianapolis ABC’s in 1932, the Negro American League (NAL) Indianapolis Athletics in 1937, the NAL in 1938 and 1939, the NAL Indianapolis Crawfords in 1940, the NAL Indianapolis Clowns in 1944 and 1946 to 1955, and the NAL Kansas City Monarchs from 1957 to 1961. In 1933 the ballpark was used as a neutral site for the Negro National League Chicago Cole’s American Giants and in 1943 the Washington-Homestead Grays and the NAL Birmingham Black Barons played game five of the Negro World Series at the stadium.

Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

In 1987, Bush Stadium was used as the backdrop for the filming of the movie Eight Men Out.

Cast of the movie Eight Men Out (Photo by  Bob Marsak, Still Photographer on Eight Men Out)

Cast of the movie Eight Men Out (Photo by Bob Marsak, Still Photographer on Eight Men Out)

Bush Stadium Postcard (designed and published by Vic Pallos)

Bush Stadium Postcard (designed and published by Vic Pallos)

In July 1996, the Indians moved two miles southeast to Victory Field, located in White River State Park near downtown Indianapolis.

Victory Field , Indianapolis, Indiana, Home of the Indianapolis Indians

Victory Field , Indianapolis, Indiana, Home of the Indianapolis Indians

Like Bush Stadium in it’s day, Victory Field is considered one of the finest minor league ballparks in the country.

Victory Field , Indianapolis, Indiana, Home of the Indianapolis Indians

Victory Field , Indianapolis, Indiana, Home of the Indianapolis Indians

Like so many abandoned ballparks before it, once Bush Stadium’s major tenant departed, the future did not look bright. For a time Bush Stadium was transformed into a midget car dirt track raceway and later a parking lot for the United States Government’s Cash for Clunkers program.

Fiew of Former Grandstand, Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

View of Former Grandstand, Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Luckily for fans of the game, the City of Indianapolis, and some concerned citizens, spearheaded an effort to save the ballpark from demolition through re-purposing.

Signs Located at Former Bush Stadium, Advertising Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Signs Located at Former Bush Stadium, Advertising Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

In 2011, the City embarked upon a project to turn the former ballpark into an apartment complex, based upon an idea originally proposed by Indiana Landmarks Chairperson John Watson, who ultimately brought the project to fruition.

Sign at Former  Bush Stadium, Advertising Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Sign at Former Bush Stadium, Advertising Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

In 2013, Stadium Lofts opened, followed by Stadium Flats, constructed by Core Redevelopment.

The Next Phase - Sign Showing Planned Development of Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

The Next Phase – Sign Showing Planned Development of Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Portions of the stadium’s exterior brick and limestone wall, and the grandstand wood roof, have been preserved, along with light stanchions and a portion of the outfield wall.

Exterior of Center Field Wall at Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Exterior of Center Field Wall at Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Exterior of Outfield Wall, Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Exterior of Outfield Wall, Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Light Stanchions, Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Light Stanchions, Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

In the former center field corner is slated to be constructed a building with office, medical, and commercial space.

Interior of Outfield Wall at Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Interior of Outfield Wall, Right Field Corner, at Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Bush Stadium Postcard

Bush Stadium Postcard (American GeoGraphics, Bloomington, Indiana)

Also preserved is the original infield area and a portion of the outfield. The base paths are delineated with a red stamped-concrete walkway.

View of Former Grandstand, from Left Field Corner, Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

View of Former Grandstand, from Left Field Corner, Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Although Bush Stadium,as it once was may now be a lost ballpark, a distinct portion of it lives on.

Scoreboard at Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Scoreboard at Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Kudos to the City of Indianapolis for not simply bulldozing the historic ballpark and instead coming up with a use that celebrates the stadium’s history and preserves a significant portion of the ballpark fans of the game to enjoy – or to live in (apartments range in cost from between $600 and $1,300 a month).

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Knights Stadium – Charlotte, North Carolina’s Former South Carolina Home

April 14th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Knights Stadium was located at 2280 Deerfield Drive in Fort Mill, South Carolina. The ballpark was the home of the Southern League Charlotte Knights from 1990 to 1992, and the International League Charlotte Knights from 1993 to 2013. During those years, the Knights were an affiliate of the Chicago Cubs (1990 to 1992), the Cleveland Indians (1993 to 1994), the Florida Marlins (1995 to 1998), and the Chicago White Sox (1999 to 2013).

Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina, Former Home of the Charlotte Knights

Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina, Former Home of the Charlotte Knights

Just as the NFL Washington Redskins play their home games in Maryland and the NFL New York Giants play their home games in New Jersey, the Charlotte Knights played their home games not in North Carolina, but across the state line in Fort Mill, South Carolina.

Entrance to Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Entrance to Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Originally known as Knights Castle, the ballpark was constructed in 1989 by then-Charlotte Knights owner George Shinn. Shinn at that time also was owner of the NBA Charlotte Hornets (now the New Orleans Pelicans).

Exterior of First Base Grandstand, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Exterior of First Base Grandstand, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

At the time the ballpark opened, Shinn, and others, had hopes of luring a Major League Baseball franchise to Charlotte. As such, the stadium was designed to MLB specifications. Although the ballpark held only 10,000 when it first opened, the plan was to expand seating to 40,000 should Charlotte land a major league team.

Ticket Windows, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Ticket Windows, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

The need for an adequate area in which to expand is one reason the ballpark was located along I-77 in Fort Mill, South Carolina.

Entrance to Administrative Offices, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Entrance to Administrative Offices, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

The ballpark opened just two years before the advent of the retro ballpark boom ushered in by Orioles Park at Camden Yards in 1992. The ballpark’s exterior reflected this fact, with a rather uninspired facade constructed largely of gray concrete bricks.

Gate B, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Gate B, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Welcome Sign, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Welcome Sign, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Because the ballpark was constructed in hopes of expanding to 40,000 seats, the stadium concourse was considerably larger than typical minor league ballparks of that era.

Concourse Signage, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Concourse Signage, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Concourse, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Concourse, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

The concourse along the left field line included a large picnic pavilion which could be converted to additional grandstand seating in the event Charlotte was awarded a major league team.

View of Grandstand from Left Field Party Deck, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

View of Grandstand from Left Field Party Deck, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

The grandstand seating along first and third base included rows of multi colored plastic seats, perhaps a nod to the textile mills that once were a large part of the local economy.

Third Base Grandstand, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Third Base Grandstand, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

The press box behind home plate included the Home Run Cafe on the second level.

View from Right Field Corner, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

View from Right Field Corner, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Because of the ballpark’s location along I-77, and the hopes of expansion, Knights Stadium was surrounded by open fields and an overabundance of parking.

Outfield Wall, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Outfield Wall, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Storage Shed Located Beyond Outfield Fence, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Storage Shed Located Beyond Outfield Fence, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

After many years of debate, and once it became clear that Major League Baseball was not moving to Charlotte, a decision was made to construct a new ballpark in Charlotte Center City (sometimes referred to as Uptown Charlotte).

Scoreboard, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Scoreboard, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

The Knights played their last game at Knight Stadium in 2013, and in 2014 moved to brand new BB&T Ballpark, located 15 miles northeast of their former home.

Knight Stadium Offices Have Moved, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Knight Stadium Offices Have Moved, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

The contrast between Knights Stadium and BB&T Ballpark is remarkable, both in design and location.

Entrance to BB&T Ballpark, Home of the Charlotte Knights, Charlotte, North Carolina

Entrance to BB&T Ballpark, Home of the Charlotte Knights, Charlotte, North Carolina

There can be little debate that BB&T Ballpark, located in the heart of Charlotte, is one of the finest minor league ballparks in the country. In 2014, the team averaged 9,000 fans a game.

BB&T Ballpark, Home of the Charlotte Knights, Charlotte, North Carolina

BB&T Ballpark, Home of the Charlotte Knights, Charlotte, North Carolina

In 2014, York County, which owned the ballpark, sold Knights Stadium and the 32 acres that made up the stadium property, to a Charlotte-based Cato Corporation.  In 2015, Knight Stadium was demolished. Although it is unknown whether Cato Corporation’s planned distribution center will include any tribute to the lost ballpark, one reminder of Knights Stadium still stands. Along I-77, near the exit to Knights Stadium’s former site, is a water tower in the shape of a baseball.

Water Tower Near Former Site of Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Water Tower Near Former Site of Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

After only 24 seasons in existence, Knights stadium is now just another lost ballpark.

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Bosse Field – The Third Oldest Professional Ballpark In Continuous Use

March 30th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Bosse Field is located at 23 Don Mattingly Way in Evansville, Indiana (Don Mattingly was born in Evansville, Indiana, and attended Reitz Memorial High School). The ballpark is owned and maintained by the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation, a public school corporation serving Evansville, Indiana, and Vanderburgh County.

Front Entrance to Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Front Entrance to Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

The ballpark was constructed in 1915 with the backing of Evansville’s then-Mayor Benjamin Bosse.

Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana, Under Construction, 1915

Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana, Under Construction, 1915

The City of Evansville rewarded the mayor’s efforts by naming the field after him.

Plaque Honoring Construction of Bosse Field, in 1915, Evansville, Indiana

Plaque Honoring Construction of Bosse Field, in 1915, Evansville, Indiana

That same season, Bosse Field began hosting professional baseball. In 1915 the ballpark was the home of the Central League Evansville River Rats.

Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana, Exterior of First Base Grandstand

Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana, Exterior of First Base Grandstand

Bosse Field was renovated in 1930 and again in 1958. Both renovations are marked with historical plaques located just inside the front gates.

Plaque Honoring 1930 Renovation of Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Plaque Honoring 1930 Renovation of Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Plaque Honoring 1958 Renovation of Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Plaque Honoring 1958 Renovation of Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

On June 17, 2015, Bosse Field will celebrate its 100th anniversary.

Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana, Exterior of Center Field Wall and Parking Lot

Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana, Exterior of Center Field Wall and Parking Lot

In the 100 years since Bosse Field first opened, professional baseball has been played at the ballpark for 70 of the 100 seasons.

Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana, Exterior of Left Field Wall and Third Base Grandstand

Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana, Exterior of Left Field Wall and Third Base Grandstand

Bosse Field is the third oldest professional baseball stadium in continuous use in the United States. The two older professional ballparks in continuous use are Boston’s Fenway Park (opened 1912) and Chicago’s Wrigley Field (opened 1914 as Weeghman Park, home field of the Federal League Chicago Federals).  

Exterior Third Base Grand Stand, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Exterior Third Base Grand Stand, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama, which opened in 1910, is recognized by the Historic American Building Survey as the country’s oldest surviving ballpark. However, professional baseball departed Rickwood after the 1987 season, with the exception of one day a year when the Birmingham Barons (beginning in 1996) return to Rickwood Field to play an official Southern League contest in what is known as the Rickwood Classic.

Exterior of First Base Grand Stand, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Exterior of First Base Grand Stand, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

The Evansville River Rats departed Bosse Field after the 1915 season and were replaced in 1916 by the Central League Evansville Evas, who played at Bosse Field through 1917. From 1919 to 1942, seven different Three-I League teams played at Bosse Field: the Evansville Black Sox in 1919, the Evansville Evas from 1920 to 1923, the Evansville Little Evas in 1924, the Evansville Pocketeers in 1925, the Evansville Hubs from 1926 to 1931, the Evansville Bees from 1938 to 1942, and the Evansville Braves from 1946 to 1957. In 1921 and 1922, Bosse Field was also home to the National Football League Evansville Crimson Giants.

Main Entrance to Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Main Entrance to Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

With the arrival of the Evansville Bees in 1938, Boston’s National League franchise (then known as the Boston Bees) began an affiliation with Bosse Field that ran for the next  two decades. After a three year absence during World War II, the Evansville Braves arrived at Bosse Field in 1946. When the Boston franchise moved to Milwaukee in 1953, the Braves continued to play in Evansville through the 1957 season.

Plaque Honoring Robert Coleman, Manager of the Evansville Braves, Circa 1954, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Plaque Honoring Robert Coleman, Manager of the Evansville Braves, Circa 1954, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Because of World War II travel restrictions, from 1943 to 1945, the Detroit Tigers relocated their spring training home from Henley Field in Lakeland, Florida, to Bosse Field.

Ticket Window , Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Ticket Window Turned Beer Concession Stand, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

When the Evansville Braves departed after the 1957 season, Bosse Field was without a professional team until 1966 with the arrival of the Southern League Evansville White Sox, who played at Bosse Field through the 1968 season. The American Association Evansville Triplets called Bosse Field home from 1970 to 1984. The Triplets were affiliates of the Minnesota Twins in 1970, the Milwaukee Brewers from 1971 to 1973, and the Detroit Tigers from 1974 to 1984. At least three future Hall of Famers played minor league baseball for Evansville at Bosse Field, including Chuck Klein (Evansville Hubs in 1927), Hank Greenburg (Evansville Hubs in 1931), and Warren Spahn (Evansville Braves in 1941) .

Plaques Honoring History of Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Plaques Honoring History of Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Since 1995, the Evansville Otters of the Frontier League (Independent League, not affiliated with Major League Baseball) have played their home games at Bosse Field.

Concession Stand, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Concession Stand, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

In addtiion to being one of the oldest ballparks in the country, it is also one of the most photogenic.

Panoramic Photo of Bosse Field Taken From Third Base Grandstand, Evansville, Indiana

Panoramic Photo of Bosse Field Taken From Third Base Grandstand, Evansville, Indiana

The renovations the ballpark over the years have not destroyed in any way the 100 year old charm of Bosse Field.

Entrance to Grandstand Behind Third Base,  Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Entrance to Grandstand Behind Third Base, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

It is a wonderful park to visit, both as a piece of American history, and as a place to watch a ballgame. The ballpark has been wonderfully maintained by the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation, as well as the Evansville Otters.

Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

The shape of the park is reminiscent of New York’s Polo Grounds and Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium.

Panoramic View of Bosse Field Taken from Third Base Grandstand, Evansville, Indiana

View of Bosse Field Taken from First Base Grandstand, Evansville, Indiana

View of Bosse Field  From Third Base Grandstand, Evansville, Indiana

View of Bosse Field From Third Base Grandstand, Evansville, Indiana

The seats located underneath the circular grandstand are made of wood. There is no plastic seating to be found anywhere within the grandstand.

View of First Base Grand Stand, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

View of First Base Grand Stand, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

The ballpark’s foul territory is expansive, a product of the age of its design. Prior to 1938, the foul area behind home plate was even larger. That year home plate was moved closer to the grandstand.

Third Base Dugout, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Third Base Dugout, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Third Base Dugout, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Third Base Dugout, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

The bullpens are located in expansive foul territory near the left field and right field corners.

Bullpen, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Bullpen, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

The outfield dimensions are currently 315 feet down the left and right field corners and 415 feet to dead away center field, as set by an outfield fence that was installed in the early 1950s.

View of Bosse Field From Center Field, Evansville, Indiana

View of Bosse Field From Center Field, Evansville, Indiana

The outfield was once considerably larger, based upon the distance to original outfield wall, which is located some 30 to 40 beyond the current outfield fence.

Original Center Field Brick Wall, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Original Center Field Brick Wall, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

In 1991, Hollywood came to Bosse Field. The ballpark was used as the home field for the fictional Racine Belles in the movie A League of Their Own, which was released in 1992.

Press Box, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Press Box, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Remnants of that movie are scattered throughout Bosse Field in the form of painted advertising signs.

Racine Belles Signage, A League of Their Own, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Racine Belles Signage, A League of Their Own, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

A League of Their Own Signage, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

A League of Their Own Signage, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Additional remnants of the movie of include painted sectional and direction signage.

Section Directional SIgnage, A League of Their Own, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Section Directional SIgnage, A League of Their Own, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Bosse Field is a national treasurer. Although the ballpark is considerably less famous than its ballpark peers Fenway Park and Wrigley Field, it should be considered on equal footing for anyone interested in the history of ballparks in the United States.

Light Stanchion, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Light Stanchion, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

For anyone who collects ballparks, Bosse Field is a must. Here’s hoping it will be around in 2115 to celebrate its 200th anniversary.

Exit from Right Field, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Exit from Right Field, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

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Gus Greenlee’s Field In Pittsburgh’s Hill District

March 25th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Greenlee Field was located at the intersection of Bedford Avenue and Junilla Street in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. From 1932 until 1938 it was the home of the Pittsburgh Crawfords of the Negro National League (the Crawfords joined the NNL in 1933).

Former Site of Greenlee Field, Intersection of Bedford Avenue and Julian Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Former Site of Greenlee Field, Intersection of Bedford Avenue and Junilla Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Greenlee Field is important not just because it was the home field of arguably the greatest Negro League team of all time – the 1935 Pittsburgh Crawfords – but because it was the first major league ballpark owned and operated by an African American. Gus Greenlee, the owner of the Crawfords, began construction of Greenlee Field in 1931, the same year he bought the team. Greenlee, a WWI veteran, wore many hats. In addition to owning the Crawfords, he was a boxing promoter, nightclub owner (the Crawford Grill), and a pioneer in Pittsburgh’s numbers racket (an illegal lottery).

Gus Greenlee, Owner of the Pittsburgh Crawfords (photographer unknown)

Gus Greenlee, Owner of the Pittsburgh Crawfords (photographer unknown)

Crawford Grill No. 1, which Greenlee opened in 1930, was located at the intersection of Crawford Street and Wylie Avenue at 1401 Wylie Avenue. Crawford Grill No. 1 was destroyed by fire in 1951 and subsequently demolished to make way for the Civic Arena parking lot. Crawford Street was an important part of the Hill District and provided the inspiration for the team’s name, the Pittsburgh Crawfords. At the intersection of Crawford Street and Wylie Avenue also stood the Pittsburgh Bath House and Recreation Center, which was the original sponsor of the then semi-professional Pittsburgh Crawfords.

Melon Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Civic Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

The building in which Greenlee opened Crawford Grill No. 2, beginning in 1943, still stands in Pittsburgh’s Hill District at the intersection of Wylie Avenue and Elmore Street, just  a half mile southwest of the Greenlee Field site.

Crawford Grill No. 2, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Crawford Grill No. 2, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Historical Marker for Crawford Grill No. 2, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Historical Marker for Crawford Grill No. 2, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

In 1933, Greenlee founded the Negro National League and was instrumental in establishing the East-West Classic, an annual Negro League all-star game played in Chicago. During his tenure as owner of the Crawfords, which ceased after the 1938 season, Greenlee stocked his team with many future Hall of Fame players including Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Oscar Charlestown, Judy Johnson and James T. “Cool Papa” Bell. The 1935 Crawfords, which included the above Hall of Famers, except Paige, is considered by many to be the greatest Negro League team ever to play the game.

Historical Marker, Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Historical Marker, Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Greenlee Field’s home plate, and the entrance to its grandstand, was located near the intersection Bedford Avenue and Junilla Street.

Entrance to Greenlee Field on Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Associated Press Photo)

Entrance to Greenlee Field on Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Associated Press Photo)

After the 1938 season, Greenlee Field was demolished. Several images of the ballpark in its hey day can be viewed on line by searching “Greenlee Field” in the Teenie Harris Archives, Carnegie Museum of Art (Charles “Teenie” Harris was one of the founders of the semi-pro Pittsburgh Crawfords in 1926). Soon after demolition of Greenlee Field, the City of Pittsburgh began construction of the Bedford Dwellings housing project, which remains today at the ballpark’s former site.

Former Site of Greenlee FIeld, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Former Site of Greenlee FIeld, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Greenlee Field’s left field corner was located at what is now the intersection of Bedford Avenue and Barnett Way. At the time of Greenlee Field, Watt Street intersected Bedford Avenue where what is now Barnett Way.

Former Site of Left Field Corner, Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Former Site of Left Field Corner, Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Because Greenlee Field was built on a hill, the playing field was located several feet above street grade.

Former Site of Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Looking from Left Field Corner Toward Home Plate

Former Site of Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Looking from Left Field Corner Toward Home Plate

Just to the east of Watt Street (which no  longer runs through the site) was the Pittsburgh Municipal Hospital, which can be seen in some of the photos of Greenlee Field available in the Teenie Harris Archives.

Team Picture of 1937 Homestead Grays Taken at Greenlee Field With Hospital Visible Beyond Right Field Fence

Team Picture of 1937 Homestead Grays Taken at Greenlee Field With Pittsburgh Hospital Visible Beyond Right Field Fence (photo from diversity.appstate.edu and courtesy of National Baseball Hall of Fame Cooperstown)

A park known as “The Garden of Hope” now sits at the former site of the hospital.

Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Looking Toward Former Site of Center Field Corner from Left Field Corner

Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Looking Toward Former Site of Center Field Corner from Left Field Corner

Greenlee Field’s former infield site is accessible from Chauncey Drive.

Chauncey Drive, Former Site of First Base, Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Chauncey Drive and Beford Avenue, Near Former Site of First Base, Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Where Chauncey Drive makes a 45 degree turn is the approximate location of second base.

Chauncey Drive Intersection Near Former Site of Second Base, Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Intersection Where Chauncey Drive Makes a 45 Degree Turn, Bedford Dwellings, Near Former Site of Second Base, Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Chauncey Drive, Looking Toward Downtown Pittsburgh, Near Former Site of Second Base, Greenlee Field

Chauncey Drive, Looking West Toward Downtown Pittsburgh, Near Former Site of Second Base, Greenlee Field

Some buildings located along Bedford Avenue date back to Greenlee Field. Three row houses at the intersection of Junilla Street and Bedford Avenue are located across the street from what would have been the home plate grandstand.

Row Houses at 2500-04 Bedford Avenue, Dating Back to Time of Greenlee Field

Row Houses at 2500-04 Bedford Avenue, Dating Back to Time of Greenlee Field

Three townhouses located 2520-24 Bedford Avenue are located across the street from what was once left field.

2420-22 Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

2420-22 Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The townhouse on the corner of Bedford Avenue and Watt Street (Watt Street was relocated after demolition of Greenlee Field) is now a market. With a little imagination, it is not hard to picture what Greenlee Field might have looked like standing at the entrance to that market.

2420 Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Samba Market, 2420 Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Just three blocks west of the former site of Greenlee Field, at the northwest corner of Somers Street and Bedford Avenue, was another Negro League ballpark, Ammons Field. The semi-pro Pittsburgh Crawfords played at this field, beginning in about 1926, as did the professional level Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays beginning in 1930. Ammons Field also is notable as the field where Josh Gibson first played baseball for the semi-pro Crawfords in 1928. For more information about Ammons Field and the history of the Crawfords, see James Bankes’ fine book The Pittsburgh Crawfords.

Historical Marker for Ammons Field

Historical Marker for Ammons Field

The City of Pittsburgh has paid tribute to Ammons Field and Josh Gibson with a historical marker. Located behind the Ammons Recreation Center at Bedford Avenue and Kirkpatrick Street is a youth baseball field dedicated to Josh Gibson.

Josh Gibson Field, Ammons Recreation Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Josh Gibson Field, Ammons Recreation Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

As noted in the informative website Agatetype.typepad.com, the actual location of the original Ammons Field utilized by the Crawfords was one block east of Josh Gibson Field, the current park. The former location of the modest grandstand and home plate is visible on the bluff beyond Josh Gibson Field’s left field fence.

Josh Gibson Field Looking Toward Former Site of Ammons Field Home Plate, Somers Drive and Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Josh Gibson Field Looking Toward Former Site of Ammons Field Grandstand and Home Plate at Somers Drive and Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Former Site of Ammons Field Home Plate, Somers Drive and Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Former Site of Ammons Field Grandstand and Home Plate, Somers Drive and Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh’s Hill District, and the former site of Greenlee Field, is located just two miles west of the former site of Forbes Field, and one and a half miles southwest of the former sites of Three Rivers Stadium and Exposition Park, as well as the Pirates current ballpark, PNC Park. If you are a fan of  the game and the history of the game, and you find yourself in Pittsburgh on a baseball trip, a stop at the former site of Greenlee Field and Ammons Field, is a must.

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West Field – One of the Last Surviving Negro League Ballparks

March 20th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

West Field is located at the northwest intersection of West Street and Orchard Street, directly behind the Munhall Borough Police Station (1900 West Street), in Munhall, PA. The Borough of Munhall is located seven miles southeast of Pittsburgh, just south of Homestead, Pennsylvania.

West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

West Field was constructed in 1937 with funds from the Public Works Administration. Although it has functioned mainly as a town ball field for the Steel City School District’s baseball, softball, and football teams, West Field is notable because of its connection to Negro League baseball.

West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Beginning in the late 1930s up until at least 1948, West Field was used by the Homestead Grays for exhibition games, practices, spring training, and Negro National League contests when the Gray’s home ballpark Forbes Field was unavailable. During the early 1900s, the Grays played at another ball field in Munhall (known as the 19th Avenue Playground) located near the intersection of McClure Street and 19th Avenue. Some early 1900s newspaper accounts also refer to the Grays playing at another field in Munhall, also known as West Field (although I have been unable to determine the location of that field).

West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

What is extraordinary about West Field is that, although it is deteriorating, the ballpark grandstand, seating bowl, and playing field remain relatively the same as they did when such stars as Buck Leonard and Josh Gibson played there.

View of Grandstand from Pitching Rubber, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

View of Grandstand from Pitching Rubber, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Thus, West Field is one of the last few surviving Negro League ballparks.

West Field Grandstand Steps, Munhall, Pennsylvania

West Field Grandstand Steps, Munhall, Pennsylvania

According to Trib Total Media, beginning in April 2015, the ballpark is scheduled to undergo a five million dollar renovation, courtesy of a generous grant from the Campbell Educational and Community Foundation. Upgrades include new seating and a turf field that will accommodate football, baseball, and softball.

Infield and Third Base Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Infield and First Base Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

It is uncertain just how much of West Field’s historic grandstand and seating bowl will be preserved as part of the renovation, although Trib Reporter Mike Divittorio has stated that the Borough will renovate the lockers in the grandstand and add new seating on top of the existing benches. Given West Field’s important history, and its status as one of the last surviving Negro League ballparks, care should be taken to preserve the structure for future generations to appreciate.

First Base Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

First Base Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

According to a 2006 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette interview of Elijah “Lucky” Miller, a former Homestead Grays bat boy, the Grays used the dugout located along the third base side of the grandstand.

Third Base Dugout, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Third Base Dugout, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Next to the third base dugout are the entrances to the players locker rooms.

Entrance to Locker Rooms, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Entrance to Locker Rooms, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Entrance to Home Player Locker Room, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Entrance to Home Player Locker Room, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

The locker rooms were located at the end of a tunnel that ran underneath the grandstand.

Tunnel Under Grandstand Leading to Player Locker Room, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Tunnel Under Grandstand Leading to Player Locker Room, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Like the Gray’s home dugout, the visiting team dugout – once used by such teams as the New York Black Yankees – remains at the site, frozen in time.

First Base Dugout, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

First Base Dugout, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

First Base Dugout, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

First Base Dugout, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

The view from the dugout is largely unchanged from the days when the ballpark hosted Negro League baseball.

View of Field From First Base  Dugout, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

View of Field From First Base Dugout, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Out beyond left and center field is the Munhall Municipal Building, which was constructed between 1941 and 1945 (completion was delayed because necessary building materials were in short supply during World War II). The building currently houses the Munhall Borough Police Department.

The Munhall Municipal Building Located Beyond Center Field, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

The Munhall Municipal Building Located Beyond Center Field, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

The view from right field looking toward the infield and the grandstand is like looking back in time.

View of Grandstand from Right Field, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

View of Grandstand from Right Field, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

West Field Circa 1955 (photo from cover of 3rd Annual Prep League World Series program, August 1955)

West Field Circa 1955 (photo from cover of 3rd Annual Prep League World Series program, August 1955)

Having hosted countless sporting events for almost 80 years, the stadium is in desperate need of repair. The concrete that supports the first base grandstand seating is crumbling and presumably much of it would need to be removed and replaced. Renovation plans call for installing seating for 800 in the ballpark, a significant decrease for a stadium which currently holds 3,000.

Third Base Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

First Base Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

First Base Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

First Base Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

At the top of the first base grandstand is a walk way that leads around to the top of the third base grandstand. If you are planning to visit the ballpark prior to its renovation, this walkway provides an excellent panoramic view of West Field.

Walkway Along Back of First Base Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Walkway Along Back of First Base Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Walkway Behind Third Base Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvaina

Walkway Along Back of Third Base Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

West Field is located on property also used by the Borough of Munhall for storage and repair of its service vehicles. The grandstand, and the entrance to it behind home plate, is accessible only by walking through a storage yard.

Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Hopefully the grandstand will be saved and restored. Although it currently is covered with graffiti and the grounds around it are littered with debris, the 1930s era structure itself appears to be in good shape and worthy of being preserved.

Entrance to West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Entrance to West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

In 1987, the Borough of Munhall rededicated West Field as William W. Knight Memorial Park, in honor of the former major of Munhall.

Monument Honoring William W. Knight, Former Mayor of Munhall Borough

Monument Honoring William W. Knight, Former Mayor of Munhall Borough

The Borough of Munhall has a unique opportunity to celebrate and preserve an important part of our country’s history. Updates will be posted here once more is known about the proposed renovations, and as they progress.

West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

In the meantime, here is a video walk around of the ballpark in it’s current condition.

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Hawaii’s Aloha Stadium

March 17th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Aloha Stadium is located  at 99-500 Salt Lake Boulevard in Halawa, Hawaii (a suburb of Honolulu), just north of the Honolulu International Airport and northeast of Pearl Harbor.

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Aloha Stadium opened in 1976 as a multi-purpose stadium, replacing Honolulu Stadium as the island’s main outdoor sports arena. Honolulu Stadium was located 10 miles southeast of Aloha Stadium and was demolished in 1976. Then Governor John Burns spearheaded the drive to construct Aloha Stadium and replace outdated Honolulu Stadium.

Bust and Plaque in Honor of Hawaii John A. Burns , Governor of Hawaii from 1962- to 1974, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Bust and Plaque in Honor of Hawaii John A. Burns , Governor of Hawaii from 1962- to 1974, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Aloha Stadium was designed so that the seating area could be moved to accommodate various configurations.Four 7,000 seat grandstand sections moved with the use of pressurized air to create a diamond configuration for baseball.

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii, Postcard (Tour 1545, photo by Gustavo Ramirez)

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii, Postcard (Tour 1545, photo by Gustavo Ramirez)

Because of problems with the system that moves the grandstand seating, in 2006, Aloha Stadium’s seating was permanently locked in a rectangular configuration for football.

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii, with Grandstand Seating Aligned for Football

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii, with Grandstand Seating Aligned for Football

The Stadium Authority added sky walks between the four different grandstand sections.

Sky Walks Link The Grandstand Sections at Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Sky Walks Link The Grandstand Sections at Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

When Aloha Stadium opened in 1976, it was home to the Pacific Coast League Hawaii Islanders.

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

During the Islanders’ stay at Aloha Stadium, the team was affiliated with the San Diego Padres from 1976 to 1982, the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1983 to 1986, and the Chicago White Sox in 1987.

Gate %, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Gate 5, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

In 1986 and 1987, the Islanders also played some of their home games at Rainbow Stadium (currently Les Murakami Stadium), the home of the University of Hawaii baseball team.

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

After the 1987 season, the Islanders franchise was relocated to Colorado Springs, Colorado. Professional baseball has made brief returns to Aloha Stadium, first with the arrival of the Major League Baseball affiliated minor league Hawaii Winter Baseball League, which played at Aloha Stadium from 1993 to 1997. On April 19 and 20, 1997, the San Diego Padres hosted the St. Louis Cardinals for a three game regular season series at Aloha Stadium, thus making the stadium a Major League ballpark, if only for three games. The Padres also played additional exhibition games at Aloha Stadium up until 2001.

Ticket Windows, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Ticket Windows, Main Gate, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

With the grandstand seating now permanently locked in a football configuration, it is highly unlikely professional baseball ever will return to Aloha Stadium.

Shade Trees Line the Perimeter of Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Shade Trees and Other Native Vegetation Line the Perimeter of Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Home plate was located in the center of what is now the stadium’s southern most end zone.

Looking Toward End Zone Located at the Southern End (and Former Location of Home Plate) Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Looking Toward End Zone Located at the Southern End (and Former Location of Home Plate) Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Aloha current tenants include the University of Hawaii Warriors football team, who have played at the stadium since its opening in 1975. It also hosts annually the NCAA Hawaii Bowl and the National Football League Pro Bowl.

Section U (Near the Northern Most End Zone), Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Section U (Near the Northern Most End Zone), Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

The parking lot that surrounds Aloha Stadium hosts a giant Swap Meet every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. Ironically, none of the vendors at the swap meet had any baseball or Aloha Stadium related merchandise on the day I visited.

Swap Meet, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Swap Meet, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

With talk underway to upgrade the Aloha Stadium, the venue is not currently in any danger of becoming yet another lost ballpark. However, it’s days of hosting baseball games are behind it.

Entrance Gate From Second Level Concourse, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Entrance Gate From Second Level Concourse, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Still, if you are in the habit of collecting ballparks – or former professional baseball parks – Aloha Stadium should be added to your list as a former Major League Park (if only for three days). It is a short drive from Pearl Harbor, if you are in the area, and if you are there on a Wednesday, Saturday, or Sunday, you can walk around the perimeter of the stadium through the rows of vendors at the swap meet.

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Honolulu Stadium – Hawaii’s Sheltered Harbor Of Professional Baseball

March 17th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Honolulu Stadium was located at the southwest corner of King Street and Isenberg Street in Honolulu, Hawaii. The ballpark was constructed in 1925 by local businessman J. Ashman Beaven, who served as general manager of the stadium from 1925 until 1939.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of King Street and Isenberg Street

Honolulu Stadium was caddy-corner to Moiliili Field, which was located at the northeast corner of King and Isenberg Streets. Moliili Field was one of the primary locations for amateur and semi-pro baseball in Honolulu prior to the construction of Honolulu Stadium.

Moiliili Field, Southwest Corner of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

Moiliili Field, Northeast Corner of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

In 1925, Beaven formed the Hawaii Baseball League, and a new semi-pro baseball league, and in 1927 the league began playing games at Honolulu Stadium.

Honolulu Stadium Aerial Photograph, Honolulu, Hawaii (1963 Star-Bulletin Photo By Warren Roll)

Honolulu Stadium Aerial Photograph, Honolulu, Hawaii (1963 Star-Bulletin Photo By Warren Roll)

In addition to amateur and semi-pro baseball, Honolulu Stadium quickly became the main venue in Honolulu for outdoor sport activities such as football and boxing. In the 1930s, Beaven brought baseball teams from other countries such as Japan and Korea to play at Honolulu Stadium. In 1933, Babe Ruth played an exhibition game at the stadium. Honolulu Stadium also hosted college football’s Poi Bowl from 1936 to 1939 and and Pineapple Bowl from 19389 to 1941 and 1947 to 1952. In 1957, Elvis Presley brought the precursor to his Aloha From Hawaii Concert to Honolulu Stadium.

Babe Ruth at Honolulu Stadium with Promoter Herb Hunter and Hawaii Territorial Governor Lawrence Judd in 1933 (Photo by Fritz Kraft)

Babe Ruth at Honolulu Stadium with Promoter Herb Hunter and Hawaii Territorial Governor Lawrence Judd in 1933 (Photo by Fritz Kraft)

During World War II, many major league stars played at the ballpark as part of their military teams, and in 1944, the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants played an exhibition game at the stadium. Major League teams and stars continued to play exhibition games at Honolulu Stadium after World War II, including the New York Giants in 1953, the Eddie Lopat All-Stars in 1954, the New York Yankees in 1955, and the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956. In addition to Babe Ruth, other future Hall of Famers who appeared at Honolulu Stadium include Lou Gehrig, Jimmy Foxx, Joe DiMaggio, Pee Wee Reese, Eddie Mathews, Roy Campanella, Casey Stengel, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Jackie Robinson.

Plaque Honoring Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

Plaque Honoring Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

In 1961, Honolulu Stadium became the home field of the Pacific Coast League Hawaii Islanders. Over the course of their history in Hawaii, the Islanders were affiliated with the Kansas City Athletics in 1961, the Los Angeles Angels from 1962 to 1964, the Washington Senators from 1965 to 1967, the Chicago White Sox in 1968, the California Angels from 1969 to 1970, the San Diego Padres from 1971 to 1982.The Islanders departed Honolulu Stadium after the 1975 season.

Detail of Plaque Honoring Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

Detail of Plaque Honoring Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

The ballpark was demolished in 1976. A plaque at the former site states: “Old Stadium Park. A lasting memorial to the many great athletes who have played here. This park was the site of the Honolulu Stadium (1926 – 1976), affectionately known as “The Termite Palace” in its later years. The 26,000 seat stadium was often filled to capacity for activities that included: barefoot football, pro and semi-pro baseball, high school athletic events, stock car races, UH football, polo, carnivals, boxing, Boy Scout Makahiki, aquacades, concerts, and track and field meets.”

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Left Field Corner Toward Home Plate, Parallel King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Left Field Corner Toward Home Plate, Paralleling King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

The plaque honoring Honolulu Stadium is located near what was once the ballpark’s left field corner, as well as its main box office, at the intersection of King and Isenberg Streets. Center field was once located along Isenberg Street, south of Citron Street.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Center Corner Toward Left Field Corner, Parallelling Isenberg Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Center Corner Toward Left Field Corner, Paralleling Isenberg Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

The main grandstand and home plate were located on King Street, just west of Makahiki Way.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Home Plate Toward Left Field Corner, Parallelling King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Home Plate Toward Left Field Corner, Paralleling King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

A row of buildings paralleling Makahiki Way sat between the street and the ballpark. Many of those buildings remain at the site today.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Back of Buildings Located Along Makahiki Way, Next to Former First Base and Right Field Foul Line, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Back of Buildings Located Along Makahiki Way, Next to Former First Base and Right Field Foul Line, Honolulu, Hawaii

An outer wall on the stadium property that separated those buildings from the stadium grounds also remains at the site.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Outer Stadium Wall Behind What would Have Been FIrst Base Grandstand, Still Standing on Site

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Outer Stadium Wall Behind What would Have Been First Base Grandstand, Still Standing on Site

Old Stadium Park is 14 acres of parkland and mature shade trees located in urban Honolulu.

Former Location of Honolulu Stadium Infield Looking Toward Home Plate

Former Location of Honolulu Stadium Infield Looking Toward Home Plate

A playground in the park is located in what was once left field.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Playground Located in What Was Once Left Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Playground Located in What Was Once Left Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

A concrete patio and picnic area is located in what was once center field.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Picnic Area  Located in What Was Once Center Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Picnic Area Located in What Was Once Center Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

A covered picnic area is located in what was once right field.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Covered Picnic Area, Located in What Was Once Right Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Covered Picnic Area, Located in What Was Once Right Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

There are many buildings that surround the ballpark site that date back to the time of Honolulu Stadium, including the distinctive Bowl-O-Drome which opened in the 1950s and currently sits vacant.

Bowl-O-Drome, Located Just Beyond What Was Once Center Field, Honolulu Stadium, Hawaii

Bowl-O-Drome, Located Just Beyond What Was Once Center Field, Honolulu Stadium, Hawaii

Many of the buildings along King Street also date back to the time of Honolulu Stadium.

Builidngs Located on King Street Across From Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Hawaii

Builidngs Located on King Street Across From Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Hawaii

In 1976 the Pacific Coast Hawaii Islanders moved to brand new Aloha Stadium, where they played up through the 1987. The Islanders also played some of their home games in 1986 and 1987 at the University of Hawaii’s Les Murakami Stadium. The 1987 season was the last year of professional baseball in Hawaii.

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii, Home of the Hawaii Islanders from 1976 to 1987

It seems a shame that professional baseball no longer is played in Hawaii, given the year round picture perfect weather offered there. If you find yourself on vacation, and in need of a baseball fix, you can take a trip to Old Stadium Park and the former site of Honolulu Stadium. If the timing is right, you might also be able to catch a college game at the University of Hawaii’s Rainbow Stadium (currently Les Murakami Stadium). For more information about Honolulu Stadium, see Arthur Suehiro’s extremely informative book Honolulu Stadium: Where Hawaii Played which provided much of the historical information contained herein.

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San Diego’s Lane Field – The Ballpark By The Bay

March 10th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Lane Field was located near the northern end of the San Diego Bay, in San Diego, California, at the northeast corner of North Harbor Drive and West Broadway California just across from the West Broadway Pier.

Entrance to Lane Field, Northeast Corner of North Harbor Drive and West Broadway, San Diego, California (photo courtesy of Jason Papka)

San Diego Harbor Office Building and Athletic Field at Northeast Corner of North Harbor Drive and West Broadway, San Diego, California, Soon to Become Lane Field (photo courtesy of Jason Papka)

The ballpark was constructed on land originally used by the City of San Diego and United States Navy as an athletic field beginning in the mid 1920s. In addition to the athletic field, the venue included a race track and uncovered bleachers.

City of San Diego, Harbor Department, Blue Prints Showing Original and Proposed Ball Park, Lane Field, San Diego, Califorina (photo courtesy of Jason Papka)

City of San Diego, Harbor Department, Blue Prints Showing Original and Proposed Ball Park, Lane Field, San Diego, Califorina (photo courtesy of Jason Papka)

In 1936, Bill Lane, the owner of the Hollywood Stars, moved his Pacific Coast League franchise to San Diego and renamed them the Padres.

Key to Blueprints Showing Original and Proposed Improved Ball Park (photo courtesy of Jason Papka)

Key to Blueprints Showing Original and Proposed Improved Ball Park (photo courtesy of Jason Papka)

That same year, in the course of just a few months, the Works Project Administration reconfigured the athletic field at North Harbor Drive and West  Broadway into a baseball park.

Detail of City of San Diego, Harbor Department, Blue Prints Showing Original and Proposed Ball Park, Lane Field, San Diego, Califorina (photo courtesy of Jason Papka)

Detail of City of San Diego, Harbor Department, Blue Prints Showing Original and Proposed Ball Park, Lane Field, San Diego, Califorina (photo courtesy of Jason Papka)

The ballpark was named Lane Field in honor of the Padres’ owner and hosted minor league baseball at that site for the next two decades.

Entrance to Lane Field at Northwest Corner of West Broadway and Pacific Highway (UT Photo  -utsandiego.com/news/2012/mar/07/lane-field-park-honor-padres-minor-league-history)

Entrance to Lane Field at Northwest Corner of West Broadway and Pacific Highway (UT Photo – utsandiego.com)

Ted Williams, who grew up in the North Park section of San Diego, played for the Padres during their first season in San Diego.

Ted Williams as a San Diego Padre, Lane Field, San Diego, California (Ted Williams Collection, My Turn At Bat)

Ted Williams as a San Diego Padre, Lane Field, San Diego, California (Ted Williams Collection, My Turn At Bat)

The Padres departed Lane Field after the 1957 season and by the 1960s the ballpark had been raised and turned into a parking lot for people departing from cruise ships in San Diego Bay.

Former Site of Lane Field, Intersection of North Harbor Drive and West Broadway, San Diego, California

Former Site of Lane Field, Intersection of North Harbor Drive and West Broadway, San Diego, California, Circa 2006

Former Site of Lane Field Looking Toward Left Field Corner from Home Plate, San Diego, California

Former Site of Lane Field Looking Toward Left Field Corner from Home Plate, San Diego, California, Circa 2006

Former Site of Lane Field Looking Toward Home Plate from Right Field Corner, San Diego, California

Former Site of Lane Field Looking Toward Home Plate from Left Field Corner, San Diego, California, Circa 2006

The United States Navy building at 937 North Harbor Drive, located just across the street from the the former site of home plate, parallel to first base foul line, dates back to the time of Lane Field and can be seen in many of the aerial photographs of the ballpark.

United States Navy Building (in Background) at 937 North Harbor Drive, San Diego, California

United States Navy Building (in Background) at 937 North Harbor Drive, San Diego, California, Circa 2006

Since the mid 2000s, the Unified Port of San Diego has planned to redevelop the former site of Lane Field.

Sign Announcing Development of Lane Field Site, San Diego, California, Circa 2006

Sign Announcing Development of Lane Field Site, San Diego, California, Circa 2006

Those plans finally came to fruition with construction of a new commercial development known also as “Lane Field,” located at 900 West Broadway.

Former Site of Lane FIeld, San Diego, California, Circa 2006

Former Site of Lane FIeld, San Diego, California, Circa 2006

Former Site of Lane Field, San Diego, California, 2015

Former Site of Lane Field, San Diego, California, 2015 (photo courtesy of Jason Papka)

The redevelopment of the site includes a tribute to Lane Field in the form a park with the outline of a small infield, which includes important dates in Lane Field’s history set into granite.

Historical Marker at Former Site of Lane Field Home Plate and Infield, San Diego, California (photo courtesy of Jason Papka)

Historical Marker at Former Site of Lane Field Home Plate and Infield, San Diego, California (photo courtesy of Jason Papka)

The site also includes a historical plaque placed at the site in 2003 by the Society for American Baseball Research.

Historical Marker, Former Site of Lane Field, San Diego, California (photo courtesy of Jason Papka)

Historical Marker, Former Site of Lane Field, San Diego, California (photo courtesy of Jason Papka)

The former site of home plate is marked with a granite monument topped with a baseball quote by Ted Williams, stating, “There’s only one way to become a hitter. Go up to the plate and get mad. Get mad at yourself and mad at the pitcher.”

Tribute to San Diego Native Ted Williams at Former Site of Lane Field Home Plate and Infield, San Diego, California (photo courtesy of Jason Papka)

Tribute to San Diego Native Ted Williams at Former Site of Lane Field Home Plate and Infield, San Diego, California (photo courtesy of Jason Papka)

Lane Field’s former site is located eight miles southwest of the National League San Diego Padres former ballpark, Qualcomm Stadium, and only a mile and a half northeast of the Padres current home, Petco Park.

Petco Park - Current Home of the San Diego Padres

Petco Park – Current Home of the San Diego Padres

Although Lane Field is now a lost ballpark, with the addition of the new park honoring Lane Field, the short drive from the Padres current home to the intersection of North Harbor Drive and West Boulevard is certainly worth the trip.

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Erie’s Ainsworth Field – Baseball Archaeology In A Minor League Time Capsule

March 6th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Ainsworth Field is located at the intersection of Washington Place and West 24th Street in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

The ballpark was constructed in 1923 and given the direct and to the point name, “Athletic Field.”

Exterior, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Exterior, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

In 1947 the ballpark was rechristened Ainsworth Athletic Field. According to the dedication plaque, the ballpark was named in honor of J.C. Ainsworth, “In appreciation of his outstanding accomplishments as civic leader, physical director friend and counselor of the youth of this community.”

Dedicatoin Plaque 1947, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Dedicatoin Plaque 1947, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

After a renovation in 1980, the School District of Erie, Pennsylvania, rededicated the ballpark as, simply, Ainsworth Field.

Memorial Plaque, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Rededication Plaque 1980, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Minor league baseball was played at Ainsworth Field beginning in 1928, with arrival of the Central League Erie Sailors, who, as sailors are want to do, left after a brief stay, playing only one season at the ballpark.

Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

The Sailors reappeared on Erie’s horizon in 1938, this time as a Middle Atlantic League franchise. After two seasons, the call of the sea proved too strong once again and the Sailors shipped off after the 1939 season. The Sailors returned to the shores of Lake Erie twice thereafter, making Ainsworth Field their home once again from 1941 to 1942, and from 1946 to 1951.

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

A number of New York-Penn League franchise also called Ainsworth Field home, beginning in 1954 with the arrival of the Erie Senators. The Senators departed after the 1963 season. The Erie Tigers then played one season at the ballpark in 1967.

Gated Entrance to Field, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Gated Entrance to Field, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

From 1981 to 1987, Ainsworth Field was home to the Erie Cardinals, and from 1988 to 1989, the Erie Orioles played at the ballpark.

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Ainsworth Field’s last year hosting a professional baseball club was in 1994, when the Erie Sailors drifted back to Erie for one final season, this time as a Frontier League affiliate.

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

In  1995, Erie inaugurated Jerry Uht Park, a new ballpark located two and a half miles northeast of Ainsworth Field. The Eastern League Seawolves, who relocated to Erie from Welland, Ontario, that year, have played at Jerry Uht Park ever since.

Jerry Uht Park, Erie, Pennsylvania, Home of the Erie Seawolves, Circa 2003

Jerry Uht Park, Erie, Pennsylvania, Home of the Erie Seawolves, Circa 2003

According to Philip Lowry’s Green Cathedrals, Ainsworth Field’s baseball history includes its use during the 1940s as a neutral site by the Negro American League Kansas City Monarchs.

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Other Negro League teams played at Ainsworth Field including the Homestead Grays in 1926, and the Negro American League Cleveland Buckeyes and the Negro National League Newark Eagles for one game in 1946.

First Base Dugout, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

First Base Dugout, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

The press box includes a tribute to Sam Jethroe, who lived in Erie and played at Ainsworth Field in 1946 as a member of the Cleveland Buckeyes, as well as Babe Ruth, who played an exhibition game at Ainsworth Field soon after it opened in 1923.

Press Box, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Press Box, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

In 2007, Signs of the Time, a documentary on umpiring and the origin of hand signals, was filmed at Ainsworth Field.

Third Base Dugout,  Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Third Base Dugout, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

The original entrance to Ainsworth Field used to be through through a concourse that ran underneath the grandstand. That entrance has been closed off and the ticket booths that were attached to the entrance removed.

Former Entrance to Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Former Entrance to Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

The entrances to the grandstand from the lower concourse have been cordoned off as well.

Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania, Showing Entrance from Grandstand to Lower Concourse Closed Off

Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania, Showing Entrance from Grandstand to Lower Concourse Closed Off

Entry to the ballpark now is through a gate just beyond the third base side of the grandstand.

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Today, the grandstand concourse is used for storage.

Entrance to Concourse Underneath Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Entrance to Concourse Underneath Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Baseball Archaeology in Erie, Pennsylvania: a stroll through Ainsworth Field’s unlit concourse is like walking through a time capsule full of discarded pieces of ballpark history.

Stadium Office Located on Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Stadium Office Located on Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

The concourse under the grandstand wraps around the entire length of the structure.

Concourse Walkway Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Concourse Walkway Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Stadium player lockers are stored on the concourse, having been removed from the team locker rooms some indeterminable time long ago.

Team Lockers Stored on Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Team Lockers Stored on Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

A concession stand who’s best days are behind it waits patiently for someone to place an order.

Concessions Stand on Concourse, Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Concessions Stand on Concourse, Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania I

Ice Cream Anyone? Concessions Stand on Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Ice Cream Anyone? Concessions Stand on Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Just past the concession stand are steel bleacher risers, removed during an earlier renovation of the ballpark.

Bleacher Risers Stored in Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Bleacher Risers Stored in Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

A tangle of stadium seats, presumably installed in 1980 and replaced in 2004, lie in ruin just beyond what was once a restroom.

Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Stadium Seats Stored on Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Stadium Seats Stored on Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

The electrical room is located underneath the grandstand, presumably still providing some amount of power for the stadium.

Electrical Room Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Electrical Room Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

The entrance to the former equipment room includes a relic from the vagabond Erie Sailors.

Erie Sailors Bumper Sticker on Door To Equipment Room, Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Erie Sailors Bumper Sticker on Door To Equipment Room, Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Equipment Room Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Equipment Room Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

One stadium relic that really ought to be on display somewhere, perhaps Jerry Uht Park, is a New York-Penn League Standings sign that dates back to the 1980s or early 1990s.

New York Penn Leqgue Standings Sign, Stored in  Concourse Walkway Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

New York Penn Leqgue Standings Sign, Stored in Concourse Walkway Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

The good news is that baseball is still played regularly at Ainsworth Field. Three local high schools, the Central Tech High School Falcons, the East High School Warriors, and the Strong Vincent High School Colonels all have played their games at Ainsworth Field since 1995.

Storage Building, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Storage Building, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Since 1995, the Erie Glenwood League Baseball, an amateur league formed in the 1920s, has also played at Ainsworth Field.

Concessions Stand Located Beyond Third Base Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Concessions Stand Located Beyond Third Base Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Ainsworth Field is an important part of Erie’s history, and the city does an admirable job of maintaining the field. In less than a decade, the ballpark will celebrate its 100th anniversary and it looks as if Ainsworth Field will still be standing when it reaches its centennial.

This blog about Ainsworth Field is dedicated to the memory of Stephen Quinn, a long-time Erie resident and fan of the game.

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Plant City Stadium – Nine Years Of Spring Training And A 30 Year Construction Loan

March 3rd, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Plant City Stadium is located at 1900 S Park Road in Plant City, Florida. Constructed in 1987, the ballpark was the spring training home of the Cincinnati Reds from 1988 to 1996.

Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

Plant City Stadium hosted no other professional baseball other than the Reds spring training. Other tenants have included the United States Australian Football League Tampa Bay Starfish and the United Soccer League (USL Pro) VSI Tampa Bay FC.

Front Gate Ticket Booth, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

Front Gate Ticket Booth, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

The imprint of the Cincinnati Reds remains throughout the stadium.

Third Base Dugout, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

Third Base Dugout, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

Such as the red metal grandstand seating.

Rows of Seats, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

Rows of Seats, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

And Marge Schott’s owner’s box and kitchen.

Owners Box, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

Owners Box, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

Kitchen With Cincinnati Reds Colors,Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

Kitchen With Cincinnati Reds Colors,Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

Walking through the ballpark, it would appear that the city could have the venue ready as a spring training home once again, with little effort.

Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida (configured for Softball)

Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida (configured for Softball)

Currently, both Plant City Stadium and its practice fields are configured for softball. The former baseball practice fields have been renamed the Randy L. Larson Softball FourPlex.

Original Warning Track and Outfield Fence Polls, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

Original Warning Track and Outfield Fence Polls, Practce Fields, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

The buildings that once housed team administrative offices as well as the players clubhouse are located beyond Plant City Stadium’s right field fence.

Administrative Building, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

Administrative Building, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

One of the buildings currently houses the headquarters of The International Softball Federation, a member of the World Baseball Softball Confederation.

Entrance to Administrative Offices, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

Entrance to Administrative Offices, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

Plant City Stadium is a cautionary tale about the fickle world of Major League Spring Training. When the Cincinnati Reds departed Plant City Stadium after the 1996 spring season, they relocated  their spring training headquarters to Ed Smith Stadium, a ballpark that was built in 1988, the same year the Reds opened Plant City Stadium.

Dedication Plaque, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

Dedication Plaque, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

Plant City Stadium and complex was constructed by the City of Plant City at a cost of approximately $6 million, with a 30 year construction loan that will not be repaid until 2018.

Concourse, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

Concourse, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

Each year the city pays over $30o,000 on the construction loan.

Entrance to Seating Bowl from Concourse, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

Entrance to Seating Bowl from Concourse, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

Although the stadium has been used over the past few years for professional and amateur softball, and professional soccer, the amount of revenue generated by the stadium falls short of meeting the yearly loan costs.

Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

In addition, the city incurs a $300,000 plus yearly expense for maintaining the facility, although the city should be given credit for having done a good job of maintaining the facility and not letting it fall into disrepair.

The Sprinklers Still Work, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

The Sprinklers Still Work, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

It appears that even as the construction loan payments are about to end (in the next three years), the city has given up on the idea of finding a professional sports team tenant and instead may be selling the property for redevelopment.

View of Infield From Owners Box, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

View of Infield From Owners Box, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

Press Box, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

Press Box, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

Thus, in the next few years, it seems likely that Plant City Stadium will become yet another lost ballpark. However, given the relatively meager professional baseball history of the ballpark (nine spring seasons), it is unlikely anyone will raise much of an objection to its demolition from the standpoint of baseball history.

Third Base Dugout Tunnel, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

Third Base Dugout Tunnel, Plant City Stadium, Plant City Florida

For the time being, however, Plant City Stadium still stands a prime example of a late 1980s Florida spring training venue, relatively untouched from the time the Cincinnati Reds departed for Sarasota in 1997.  If you find yourself traveling I-4 to or from Tampa to Orlando, the stadium is located just three miles south off Exit 45. Take a detour and see for yourself a very small slice of baseball history, as well as, the ending to this cautionary tale.

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