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. 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 193os 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 located near the intersection of McClure Street and 19th Avenue.

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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City of Pompano Beach Municipal Baseball Park

March 2nd, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Municipal Stadium was located on Northeast 8th Street near the intersection of  Northeast 18 Avenue in Pompano Beach, Florida.

Third Base Grandstand, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

Third Base Grandstand, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida, Circa 2007

The stadium was constructed in 1957 and dedicated that same year as City of Pompano Municipal Baseball Park, although it was more commonly referred to as Municipal Stadium.

Dedication Plaque, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

Dedication Plaque, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

In 1961 the ballpark became the spring training home of the expansion 1961 Washington Senators.

Ted Williams, New Manager of the Washington Senators,  Feb. 25, 1969, Pompano Beach Municipal Stadium (AP Photo/Robert H. Houston)

Ted Williams, New Manager of the Washington Senators, Feb. 25, 1969, Pompano Beach Municipal Stadium (AP Photo/Robert H. Houston)

When the Washington Senators franchise moved to Texas in 1972, the Rangers continued to train at Pompano beach, where they remained through the 1986 spring season.

Ticket Booth, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

Ticket Booth, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida, the Home Plate Grandstand Once  Sat Behind This Structure, Circa 2007

Municipal Stadium also hosted minor league baseball. From 1969 to 1973, the Florida State League Pompano Beach Mets played at the ballpark. In 1976, the FSL Pompano Beach Cubs moved to Municipal Stadium, having played the previous season at Wicker Stadium in Key West, Florida. The Cubs played in Pompano Beach through the 1978 season.

Road Entrance to Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

Road Entrance to Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida, Circa 2007

In 1987, the Rangers moved to what is now Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida. Known then as Rangers Stadium,the Rangers left Charlotte for Surprise, Arizona, after the 2002 season. After an extensive renovation, Charlotte Sports Park it is now the spring training home of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Charlotte Sports Park, Charlotte, Florida, Spring Training Home of the Tampa Bay Rays

Charlotte Sports Park, Charlotte, Florida, Spring Training Home of the Tampa Bay Rays

After the Rangers departed Pompano Beach, the Senior Professional Baseball Association Gold Coast Suns, managed by Earl Weaver, played their home games at the ballpark from 1989 to 1990.

Exterior, Third Base Grandstand, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

Exterior, Third Base Grandstand, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida, Circa 2007

After the Gold Coast Suns departed, and unable to find any other major league teams interested in training at Municipal Stadium, the city reconfigured the ballpark for soccer, although the field also was still used for high school and amateur baseball.

Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida, Circa 2007

View from Third Base Grandstand, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

View from Third Base Grandstand, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida, Circa 2007

Municipal Stadium was damaged by two hurricanes, first in 1991 and then in 2005, yet miraculously most of the stadium structure remained at the site for an additional two decades.

View from First Base Grandstand, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

View from First Base Grandstand, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida, Circa 2007

The first significant stadium structure to be demolished was the modest grandstand behind home plate, which was removed at some point during the late 1990s.

Former Site of Home Plate Grandstand, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

Former Site of Home Plate Grandstand, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida, Circa 2007

Third and First Base Grandstands with Home Plate Grandstand Already Demolished, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

Third and First Base Grandstands with Home Plate Grandstand Already Demolished, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida, Circa 2007

The concrete and steel covered third base grandstand remained at the site.

View of Third Base Grandstand From Former Location of Home Plate Grandstand,Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

View of Third Base Grandstand From Former Location of Home Plate Grandstand,Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

The uncovered grandstand along the first base line remained at the site as well.

Exterior of First Base Grandstand, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

Exterior of First Base Grandstand, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

First Base Grandstand, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

First Base Grandstand, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

The first base dugout was located underneath the first base grandstand.

First Base Dugout, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

First Base Dugout, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

The third base dugout was located under the third base grandstand.

Third Base Dugout, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

Third Base Dugout, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

In 2005, Hurricane Wilma – the second hurricane to hit the stadium – destroyed the metal bleachers that sat along the first base foul line just past the first base grandstand.

Twisted Bleachers Located Along First Base Foul Line, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

Twisted Bleachers Located Along First Base Foul Line, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

Right Field Bleachers, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

Right Field Bleachers, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

By 2007, the stadium was in terrible shape. However, the field still was used for amateur baseball, as well as a baseball training academy.

Right Field Wall, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

Right Field Wall, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

In 2008, the City of Pompano demolished the stadium and the remaining structures.

Players Clubhouses, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

Players Clubhouses, Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida

The city refurbished the practice fields that surrounded Municipal Stadium and constructed a soccer field where once sat the entrance to the ballpark, the third base grandstand, and the home plate grandstand. An additional practice field was built with home plate located in the approximate site of what was once Pompano Stadium’s first base.

View of Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida, From Beyond Right Field Corner

View of Municipal Stadium, Pompano Beach, Florida, From Beyond Right Field Corner

Pompano Beach Municipal Stadium is now just a memory, another lost ballpark. However, the practice fields where the Senators and the Rangers once trained remain at the site, as does a new field placed about 90 feet north of the original stadium playing field.

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Chain Of Lakes Park in Winter Haven, Florida

March 1st, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Chain Of Lakes Park (also known as Chain O’ Lakes Park) is located at 500 Cletus Allen Drive in Winter Haven, Florida. The ballpark opened in 1966 as the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox.

Chain Of Lakes Park, Winter  Haven, Florida

Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

The Red Sox previously had trained in Payne Park in Sarasota, Florida, from 1933 until 1958, with the exception of the war years from 1943 to 1945. From 1959 until their move to Winter Haven in 1966, they trained in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Chain O' Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida - Poscard (Curteichcolor Natural Color Reproduction, Ridge Distribution)

Chain O’ Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida – Poscard (Curteichcolor Natural Color Reproduction, Ridge Distribution)

After the 1992 season, the Red Sox departed Winter Haven and relocated their spring training headquarters to Fort Myers, Florida, and City of Palms Park. All told, the Red Sox trained at Winter Haven for 26 seasons, the longest they ever had, or ever have, trained at one location.

City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida, Former Spring Training Home of the Boston Red Sox

City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida, Former Spring Training Home of the Boston Red Sox from 1993 t0 2011

In 1993, the Cleveland Indians moved their spring training home Chain of Lakes Park.

Welcome Sign, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

Welcome Sign, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

Since 1947, the Indians had trained at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson, Arizona.

Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

The Cleveland Indians continued to train at Chain of Lakes Park until the end of the 2008 spring season, returning in 2009 to Arizona, and Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, Arizona.

View From Third Base Grand Stand, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

View From Third Base Grand Stand, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

Minor league baseball was played Chain of Lakes Park every year that a major league team trained there as well, beginning with the Florida State League Winter Haven Sun Sox in 1966, the Winter Haven Mets in 1967, the Winter Haven Red Sox from 1969 to 1992, and the Gulf Coast League Indians from 1993 to 2008.

View from the Third Base Box Seats, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

View from the Third Base Box Seats, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

Winter Haven had a covered grandstand from first base around the third base, providing fans plenty of shade from the Florida sun.

First Base Grand Stand, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

First Base Grand Stand, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

View from First Base Grand Stand, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

View from First Base Grand Stand, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

Although the ballpark was renovated prior to the Indians’ arrival in 1993, Chain of Lake Park retained much of its 1960s “charm.”

Third Base Grandstand Seating, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

Third Base Grandstand Seating, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

First Base Grandstand Seating, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

First Base Grandstand Seating, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

It was a wonderful place to watch a ballgame, whether from the grandstand or on the outfield berm behind left field.

Indian's Center Fielder, Grady Sizemore, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

Indian’s Center Fielder, Grady Sizemore, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

Although not quite like Wrigley Field and Waveland Avenue in Chicago, a condominium development beyond right field provided owners  of the units who back up to the ballpark an excellent view of the action on the field.

Scoreboard, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

Scoreboard, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

The same can be send for view provided the pitchers in the bullpen just beyond the right field corner.

Cleveland Indians Logos  on Right Field Wall, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

Cleveland Indians Pitcher Watches the Action for from the Bullpen Just Beyond the Right Field Wall, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

The third base grandstand and bleachers were set into the side of a small hill which provided a nice touch of unencumbered green space.

View of Left Field Grandstand and Berm, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

View of Left Field Grandstand and Berm, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

One downside of the ballpark’s design was most of the concessions and souvenir stands were located down the third base line, making the area quite jammed during the game.

Concourse, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

Concourse, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

Dairy Queen Stand, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

Dairy Queen Stand, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

During the Indian’s time at Winter Haven, one of the true pleasures of attending a game there was the chance to meet and talk with Hall of Famer Bob Feller, who was a fixture at Indians spring training. For a modest charge of $10 he would autograph any item you brought with you, or for an additional $5 sign one of the pictures he had on hand.

Hall of Famer Bob Feller Signing Autographs at Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

Hall of Famer Bob Feller Signing Autographs at Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

When grandstand seating for games sold out, it was still possible to buy a ticket and sit on the outfield berm. Sometimes it felt as if there were just as many fans sitting past the left field fence as there fans in the grandstand.

Center Field Berm Seating, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

Center Field Berm Seating, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

Overflow Seating, Center Field Berm, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

Overflow Seating, Center Field Berm, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

Once the Indians announced their intentions to depart Chain of Lakes Park after the 2008 season, you could sense the disappointment of those who worked at the ballpark that professional baseball no longer would be played in Winter Haven.

Center Field Camera Stand, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

Center Field Camera Stand, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

For several years after the Indians departure, it looked as if Chain of Lakes Park might become yet another lost ballpark, as plans were floated for demolishing the site and constructing a shopping center and condominiums.

Third Base Box Seats, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

Third Base Box Seats, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

The good news is that, at least for the foreseeable future, baseball will continue to be played at Chain of Lakes Park. Winter Haven has turned the former spring training site into a first class amateur baseball venue with events held by such organizations as The World Amateur Baseball Association and college invitational tournaments, including the RussMatt Central Florida Collegiate Baseball Invitational.

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City of Palms Park – The Red Sox First Spring Training Home In Fort Myers

February 27th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

City of Palms Park is located at 2201 Edison Avenue in Fort Myers, Florida. Constructed in 1992, it is the newest Grapefruit League venue already abandoned as a major league spring training home. Only Tucson Electric Park in Tucson, Arizona, built in 1998 and abandoned by major league baseball in 2010, is newer.

City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

City of Palms Park was the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox from 1993 through 2011. The Gulf Coast League Red Sox also played at City of Palms Park during those same years.

City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

The Red Sox relocated to Fort Myers from Chain of Lakes Park in Winter Haven Florida, where they had trained since 1966.

Lee County Sports Authority Sign, City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Lee County Sports Authority Sign, City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

As a spring training facility, City of Palms Park was a great place to watch a ballgame. It’s one major drawback, which helped lead to the Red Sox’s departure, was its lack of sufficient training fields located adjacent to the stadium to handle all of the Red Sox major league and minor league players. As such, the Red Sox played their exhibition games at City of Palms Park, but trained (both major and minor league players) two and a half miles away at the Lee County Player Development Complex.

Entrance to City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Entrance to City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Because of its relatively young age, the stadium featured many of the more modern upgrades teams and fans have come to expect at spring training venues.

Starting Lineup , City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Starting Lineup , City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

The stadium entrance was sufficiently wide to allow fans easy entry.

Front Entrance Gates, City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Front Entrance Gates, City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Still, the uncovered concourse around the stadium could get fairly packed during sold out Red Sox games.

Concourse, City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Concourse, City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Entrance to the Concourse, City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Entrance to the Concourse, City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

The ballpark included plenty of options and places to purchase food and souvenirs.

Souvenir Stand, City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Souvenir Stand, City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Red Sox Souvenirs, City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Red Sox Souvenirs, City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

One of the ballpark’s best features was its wide, expansive roof over the grandstand, providing plenty of shade to fans sitting underneath.

View of Grandstand from Left Field Line, City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

View of Grandstand from Left Field Line, City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Press Box and Suites, City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Press Box and Suites, City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Down the right field line was a covered eating area featuring Red Sox retired jersey numbers.

Red Sox Retired Player Numbers Honored at City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Red Sox Retired Player Numbers Honored at City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Near the right field corner was berm seating.

Right Field Berm, City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Right Field Berm, City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

The right field porch included a bench table seating area, similar to seating at Fenway Park above the Green Monster in left field.

View of Grandstand From Right Field Porch, City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

View of Grandstand From Right Field Porch, City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Right Field Porch,  City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Right Field Porch, City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

The bullpens were located beyond the outfield fence.

DSCN1597 copy

John Lackey Warming Up In Outfield at  City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

John Lackey Warming Up In Outfield at City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

The scoreboard at City of Palms Park was old school, although not as old school as Fenway Park’s manually operated scoreboard.

Scoreboard, City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Scoreboard, City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Right Field, City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Right Field, City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

City of Palms Park was  picturesque, a wonderful place to watch a ball game. After the Red Sox announced they would be leaving ,Cit of Palms Park it seemed a shame that professional baseball no longer would be played there.

City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

In 2012, the Red Sox relocated 14 miles southeast of City of Palms Park to brand new Jet Blue Stadium.

Jet Blue Stadium, Spring Training Home of the Boston Red Sox, Fort Myers, Florida

Jet Blue Stadium, Spring Training Home of the Boston Red Sox, Fort Myers, Florida

Unlike City of Palms Park, which is located near the heart of downtown Fort Myers, Jet Blue Stadium is located far from downtown, on land next to the Southwest Florida International Airport (which is appropriate given the name of the ballpark).

Jet Blue Stadium Construction Site, Circa 2011, Spring Training Home of the Boston Red Sox, Fort Myers, Florida

Jet Blue Stadium Construction Site, Circa 2011, Spring Training Home of the Boston Red Sox, Fort Myers, Florida

The Boston Red Sox are long-time spring training residents of Florida’s Grapefruit League. The ballparks they have called home have reflected the ever changing style of stadium construction:

"Baseball Spring Training Boston Red Sox in Action, Sarasota, Fla." (Postcard M.E. Russell, Sarasota FL, Photo by Burnell. Cureich-Chicago C.T. Art-Colortone

Payne Park, “Baseball Spring Training Boston Red Sox in Action, Sarasota, Fla.” (Postcard M.E. Russell, Sarasota FL, Photo by Burnell. Cureich-Chicago C.T. Art-Colortone

from Payne Park in Sarasota in the 1940s and 1950s, to Chain of Lake Parks in Winter Haven in the 1960s,

Chain Of Lakes Park, Winter  Haven, Florida

Chain Of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida

to City of Palms Park,

View From the First Base Grandstand, City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

View From the First Base Grandstand, City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

to Jet Blue Stadium.

Jet Blue Stadium, Spring Training Home of the Boston Red Sox, Fort Myers, Florida

Jet Blue Stadium, Spring Training Home of the Boston Red Sox, Fort Myers, Florida

After the Red Sox departed City of Palms Park, Lee County attempted to convince the Washington Nationals to train at the stadium. After those efforts proved unsuccessful, City of Palms Park and practice field was reconfigured as a college softball and baseball park. Currently, the ballpark is home to the Florida SouthWestern State College Buccaneers baseball and softball teams. The good news is it does not appear that City of Palms Park will any time soon become a lost ballpark. And with a college team now resident there, it is still possible to see a game at City of Palms Park.

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Henley Field – A Walk Back In Time

February 26th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Henley Field is located at 1125 North Florida Avenue in Lakeland Florida. In 1923, the ballpark was known as Adair Field, built  on land purchased from Dr. Pike Adair by the City of Lakeland.

Front Entrance, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Front Entrance, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

At the urging of Clare Henley, President of the Lakeland Baseball Club, the Cleveland Indians began training at Adair Field in 1923. In 1925, the City of Lakeland completed construction of a Mission Revival grandstand and the ballpark was christened Athletic Park. The Cleveland Indains trained at Athetlic Park through the 1927 spring season.

Exterior, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Exterior, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

The first professional baseball team to play at the site was the International League Louisville Colonels who trained at Adair field in 1915 after having spent the previous spring training at Terry Park in Fort Myers, Florida.

Front Entrance Gate, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Front Entrance Gate, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

From 1919 to 1926, the Florida State League Lakeland Highlanders (owned by Henley) played their home games at Adair Field and Athletic Park.

Ticket Windows, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Ticket Windows, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

In 1934, also at the urging of Henley, the Detroit Tigers moved their spring training home to Athletic Field.

Exterior, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida, Parallel to First Base Foul Line

Exterior, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida, Parallel to First Base Foul Line

In 1952 the ballpark was renamed Clare “Doc” Henley Ball Park.

Dedication Plaque, Clare Henley, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Dedication Plaque, Clare Henley, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

The concrete block wall that surrounds the stadium dates back to the late 1920s.

FIrst Base-Right Field Wall, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

FIrst Base-Right Field Wall, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

From 1940 until 1985, a press box stat atop the grandstand.

View of Grandstand from Center Field, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

View of Grandstand from Center Field, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Grandstand Netting, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Grandstand Netting, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

The original dugouts were part of the grandstand. The current dugouts were erected long after the Tigers ceased playing at Henley Field.

View of Dugout and Grandstand from Left Field Line, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

View of Dugout and Grandstand from Left Field Line, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

First Base Dugout, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

First Base Dugout, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

In 2002, Henley Field had one final fling with professional baseball when the Florida State League Lakeland Tigers played one season at the ballpark during the renovation of Joker Merchant Stadium. In preparation for that season, the original wood seats in the grandstand were replaced with aluminum seating

Grandstand Seating, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Grandstand Seating, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

The first few rows behind home plate in the grandstand now include seating for the press.

Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

As part of the renovation, a new scoreboard was installed as well.

Scoreboard, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Scoreboard, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

However, Henley Field retains much of its 1920s baseball charm.

Administrative Office, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Administrative Office, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Inside Front Entrance, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Inside Front Entrance, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

The Tigers continued to train at Henley Field until 1965, with the exception of 1943 to 1945 when they trained at Bosse Field in Evansville, Indiana, because of war time travel restrictions. In 1966, the Tigers moved to brand new Joker Merchant Stadium

Joker Merchant Stadium, Spring Training Home of the Detroit TIgers, Lakeland Florida

Joker Merchant Stadium, Spring Training Home of the Detroit TIgers, Lakeland Florida

The Tigers and Lakeland have the longest relationship in Major League Baseball between a team and its spring training city.

Tiger Villa Motel Postcard, Lakeland, Florida (Curteichcolor 3-D Natural Color).

Tiger Villa Motel Postcard, Lakeland, Florida (Curteichcolor 3-D Natural Color).

Henley Field currently is the home of the Florida Southern University Moccasins baseball team.

Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Henley Field is located only one and a half miles south of Joker Merchant Stadium, so there really is no excuse not to visit the ballpark if you are in Lakeland attending Tigers spring training. Even with its renovation, Henley Field is like walking back in time to see spring training as it was in the 1920s and 1930s.

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Jack Russell Stadium – The Phillies’ Second Clearwater Home

February 25th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Jack Russell Stadium is located at 800 Phillies Drive in Clearwater, Florida. For almost 50 years it was the spring training home of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

Constructed in 1954, the ballpark opened in 1955 when the Phillies moved their spring training home two blocks west from Clearwater Athletic Field.

View of Jack Russell Field From Former Site of Clearwater Ball Field

View of Jack Russell Field From Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater, Florida, 2015

The Phillies had held their spring training at Clearwater Athletic Field since 1947.

Aerial Photo of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater and Jack Russell Stadium, Florida (Photo St. Petersburg Times Photo Dept.)

Aerial Photo of Clearwater Athletic Field in Background and Jack Russell Stadium in Foreground, Clearwater, Florida (Photo St. Petersburg Times Photo Dept.)

Jack Russell Stadium was also home to the Florida State League Clearwater Phillies from 1985 to 2003.

Clearwater Stadium Postcard (Tichnor Quality Views, Tichnor Bros., Inc.)

Clearwater Stadium Postcard (Tichnor Quality Views, Tichnor Bros., Inc.)

The ballpark was named after Jack Russell, a former pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Washington Senators, Detroit Tigers, Chicago Cubs, and St. Louis Cardinals, who settled in Clearwater, Florida, after his 16 major league career ended  in 1940. Russell helped spearhead the construction of a new ballpark in Clearwater to replace the outdated Clearwater Athletic Park.

Russell Field - Major League Baseball, Clearwater, Florida - Postcard (Curteichcolor Art  Creation)

Russell Field – Major League Baseball, Clearwater, Florida – Postcard (Curteichcolor Art Creation)

Jack Russell Stadium’s grandstand was built in the same mold as other Florida spring training ballparks of that era such as Al Lopez Stadium in Tampa and Fort Lauderdale Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.

Exterior, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

Exterior, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

The grandstand was single deck, covered from first base around to third base.

First Base Grandstand, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

First Base Grandstand, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

The press box was located behind home plate under the overhang.

Press Box, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

Press Box, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

The grandstand included aluminum seats in the lower seating bowl and aluminum bleachers under the grandstand roof.

Aluminum Seating, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

Aluminum Seating, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

In 2004, the Phillies left Jack Russell Stadium and relocated four miles east to brand new Bright House Stadium.

Bright House Field, Clearwater, Florida, Spring Training Home of the Philadelphia Phillies

Bright House Field, Clearwater, Florida, Spring Training Home of the Philadelphia Phillies

In 2007, the grandstand and the ticket office was demolished.

Front Entrance, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

Front Entrance and Grandstand, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater Florida

Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater Florida

Metal bleachers along the first base line that had been installed at Jack Russell Stadium sometime after its original construction were preserved and still remain at the ballpark.

First Base Grandstand and Player Clubhouse, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

First Base Grandstand and Player Clubhouse, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

The dugouts were preserved and remain at the ballpark as well.

First Base Dugout, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2013

First Base Dugout, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2013

Metal bleachers located along the third base line were also preserved.

Home Plate, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

Home Plate, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

Third Base Grandstand, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2013

Third Base Grandstand, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2013

The scoreboard and batters eye remain at the site.

Outfield Wall, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

Outfield Wall, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

Back of Batter's Eye and Scoreboard, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater Florida, 2015

Back of Batter’s Eye and Scoreboard, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater Florida, 2015

The original concrete block wall still surrounds the stadium exterior.

Original Stadium Wall, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2013

Original Stadium Wall, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2013

Several administrative buildings also remain on site.

Administrative Building, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2013

Administrative Building, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2013

Third Base Grandstand and Concession Stand, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2013

Third Base Grandstand and Concession Stand, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2013

Ticket Booth, Third Base Grandstand, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater Florida, 2015

Ticket Booth, Third Base Grandstand, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater Florida, 2015

Looking Toward Third Base Bleachers From Beyond Left Field Corner, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater Florida, 2015

Looking Toward Third Base Bleachers From Beyond Left Field Corner, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater Florida, 2015

Although the grandstand constructed in 1954 is now gone, much of the rest of the ballpark remains intact, allowing visitors the opportunity to appreciate Florida Spring Training from the 1950s and 1960s.

Extra Innings Youth Foundation currently leases and maintains the ballpark. Extra Innings has “developed programs which include the introduction of baseball activities while simultaneously fostering academic improvement, spiritual guidance, and assisting young adults to become self sufficient in making life choices.” (See Extra Innings Website).

Any Phillies fans who are interested in the history of their team and the game itself should take the four mile drive from Bright House Field west on Drew Street to the former site of Clearwater Athletic Field and the current site of Jack Russell Stadium. Over 55 seasons of Phillies spring training history occurred at those two locations and they certainly are worth a visit.

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Clearwater Athletic Field – The Phillies First Clearwater Home

February 25th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Clearwater Athletic Field was located near the northeast corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Seminole Street in Clearwater, Florida. It hosted major league spring training for over 30 years, from 1923 to 1954.

Clearwater Athletic Field, (Photo Courtesy Via  Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Clearwater_Athletic_Field.png#mediaviewer/File:Clearwater_Athletic_Field.png) (Fair Use)

Clearwater Athletic Field, (Photo Courtesy Via Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Clearwater_Athletic_Field. png#mediaviewer/File:Clearwater_Athletic_Field.png) (Fair Use)

The Brooklyn Dodgers first occupied the ballpark from 1923 to 1932, having previously trained at J.P. Smalls Memorial Park in Jacksonville, Florida. The Dodgers departed Clearwater for the 1933 season and trained from 1934 to 1935 at Tinker Field in Orlando, Florida.  The Dodgers returned to Clearwater Athletic Field from 1936 to 1941. The International League Newark Bears held their spring training at Clearwater Athletic Field from 1933 to 1935 and the Cleveland Indians held their spring training at Clearwater in 1942 and 1946. The Philadelphia Phillies held their spring training at Clearwater Athletic Field from 1947 to 1954. Clearwater Athletic Field was also home to the Florida State League Clearwater Pelicans in 1924 and the Florida State Negro Baseball League Clearwater Black Sox in 1952. The ballpark was later renamed Ray Green Field  after the former mayor of Clearwater.

Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater, Florida (Photo St. Petersburg Times Photo Dept.) (image is portion of larger photo)

Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater, Florida (Photo St. Petersburg Times Photo Dept.) (image is portion of larger photo)

Home plate was located near Pennsylvania Avenue, about half a block up from Seminole Street. A street that is no longer there paralleled Seminole Street. The first base foul line paralleled that street.

Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Near Northeast Corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Seminole Street, Clearwater, Florida

Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Near Northeast Corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Seminole Street, Clearwater, Florida

North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex now stands on the site.

North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex, Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater Florida

North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex, Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater Florida

The southwest portion of the recreation center sits in the approximate location of home plate and the first base grand stand.

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A street once paralleled Seminole Street, running along the first base grand stand. That street is now part of the park surrounding the recreation center.

Grove of Trees Just South of North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex, Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater Florida

Grove of Trees Just South of North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex, Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater Florida

Center Field was located at the southwest corner of Palmetto Street and Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd.

Center Field Corner, Looking Toward North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex, Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater Florida

Center Field Corner, Looking Toward North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex, Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater Florida

Right Field paralleled Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard (formerly Greenwood Avenue).

Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd. Looking South From Clearwater Atheltic Field's Former Center Field Corner to Right  Field Corner, North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex,  Clearwater Florida

Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd. Looking South From Clearwater Atheltic Field’s Former Center Field Corner to Right Field Corner, North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex, Clearwater Florida

Left Field paralleled Palmetto Street.

Palmetto Street Looking West From Clearwater Atheltic Field's Former Center Field Corner to Left Field Corner, North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex,  Clearwater Florida

Palmetto Street Looking West From Clearwater Atheltic Field’s Former Center Field Corner to Left Field Corner, North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex, Clearwater Florida

The front entrance to the North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex sits in what was once right field.

Front Entrance, North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex, Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater Florida

Front Entrance, North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex, Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater Florida

The aquatic center sits in what was once center field.

Pool and Waterpark Where Once There Was Right Field, North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex, Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater Florida

Pool and Waterpark Where Once There Was Right Field, North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex, Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater Florida

In 1954, the City of Clearwater constructed a new spring training stadium, Jack Russell Stadium just two blocks east of Clearwater Athletic Park, which the Phillies moved into in 1955.

Aerial Photo of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater and Jack Russell Stadium, Florida (Photo St. Petersburg Times Photo Dept.)

Aerial Photo of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater and Jack Russell Stadium, Florida (Photo St. Petersburg Times Photo Dept.)

The Phillies continued to use Clearwater Athletic Field as a practice facility even after the grandstand burned down in 1956.

Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

Sandwiched between Clearwater Athletic Field and Jack Russell Stadium is Walter C. Campbell Park, which was once practice fields and parking for Jack Russell Stadium.

Walter C. Campbell Park, Former Parking Lot and Training Fields for Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida

Walter C. Campbell Park, Former Parking Lot and Training Fields for Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida

The light stanchions of Jack Russell Stadium are visible from the North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex, two blocks away.

View of Jack Russell Field From Former Site of Clearwater Ball Field

View of Jack Russell Field From Former Site of Clearwater Ball Field

In 2003, the Phillies relocated four miles east to yet another new ballpark in Clearwater, Bright House Field.

Bright House Field, Clearwater, Florida, Spring Training Home of the Philadelphia Phillies

Bright House Field, Clearwater, Florida, Spring Training Home of the Philadelphia Phillies

Any Phillies fans who are interested in the history of their team and the game itself should take the four mile drive from Bright House Field west on Drew Street to the former site of Clearwater Athletic Field and the current site of Jack Russell Stadium (although the grandstand and seating bowl are long gone). Over 55 seasons of Phillies spring training history occurred at those two locations and they certainly are worth a visit.

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Fort Myer’s Terry Park – Over 100 Years of Baseball History

February 24th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Terry Park is located at 3410 Palm Beach Boulevard in Fort Myers, Florida. The ballpark hosted major league spring training for over 50 years, from the early 1920s to the late 1980s. The earliest professional baseball activity at the site was in 1914 when the American Association Louisville Colonels held spring training on the grounds of the Fort Myers Yacht and Country Club, owned by Dr. Marshall Terry and his wife Tootie MacGregor Terry. The Colonels also played exhibition games against the Philadelphia Athletics and the St. Louis Browns that year (although the baseball field used by the Colonels was not the same field that would become Terry Park).

Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

In 1918, Lee County began holding its annual fair on the country club property and, in 1921, Dr Terry donated to the county the land on which the country club was built. That same year the county officially named the property “Terry Park.” See Terry Park 100 Year Anniversary Book, Lee County Parks for a detailed history of the property and Terry Park. In 1923, Lee County convinced Connie Mack to bring his Philadelphia Athletics to Fort Myers for spring training. The county utilized plans provided by Mack in designing the ballpark and field, which opened in 1925. The Athletics departed Terry Park after the 1936 season. The Cleveland Indians subsequently trained at Terry Park in 1941 and 1942.

Ty Cobb, Thomas Edison, and Connie Mack at Terry Park (Photo From Collection of Edison and Ford Winter Estates)

Ty Cobb, Thomas Edison, and Connie Mack at Terry Park (Photo From the Edison and Ford Winter Estates Collection)

A fire started during an amateur baseball game destroyed Terry Park’s grandstand in 1943. In hopes of bringing Major league spring training back to Terry Park, the county and the City of Fort Myers in 1954 constructed a new 2,500 concrete and steel grandstand. In 1955 the Pittsburgh, Pirates moved their spring training to Terry Park. The Pirates departed after 1968, and the following year the Kansas City Royals made Terry Park their home. The Royals trained at Terry Park until 1987. In March 1990, the Minnesota Twins used Terry Park as the spring training grounds for its minor league players while Lee County Stadium was being built.

Terry Park Postcard "Pittsburgh Pirates WInter Home" (Lustercrome, Tichnor Bros. Boston)

Terry Park Postcard “Pittsburgh Pirates Winter Home” (Lustercrome, Tichnor Bros. Boston)

Although the baseball complex is still known today as Terry Park, the stadium itself was renamed Park T. Pigott Memorial Stadium in 1972, after a local baseball enthusiast and government administrator.

Terry Park Sign, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Terry Park Sign, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

During his long career of service to the City of Fort Myers, Pigott was Director of both City of Fort Myers Parks and Recreation and Lee County Parks and Recreation, as well as the Superintendent of Terry Park.

Park T. Pigott Historical Plaque, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Park T. Pigott Historical Plaque, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Pigott also was instrumental in bringing both the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Kansas City Royals to Terry Park for spring training.

Park T. Pigott Historical Sign, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Park T. Pigott Historical Sign, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Terry Park also was home to the Florida State League Fort Myers Palms from 1926 to 1927, and the Fort Myers Royals from 1978 to 1987. In 1989 and 1990 it was the home to the Fort Myers Sun Sox of the Senior Professional Baseball Association.

Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Terry Park includes three practice fields named after Hall of Famers who played at Terry Park for three of the teams that trained there: Connie Mack, Roberto Clemente, and George Brett.

Connie Mack Field at Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Connie Mack Field at Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Practice Field Bleachers Behind Main Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Practice Field Bleachers Behind Main Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Once professional baseball departed, Terry Park was used primarily for youth, American Legion, and high school baseball.

Outfield Wall, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Concrete Block Outfield Wall, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

In 1965, Terry Park was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. However, in 2004 the grandstand was demolished after Hurricane Charley damaged the structure.

Left Field Line Looking Toward Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Left Field Line Looking Toward Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Although some of the girders installed in 1955 remain, the structure bears little resemblance to the historic grandstand it replaced.

Grandstand Interior, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Grandstand Interior, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

During the 2004 renovation, the dugouts also were replaced, as well as some, if not all, of the outfield wall.

View of Grandstand from Behind First Base Dugout, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

View of Grandstand from Behind First Base Dugout, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

The good news is that baseball is still played at Terry Park. The stadium is used year round for amateur and college baseball.

Sign Welcoming Players to Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Sign Welcoming Players to Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

In February and March each year, over 100 teams travel to Terry Park for the The Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic.

First Base Dugout, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

First Base Dugout, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Fort Myers boasts a proud history of major league spring training. Three other facilities nearby once held or currently hold spring training in Fort Myers. From 1993 to 2011, the Boston Red Sox held their spring training at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers.

City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida, Former Spring Training Home of the Boston Red Sox

Since 2012, the Red Sox have trained at Jet Blue Stadium, located in Fort Myers 14 miles southeast from City of Palms Park.

Jet Blue Stadium, Spring Training Home of the Boston Red Sox, Fort Myers, Florida

Jet Blue Stadium, Current Spring Training Home of the Boston Red Sox, Fort Myers, Florida

The Minnesota Twins also train in Fort Myers, at Hammons Stadium, located just seven miles west of Jet Blue Stadium.

Hammond Stadium, Fort Myers, Florida, Spring Training Home of the Minnesota Twins

Hammons Stadium, Fort Myers, Florida, Spring Training Home of the Minnesota Twins

If you are attending spring training at either of these stadiums in Fort Myers, take a moment to visit Terry Park as well. It is a beautiful park full of baseball history. And chances are you might catch an amateur or college game while you are there. For additional photos of Terry Park (including many vintage photos), see naplesnews.com.

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Tinker Field – 100 Years of Baseball in Orlando, Florida

February 22nd, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Tinker Field is located at 1610 West Church Street in Orlando, Florida. The actual playing field dates back to 1914, when it was constructed by the City of Orlando. The original grandstand was constructed in 1923.

Grandstand, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Grandstand, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

The  stadium is named in honor of Hall of Famer Joe Tinker, the former Chicago Cubs shortstop made famous in the 1910 baseball poem by Franklin Pierce Adams, “Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

Joe Tinker,  Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Joe Tinker, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Tinker relocated to Orlando after retiring from Major League Baseball in 1920, and became owner and manager of Orlando’s Florida State League team for one season in 1921.

Tinker Building, Orlando, Florida

Tinker Building, Orlando, Florida

Tinker remained in Orlando, leaving baseball to concentrate on his new career as a real estate broker and developer in Orlando. A building he constructed in 1925 that housed his real estate business still stands in downtown Orlando at 16 and 18 West Pine Street, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Plaque Honoring Joe Tinker, Placed at Tinker Building, Orlando, Florida

Plaque Honoring Joe Tinker, Placed at Tinker Building, Orlando, Florida

In 1923, at the urging of Tinker, the Cincinnati Reds (Tinker had played and managed for the Reds) began holding spring training at Tinker Field, a place where they continued to train through the 1930 season. In 1931, the Reds moved their spring training home to Plant Field in Tampa, Florida.

Exterior, First Base Side, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida,

Exterior, First Base Side, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida, 2015

In 1934, the Brooklyn Dodgers relocated their spring training from Clearwater Athletic Field to Tinker Field, where they trained for two seasons before moving back to Clearwater in 1935.

Exterior, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Exterior, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida, Circa 2004

In 1936, the Washington Senators began a several-decades long affiliation with Tinker Field. The Senators held spring training there from 1936 to 1942 and again from 1946 to 1960.

Tinker Field, Orlando Florida "The City Beautiful" (Postcard Park Press, Inc., Waite Park, MN photo by Bob Watson)

Tinker Field, Orlando Florida “The City Beautiful” (Postcard Park Press, Inc., Waite Park, MN photo by Bob Watson)

After the Senators franchise relocated to Minnesota as the Twins in 1961, the Twins continued to train at Tinker Field through the 1990 season. A monument and plaque honoring former Senator’s owner Clark C. Griffith was placed at the entrance to Tinker Field. Although the granite monument remains, the plaque has since been removed.

Memorial and Plaque Honoring Clark C. Griffith at Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida, Circa 2004

Memorial and Plaque Honoring Clark C. Griffith at Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida, Circa 2004

Tinker Field underwent a major renovation in 1963, although apparently parts of the original grandstand structure remain hidden beneath the reconstructed grandstand.

Front Entrance, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida,

Front Entrance, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida,

When Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C., was demolished in 1963, 1,000 wooden chairs from Griffin Stadium were sent to Orlando for installation in Tinker Field. Those stadium chairs remain at Tinker Field today.

Wooden Seats from Washington D.C.'s former Ballpark Griffith Stadium, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Wooden Seats from Washington D.C.’s former Ballpark Griffith Stadium, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

A litany of ever-changing Florida State League teams called Tinker Field home, including the Orlando Caps (1919-1920), the Orlando Tigers (1921), Orlando Bulldogs (1922-1924), Orlando Colts (1926-1928), Orlando Gulls (1937), Orlando Senators (1938-1941, 1946-1953), Orlando Seratomas (1956), Orlando Flyers (1957-1958), Orlando Dodgers (1959-1961), Orlando Twins (1963-1989), Orlando Sun Rays (1990-1992), Orlando Cubs (1993-1996), and Orlando Rays (1997-2003).

Main Entrance, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Main Entrance, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida, 2004, with Orlando Rays Logo Above the Entrance

Although the 1923 grandstand lasted 40 years before it was renovated in 1963, the current grandstand already has outlasted the original grandstand by over 10 years.

Ticket Window, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Ticket Window, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

In 2004, Tinker Field was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Concourse Behind Grandstand, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida,

Concourse Behind Grandstand, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida,

Unfortunately, receiving that designation does not mean that the stadium cannot be demolished.

Concession Stands, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Concession Stands, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Most recently, Tinker Field has been the home of several college teams. The city likewise uses the venue for concerts and other public gatherings.

Entrance to Boxes and Reserved Grandstand, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Entrance to Boxes and Reserved Grandstand, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

During much of its existence, Tinker Field has been dwarfed by its neighbor just to the east.

Tinker Field Infield, With Citrus Bowl Looming Large Over the Outfield Wall, Orlando, Florida

Tinker Field Infield, With Florida Citrus Bowl Looming Large Over the Outfield Wall, Orlando, Florida, Circa 2004

In 1935, the City of Orlando constructed Orlando Stadium just beyond Tinker Field’s center field and right field fence.

Infield, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Infield, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida, 2015, Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium in Background

Primarily used for football, the stadium has had a variety of names over the years, including the Tangerine Bowl from 1947 to 1975, the Citrus Bowl in 1976, Orlando Stadium from 1936 to 1946, and from 1977 to 1982, Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium from 1983 to 2013, and currently the Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium.

Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium As Seen From Third Base Dugout, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida,

Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium As Seen From Third Base Dugout, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida,

Renovations to the Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium in 2014 and 2015 resulted in a significant loss of land at Tinker Field in center and right field.

Right Field Looking Toward Center Field With Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium Taking Up Part of Right Field, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Right Field Looking Toward Center Field With Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium Taking Up Part of Right Field, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Although professional baseball has not been played at Tinker Field for almost 25 years, any hope of professional baseball returning to the ballpark was permanently dashed once the right field line was shortened to its current length of 245 feet.

View of Grandstand From Near Right Field Corner, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

View of Grandstand From Near Right Field Corner, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

As part of the renovation and expansion of Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium, much of what once sat along the first base foul line past the dugout was removed as well.

View of First Base Grandstand From Third Base Foul Line, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

View of First Base Grandstand From Third Base Foul Line, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida, Circa 2004

The metal bleachers that sat beyond first base are gone, as are the wooden bleachers that once sat along the third base foul line.

Wooden Bleachers, Third Base Grandstand, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Wooden Bleachers, Third Base Grandstand, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida, Circa 2004

What remains of the ballpark is the grandstand, the concourse, the dugouts, and the players clubhouses.

First Base Dugout, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

First Base Dugout, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

In 2014, the mayor of Orlando and City Council announced that Tinker Field would be raised because of its age and because it no longer could serve the purpose for which it was built.

Grandstand As Seen From Third Base Dugout, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Grandstand As Seen From Third Base Dugout, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Public backlash temporarily halted the city’s plans to demolish Tinker Field.

Grandstand Seating, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Grandstand Seating, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

It is expected that a decision on the future of Tinker Field will be made soon. Some argue that there is still value in preserving the historic ballpark, even if it no longer can be used for professional games.

Grandstand Seating, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Grandstand Seating, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

The city has estimated that it will cost $10 million to renovate the grandstand and the rest of the still-standing stadium structures.

Grandstand Section 19 Signage, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Grandstand Section 19 Signage, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Historic preservationists note that, in addition to its rich baseball history, Tinker Field has been a public gathering place for the community for over 100 years.

Grandstand, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Grandstand, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

One of the most notable historic events at the stadium occurred on March 6, 1964, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave a speech from the pitcher’s mound to people gathered in the grandstand. It was his sole public appearance in that city.

Pitcher's Mound, Tinker Field, Orlando, Forida, Spot From Which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. , Spoke in 1964

Pitcher’s Mound, Tinker Field, Orlando, Forida, Spot From Which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Spoke in 1964

Although it remains to be seen whether the city will preserve what is left of Tinker Field, one proposal, should the field not be preserved, would renovate Tinker Field’s former practice field, currently known as McCracken Field, which sits just south of the ballpark, and create a smaller version of the Tinker Field grandstand at that field.

McCracken Field, Practice Field Next to Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida,

McCracken Field, Practice Field Next to Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida,

If you live in the area of Orlando, Florida, or will be visiting there any time soon, and have a love for history and old ballparks, be sure to stop by Tinker Field because its appears its days may be numbered.

Entrance to Greenwood Cemetery, Orlando, Florida

Entrance to Greenwood Cemetery, Orlando, Florida

And if you have a moment, take a trip just three miles east of Tinker Field to the final resting place of the ballpark’s namesake.

Joe Tinker's Original Grave Marker, Greenwood Cemetery, Orlando, Florida

Joe Tinker’s Original Grave Marker, Greenwood Cemetery, Orlando, Florida

Tinker died in Orlando on his birthday – July 27th – in 1948 and is interred at Greenwood Cemetery along side his first wife Rudy Tinker, who died in 1923. Tinker’s grave site includes a monument with a reproduction of his Hall of Fame plaque.

Joe Tinker Grave Marker and Monument, Greenwood Cemetery, Orlando, Florida

Joe Tinker Grave Marker and Monument, Greenwood Cemetery, Orlando, Florida

Hopefully the City of Orlando will realize that the history of Tinker Field justifies keeping Tinker Field in place, perhaps configured for use by high school or local little league teams. The ballpark’s site is one of the oldest professional baseball parks in Florida and Tinker Field’s grandstand, even as renovated in 1963, is one of the oldest still-standing baseball grandstands in the state. Only the grandstands at Henley Field Ballpark (1925) in Lakeland, Florida, J.P. Smalls Memorial Park (1935) in Jacksonville, Florida, Holman Stadium (1953) in Vero Beach, Florida, Fort Lauderdale Stadium (1962) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Jackie Robinson Park (1962) in Daytona Beach, Florida, are older.

And once it is gone, it can’t be brought back.

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Plant Field and the Roots of Spring Training in Tampa, Florida

February 21st, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Plant Field was located near the northeast intersection of North Boulevard and West North B Street in Tampa, Florida. Constructed in the 1890s, the athletic facility was on the grounds of the Tampa Bay Hotel and included a variety of athletic fields, including horse racing, for guests of the hotel. Plant Field was named after Henry Plant, the owner of the hotel. After his death in 1899, the hotel and accompanying grounds, including Plant Field, were purchased by the City of Tampa. In 1933, the city leased the Tampa Bay Hotel to what is now the University of Tampa. The University also was allowed to use Plant Field for school athletic events.

Florida State Fair in Full Swing at Tampa, Florida - Postcard (Curteich C.T. Art-Colortone)

Florida State Fair in Full Swing at Tampa, Florida – Postcard (Curteich C.T. Art-Colortone)

Plant Field was one of the first sites to host Spring Training in Florida (Jacksonville, Florida, lays claim to the first major league spring training site in Florida, first in 1888 and then in 1903, while St. Augustine  hosted spring training in 1890 at Flagler Grounds). In 1913, Tampa Mayor D.B. McKay convinced the Chicago Cubs to train at Plant Field by actually paying the team to play in Tampa. The following season, St. Petersburg businessman Al Lang likewise convinced the St. Louis Browns to train nearby at Sunshine Park (also known as Coffee Pot Park), and the Grapefruit League was born. The Cubs trained at Plant Field through the 1916 season.

In 1919 the Boston Red Sox trained for one season at Plant Field. That spring season was memorable if for no other reason thanon April 4, 1919, then-Boston Red Sox player Babe Ruth hit what is considered to be his longest home run – a 587 feet blast (albeit in an exhibition game).

Tampa Historical Society Plaque Honoring Babe Ruth's 587 Foot Home Run on April 4, 1919

Tampa Historical Society Plaque Honoring Babe Ruth’s 587 Foot Home Run on April 4, 1919

The ball cleared Plant Field and came to rest in an open space near what is now the John Skyes College of Business, which formerly was the City of Tampa Municipal  Auditorium, constructed six years after Babe Ruth hit his mammoth shot. A historic plaque on the University of Tampa campus marks the approximate spot where the ball was found.

John Skyes College of Business (Formerly the City of Tampa Municipal Auditorium Erected in 1925)

John Skyes College of Business (Formerly the City of Tampa Municipal Auditorium Erected in 1925)

According to local newspaper accounts, the ball rolled a considerable distance once it landed. New York Giants Manager John McGraw (his team was playing the Red Sox) is said to have chased down the ball, calling the home run the longest he had ever seen. McGraw presented the ball to the Reverend Billy Sunday, a former ballplayer who was in town for a Christian revival and had thrown out the first pitch that afternoon.

Aerial Photo Courtesy of University of Tampa, Special Collections, With Direction of Babe Ruth's 587 Foot Home Run

Aerial Photo Courtesy of University of Tampa, Special Collections, With Direction of Babe Ruth’s 587 Foot Home Run

From 1920 to 1929, the Washington Senators trained at Plant Field. The Detroit Tigers trained at Plant Field for one season, in 1930, and the Cincinnati Reds trained at Plant Field from 1931 to 1942 and 1946 to 1954. Beginning in 1955, the Reds continued to train at Plant Field, but played home exhibition games at Al Lopez Field.  The Chicago White Sox also trained at Plant Field for just one season in 1954, before relocating their spring training four miles northeast to Al Lopez Field in 1955. The Reds took over sole occupancy of Al Lopez Field in 1960 when the White Sox moved to a refurbished Payne Park in Sarasota, Florida.

Tampa Florida From The Air Overlooking Hillsborough River and Florida State Fair Grounds, Postcard (Curtechcolor Art Creation, Hillsboro News Co.) (Courtesy of University of Tampa, Special Collections

“Tampa Florida From The Air Overlooking Hillsborough River and Florida State Fair Grounds,” Postcard (Curtechcolor Art Creation, Hillsboro News Co.) (Courtesy of University of Tampa, Special Collections

For much of its existence, Plant Field was co-located on the Florida State Fairgrounds, surrounded by a horse and automobile race track. Plant Field encompassed a significant portion of the southern half of the fairgrounds.

The Florida State League Tampa Smokers played their home games at Plant Field from 1919-1927. In 1928, the Smokers changed their name to the Tampa Krewes, still playing their home games at Plant Field. The Smokers changed their league affiliation to the Southeastern League in 1929, and played at Plant Field until the end of the 1930 season. In 1946, the Smokers returned to Plant Field as an affiliate of the Florida International League, playing their home games at Plant Field through the 1954 season.

Aerial Photo Courtesy of University of Tampa, Special Collections (Sandy Gandy Photographer)

Aerial Photo of Plant Field and the Tampa Bay Hotel, Courtesy of University of Tampa, Special Collections (Sandy Gandy Photographer)

By 1960, professional baseball had departed Plant Field. Over the years Plant Field was reconfigured for soccer and baseball for use by the University of Tampa. In 1971, the University of Tampa acquired ownership of Plant Field and the facility was renamed Pepin/Rood Stadium. In 2002 the grandstand constructed in the early 1920s was raised.

Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa, Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

A new grandstand was installed in approximately the same spot as the original grandstand (the new grandstand is not as close to North Boulevard and is centered a few yards south of the original grandstand). Straz Hall, a residence hall for the University, is located on the site of the uncovered bleachers which were once attached just to the north of the covered grandstand.

Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

Pepin Stadium and Straz Hall, University of Tampa, Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

The actual infield may be long gone, but the field is still used for athletic events.

Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

Home plate was located just a few feet east of the current running track that parallels the grandstand. The current running track also cuts through center field on the opposite end of the track. A row of one-story buildings remain at the site today. The deepest part of center field once edged close to those buildings, separated by the original fair grounds race track.

Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field Home Plate and Infield

Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa, Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field Home Plate, Infield, and Center Field

The first and third base foul lines ran at 45 degree angles away from home plate, as seen in the photograph below.

Aerial Photo Courtesy of University of Tampa, Special Collections (Tampa News Bureau Photo)

Aerial Photo of Plant Field and Downtown Tampa, Courtesy of University of Tampa, Special Collections (Tampa News Bureau Photo)

Today the left and right field lines are part of the soccer field. Out beyond the former site of left field is Frank and Carol Morsani Hall

Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field Third Base Foul Line

Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa, Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field Third Base Foul Line, with Morsani Hall in Background

Sykes Chapel sits beyond the former site of right field.

Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field First Base Foul Line

Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa, Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field First Base Foul Line, with Sykes Chapel in Background

A Hillsborough County historical plaque marks the former location of Plant Field.

Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field with Tampa Historical Marker Honoring Plant FIeld

Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa, Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field with Tampa Historical Marker Honoring Plant FIeld

The plaque summarizes the many athletic events that took place at Plant Field, including football and auto racing.

It states, in part: “The area encompassing the University of Tampa’s baseball, track, and soccer facilities was known as Plant Field from early in the 20th century until the mid-1970s. Plant Field, named for railroad and hotel magnate Henry B. Plant, served as the site for significant sporting events and other community activies. The one-half mile horse racing track that Plant built in the late 1890s was altered to accommodate dirt-track auto racing. From February 1921 until the mid-1970s, races were held each year during the South Florida Fair, later designated as the Florida State Fair. Along with talented local racers, the country’s most famous drivers, including Jimmy Wilburn, Emory Collins, Gus Schrader, Ted Horn, Frank Luptow, Tommy Hinnershitz, and Bobby Grimm raced here during the winter months. Pete Folse, a local driver, became a national champion. Their cars were powered by engines made by Miller, Offenhauser, and Riley, among others. Tampa became known as “The winter auto racing capital of the nation.” Sadly, several drivers lost their lives at Plant Field. Plant Field was also the site for football games. On New Year’s Day 1926, the Chicago Bears, starring Red Grange, defeated a team featuring Jim Thorpe. The University of Tampa played its home games on Plant Field from 1933 to 1936. Tampa high school teams also competed on Plant Field. Plant Field served as the home for several major league baseball teams during spring training. The Chicago Cubs arrived in 1913 and returned each year through 1916. The Boston Red Sox played their home games at Plant Field in 1919, and Babe Ruth, playing for teh Red Sox, hit the longest home run of his career during a game on this field. Plant Field was home for the Washington Senators during the 1920s, for the Detroit Tigers in 1930 and for the Chicago White Sox in 1954. The Cincinnati Reds played here for most seasons starting in the 1930s through 1954. In November 1950, an African American all-star team, led by Jackie Robinson, played an exhibition game against the Tampa Rockets, a semi-professional African-American team. In the minor leagues. the Tampa Smokers played their home games at Plant Field.”

Tampa Historical Marker Honoring Plant Field, University of Tampa

Hillsborough County Historical Marker Honoring Plant Field, University of Tampa

Tampa Historical Marker Honoring Plant Field, University of Tampa

Hillsborough County Historical Marker Honoring Plant Field, University of Tampa

The front entrance to Pepin Stadium is accessible from North Boulevard, just south of Straz Hall on the University of Tampa campus.

Front Entrance, Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

Front Entrance, Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

Pepin Stadium includes a modest concession stand built where once sat team administrative offices.

Concession Stand, Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

Concession Stand, Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

University of Tampa Spartans Logo, Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

University of Tampa Spartans Logo, Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

A curious remnant of Plant Field remains inside Pepin Stadium, namely two antiquated turnstiles, one stored under a stairway and one near the grandstand entrance, although it does not appear that either are currently in use.

Plant Field Turnstile at  Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

Plant Field Turnstile at Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

Just north of Pepin Stadium and the former site of Plant Field, is the University of Tampa Baseball Field, also known as Sam Bailey Field.

University of Tampa Baseball Field, Tampa, Florida

University of Tampa Baseball Field, Tampa, Florida

The light stanchions of Pepin Stadium are visible from the university’s baseball field.

University of Tampa Baseball Field, Tampa, Florida, Looking Toward Former Site of Plant Field

University of Tampa Baseball Field, Tampa, Florida, Looking Toward Former Site of Plant Field

The baseball field sits within the northern end of the old Florida Fair Grounds. Just north of the baseball field, across West Cass Street, is the former location of Phillips Field (now the site of Tampa Preparatory School). Phillips Field was the long-time home of the University of Tampa football team, as well as the location for several NFL preseason games.

University of Tampa Baseball Field, Tampa, Florida

University of Tampa Baseball Field, Tampa, Florida

It is fitting that baseball is still played on a portion of the old Florida Fair Grounds, in close proximity to the former site of Plant Field. The University of Tampa has an excellent baseball program, having won the NCAA Division II championship six times in the past 25 years.

University of Tampa Baseball Field Championships Banner

University of Tampa Baseball Field Championships Banner

Former University of Tampa standout (and former New York Yankee, Tampa Bay Ray, and St. Louis Cardinal) Tino Martinez is honored with a retired number plaque located above the grandstand.

Tino Martinez Retired Number Plaque at University of Tampa Baseball Field, Tampa, Florida

Tino Martinez Retired Number Plaque at University of Tampa Baseball Field, Tampa, Florida

Although Plant Field is now a lost ballpark, the field where major league baseball spring training  in Tampa was born, and was held for over 40 years, remains an athletic field. With the  placement of the current grandstand at Pepin Stadium on the University of Tampa campus, it is not hard to imagine how Plant Field must have looked during its heyday. For more information about the history of Plant Field (including vintage photographs) see Tampapix.com. If you find yourself in Tampa for spring training, take a detour to the University of Tampa (located just five miles southeast of George Steinbrenner Field) and see for yourself where spring training was first played in Tampa.

Many thanks to the University of Tampa, Special Collections, for their assistance in sharing the history and photographs of Plant Field.

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Ft. Lauderdale Stadium – The Ghost of Spring Trainings Past

February 12th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Fort Lauderdale Stadium is located at 1401 NW 55th Street, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, just east of the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport and north of Lockhart Stadium. Although the City of Fort Lauderdale operates the ballpark, the land it is on is part of the 64 acres that make up the airport.

Exterior, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Exterior, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

For almost 50 seasons, major league baseball teams trained at this palm tree lined outpost located just blocks from interstate 95. From 1962 until 1995, Fort Lauderdale Stadium was the spring training home of the New York Yankees. The Yankees previously had played at their spring training games in St. Petersburg, Florida at Al Lang Field and Crescent Lake Park/Huggins-Stengel Field.

N.Y. Yankees at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida - Postcard (M14, 13108)

N.Y. Yankees at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida – Postcard (M14, 13108)

In 1996 the Baltimore Orioles moved their spring training home to Fort Lauderdale Stadium, departing St. Petersburg’s Al Lang Field, where they had trained from 1992 to 1995. From 1959 to 1990 the Orioles trained at Miami Stadium. In 1991 they trained at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Florida.

Palm Trees, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Palm Trees, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

In addition to spring training games, Fort Lauderdale Stadium also hosted minor league baseball.  The Florida State League Fort Lauderdale Yankees played at the stadium from 1962 through 1992, and the Fort Lauderdale Red Sox played at the stadium in 1993.

Exit Gates, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Turnstiles and Entrance Gates for the Reserved Grandstand, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

During the time in which Baltimore trained at Fort Lauderdale Stadium, the Orioles did not field any minor league team at the stadium.

Ticket Office, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Ticket Office, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Through the years, Fort Lauderdale Stadium remained relatively unchanged from the time when the Yankees began play there in the early 1960s.

Food Court, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Food Court, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The front entrance, with its quaint marquee sign welcomed fans to baseball spring training 1960s style.

Front Entrance, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Front Entrance, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The ballpark had separate entrances for the reserved seat grandstand and the general admission bleacher sections.

Grandstand, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Grandstand, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The grandstand was had only a single deck, built long before the advent of sky boxes and luxury suites. The press box sat atop the grandstand.

Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Even after the Orioles moved into Fort Lauderdale Stadium the lower seating bowl sported plastic Yankee-blue seats.

Yankee Blue Seats, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Yankee Blue Seats, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The wooden seats in the grandstand however were repainted Camden-Yards green.

Oriole Park Green Seats, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Oriole Park Green Seats, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

There was no seating area beyond left field, nor any picnic areas or grass berm seating, something unheard of in modern day spring training venues.

Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

A section of bleachers with seat backs sat beyond right field. During Orioles spring training games this was a good place to sit if you wanted to be left alone. Few fans sat in the section because of its location, cut off from the rest of the ballpark amenities.

The View from Box 20, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The View from Box 20, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Out beyond left field were two practice fields. Because of limited space, the Orioles minor league teams trained some two hundred miles away at the Buck O’Neil Baseball Complex at Twin Lakes Park in Sarasota, Florida.

Scoreboard, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Scoreboard, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

A fenced off walkway between the bleachers and the grandstand provided players access the club house to the field.

Visiting Team Walkway, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Visiting Team Walkway, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The grandstand seats – even those closest to the field – were considerably high from the ground than today’s spring training venues, making it difficult for fans to interact with the players.

Oriole Right Fielder Nick Markakis Signing Autographs, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Oriole Right Fielder Nick Markakis Signing Autographs, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Autographs seekers congregated near the player walkway between grandstand and the bleachers.

Oriole WS MVP Rick Dempsey Signing Autographs, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Oriole WS MVP Rick Dempsey Signing Autographs, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The long dugouts on either side of the grandstand also acted as a barrier for fan/player interaction.

Fans Waiting for a Souvenir, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Fans Hoping for a Souvenir, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

At least during the Orioles’ years at the stadium, the home team dugout was on the right side of the ballpark.

Baltimore Orioles Pre-Game Stretch, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Baltimore Orioles Pre-Game Stretch, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The bullpens for both teams were on the field, with pitchers sitting on open air benches next to the dugout.

Home Team Bullpen, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Home Team Bullpen, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

If you were a baseball purist, interested only in the game and not modern day amenities, Fort Lauderdale Stadium was not a bad place to watch a game.

Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The grandstand provided ample shaded seating for those not interested in sitting in the sun.

Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

And if you were a fan of old ballparks, Fort Lauderdale certainly had earned the distinction of being one of the oldest still in use in the Grapefruit League.

Oriole Kevin Millar Practicing For His Next Career in Broadcasting

Oriole Kevin Millar Practicing For His Next Career in TV Broadcasting

Alas, the 2009 season was the Orioles’ and major league baseball’s last year at Fort Lauderdale Stadium.

Miguel Tejada Warming Up, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Miguel Tejada Warming Up, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

In 2010 the Orioles returned to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Florida, where they had trained for one season in 1991. After the 2010 season the Orioles and the City of Sarasota undertook a $32 million renovation of the ballpark. The results are nothing less than spectacular. The Orioles now play in one of the nicest ballparks in the Grapefruit League and hold a 30 year lease on the stadium, finally ending their once nomadic spring training existence. The move to Sarasota also brought the Orioles just ten miles from their minor league facility in Twin Lakes Park.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

After the Orioles departed, Fort Lauderdale Stadium has been used for a smattering of local events, but no long term tenants.In 2013 the city removed the light stanchions. For several years, the city has been in protracted discussions with Schlitterbahn Water Resorts for the construction of a water park on the site. Because the land upon which the stadium sits is controlled by the Federal Aviation Commission, the FAA must approve any reuse of the property. The latest proposal being considered would have the city purchase the land from the FAA, thus removing the primary impediment for progress.

It is unfortunate that there seems to be no interest in keeping Fort Lauderdale Stadium and finding a use in keeping with its original purpose, for it is one of the baseball structures standing in Florida today. Only the grandstands at Henley Field Ballpark (1925) in Lakeland Florida, J.P. Smalls Memorial Park (1935) in Jacksonville, Florida, Holman Stadium (1953) in Vero Beach, Florida, and Jackie Robinson Park (1962) in Daytona Beach, Florida, as old or older.

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Sarasota’s Ed Smith Stadium Redux

February 9th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Florida, is not a lost ballpark. However, the stadium as it existed in when it first opened in 1989 is long gone, replaced with a strikingly different ballpark that calls out for a deadballbaseball then and now comparison.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2004

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2004

Ed Smith Stadium as it exists today is modern, yet seemingly from an era much earlier than the ballpark it replaced. The transformation of the stadium is a reflection of the changes that professional baseball parks have undergone since the opening of Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards in 1992. It seems fitting that the Baltimore Orioles – the organization that helped usher in the era of retro MLB ballparks –  likewise has brought new life to Ed Smith Stadium.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2011

Ed Smith Stadium is located at 2700 12th Street in Sarasota, Florida. The ballpark was constructed in 1988-1989 as the spring training home for Chicago White Sox, who moved into brand new Ed Smith Stadium after having trained the previous 28 years at Payne Park, some two miles southwest of Ed Smith Stadium. The White Sox lasted nine seasons at Ed Smith Stadium before departing Florida for the Cactus League and Tucson Electric Park in 1998.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

In 1998 the Cincinnati Reds arrived at Ed Smith Stadium after having played the previous ten seasons at Plant City Stadium (and the 28 seasons prior to that at Tampa’s Al Lopez Field). The Reds played 12 seasons at Ed Smith Stadium before departing for  Goodyear, Arizona, and the Cactus League after the 2009 season. The Baltimore Orioles arrived the following year (in 1991 the Orioles shared Ed Smith Stadium with the White Sox for one season).

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

The Orioles played their 2010 spring games in old Ed Smith Stadium.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

At the end of the 2010 spring season, the Orioles and the City of Sarasota undertook a $32 million renovation of the ballpark.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Although Ed Smith Stadium was constructed in the late 1980s, its design seemed firmly grounded in the 1960s and 1970s.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2004

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2004

Concrete was the stadium’s dominant architectural feature.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2004

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2004

The front entrance of old Ed Smith Stadium looked more like a motel than a ballpark.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2004

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2004

With the 2010 renovation, the boxy front entrance was replaced with a curved front and rotunda, built considerably closer to the intersection of 12th Street and N. Euclid Avenue. The 2010 renovation brought to the ballpark a retro-vibe, drawing upon a variety of classic ballpark styles, including Brooklyn, New York’s former Ebbets Field.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Ed Smith Stadium’s plain exterior concrete walls and pillars were replaced with stucco, and stadium roof covered with Spanish roofing tiles.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

The left field entrance to the ballpark, which provides access to the stadium from the main parking area, was significantly upgraded as well.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

A ornate, gated entrance was added, along with a wrought iron fence that runs the length of 12th Street and N. Euclid Avenue next to the ballpark.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

The entrance from the concourse behind home plate was nothing more than a concrete wall with section numbers directing fans to their seats.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

With the renovation, the concrete front entrance was replaced with a large rotunda and stairways leading to a second floor landing.

Main Entrance Concourse, Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Main Entrance Concourse, Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Front Concourse Sign, Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Front Concourse Sign, Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

The second floor likewise includes a rotunda with championship pennants encircled with several dozen Louisville Slugger baseball bats.

Second Floor Rotunda, Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Second Floor Rotunda, Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Fittingly, the ballpark remains named after Ed Smith, a Sarasota resident and long time President of the Sarasota Sports Committee.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

The March 1989 dedication plaque remains on display on the concourse, alongside a plaque honoring the 2010-2011 renovation of the ballpark.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Another major change to the ballpark was the enclosure of the stadium concourse.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

Concourse,  Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Concourse, Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

The playing field likewise underwent a makeover.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

In addition to obvious changes like replacing logos and painting over the Cincinnati red with Orioles orange, the Orioles also installed a new drainage system and warning track.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

The grandstand roof was expanded to provide more shade, running along both the first and third base lines.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

The red plastic seating was replaced with green plastic seats from Camden Yards, removed during the 2010 renovation to the lower seating bowl of Oriole Park.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

One distinctive feature that remains somewhat unchanged is the exterior of the press box, although the Orioles did replace and expand the press box windows.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

The old school digital clock scoreboard was replaced with a Jumbotron.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

Scoreboard, Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Scoreboard, Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

The Ed Smith Stadium complex includes three regulation size practice fields. Those fields likewise underwent renovation.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

Practice Fields, Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

Practice Field, Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

Ironically, one of the Cincinnati practice fields was named after former Oriole player and skipper Frank Robinson.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

Frank Robinson Practice Field at Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

The renovated practice fields are named only after numbers, not players.

Practice Field No. 1, Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Practice Field No. 1, Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

The practice fields remain a wonderful place to watch baseball for free.

Matt Wieters and Buck Showalter, Practice Fields, Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Matt Wieters and Buck Showalter at Practice Field no. 3, Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

They also are a place where fans congregate hoping for an autograph or two.

Oriole Great Jim Palmer Signing Autographs at Practice Fields, Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Oriole Great Jim Palmer Signing Autographs at Practice Fields, Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

When not used for spring training, Ed Smith Stadium hosts minor league baseball. Prior to the Orioles arrival, Ed Smith Stadium was the home stadium for the Florida State League Sarasota White Sox (1989-1993), the Sarasota Red Sox (1994-2004), and the Sarasota Reds (2004-2009). The ballpark also was home to the Gulf Coast League Reds from 2004 to 2009.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

The Baltimore Orioles Gulf Coast League team plays some games at Ed Smith Stadium, although a good number are played on the practice fields behind the stadium.

Gulf Coast League Orioles in Action, Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Gulf Coast League Orioles in Action, Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Old Ed Smith Stadium was not a bad place to watch a game. At the end what really matters is the game on the field.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2009

However, there can be no doubt that the upgrades to the ballpark improved tremendously the fan experience at Ed Smith Stadium.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, 2012

The Orioles currently hold a 30 year lease for Ed Smith Stadium from the City of Sarasota. Should the Orioles remain to the end of that lease term, baseball will have been played for half a century at the southeast corner of 12th Street and N. Euclid Avenue. It already is well on its way to being a classic, or even a historic ballpark.

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A Drive Around Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium

February 3rd, 2015
by Byron Bennett

In February 2001, the City of Baltimore began demolition of Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium. A fight over what to do with the 10 story memorial wall dedicated to the memory of those “who so valiantly fought and served in the World Wars” delayed completion of the task until the Spring of 2002.

The Barren Fields of Memorial Stadium, Baltimore

The Barren Fields of Memorial Stadium, Baltimore, Circa May 2000

In January 2000, a year before demolition began, and several months before the stadium was stripped of its seating and signage, I took a drive around the ballpark, capturing on video the Old Grey Lady of 33rd Street.

The first half of the video is a drive around the outer perimeter, heading west on East 33rd Street, north on Ellerslie Avenue, east on East 33rd Street, and south on Ednor Road. The second half of the video is a drive around the ballpark in the same direction, but from inside the parking lot.

The former site of Memorial Stadium’s playing field is now a youth ball field, thanks to the efforts of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation and other charitable groups and donors. A portion of the the lettering from the memorial wall has been placed near the south entrance to Camden Yards: “Time will not dim the glory of their deeds.” I hope you enjoy the drive.

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