Cleveland’s League Park Reborn – If You Renovate It They Will Come

August 26th, 2014
by Byron Bennett

There is good news in Cleveland. The former site of League Park – once home to the National League Cleveland Spiders, the American League Indians, the National Football League Cleveland Rams, and the Negro American League Cleveland Buckeyes – has been preserved and the historical portions of the ballpark that remain have been restored or renovated.

League Park Renovation of Main Ticket Booth 2014

League Park Renovation of Main Ticket Booth 2014

In an earlier post about League Park I reported about what remained at the site as of 2009.

League Park Center Circa 2009

League Park Center Circa 2009

In August 2014, the City of Cleveland completed a renovation process, several years in the making.

Panoramic View of League Park Along Lexington Avenue

Panoramic View of League Park Along Lexington Avenue

The former ticket booth and team administrative offices located at the corner of 66th and Lexington has been restored to its turn of the century beauty.

Detail of Second Floor Window and Brick Renovation, League Park, Cleveland

Detail of Second Floor Window and Brick Work Renovation, League Park, Cleveland

In addition, along Lexington Avenue, the city has installed a forty foot high fence similar to the one that once stood along the back of right field at the time Shoeless Joe Jackson played for the Indians.

Recreation of Right Field Fence League Park Center, From Days When Joeless Joe Jackson Played Right Field

Recreated Right Field Fence League Park Center, From Days When Joeless Joe Jackson Played Right Field

The interior of the former ticket booth and administrative offices also has been renovated.

First Floor Renovation of League Park Main Ticket Booth and Offices

First Floor Renovation of League Park Main Ticket Booth and Offices

Inside the ballpark site is a plaza along the first base side of League Park that helps celebrate the history of the site.

Renovation of First Base Side Plaza

Panoramic Shot of First Base Side Plaza

On the wall where once sat the first base grandstand, the City has placed pictures of notable ballplayers who once played at League Park.

League Park First Base Grand Stand With Pictures of Notable Ballplayers

League Park First Base Grand Stand With Pictures of Notable Ballplayers

The plaza also includes a sidewalk with notable dates in the history of League Park.

League Park First Base Plaza Includes Notable Years in Ballpark's History

League Park First Base Plaza Includes Notable Years in Ballpark’s History

The Ohio Historical Marker that since 1979 sat along Lexington Avenue next to the former ticket booth and administrative offices has been renovated and relocated near the right field corner.

Renovated League Park Historical Marker

Renovated League Park Historical Marker

Located in place of the first base grandstands (a portion of which actually remained at the site until about 2002) is a new one story building.

New Building on Site of Former First Base Grandstand, Indian's Club House, and Dugout

New Building on Site of League Park’s Former First Base Grandstand, Indian’s Club House, and Dugout

The building, and plaza in front of it, mark the site of Cleveland’s dugout and a tunnel that once provided player access to the club house.

Circa 2003 Photo of First Base Grand Stand and Tunnel From Dugout to Club House

Circa 2003 Photo of League Park First Base Grand Stand and Tunnel From Dugout to Club House

The above photo from 2003 shows the location of the dugout steps and clubhouse tunnel.  The photograph below shows the clubhouse tunnel as it existed in 2009.

League Park Tunnel from Home Team Dugout to Club House

League Park Tunnel from Home Team Dugout to Club House

A metal railing now outlines the location of the clubhouse tunnel inside the building constructed on top of the first base grand stand.

Inside View of Building Constructed Atop Dugout and Club House Tunnel

Inside View of Building Constructed Atop Dugout and Club House Tunnel

The window at the center of the building, just to the left of the infield backstop in the picture below, marks the location of the clubhouse tunnel.

Former Location of First Base Grandstand as Seen From Field

Former Location of First Base Grandstand as Seen From Infield

The original infield, which by 2009 had been removed and replaced with just grass, is back in the form of turf.

League Park Infield Circa 2003

League Park Infield Circa 2003

Home plate sits in the same location as it once sat during the time of League Park.

Panoramic of League Park Turf Field

Panoramic of League Park Turf Field

Metal bleachers surround the infield backstop.

Bleachers and Backstop, League Park Field

Bleachers and Backstop, League Park Field

The entrance to League Park along 66th Street includes an iron gate placed in the same spot where countless fans once entered the ballpark during its heyday.

Entrance to League Park on 66th Street

Entrance to League Park on 66th Street

The City of Cleveland has done a wonderful job restoring the first base grandstand outer wall as well.

Renovated Wall Along First Base Side of League Park on 66th Street

Renovated Wall Along First Base Side of League Park on 66th Street

The brickwork of League Park’s outer wall is quite exquisite and was worth saving even apart from the historic nature of League Park.

Detail of League Park Brick Work, First Base Grandstand Outer Wall, 66th Street

Detail of League Park Brick Work, First Base Grandstand Outer Wall, 66th Street

Baseball once again will be played at the corner of Lexington and 66th. The City of Cleveland and the many baseball enthusiasts who helped encouraged League Park’s renovation have done a wonderful service not only for Cleveland fans, but also for fans of the game around the country. I always have felt that League Park was a historic site that any baseball fan traveling to Cleveland should see. Hopefully now with the park’s renovation,  fans from around the country will stop by the corner of Lexington and 66th to see the wonderful gem that is League Park. With apologies to W.P. Kinsella, “if you renovate it, they will come.”

And speaking of Shoeless Joe Jackson, on your visit to League Park, be sure to make a stop at the vacant lot just two blocks East of League Park at 7209 Lexington Avenue.

Vacant Lot at 7209 Lexington Avenue, Site of Shoeless Joe Jackson's Cleveland Home

Vacant Lot at 7209 Lexington Avenue, Site of Shoeless Joe Jackson’s Cleveland Home

On that spot once sat the home of Mr. Jackson, the place where he lived during his time with the Cleveland Indians. If only he had never left Cleveland . . .

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The Nashville Sounds of Silence At Greer Stadium

August 5th, 2014
by Byron Bennett

Hershel Greer Stadium, home of the Nashville Sounds, currently is located at 534 Chestnut Street, in Nashville, Tennessee, just two miles south of downtown Nashville.

Hershel Greer Stadium, Home of the Nashville Sounds

Greer Stadium was constructed by the City of Nashville in 1978 on land that was once part of Fort Negley, a Civil War fortification once occupied by Union Troops. Fort Negley holds the distinction of being largest civil war fortification created during the war, but not built near water.

View of Hershel Greer Stadium From Left Field Parking Lot

The area around Greer Stadium and Fort Negley, located just southeast of the intersection of I-40 and I-65, is largely industrial. The result being that neighborhood does not offer baseball fans much to do before or after games other than come and go.

Access to Greer Stadium from Chestnut Street Bridge Over Railroad Tracks

Stone columns at the entrance to right field are designed to mimic the stone fence surrounding what is left of Fort Negley.

Greer Stadium Entrance Gate Near Right Field

The ballpark’s overall design is markedly old-school, somewhat reminiscent of Milwaukee’s County Stadium.

Fan Relations, Exterior of Greer Stadium

Much of the ballpark exterior is painted Army grey, perhaps also a nod to the site’s former use as a Fort.

Entrance to Right Field, Greer Stadium

Greer Stadium’s covered concourse runs behind behind a portion of the first and third base stands.

Greer Stadium Concourse

The extended concourses behind the bleachers located along the first and third base foul lines near left field and right field are uncovered.

Greer Stadium Standings Scoreboard

The view from home plate looking out toward center field faces southeast. Although the area is largely industrial, the view is almost pastoral, as all that is visible is a line of trees.

Greer Stadium, View Behind Home Plate

The view looking toward right field is downright bucolic, with the hills of Radnor Lake south of Nashville visible in the distance.

Greer Stadium Looking South Towards Hills of Nearby Radnor Lake

Without question, the most distinctive and recognizable part of Greer stadium is the guitar-shaped scoreboard that sits out beyond the left field fence.

Greer Stadium's Iconic Guitar-Shaped Scoreboard, Nashville, Tennessee

The ballpark’s seating bowl is composed mainly of plastic blue seats that ring the playing field down the first and third base fould lines.

VIew of Greer Stadium Grandstand From Right Field Line

The visiting team dugout is located along first base.

Visitors Dugout, Greer Stadium, Nashville

The Nashville Sounds have been the primary tenant of Greer Stadium throughout its existence. From 1978 through 1984 the Sounds were members of the Double A Southern League. Beginning in 1985, they began play in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. In 1993 and 1994 Greer Stadium also served as the home field for the Nashville Express of the Double-A Southern League and a Minnesota Twins affiliate.

St. Louis Cardinals Prospect Oscar Traveras, Pre-Game Warmups, Greer Stadium

When Greer Stadium opened in 1978, the Sounds were an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. In 1980, the Sounds became an affiliate of the New York Yankees, through the 1984 season. 

Greer Stadium Visiting Team Bullpen

The Sounds affiliation with MLB continued to change over the years. The Detroit Tigers (1985-1986), the Cincinnati Reds a second time (1987 – 1992), the Chicago White Sox (1993-1997), and the Pittsburgh Pirates (1998-2004) were all at one time affiliated with the Sounds.

Full Moon Rises Over Sounds Bullpen at Greer Stadium

Since 2005, the Sounds have been an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Slugger's Sports Bar and Grill, Greer Stadium

Above the press box, atop Greer Stadium, is the Slugger’s Sports Bar and Grill, which provides a fine view of the field and a place to come in from the cold when the game time temperatures dips into the 30′s in mid April.

View of the Field from Greer Stadium from Slugger's Sports Bar and Grill

Greer Stadium is nothing if not quirky and, unfortunately, a dying breed in the annals of minor league ballparks.

A Zig-Zag of Seats Behind Home Plate, Greer Stadium

The seating seems to have been designed and accounted for only after the dimensions of the stadium structure were put into place.

Section QQ, Greer Stadium

Additions to the ballpark over the years only added to Greer’s stadium’s funky layout.

No View Right Field Concession Stand, Greer Stadium

But the quirks of Greer Stadium are part of what makes it still a charming place to watch baseball.

The Right Field Family Leisure Party Deck, Greer Stadium

For the past several seasons, the Sounds have been lobbying for a new ballpark.

A View of the Seats, Greer Stadium, Nashville

As the debate over if, where, and when to build a new ballpark continued, the condition of Greer Stadium suffered, with little interest from the city in spending money on significant upkeep or improvements.

Sun-Bleached and Weathered Bleachers at Greer Stadium

Greer Stadium’s days are now numbered. A new home for the Nashville Sounds is being built three miles north of Greer Stadium, less than a mile north of downtown Nashville.

Signs Advertising New Nashville Sounds Ballpark

Alas, 2014 will be the last season as First Tennessee Park is scheduled on Jackson Street, between Fourth and Fifth avenues,  is scheduled to open time for the 2015 season.

Location of Future Nashville Sounds Ballpark on Jackson Street between 4th and 5th Streets

Home Plate will sit just South of Jackson Street, with the ballpark facing towards downtown Nashville.

Sign Showing Design of New Nashville Sounds Ballpark

A portion of the land where the new ballpark is under construction was once the former site of Sulphur Dell, where baseball was played in Nashville from 1870 until 1963. From 1901 to 1963, Sulphur Dell was the home of the Nashville Vols and famous Vols players such as the eccentric Boots Poffenberger.

Sign Advertising New Nashville Ballpark At Sulphur Dell

Although the city of Nashville is still considering its options for repurposing the land upon which Greer Stadium sits, one thing does seem certain – that the ballpark itself will not remain and in the near future will become just another lost ballpark. When the 2014 season ends, baseball will have been played at Greer Stadium a total of 37 years, one year less than the number seasons that the American League Baltimore Orioles called Memorial Stadium home. Hopefully the City of Nashville will find some way to commemorate the former ballpark site. Perhaps the city should leave intact the guitar-shaped scoreboard since it seems there is little interest in moving the iconic structure to First Tennessee Park. The scoreboard is a part of Nashville history and would provide an excellent marker and reminder for where professional baseball was once played in the city.

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The Coop Has Flown – Cooper Stadium in Columbus, Ohio

May 15th, 2014
by Byron Bennett

Cooper Stadium (“the Coop”) was a minor league baseball ballpark located at 1155 West Mound Street, in Columbus, Ohio.

Night View, Red Bird Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, Postcard C.T.Art Colortone, Curt Teeich & Co, W.E. Ayres, Columbus, Ohio

Christened Red Bird Stadium when it was opened on June 3, 1932, the ballpark originally was home to the American Association Columbus Red Birds. The Red Birds were the top minor league affiliate of Branch Rickey’s St. Louis Cardinals. 

Red Bird Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, Home of Columbus Base Ball Team, Postcard C.T.Art Colortone, Curt Teeich & Co, W.E. Ayres, Columbus, Ohio

Notable St. Louis Cardinal farm hands who played at Red Bird Stadium include Paul “Daffy” Dean, Joe Garagiola, Harvey Haddix, Max Lanier, Enos Slaughter, Harry Walker, and Sammy Baugh (Football Hall of Fame quarterback for the Washington Redskins).

Exterior, Cooper Stadium, Columbus, Ohio

When the Red Birds departed Columbus after the 1954 season, local businessman and former Red Bird clubhouse boy Harold Cooper brought an International League franchise to Columbus in 1955. 

Ticket Windows, Cooper Stadium, Columbus, Ohio

The new team was named the Columbus Jets and the ballpark was renamed Jets Stadium in honor of its new tenant. For the first two seasons, the Jets were an affiliate of the Kansas City Athletics. From 1957 to 1970 they were an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

Cooper Stadium Dedication Plaques

The name “Jets” was a nod to the city’s notable connections with aviation history, including the Wright Brothers and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Stadium Break Between First Base Grandstand and Souvenir Shop, Cooper Stadium

Professional baseball was not played in Columbus from 1971 to 1976. In 1977, Mr. Cooper, then a Franklin County Commissioner,  brought baseball back to Columbus and a newly-renovated Franklin County Stadium, which opened as the home of the Columbus Clippers. 

1930s Era Concession Stand, Cooper Stadium

The Clippers were an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates for the first two seasons at Franklin County Stadium and, from 1979 to 2006, were the AAA affiliate of the New York Yankees. In 2007 and 2008, the Clippers were an affiliate of the Washington Nationals. 

Entrance From Concourse to Sections 107-109, Cooper Stadium

Renovations to the stadium included the addition of sky boxes and a new press box above the grandstand roof.

Mesh Screening Behind Home Plate, With View of Sky Boxes Above Grandstand Roof, Cooper Stadium

The 1930s metal bracing for original grandstand roof was left intact and incorporated into the renovations.

1930's Metal Roof Crossbars, Cooper Stadium

The concourse behind the first and third base sides remained largely in tact as well.

Concourse, Cooper Stadium, Columbus, Ohio

The original wooden grandstand seats were replace with yellow-painted steel and aluminum seats.

Seats Behind Home Plate, Cooper Stadium

In 1984, the ballpark was renamed Cooper Stadium, in honor of Mr. Cooper, who also served as President of the International League from 1978 to 1990.

View of Infield, Cooper Stadium, From Behind Home Plate

The dugouts at Cooper Stadium were true dugouts, placing the players on the dugout bench at eye level with the playing surface.

Cooper Stadiums Truly Dug Out Dugout

Fans sitting in the box seats along the first and third base sides of the stadium were likewise close to the action.

Columbus Clipper Frank Menechino in the On Deck Circle, Cooper Stadium

Cooper Stadium was located along I-70 and I-71, sandwiched between a residential neighborhood to the north, and Greenlawn Cemetery to the south.

Columbus Clipper Will Nieves Lights Up the Scoreboard at Cooper Stadium

Once inside the stadium, however, the view was almost bucolic, with trees surrounding the outfield fence

Columbus Clippers Take On The Louisville Bats at Cooper Stadium

The final game at Cooper Stadium was played on September 1, 2008.

Cooper Stadium Post Game

The Columbus Clippers moved to a new ballpark located three miles northeast, closer to downtown Columbus.

View of Columbus Skyline Beyond Left Field, Cooper Stadium

The new ballpark, Huntington Park, opened on April 18, 2009.

Banner At Cooper Stadium Advertising Huntington Park Ballpark Opening 2008

After the Clippers departed, Cooper Stadium sat vacant for several years while a local development company negotiated with the city of Columbus to purchase the ballpark site. Arshot Investment Corporation currently is in the process of converting the Cooper Stadium site into a multi-use Sports Pavilion and Automotive Research Complex (SPARC). In April 2014, demolition of Cooper Stadium began, with the removal of the first base grandstand.

First Base Grand Stand, Cooper Stadium, Now Demolished

However, the third base grandstand of Cooper Stadium is being preserved and incorporated into a portion of the paved half-mile race track. Thus, Cooper Stadium will follow in the footsteps of Westport Stadium in Baltimore, the former home of the Baltimore Elite Giants, which in the 1950s was converted into Baltimore’s first NASCAR-sanctioned racetrack.

Westport Stadium (Bob Williams photo from the Larry Jendras Jr. Collection)

SPARC will also include a technology center, lodging, conference and exhibition space, and restaurants.

Cooper Stadium at Night

Although Cooper Stadium is now a lost ballpark, like Braves Field in Boston a portion of it remains, repurposed, allowing future generations the opportunity to experience at least a portion of what made Cooper Stadium a great place to watch a ballgame. Thanks to Arshot for having the vision to keep a part of Cooper Stadium, and baseball history, alive in Columbus, Ohio.

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Once Dodgertown Now Historic Dodgertown

March 13th, 2014
by Byron Bennett

Dodgertown, located at 3901 26th Street in Vero Beach, Florida, was the spring training home of the Brooklyn Dodgers commencing in 1948 (the major league squad also trained in Ciudad Trujillo, Dominican Republic in 1948).

Entrance to Dodgertown, Vero Beach, Florida, Circa 2004

Dodgertown was built on the site of the former United States Naval Air Station. During World War II, the Vero Beach Municipal Airport was chosen to be a Naval Air Station and the U.S. Government purchased approximately 1,500 acres of land adjacent to the airport. After the war, the Naval Air Station was closed and the property returned to the City of Vero Beach.

Entrance to Holman Stadium, Dodgertown, Circa 2004

Dodgertown was the result of a collaboration between Vero Beach resident and local business owner Bud Holman, and Dodgers President Branch Rickey.

Ornamental Iron Gate, Vero Beach Dodgers at Dodgertown

Dodgertown occupies a portion of the 1,500 acres purchased by the U.S. Government, including a section where the Navy had constructed barracks.

View of Playing Field, Holman Stadium, Vero Beach, Florida, Circa 2004

In 1952, Brooklyn Dodger President Walter O’Malley began construction of a 5,000 seat stadium on the site of Dodgertown. The stadium was completed in time for the 1953 spring season.

Third Base Seating, Holman Stadium, Circa 2007

The Dodgers named the stadium in honor of Bud L. Holman.

Holman Stadium Dedication Plaque Honoring Bud Holman, 1953

After the end of the 1957 season, the Brooklyn Dodgers took part in a good will tour of Japan at the invitation of Matsutaro Shoriki, known then as the “father of Japanese professional baseball.” During a game held in Hiroshima on November 1, 1956, the Dodgers dedicated a plaque “in memory of those baseball fans and others who died by atomic action on August 6, 1945. May their souls rest in peace and with God’s help and man’s resolution peace will prevail forever, amen.” The Dodgers dedicated a replica plaque installed at Holman Stadium the following spring.

Plaque Recognizing Brookly Dodgers Goodwill Trip to Japan in 1956

Holman Stadium’s design is unique in that it lacks any roof over the grandstand, with a resultant lack of shade for the fans attending games at the stadium.

First base side seating, Holman Stadium, Circa 2004

The actual stadium structure is relatively small, with press boxes located on two levels.

Press Box, Holman Stadium

With the Dodgers move west after the 1957, Holman Stadium became the spring training site of the Los Angeles Dodgers. From 1980 through 2006, the Vero Beach Dodgers of the Florida State League played their home games at Holman Stadium. In 2007 and 2008 the Vero Beach Devil Rays of the same league played at Holman Stadium.

Press Box, Holman Stadium, Circa 2004

The stadium dugouts, like the stadium grandstand, also lacked any covering, giving the appearance that the ballplayers were sitting in the first row of stands, with fans sitting just behind them.

Dodgers' Uncovered Dugout, Holman Stadium, Circa 2007

Over the years many Dodgers greats played baseball at Holman Stadium, including Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella, Don Drysdale,  Duke Snider, Sandy Koufax, Don Sutton, Ricky Henderson, Hoyt Wilhelm, Frank Robinson, Eddie Murray, Juan Marichal, Greg Maddux, Gary Carter, and Jim Bunning.

View of the Field, Holman Stadium, Circa 2007

The outfield dimensions of Holman Stadium are more generous than those of Dodger Stadium.

View of Holman Stadium from Center Field, Circa 2007

Straight away center field at Holman Stadium sits at 400 feet from home plate, as compared to 395 feet at Dodger Stadium.

View of Holman Stadium from Left Field, Circa 2007

The left and right field corners of Holman Stadium are 340 feet from home plate, while those at Dodger Stadium are 330 feet.

Seating Along the First Base Foul Line, Holman Stadium, Circa 2007

The lack of covering over the grandstand leaves the plastic seats that ring the stadium not only hot during the day, but bleached from the sun. Thus, just as the uncovered wooden stands of the old ballparks were bleached by the sun, hence the name “bleachers,” the seats at Holman Stadium carry on that faded tradition.

Sun-Bleached Seating, Holman Stadium, Circa 2007

The home bullpen was located in foul territory down the left field line.

Hometeam Bullpen, Holman Stadium, Circa 2007

The visitor’s bullpen was located near the right field corner.

Visitor's Bulpen, Holman Stadium, Circa 2007

Dodgertown had it’s share of clever baseball signage, including “Bat Boy” and “Bat Girl” signs marking the entrance to restrooms located beyond right field.

Cleverly Marked Restrooms Entrance, Holman Stadium, Circa 2004

Holman Stadium’s concourse is quite small, offering only one concession stand inside the actual structure.

Holman Stadium Concourse behind Lower Level Press Box

When the Dodgers occupied Holman Stadium, trailers offering concessions and souvenirs lined the area beyond the left field line.

Concessions Trailer, Dodgertown, Circa 2007

The scoreboard at Holman Stadium, like the rest of the ballpark, is decidedly low tech, not that that is a bad thing.

Scoreboard, Holman Stadium, Circa 2007

Once the Dodgers departed after the 2008 spring season, Vero Beach entered into an agreement with Minor League Baseball to operate the facility as an umpire school and baseball tournament destination. The Dodgers took with them, however, the name Dodgertown and the facility was renamed the “Vero Beach Sports Village.” That arrangement last only a few years and, with possibility of facility closing forever, former Dodger President Peter O’Malley and his sister Terry O’Malley Seidler, thankfully stepped in to help save the sports village from being shuttered. In 2013, with the agreement of the Dodgers and Major League Baseball, the facility was renamed “Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida.” The future of Historic Dodgertown looks bright, with the hope that the historic stadium and grounds now will be maintained for future generations to appreciate and utilize. For more information about Historic Dodgertown, including a detailed history of the former spring training site, visit historicdodgertown.com.

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Payne Park – Spring Training In Sarasota From John McGraw to Tony LaRussa

January 23rd, 2014
by Byron Bennett

Payne Park was located at the southeast corner of Adams Lane and South Washington Boulevard in Sarasota, Florida. The stadium was part of a 60 acre park named in honor of Calvin Payne, a Sarasota winter resident  who donated the land to the city in 1923. From 1924 to 1988, the ballpark was the spring training home of four major league teams.

Payne Park, Sarasota, Florida (Sarasota County Government, scgov.net/History/Pages/PaynePark.aspx

John McGraw’s New York Giants were the first team to train at Payne Park. John Ringling (of Ringling Brothers Circus), who was a friend of McGraw’s and a Sarasota resident, convinced McGraw to bring his team to Florida.

Payne Park Postcard (M.E. Russell, Sarasota FL, Photo by Burnell. Cureich-Chicago C.T. Art-Colortone

McGraw was so enamored with Sarasota that he invested in local real estate with the hopes of constructing  a housing development  known as Pennant Park on Sarasota Bay. When the Florida real estate bubble burst in 1927, McGraw left Sarasota and the following season his Giants trained in Augusta, Georgia.

Sarasota's "Payne Park" Home of the Chicago White Sox (West Coast Card Distributors, Sarasota FL, Mirror-Chrome Card, H.S. Crocker, Inc.)

From 1929 to 1932, the American Association Indianapolis Indians held spring training at Payne Park. In 1933 the Boston Red Sox moved their spring training operations from Savannah, Georgia, to Sarasota. The Red Sox trained at Payne Park for the next 25 years, until 1958, with the exception of the war years, 1943 to 1945.

Aerial View of Payne Park Circa 1960s (Photo Courtesy of Payne Park Tennis Center)

Once the Red Sox departed, the Los Angeles Dodgers played a few spring training games at Payne Park during the 1959 season, although they also continued to train at their facility in Vero Beach. The Chicago White Sox arrived at Payne Park in 1960, training there until 1988. In 1979, Tony LaRussa began his first of eight seasons training at Payne Park as manager of the Chicago White Sox. LaRussa eventually would win 2,728 games as manager, third on the all time list and just behind fellow former Payne Park resident John McGraw (2,763).

Payne Park, Sarasota County, Florida

Sarasota constructed a new ballpark two miles northeast of Payne Park to replace what was considered, after 65 season, to be an antiquated facility. Ed Smith Stadium, located at 2700 12th Street, opened in 1989 as the new spring training home for the White Sox, where they trained until 1997. Both the Cincinnati Reds (1998-2009) and the Baltimore Orioles (1991) trained there as well.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, Pre-Renovation (Circa 2004)

After the Reds departed Sarasota in 2009, the Orioles returned, moving into a completely refurbished ballpark in 2010.

Ed Smith Stadium, Spring Training Home of the Baltimore Orioles, Post-Renovation 2013

Payne Park was demolished in 1990. Sarasota constructed a tennis center on a portion of the former ballpark site.

Payne Park Tennis Center, Located on Former Site of Payne Park

Although the ballpark itself is gone, the player’s clubhouse, located at the intersection of Adams Lane and South Washington Boulevard, was preserved and is used today as offices and a clubhouse for the tennis center.

City of Sarasota Employee Health Center Located in a Portion of the Former Payne Park Clubhouse

In 2011, the City of Sarasota Employee Health Center was opened in a section of the building.

Payne Park Tennis Center Offices and Clubhouse

The tennis center  includes a memorial wall inside the clubhouse that tells the history of the site.

Interior of Payne Park Tennis Center

Included in the display are pictures of the ballpark and the players who called it their home.

Payne Park Tennis Center Wall of Fame Honoring Former Ball Field

Also included is a blueprint for the redevelopment of Payne Park, which shows the former location of the ballpark, and the tennis center that replaced it.

Blue Prints for Construction of Payne Park Tennis Center

The former Sarasota Terrace Inn, seen to the left in the postcard below, once dominated the Sarasota skyline surrounding the ballpark .

"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

Built in 1925 by John Ringling, the landmark, along with the old Sarasota County Courthouse tower (both seen in the postcard above), once dominated the skyline.

The former Sarasota Terrace Inn

The hotel was purchased in 1962 by Arthur Allyn, Jr., co-owner of the Chicago White Sox, to house the team during spring training.

The former Sarasota Terrace Inn, Now a County Administrative Building

The former hotel (seen behind the larger office building to the right in the picture below) is useful in determining where the ballpark once sat.

Former Site of Payne Park, Approximate Location of Third Base Foul Territory, With former Terrace Park Hotel in Background

In 1972, Sarasota County purchased the building. It currently is used as a Sarasota County administration building.

Plaque Commemorating the Sarasota Terrace Hotel (Now the Sarasota County Administration Center)

Payne Park’s former infield, and a portion of the outfield, is covered by 12 regulation-size tennis courts (there are four rows of three courts each).

Former Site of Payne Park, Looking Toward Approximate Location of Home Plate

The former site of home plate is located in what is now the second row of tennis courts closer to Adams Lane.

Former Site of Payne Park, Infield between First and Second Base

The former outfield is encircled by two roads that date back to the time of Payne Park.

Parking Lot Adjacent to Payne Parkway that was Once On-site Parking for Payne Park

The first is Payne Parkway, which straddles the right field corner.

Payne Parkway, Looking South, From Right Field Corner

The second is Laurel Street, which intersects Payne Parkway and runs behind what was once center field, terminating at the former left field corner.

Termination of Laurel Street at Payne Park's Former Left Field Corner

A grass field occupies what was once the deepest part of center field.

Payne Park - Former Site of Center Field

Just to the east of Payne Park was once a mobile home park which opened in the 1920s.

"General View of Sarasota Trailer Park Alongside Baseball Park, Sarasota, Florida" (Marion Post Wolcott, Library of Congress Division of Prints and Photographs, Washington, D.C.)

Although the trailer park is now gone, one vestige remains – the Payne Park Auditorium, formerly known as the Sarasota Mobile Home Park Auditorium. Constructed in 1962, it  is located just beyond what was once center field at 2062 Laurel Street. The auditorium was built as a meeting place for mobile home park residents.

Payne Park Mobile Park and Auditorium

At the intersection of Adams Lane and East Avenue is a historic maker for Payne Park.

Sarasota County Historical Commission Plaque Honoring Payne Park

Behind the historical marker is a small outline of a ball field set in pavers.

Baseball Diamond at Payne Park

The sign is located in what was once a parking lot behind third base. Although Payne Park is long gone, it is still possible to play ball where some of baseball’s greatest stars once trained. You just need racket, not a bat and glove, in order to play.

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Waterfront Park/Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Florida

January 17th, 2014
by Byron Bennett

Professional baseball first came to St. Petersburg, Florida, as early as 1908 when the then- independent St. Paul Saints played an exhibition game against the National League Cincinnati Reds. In 1914, businessman and future mayor Al Lang convinced the St. Louis Browns to come to St. Petersburg and train at Sunshine Park – also known as Coffee Pot Park because of its location near Coffee Pot Bayou in St. Petersburg. The Browns stayed in St. Petersburg only one season. From 1915 through 1918, the Philadelphia Phillies trained at Coffee Pot Park.

Postcard of Waterfront Park, St., Petersburg,Florida (Pub. By Gulf Coast Card Co., St. Petersburg, FL, C.T. Art Colortone, Curt Teich, Chicago IL

In 1922, a new ballpark opened along the shoreline of Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg on a patch of land that was part of the city’s mile-long Waterfront Park. The ball field, also known as Waterfront Park, was located at the intersection of 1st Avenue S.E. and First Street S.E. It was the spring training grounds of the Boston Braves beginning in 1922.

Postcard of Waterfront Park, St. Petersburg, Florida (Pub. By Hartman Card Co, Pinella FL)

In 1925, the New York Yankees began training in St. Petersburg at nearby Crescent Lake Park, while playing some of their games at Waterfront Park. The Braves departed St. Petersburg after the 1937 season and the St. Louis Cardinals moved to Waterfront Park in 1938, sharing the facility with the Yankees for Spring Training games.

Al Lang Field Postcard, St. Petersburg, Florida (Pub. By Sun News Co. St. Petersburg FL, Cureich-Chicago C.T. Art-Colortone)

In 1947, Waterfront Park was demolished and replaced by Al  Lang Field, named in honor  of the man who helped establish St. Petersburg  as a spring training mecca. Al Lang Field was constructed on land one block south of  the northern most point of Waterfront Park.

Entrance to Al Lang Field (Detail of Postcard Pub. By Sun News Co., St. Petersburg FL, Curteich Chicago, C.T. Art Colortone)

Thus, the grandstand at Al Lang Field was built on top of Waterfront Park’s former infield.

Al Lang Field Postcard (Pub. By Sun News Co., St. Petersburg FL, Curteich Chicago, C.T. Art Colortone)

The exact location of Waterfront Park in relation to Al Lang Field is evident by comparing the two ballparks as they appear below in the two aerial postcards of Waterfront Park and Al Lang Field.

Waterfront Park:

Aerial Postcard of Waterfront Park, St. Petersburg, Florida circa 1932 (Pub. By Hartman Card Co., Tampa, FL)

Al Lang Field:

Aerial Postcard of Al Lang Field (Pub. By Hartman Litho Sales, Largo FL, Photo by St. Petersburg News Service)

As can be seen from the above two postcards and the postcard below, a parking lot for Al Lang Field was constructed where Waterfront Park’s grandstand once stood. In the city block just north of the parking lot is Pioneer Park, which honors St. Petersburg’s earliest settlers.

Al Lang Field Postcard (Pub. By Sun News Co. St. Petersburg FL, Cureich-Chicago C.T. Art-Colortone)

In 1977, Al Lang Field was demolished and replaced by Al Lang Stadium, a concrete structure with little of the charm offered baseball fans at Al Lang Field and Waterfront Park.

View of Progress Energy Park Taken from Former Site of Waterfront Park Third Base Grandstand

In 1998, the naming rights to Al Lang Stadium were sold and the stadium was renamed Florida Power Park. It later was renamed Progress Energy Park in 2003.  The stadium complex currently is known as Al Lang Field at Progress Energy Park.

Plaque Honoring Former St. Petersburg Mayor Al Lang

The Yankees departed Al Lang Field for Fort Lauderdale after the 1960 Spring Training season and the Cardinals departed for Palm Beach after the 1997 season.

Dedication Plaque Al Lang Stadium, 1977

Other professional teams that once called the ballpark home were the New York Giants (1951), the New York Mets (1962-1987), and the Baltimore Orioles (1991-1995).

Ramp to Concourse from Gate 2, Progress Energy Park

In 1998, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays took over the ballpark.

Tampa Bay Rays Souvenir Stand, Progress Energy Park

The Devil Rays, a 1998 MLB expansion team, played their regular season  games at  the Tropicana Dome, located less than two miles west  of Progress Energy Park.

Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida

Although the concrete structure of the stadium itself leaves much to be desired, the setting at Progress Energy Park was one of the most beautiful of all spring training venues, current or former.

Progress Energy Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The view of the playing field, with Tampa Bay as a back drop,wais breathtaking.

Al Lang Field at Progress Energy Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

Beginning in 2005, the Tampa Bay Rays began a campaign to build a new major league ballpark on the site of Progress Energy Field. However, those plans met public opposition and quietly were withdrawn in 2009.

Artist Rendering of Proposed Ballpark on the Grounds of Progress Energy Field, to Replace Tropicana Field

The Rays trained at Progress Energy Park through the 2008 season.

Al Lang Field at Progress Energy Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

In 2009 the Rays moved to a new ballpark in Port Charlotte, Florida, 80 miles south.

Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte, Florida

Charlotte Sports Park previously had been the home Spring Training home for the Texas Rangers. The park was renovated prior to the Rays arrival in 2009.

Tampa Bay Rays Manager Joe Maddon and Coaches at Progress Energy Park in 2008

The facade of Progress Energy Park includes a series of  plaques which in 1998 had been part of the “Jim Healey and Jack Lake Baseball Boulevard.” The 85 brass home plate plaques that made up the Baseball Boulevard told the story of Major League baseball St. Petersburg.

Facade of Progress Energy Park Circa 2012

One of the plaques honors the opening of Waterfront Park in 1922. However, the plaque states, incorrectly, that Waterfront Park was located on land that later became Bayfront Center, an indoor sports arena built in 1965 and demolished in 2004. The former site of Bayfront Center is now the Salvador Dali Museum, which is located south of Progress Energy Field on Bay Shore Drive.

Plaque at Progress Energy Park Honoring Waterfront Park

Progress Energy Park is still used to today, mainly for minor league soccer and music concerts. Although St. Petersburg residents appear to favor keeping the site a public park, it seems only a matter of time before the stadium itself is demolished. Hopefully, the historic field will be maintained, for it represents over 90 years of baseball spring training history.

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Posted in Florida Ballparks, Waterfront Park/Al Lang Field/Progress Energy Park | Comments (0)

Crescent Lake Park/Huggins-Stengel Field in St. Petersburg, Florida

January 12th, 2014
by Byron Bennett

Crecent Lake Park is located at 1320 5th Street N in St. Petersburg, Florida. In the southern most part of the park, tucked away in a residential neighborhood, is an important and relatively unspoiled historical baseball site.

Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

Beginning in 1925, the ball field at Crescent Lake Park was the spring training home of the American League New York Yankees.

Postcard Crescent Lake Field, St. Petersburg, Florida (Curteich-Chicago, published by Sun News Co., St. Petersburg

The park is dominated by a large, crescent-shaped lake (hence the name) located in the center of the park.

The Lake at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The former training grounds appear much as they did when the Yankees made the field their spring training home.

"Babe Ruth, King of Swat, at St. Petersburg, Florida" Stereo Card, Published by Keystone View Company, Meadville PA (Library of Congress Division of Prints and Photographs, Washington, D.C.)

Such greats as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and the rest of the 1927 World Champion Yankees played on this unassuming ball field.

Baseball Practice Field at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The Yankees trained at Crescent Lake Park until 1942. In 1943, when World War II restricted travel for things such as spring training, the Yankees stayed closer to home, training in Atlantic City and Asbury Park, New Jersey. The Yankees returned to Crescent Lake Park in 1946.

Baseball Backstop, Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

In 1947, the Yankees moved their spring training home games less than two miles south to Al Lang Field, now known as Progress Energy Park, although they continued to hold practice sessions at Crescent Lake Park. Beginning in 1947, the Yankees shared Al Lang Field with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Progress Energy Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The Yankees continued to use Crescent Lake Park as a spring practice field until 1961, with the exception of 1950 when they trained in Phoenix, Arizona. In 1962 the Yankees departed St. Petersburg and the west coast of Florida for a new stadium built for them on the east coast in Fort Lauderdale.

Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Former Spring Training Home of the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles

In 1962 the New York Mets took over the spring training at Crescent Lake Park. The Mets trained there through the 1987 season and played their home games at Al Lang Field (renamed Al Lang Stadium in 1977). From 1992 to 1995, the Baltimore Orioles trained at Crescent Lake Park, with their home games being played at Al Lang Stadium.

Practice Field, Crescent Lake Park Baseball Complex, St. Petersburg, Florida

In 1931, Crescent Lake Park was renamed Miller Huggins Field, after the manager of the Yankees who had died in 1929. In 1962, Casey Stengel returned to Crescent Lake as Manager of the New York Mets and, in 1963, the facility was renamed Huggins-Stengel Field. Today it is known as Huggins-Stengel Baseball Complex.

Huggins-Stengel Baseball Complex Sign, St. Petersburg, Florida

The grandstand at Huggins-Stengel Field was never particularly large, holding only a few thousand fans. Today, seating at the stadium consists only of a few rows of metal bleachers.

Bleachers at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

A water tower that dominates the skyline at the southern end of the park remains from the time when the field was used for major league spring training.

Water Tower at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

Several other structures dating back to the Yankees’ days at Crescent Lake remain as well.

Practice Field with Original Club House in Backgrouind, Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

Most notably, one of the original clubhouses remains. Inside the building is one wooden locker purportedly dating back to the time when the Yankees trained there.

Club House, Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

Outside the former club house (Building #4) are two plaques commemorating Miller Huggins and Casey Stengel.

Plaques Honoring Miller Huggins and Casey Stengel, St. Petersburg, Florida

The plaque honoring Miller J. Huggins states: “As a memorial and tribute to an outstanding sportsman and splendid character, who as Manager of the New York Yankees and resident of this city contributed to its fame and the betterment of baseball, the citizens of St. Petersburg dedicate this ground, which forever shall be known as Miller Huggins Field.”

Plaque Honoring Miller Huggins at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The plaque honoring Charles Dillon “Casey” Stengel states: “One of baseball’s most popular and widely known figures who as Manager of the New York Yankees won ten American League Pennants in 12 years helping to make the Sunshine City the spring training capital of the world and who now has returned as Manager of the New York Mets this plaque is gratefully and affectionately dedicated.”

Plaque Honoring Casey Stengel at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The original flag pole remain as well.

Flag Pole at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The neighborhood surrounding the park appears much the way it did when the Yankees and Mets practiced at the facility.

Houses Located on 5th Street, Across from Crescent Lake Park's Baseball Complex

On the facade of Progress Energy Park in downtown St. Petersburg are a series of  plaques, some of which mention the history of Crescent Lake Park and Huggins-Stengel Field. Previously, those plaques had been part of the “Jim Healey and Jack Lake Baseball Boulevard,” which included 85 brass home plate plaques that told the story of Major League baseball St. Petersburg. The Boulevard plaques originally were located from First Street S in front of Al Lang Stadium to Central Avenue south along the sidewalk, to 13th Street west, stopping at Tropicana Field.

Progress Energy Park, With Historic Plaques Lining the Facade, St. Petersburg, Florida

One of the plaques commemorates the Yankees’s first year at Crescent Lake Park.

Progress Energy Field Plaque Honoring 1925 Arrival of the Yankees in St. Petersburg, Florida

Another plaque commemorates the renaming of Crescent Lake Park Miller Huggins Field in 1931.

Plaque at Progress Energy Field Honoring Former Yankees Manager Miller Huggins

A similar plaque honors the return of Casey Stengel to Crescent Lake in 1962 as manager of the New York Mets.

Progress Energy Stadium Plaque Honoring Former New York Yankee and Mets Manger Casey Stengel

Another plaque commemorates the renaming of the practice field Huggins-Stengel Field in 1963.

Progress Energy Stadium Plaque Commemorating Renaming of Huggins-Stengel Field

Huggins-Stengel Baseball Complex is used today by high school and college teams for both practice and games. The City of St. Petersburg recognizes the historical significance of the park and seems intent on maintaining it as a baseball facility. This is good news for fans of the game who want to appreciate first hand the national pastime’s rich history.

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LA Coliseum – The Third Oldest MLB Ballpark Still Standing

January 7th, 2014
by Byron Bennett

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is located at 3911 South Figueroa Street in Los Angeles, California.

"Olympic Coliseum, Exposition Park, Los Angeles, California" (Postcard Western Publishing and Novelty Co.)

Erected as a memorial to World War I Veterans, the Coliseum opened in 1923, the same year as the original Yankee Stadium. The Coliseum hosted both the 1932 and 1984 Olympics.

Entrance to Los Angeles Coliseum from Exposition Park, Circa 2001

From 1958 until 1961, it was the home of the National League Los Angeles Dodgers.

Aerial view over Exposition Park, Coliseum, Sports Arena (USC Libraries' "Dick" Whittington Photography Collection, 1924-1987)

Primarily used as a football stadium, from 1951 to 1972, and 1979, the Coliseum hosted the NFL’s Pro Bowl. In 1967 it hosted the first Super Bowl, between the National Football League Green Bay Packers and the American Football League Kansas City Chiefs. The Coliseum also hosted the National Football League Los Angeles Rams from 1946 to 1979, the American Football League Los Angeles Chargers in 1960, and the National Football League Los Angeles Raiders from 1982 to 1994.

Los Angeles Coliseum Olympic Stadium (Postcard Tichnor Art Company)

Since 1923 it has been the home of the University of Southern California Trojans football team.

Gate 4 LA Coliseum, Near Parking Lot 4, Circa 2001

The Coliseum also is notable for hosting John F. Kennedy’s Acceptance Speech as part of the Democratic National Convention in 1960.

Gate 1 Entrance, Near South Hoover Street, LA Coliseum, Circa 2001

When the Dodgers moved from Ebbets Field in Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958, the Coliseum was meant to provide only a temporary home while the team constructed a new stadium.

1959 World Series Game 4 (By ievenlostmycat, San Diego CA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) via Wikimedia Commons)

Because the Coliseum was never meant for baseball, the dimensions of the field were quite skewed. The left field corner was a mere 251 feet from home plate and right field a mere 300 feet. A 40 foot screen was erected in left field in an attempt to combat the extremely friendly confines of the left field porch. Additional fencing was added in center field to cut back to 440 feet what would have been a 700 foot center field.

View of Seating Bowl From Entrance to LA Coliseum, Exposition Park, Circa 2001

The Coliseum hosted the Major League Baseball All Star Game in 1958 and the World Series in 1959. A plaque honoring the 1959 Fall Classic is posted at the main entrance to the Coliseum near Exposition Park. The Coliseum is the third oldest ballpark still standing. The other two are Fenway Park and Wrigley Field.

LA Coliseum Plaque Honoring 1959 World Series, Located At Entrance Near Exposition Park, Circa 2001

In 1962, the Dodgers moved seven miles northeast of the Coliseum to their new home in Chavez Ravine.

Entrance to Dodger Stadium, 1000 Elysian Park Avenue, Los Angeles, California

In 2008, professional baseball returned to the Coliseum to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Dodgers arrival in Los Angeles.

Exterior of LA Coliseum from South Hoover Street, Gate 4, Circa 2001

The Coliseum was reconfigured once again for baseball and an exhibition game between the Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox brought a record crowd of 115,300 fans to the ballpark.

Arched Entrance Way, LA Coliseum, From Exposition Park, Circa 2001

The Coliseum is one of only nine former major league baseball stadiums still in existence (Sun Life Stadium, Qualcomm Stadium, RFK Stadium, the Metrodome, Candlestick Park, Jarry Park (although converted to a tennis stadium), Olympic Stadium, and the the Astrodome are the remaining eight). With three of the those stadiums slated for demolition in 2014 (the Metrodome, Candlestick, and the Astrodome), the Coliseum will be one of only six.

Detail of Arched Entrance Way, LA Coliseum, From Exposition Park, Circa 2001

In September 2013, the City of Los Angeles agreed to a lease with USC granting the University control over the Coliseum for 98 years. USC has announced that it plans to renovate the historic structure.

Robert Graham's Life Sized Bronze Statues Installed Near Olympic Gateway in 1984

The University has hired the DLR Group of Omaha, Nebraska, to conduct a feasibility study for upgrades to and renovation of the 91 year old historic structure.

Ticket Booths, LA Coliseum, Gate 4, Circa 2001

With USC’s pledge to spend $100 million to renovate the stadium, the old ballpark’s future looks bright, for it appears the Coliseum is not in danger of becoming another lost ballpark.

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Posted in California ballparks, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum | Comments (2)

Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium On The Banks of Lake Erie

January 2nd, 2014
by Byron Bennett

Municipal Stadium was located at 1085 West Third Street in Cleveland, Ohio. Also known as Lakefront Stadium, the ballpark was situated on the banks Lake Erie just north of downtown.

Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium (Postcard Curteichcolor, Distributed by Wilbur Evans)

Built in 1931 and designed by the same engineering firm (Osborn Engineering) that designed such ballparks as Fenway Park, Tiger Stadium, Forbes Field, and old Yankee Stadium, Municipal Stadium was the first publicly financed Major League ballpark in the country.

Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium (Postcard Pub. by Ohio Natural Color Card Co., Plastichrome by Colourpicture Publishers, Inc.)

The stadium was known in Cleveland as the “Mistake by the Lake,” in part because of the uncertain weather patterns at the stadium caused by its proximity to Lake Erie.

Bird’s-Eye View of Cleveland Municipal Stadium and Downtown Cleveland (Photo by Butler Airphotos, Inc., Postard Distriubuted by George Klein News Co., Genuine Curteich-Chicago)

Although some believe that the name is a reference to Cleveland’s failed attempts to bring the 1932 Olympics to the City, in actuality the City of Los Angeles had been awarded those Olympics over a decade earlier.

Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium (Postcard Curteichcolor, Distributed by George Klein News Co.)

Municipal Stadium was the first multipurpose, Major League stadium in the country. Beginning in July 1932, it was the home of the American League Cleveland Indians. Prior to that time, the Indians had called League Park their home. The Indians brought the World Series to Municipal Stadium in 1948 and 1954.

Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium , Huorticultural Gardens and Boat Docks (Postcard Tichnor Quality Views, Tichnor Bros., Braun Art Publishing)

By 1934, the Indians had begun the practice of playing weekday games at League Park and weekend and night games at Municipal Stadium (League Park had no lights). Playing in the smaller confines of League Park (located just four miles east of Municipal Stadium) made economic sense during the Great Depression, given the cost of opening and running Municipal Stadium versus the cost of holding games in the smaller venue. Several Cleveland professional football teams called Municipal Stadium home, including the American Football League and National Football league Cleveland Rams periodically from 1936 to 1945, and the All-American Football and National Football League Cleveland Browns from 1946 to 1995.

Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium (Postcard Tichnor Quality Views, Tichnor Bros., Braun Art Publishing)

In 1993, the Indians played their final home game at Municipal Stadium, and the following season moved one mile south to their new home, Jacobs Field (named after the team’s owner). The new ballpark also was designed by Osborn Engineering. In 2009, the ballpark’s name was changed to Progressive Field.

Jacobs Field (Now Progressive Field), Home of the Cleveland Indians, Circa 2003

In 1996 the Cleveland Browns departed the city to become the Baltimore Ravens and demolition of the Mistake by the Lake commenced soon thereafter. In 1997, the city began construction of a new football stadium, also designed by Osborn Engineering.

Main Entrance to Cleveland Browns Stadium Circa 2003 – Facing Alfred Lerner Way

Cleveland Browns Stadium opened in 1999. It is constructed on the footprint of Municipal Stadium. The main entrance to the stadium facing, Alfred Lerner way, is the former location of Municipal Stadium’s first base grandstand.

Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium (Postcard Pub. by Nelson Jones Co.)

Now known as FirstEnergy Stadium, the entrance along Erieside Avenue (facing northwest) is located near where Municipal Stadium’s left field once sat.

Entrance to FirstEnergy Field Near Former Location of Municipal Stadium's Left Field

Entrance to FirstEnergy Field Near Former Location of Municipal Stadium’s Left Field

Municipal Stadium’s home plate was located on western most end of the football stadium near W. 3rd Street.

Browns Stadium Circa 2003 – West End, Former Location of Municipal Stadium’s Home Plate

Significant changes to the exterior and interior of the FirstEnergy Stadium were made in 2014.

Panoramic Photo of FirstEnergy Field West End

Panoramic Photo of FirstEnergy Stadium West End

Municipal Stadium’s center field was located just beyond the eastern most entrance to FirstEnergy Stadium.

FirstEnergy Field Eastern Most Entrance

East Side Exterior of FirstEnergy Field

FirstEnergy Stadium, like Municipal Stadium, is surrounded on three sides by the Port of Cleveland.

Port of Cleveland

Entrance to the Port of Cleveland Across from FirstEnergy Field

Two plaques located at the stadium’s main entrance on Alfred Lerner Way commemorate the new Brown’s Stadium (now known as FirstEnergy Stadium) and the politicians who helped make it possible.

Cleveland Browns Stadium Dedication Plaque, Located At Main Entrance on Alfred Lerner Way

Cleveland Browns Stadium – Plaque Honoring Opening Day August 21, 1999, Located At Main Entrance on Alfred Lerner Way

Although Municipal Stadium is now a lost ballpark, some solace can be taken from the fact that the field where the game once was played is still used for professional football. If anyone know of any plaques or displays at the stadium that commemorate Municipal Stadium or recognize the stadium’s former history, please let me know so I can add that information to this website.

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Miami’s Joe Robbie, Pro Player, Dolphin, Land Shark, and Sun Life Stadium

January 1st, 2014
by Byron Bennett

The ballpark currently known as Sun Life Stadium was home to the National League Florida Marlins (currently known as the Miami Marlins) from 1993 to 2011. It is located just north of Miami, Florida, at 2269 N.W. 199th Street, in the suburb of Miami Gardens.

Arial View of Pro Player Stadium (Sun Life) Configured for Baseball

Opened in 1987, and financed by former Miami Dolphins owner Joe Robbie, the ballpark is primarily a football stadium that was adapted for use by Major League Baseball.

Pro Player Stadium Circa 2002

In its 25 plus seasons in existence, the ballpark has undergone several name changes, from Joe Robbie Stadium, to Pro Player Park, to Pro Player Stadium, to Dolphins Stadium, to Dolphin Stadium, to Land Shark Stadium, to Sun Life Stadium.

Entrance to Pro Player Stadium, Miami, Florida

The Miami Dolphins have called the stadium home since 1987. Talks between team owners and city officials may lead to significant renovations of the stadium in the next few years, including the addition of a roof.

Pro Player Stadium at Night, Miami, Florida

The Florida Marlins began as an expansion team, playing their first season at what was then Joe Robbie Stadium in 1993. Within four years, in 1997, the team brought a World Series championship to Miami, and a second one in 2003. Thus, in the less than 20 years that the expansion Florida Marlins called Sun Life Stadium their home, the team won two more World Series at their home ballpark than the Chicago Cubs have won in their 100 seasons at Wrigley Field.

Exterior of Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Florida

Sun Life Stadium is primarily a concrete structure, architecturally lacking a certain je ne sais quoi.

Pro Player Stadium Ticket Booth, Miami, Florida

However, inside the ballpark, the bright orange seats and expansive green field give the ballpark a somewhat festive look.

Sun Life Stadium, Former Home of Florida Marlins

Entrance to the seating bowl offers fans a vivid color display of aqua blue, leading to bright orange.

Entrance to Sections 101 and 156

Attendance at Marlins home games often was so abysmal that the team closed off to fans the upper deck seating.

Pro Player Stadium Circa 2002

Because the ballpark was adapted for baseball, the batters eye at Sun Life Stadium was made up of blue vinyl covering the seating directly behind dead-center field.

Center Field Batters Eye Miami Style - Blue Vinyl

One other quirk of staging baseball in a football arena was the lack of a center field scoreboard. Two main video scoreboards were placed at opposite ends of the stadium along the third base side and right field (the two end zones for football games).

Scoreboard, Sun Life Stadium

The rectangular configuration of the stadium did allow fans the opportunity to walk entirely around the field and take in the game from every vantage point, including center field.

View From Center Field Seats, Pro Player Stadium, Miami, Florida

The Dolphin’s orange seating throughout the stadium is adorned at the end of each row with the Dolphin’s logo.

Detail of Seats, Pro Player Stadium

The home team and away team bullpens were located out of play along the first base and third base foul lines.

Home Team Bullpen, Dontrelle Willis Warming Up

The souvenir store’s fish motif gave it the look of a seafood restaurant.

Seatrader Store, Florida Marlins

File under the moniker “truly out of place” – in no major league ballpark other than Miami, Florida, would you see cheerleaders.

Cheerleaders at a Baseball Game? And One Lucky Fish - Only in Miami

The team offices, located in the bowels of the ballpark included a Marlins Hall of Fame display and one really big taxidermy fish.

Marlins Hall of Fame

A Big Fish in the Marlins' Executive Offices

As a daily reminder that things could only get better, the administrative offices’ reception room included a clock counting down the number of days until the Marlins moved to a new, retractable-roof ballpark.

Stadium Countdown Clock - Marlins' Executive Office

The new ballpark, which opened in 2012 (and which I have yet to visit and photograph), is built on the site of the Orange Bowl, an 80,000 seat stadium that once was home to the National Football League Miami Dolphins, the Orange Bowl Classic, and the University of Miami Football Team.

Orange Bowl Postcard, Gulfstream Card Co, Miami, Florida

Sun Life Stadium is not a lost ballpark, and with plans to renovate the stadium apparently in the works, the good news is it appears the ballpark will be around for years to come. It currently is one of only seven former major league baseball stadiums still in existence (L.A. Coliseum, Qualcomm Stadium, RFK Stadium, Metrodome (slated for demolition), Candlestick Park (slated for demolition), Astrodome (slated for demolition). Before too long, it will be one of only four.

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The Six Different Ballparks Known As Oriole Park

December 30th, 2013
by Byron Bennett

Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland, is considered by some to be one of the most beautiful ballparks in the country. Now over 20 years old, it helped usher in the era of “retro ballparks” that swept both major league and minor league ballparks over the past two decades.

Oriole Park (VI) at Camden Yards, Home of the Baltimore Orioles

Oriole Park at Camden Yards is actually the sixth Baltimore baseball park known as Oriole Park. The first five were located about three miles north of Camden Yards in the Harwood and Abell neighborhoods of Baltimore (for a more detailed view, click on the map below). Here is a rundown of Oriole Park I through V.

Locations of Oriole Park I through V, In The Harwood and Abell Sections of Baltimore - Atlas of the City of Baltimore, Maryland Topographical Survey Commission 1914 (mdhistory.net)

The first Oriole Park was the home of the American Association Baltimore Orioles from 1883 to 1889. Also known as Huntington Avenue Grounds and American Association Park, it was located at the southeast corner of what is now East 25th Street and Barclay Street. First base paralleled Greenmount Avenue, right field paralleled East 25th Street, left field paralleled Barclay Street, and third base paralleled East 24th Street. An apartment building and row houses now mark the site.

Site of Oriole Park I, Left Field Corner, East 24th Street and Barclay Street, Baltimore

Oriole Park II was the home of the American Association Baltimore Orioles from 1890 to 1891, and was located at the southwest corner of what is now Greenmount Avenue and East 29th Street. First base paralleled Barclay Street, right field paralleled East 28th Street, left field paralleled Greenmount Avenue, and third base paralleled East 29th Street. A McDonald’s Restaurant and row houses now mark the site.

Southwest Corner of East 29th Street and Barclay Street in Baltimore, Former Site of Oriole Park II and IV

Oriole Park III, also known as Union Park and the Baltimore Baseball and Exhibition Grounds, was the home of the American Association Baltimore Orioles in 1891 and the National League Baltimore Orioles from 1892 to 1899. It was located at the southeast corner of what is now Guilford Avenue and East 25th Street. First base paralleled Guilford Avenue, right field paralleled East 24th Street, left field paralleled Barclay Street, and third base paralleled East 25th Street.

Union Park, Baltimore, Home of the National League Orioles, circa 1897 (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

The site is now occupied by row houses and a parking lot. The distinctive pitched-roof house just to the right of the third base grand stand remains at the site.

Back Side of 321 East 25th Street, Former Site of Union Park, Baltimore

Oriole Park IV, also known as American League Park, was the home of the American League Baltimore Orioles from 1901 to 1902, and the Eastern League and the International League Orioles from 1903 to 1915. It was located at the southwest corner of Greenmount Avenue and East 29th Street on the same site as Oriole Park II. The ballpark was the home field for Babe Ruth during his one year playing professional baseball in Baltimore for the Eastern League Orioles.

American League Park (Photo - Babe Ruth Museum)

A McDonald’s Restaurant and row houses now mark the site.

Former Site of American League Park, Baltimore

Oriole Park V, also known as Terrapin Park, was the home of the Federal League Baltimore Terrapins from 1914 to 1915, and the International League Orioles from 1916 to 1944. It was located at the northwest corner of what is now Greenmount Avenue and 29th Street, across the street from the site of Oriole Park II and IV. First base paralleled East 29th Street, right field paralleled Greenmount Avenue, left field paralleled East 30th Street, and third base paralleled Vineyard Lane.

Terrapin Park (Later Known As Oriole Park)

The site now is occupied by row houses, the Barclay Elementary School, and Peabody Heights Brewery.

Former E.I. Dupont Finishes Division Building, East 29th Street, Baltimore, Site of Oriole Park V

All five original Oriole Parks are located less than a mile west of the Baltimore Orioles previous home, Memorial Stadium, which was located at the northeast corner of East 33rd Street and Ellerslie Avenue.

Memorial Plaque of Memorial Stadium, Baltimore

Prior to the construction of Memorial stadium, it was the site of Municipal Stadium, which was constructed in 1922. The site is now occupied by a youth baseball field, a retirement village, and a YMCA.

Memorial Field at Former Site of Memorial Stadium

Baltimore has made it easy for baseball fans to visit these former sites by putting them so close together. The rest is up to you.

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San Diego Stadium – Qualcomm And Jack Murphy

December 5th, 2013
by Byron Bennett

Qualcomm Stadium is a multipurpose ballpark located at 9449 Friars Road, seven miles north east of downtown San Diego, California. From 1969 to 2003, it was the home field of the National League San Diego Padres.

Qualcomm Stadium San Diego

For one season – in 1968 – it was the home to the Pacific Coast League San Diego Padres. Previously, the minor league Padres had played their home games at Lane Field from 1936 to 1957, and Westgate Park from 1958 to 1967.

San Diego Stadium (Postcard Marine Photos & Publishing)

The American Football League San Diego Chargers (the Chargers joined the National Football League in 1970) began play at San Diego Stadium in 1967.

San Diego Stadium (Postcard Curteichcolor, Western Publ. & Nov. Co.)

The San Diego State University Aztecs likewise have played their home football games at the stadium since 1967.  Half of the lower bowl seats are movable to accommodate the stadium’s baseball configuration.

Concrete - Qualcomm's Main Ingredient

The stadium name has changed three times over the years. First named San Diego Stadium, the ballpark was renamed Jack Murphy Stadium in 1981, after the local sportswriter who in 1961 helped convince Los Angeles Chargers owner Barron Hilton to move his team two hours south to San Diego.

Qualcomm Stadium Row of Busts - Famous San Diego Sports Personalities

In 1984, Jack Murphy Stadium was renovated, adding an additional 8,000 seats and 50 luxury suites. In anticipation of the bringing Super Bowl XXXII to San Diego, the ballpark again was renovated in 1997, adding 10,500 seats and another 34 luxury suites, making the total seating capacity 71,500.

One of the Circular Entrance Ways to Qualcomm Stadium

Architecturally, Qualcomm Stadium was constructed in the Brutalist style. This fortress-like appearance was popular from the 1950′s and into the 1970′s.

Detail of Qualcomm Stadium's Brutalist Style Architecture

In 1997, the ballpark was renamed Qualcomm Stadium at Jack Murphy Field after the San Diego telecommunications company ponied up $18 million in name rights which run through 2017.

Qualcomm Stadium Scoreboard

The Padres brought two World Series to Qualcomm Stadium, in 1984 and 1998, but no world championships.

Padres Ticket Office - Qualcomm Stadium

Although Qualcomm Stadium is surrounded by a massive parking lot, the upper reaches of the stadium,  looking east, offer a nice view of Cowles Mountain and Mission Trails Park.

Qualcomm Stadium With Cowles Mountain and Mission Trails Park Visible in Background

In 2000, the City of San Diego broke ground on a new stadium for the Padres.

Qualcomm Stadium - View of Home Plate from Third Base Side

As is typical for ballparks facing extinction, the Padres posted a countdown banner in the outfield, reminding all patrons that the end was near.

Qualcomm Stadium Right Field Countdown Banner

In 2004, the Padres moved seven miles south of Qualcomm Stadium to their new home, Petco Park, who’s name was an upgrade from their Qualcomm Stadium, but not by much. There is no question, however, that the Padres current home is a vast improvement over Qualcomm Stadium, both in architecture and in amenities.

Petco Park - Current Home of the San Diego Padres

Qualcomm currently is the fifth oldest ballpark in the NFL (behind Soldier Field, Lambeau Field, Candlestick Park, and Oakland County Stadium). The Chargers owners threaten yearly to move the team to another city if San Diego refuses to build the team a new stadium. Either way, it appears only a matter of time before Qualcomm joins the ranks of lost ballparks. If you are thinking of visiting Qualcomm Stadium before it goes, be sure also to pay a visit to another historical baseball site located nearby at 4121 Utah Street, the boyhood home of Ted Williams. It located just 4 miles south of Qualcomm Stadium off the 805.

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Baltimore’s Ballparks Found – Aerial Photos of Baltimore’s Lost Ballparks

November 17th, 2013
by Byron Bennett

One of the more significant “unknowns” concerning Baltimore’ s lost ballparks has been the exact, former location of Maryland Baseball Park, which from 1921 to 1932 was the home ballpark of the Baltimore Black Sox. Newspaper accounts of the ballpark’s location offer little more than the ballpark’s general location at the intersection of Bush Street and Russell Street, near the Ridgely street car line. Because there is no known photographs of the ballpark, its actual location at the intersection of Bush and Russell remained a mystery.

Bernard McKenna, a professor at the University of Delaware, was convinced there had to be a photograph of the ballpark somewhere. His research led him to a website maintained by Johns Hopkins University. In 1927 the Maryland Port Administration arranged for aerial photographs to be taken of Baltimore, Maryland. Additional aerial photographs were taken in 1937. In 2011, Johns Hopkins University digitized these photographs and made them available on line.

Hidden in plain site within those aerial photographs were several of Baltimore’s Lost Ballparks, including the previously elusive Maryland Baseball Park. Below is a rundown of the photographs Mr. McKenna uncovered (as well as one provided by Larry Jendras, Jr.). Just click on the picture for a more detailed view of the image. Click on the ballpark name for more information about the various lost ballparks.

Maryland Baseball Park (also known as Maryland Park), home of the Baltimore Black Sox from 1921 to 1932, was located at the intersection of Bush and Russell Street on what is now 1801 Annapolis Road. Wheelabrator, a sold waste incinerator facility, now occupies the former site of Maryland Baseball Park.

Maryland Port Administration Aerial View of Maryland Park Circa 1927 - intersection of Bush and Russell Streets and Annapolis Road (image located at jscholarship.library.jhu.edu)

Bugle Field, home of the Baltimore Elite Giants from 1938 to 1949, was located at the the southwest corner Federal Street and Edison Highway. The Rockland Industries Building now sits in the footprint of the original grandstand.

Maryland Port Administration Aerial View of Bugle Field Circa 1937 - Intersection of Federal Street and Edison Highway (image located at jscholarship.library.jhu.edu)

Westport Stadium, home of the 1950 Baltimore Elite Giants, was located on a triangular shaped piece of property north of the intersection of Patapsco Avenue and Annapolis Road and just south of the Baltimore Washington Parkway (I-295). The site is now a vacant lot just north of Patapsco Arena. This aerial photograph, a USGS image, was provided courtesy of Larry Jendras, Jr.

USGS Image Of Westport Stadium Circa 1950 (Road to Left of Home Plate is Annapolis Road) (Thanks to Larry Jendras, Jr.)

Terrapin Park (later known as Oriole Park), located at the northwest corner of 29th Street and Greenmount Avenue, was home to the Federal League Baltimore Terrapins in 1914 and 1915, the International League Orioles from 1916 to 1944, and the Baltimore Elite Giants from 1938 to 1944. The Barclay School and the former E.I. duPont de Nemours & Co. Inc. Finishes Division, sit in the former location of the ballpark’s grandstand.

Maryland Port Administration Aerial View of Oriole Park Circa 1937 (image located at jscholarship.library.jhu.edu)

Terrapin Park was located directly across East 29th Street from American League Park, which was located at southwest corner of 29th and Greenmount. American League Park (also known as Oriole Park) was the former home ballpark of the 1901-02 American League Baltimore Orioles and the 1903-1914 International League Baltimore Orioles. The location of that ballpark is shown in the map below. American League Park was the home field where Babe Ruth played for the International League Orioles during his one season of professional baseball in Baltimore. 

Atlas of the City of Baltimore, Maryland Topographical Survey Commission 1914 (mdhistory.net)

Memorial Stadium, located at the northeast corner of Elerslie Avenue and 33rd Street, was built on the site of an earlier stadium constructed in 1922, known as Baltimore Stadium, Venable Stadium, and Municipal Stadium. Shown in the photograph below is Municipal Stadium, a large earthen ballpark that hosted college football as well as the International League Baltimore Orioles from 1944 to 1953.

Maryland Port Administration Aerial View of Baltimore's Municipal Stadium Circa 1937 (image located at jscholarship.library.jhu.edu)

The 1937 aerial photograph reproduced below shows both Terrapin Park/Oriole Park and Municipal Stadium, located less than one mile apart. Also included in that aerial shot is the former site of American League Park, located one block south of Terrapin Park/Oriole Park, and the former site of Union Park, located four blocks south of Terrapin Park/Oriole Park at the intersection of 25th Street and Guilford Avenue. Union Park was the home to the 1890′s world champion National League Baltimore Orioles.

Maryland Port Administration Aerial View of Oriole Park and Municipal Stadium Circa 1937 (image located at jscholarship.library.jhu.edu)

Although all these ballparks are now lost to time, the Maryland Port Administration’s incredible photographs help the ballparks’ live on. Many thanks to Johns Hopkins University for putting these photographs on line, and thanks to Mr. McKenna for having found the images of the ballparks hidden within.

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Milwaukee County Stadium – Home Field To Three Different MLB Franchises

November 12th, 2013
by Byron Bennett

Milwaukee County Stadium was located at 201 South 46th Street, nine miles southwest of downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Built entirely with public funds, County Stadium initially was conceived as a new ballpark for the American Association Milwaukee Brewers. However, that minor league team never had the chance to play at the new stadium because of the arrival in 1953 of the National League Milwaukee Braves.

County Stadium Panoramic

The Braves franchise had played the previous 82 seasons in Boston, most recently (1915-1952) at Braves Field, located less than two miles west of Fenway Park. Indeed, the Braves are the oldest continuously operating professional sports franchise in United States.

Milwaukee County Stadium (Postcard Genuine Curteich-Chicago, Dist. by L.L. Cook Co.)

The Braves never had a losing season while in Milwaukee. In 1957, they brought Milwaukee a World Series title as well as a second National League pennant the following year. However, by 1965 the team was on its way out of town – the team’s new owner having shopped the Braves in search of a larger market with a larger television audience. The team moved to Atlanta’s new Fulton County Stadium for the 1966 season.

Exterior of Milwaukee County Stadium

In 1968 and 1969, through the efforts of local business man Bud Selig, the Chicago White Sox played several home dates at County Stadium. Selig’s plan was to demonstrate to Major League Baseball through the attendance at those games that Milwaukee still deserved to be a major league city. Selig’s efforts paid off and, in 1970 the expansion Seattle Pilots, after only one season in Seattle, moved to Milwaukee.

Miller Park Under Construction with Milwaukee County Stadium Awaiting Its Fate

The Brewers played at County Stadium from 1970, through the 2000 season. In 2001, they moved to a new ballpark built in a parking lot just south of County Stadium.

Raising the Roof at Miller Park, Milwaukee County Stadium is to the Right

The difference between the two ballparks could not be more striking. County Stadium was one of the last old school, classic double deck ballparks, while Miller Park, with it’s arched glass and steel enclosed roof, rises some 30 stories tall.

County Stadium with Miller Park Under Construction Behind Center Field

In addition to being the home ballpark for three different major league franchises, County Stadium also hosted some Green Bay Packers home games from 1953 to 1994.

Cubs Right Fielder Sammy Sosa at Milwaukee County Stadium

Bernie Brewer, the team’s mascot since the early 1970′s, had two different versions of beer keg chalet while at County Stadium. Both chalets, including the one in use during the final years of County Stadium, were purchased by Lakefront Brewery and relocated to the brewery at 1872 N Commerce Street. They can be seen as part of the brewery tour.

Bernie Brewer's Chalet, Milwaukee County Stadium

The Brewer’s sixth inning sausage race – known formally as Klement’s Racing Sausages – began at County Stadium in the mid 1990s.

The Four Racing Sausages - With the Addition of Chorizo - at Milwaukee County Stadium Circa 2000

Support columns for County Stadium’s upper deck afforded fans sitting underneath it in the lower seating bowl penty of obstructed views. The upper deck  seating was accessed from the upper level concourse by a series of catwalks.

Lower Seating Bowl, Section 3, Milwaukee County Stadium, with View of the Upper Level Concourse

County Stadium’s narrow concourses were typical for ballparks of that era.

Souvenir Stand, Milwaukee County Stadium

With Miller Park looming in the background during County Stadium’s final season, Brewers fans had a constant reminder that the end was near for the old ballpark. Even County Stadium’s scoreboard added to the drumbeat, advertising the sale of stadium seats to be made available soon after the end of the 2000 season.

Milwaukee County Stadium Scoreboard Advertising The Sale of Seats from the Stadium

The Brewers and Milwaukee County have done a good job keeping the memory of County Stadium alive. Helfaer Field is a youth baseball field constructed on the former site of County Stadium. The field is named in honor of Evan Helfaer, a part owner of the Brewers at the time of their arrival in Milwaukee. A foundation in his name helped provide funds to build the field.

Helfaer Field Located on the Former Site of Milwaukee County Stadium

On the concourse behind Helfaer Field’s third base is a marker noting the spot of County Stadium’s home plate. The foul poles used at Helfaer Field are from County Stadium.

Milwaukee County Stadium Right Field Foul Pole Now Relocated To Helfaer Field

Much of County Stadium’s third base grandstand and left field is now a parking lot – “Brewers 1.” Behind Helfaer Field’s left field corner (on what was once County Stadium’s left field foul line) is a granite monument honoring the Milwaukee Braves.

Milwaukee County Stadium's Left Field Grandstand and Bleachers - Now "Brewers 1" Parking Lot

In the parking lot beyond Helfaer Field’s left field fence (Brewer 1) is an inground marker surrounded by red concrete bricks that honors Hank Aaron’s last home run. The plaque states: “This marks the landing location of the final home run of Hank Aaron’s career, #755, hit at County Stadium on July 20, 1976.” Aaron, who began his major league career with the Milwaukee Braves in 1954, returned to Milwaukee at the end of his career, playing for the Brewers in 1975 and 1976.

County Stadium’s first base grandstand, and portions of right field, are now a parking lot in front of Miller Park demarcated as “Cubs” lot.

Milwaukee County Stadium's Right Field Grandstand and Scoreboard - Now "Cubs" Parking Lot

In front of Miller Park are statues honoring Robin Yount , Hank Aaron, Bud Selig, and Bob Uecker. A sculpture entitled “Teamwork,” by artist Omri Amrany, honors Jerome Starr, Jeff Wischer, and William DeGrave, three construction workers killed during construction of Miller Park.

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Kansas City Municipal Stadium – Muehlebach, Ruppert, and Blues

November 11th, 2013
by Byron Bennett

Kansas City’s Municipal Stadium was the primary sports venue for the city for 50 years. Opened in 1923, the ball field was home to both major league and minor league baseball, as well as Negro League baseball and professional football.

Entrance to Kansas City Municipal Stadium on Brooklyn Avenue (Photo Courtesy Austin Gisriel)

At first a single-deck stadium, from 1923 to 1937 the ballpark was known as Muehlebach Field, named after George Muehlebach, owner of the American Association Kansas City Blues who played there. Municipal Stadium was located at the intersection of Brooklyn Avenue and 22nd Street, just five blocks southwest of the Blues previous home, Association Park (at 20th Street and Prospect Avenue), which is now a public park.

The Negro National League Kansas City Monarchs, formed in 1920, also played their home games first at Association Park and then, beginning in 1923 at Muelebach Field. The first Negro League World Series was played at Muehlebach Field in 1924, pitting the Monarchs against the Eastern Colored League Hilldale Club.

1924 Negro League World Series, Muehlebach Field, Kansas City, Missouri (Library of Congress DIvision of Prints and Photographs, Washington, D.C.)

In 1937, the Blues became an affiliate of the New York Yankees and the Muehlebach Field was renamed Ruppert Stadium, after New York Yankees owner Jack Ruppert. The Monarchs, who were an independent Negro League team from 1932 to 1936, and members of the Negro American League beginning in 1937, continued to play their home games at Ruppert Stadium.

Kansas City Municipal Stadium (Postcard Tetricolor Card, Pub. by J. E. Tetirick)

Ruppert Stadium was renamed Blues Stadium in 1943, and in 1954 was renamed Municipal Stadium with the departure of the Kansas City Blues for Denver, Colorado, and the relocation of the American League Philadelphia Athletics to Kansas City for the start of the 1955 season. The stadium, which now was owned by the city (hence the name “Municipal Stadium”) underwent a major renovation, including addition of a second deck and expanded seating. The scoreboard from Braves Field in Boston (sold after the Braves departed for Milwaukee in 1953) was moved to Kansas City and installed in right field.

Entrance to Kansas City Municipal Stadium Facing Brooklyn Street (Postcard W.C. Pine Co., Dexter)

Starting in 1963, Municipal Stadium was the home field for the American Football League Kansas City Chiefs (the Chiefs joined the National Football League in 1970). The Chiefs played there through the 1971 season.

Kansas City Municipal Stadium (Postcard Tetricolor Card, Pub. by James Tetirick)

The Kansas City Athletics departed for Oakland after the 1968 season and, in 1969 the American League Kansas City Royals began play at Municipal Stadium. The Royals departed Municipal Stadium after the 1972 season for Royals Stadium (renamed Kauffman Stadium in 1994), a brand new ballpark located six miles southeast of Municipal Stadium.

Kauffman Stadium - Current Home of the Kansas City Royals Since 1973

Municipal Stadium was razed in 1976. At the intersection of 22nd Street and Brooklyn Avenue is a small public park dedicated to the memory of Municipal Stadium.

Park at Intersection of 22nd Street and Brooklyn Avenue, Former Site of Kansas City Municipal Stadium

The actual ballpark site is now a residential community with single family housing.

Plaque Honoring Kansas City Municipal Stadium at Intersection of Brooklyn Avenue and 22nd Street, Kansas City

Municipal Stadium’s right field ran parallel to Brooklyn Avenue.

Looking North Down Brooklyn Avenue Paralleling Right Field Wall Toward Former Center Field Corner of Kansas City Municipal Stadium

The first base line ran parallel to 22nd Street.

Looking West on 22nd Street Along Former First Base Line of Kansas City Municipal Stadium Toward Home Plate (With Lincoln College Preparatory Academy Located Just behind Trees)

Several buildings that date back to the time of Municipal Stadium remain at the site, including a distinctive red brick, two story home that sits directly across the street from what was once the right field entrance to Municipal Stadium.

Park At Intersection of 22nd Street and Brooklyn Avenue Honoring Memory of Kansas City Municipal Stadium

Two other buildings of note are the Lincoln College Preparatory Academy at  2111 Woodland Avenue which sits just behind what was once the third base grandstand, and Lincoln Junior High School on 23rd Street, the back side of which sits across the street from what was once the first base grandstand.

Red Brick House Located Just South of Main Entrance (Former Right Field Corner) Kansas City Municipal Stadium Site at Intersection of 22nd Street and Brooklyn Avenue

The Negro League  Baseball Museum at 1616 East 18th Street in Kansas City is located less than a mile northeast of the former site of Municipal Stadium. In addition to telling the history of the Negro Leagues, the museum includes several artifacts from the ballpark. For people visiting the museum, a stop at the intersection of 22nd Street and Brooklyn Avenue to see where the game once was played is a must.

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I Still Can’t Believe They Tore Down Tiger Stadium

November 7th, 2013
by Byron Bennett

From 1896 until 1999, professional baseball was played in Detroit at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Trumbull Street, or as locals called it, “the Corner.”

View of Tiger Stadium Looking East from Harrison and Cherry Streets

In the one hundred plus years of baseball at the Corner, there have been four different stadium incarnations. The first was Bennett Park, constructed of wood with room for 10,000 fans. The Western League Detroit Tigers (a minor league team) began play at Bennett Park when it opened in 1896.

"Bennett Field," Detroit, 1907 World Series (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

This early incarnation of Tiger Stadium was named after Charlie Bennett, a former Detroit catcher and fan favorite whose career was permanently derailed when he lost both legs in a train accident.

Detroit Wolverines Star Charlie Bennett (Allen & Ginter's card, LOC P&P Div.)

The Detroit Tigers, a charter member of the newly-established American League, began play at Bennett Field in 1901. The Tigers brought home to Detroit three consecutive American League pennants during their first decade, in 1907, 1908, and 1909, under the tutelage of former Baltimore Orioles star Hughie Jennings.  In 1912, Bennett Park was replaced with a new concrete and steel structure that increased seating to 23,000. Renamed Navin Field in honor of Tigers owner Frank Navin, the location of home plate was moved from what previously had been right field (near the intersection of Cochrane and Fischer) to an area near the the intersection of Cochrane and Michigan.

Navin Park Postcard (Curt Teich Company, Chicago, Photochrom)

Over time the ballpark was expanded to seat more than 54,000 fans and, in 1938, was renamed Briggs Stadium after Tigers owner Walter Briggs.

Briggs Stadium Postcard (Hiawatha Card Company, Plastichrome by Colourpicture)

In 1961 the ballpark was renamed Tiger Stadium.

Tiger Stadium at the Corner of Michigan and Trumbull

 

Near the main entrance to Tiger Stadium at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull were three historical markers.

Tiger Stadium Looking Northwest Down Trumbull

The first one stated simply “Tiger Stadium” and was located to the right of the entrance to the Tigers’ administrative offices at 2121 Trumbull Street.

Tiger Stadium Plaque Once Located at Corner of Michigan and Trumbull

To the left of the entrance was a plaque honoring Ty Cobb. That plaque was moved to Comerica Park and can be found to the right of the entrance to the Tigers’ administrative offices at 260 East Montcalm Street.

Ty Cobb Plaque That Once Hung Outside Tiger Stadium Next to The Executive Offices and Now Resides at Comerica Park

To the left of Ty Cobb’s plaque at Tiger Stadium was a Michigan historical marker honoring the ballpark. Dedicated during the 75th Anniversary Celebration of the Detroit Tigers, the cast-aluminum plaque was stolen from Tiger Stadium in 2006. Its whereabouts currently is unknown  except by the thieves who stole it.

Tiger Stadium Historical Plaque Dedicated August 23, 1976, In Honor of 75th Anniversary of Tiger Stadium

Tiger Stadium was bounded by Michigan Avenue to the south, Trumbull to the east, West Fischer Service Drive to the north, and Cochrane Street to the west. Home plate, located near the intersection of Michigan and Cochrane, faced southwest.

Tiger Stadium With Orioles Brady Anderson At The Plate

Tiger Stadium’s light stanchions were things of beauty all to themselves. Installed in 1948, their cantilever design was reminiscent of  those still in use at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama.

Left Field Corner and Light Stanchions, Tiger Stadium

It was hard to take a bad picture of Tiger Stadium. No matter where you stood inside the seating bowl, every angle of the stadium offered a postcard-like view.

View of Right Field Porch, Tiger Stadium

View of Infield from First Base Grandstand, Tiger Stadium

The home and away team bullpens were located in foul territory, with the home team’s along the third base foul line and the away team’s along the first base foul line. The lower seating bowl, from the right field corner around to the left field corner, offered fans seats close to the action on the field.

Tiger Stadium, Right Field Corner Looking Toward Home

The center field porch was the only section of the ballpark without a covered grandstand.

Tiger Stadium Center Field Deck and Flag Pole

At the start of the 2000  season, the Tigers moved to Comerica Park, located less than two miles northeast of Tiger Stadium. Over the next several years, Detroit officials debated what to do with the city’s historic landmark. Former Tigers Broadcaster Ernie Harwell led a group of preservationists who fought valiantly to save at least a section of the old stadium. Unfortunately, without sufficient funds or a plan in place for reuse of the structure, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick took the easy way out and ordered the stadium’s demolition.

Comerica Park - Home of the Detroit Tigers

The ballpark may be gone, but the field remains, as does the center field flag pole.

Tiger Stadium Center Field Flag Pole

Likewise, a portion of the iron fence that enclosed Tiger Plaza and ran along Michigan Avenue remains on the site. The fence was installed about 1994 and is visible in the picture below, to the left of Michigan Avenue.

View From Top of Tiger Stadium Looking East Down Michigan Avenue Toward Downtown

A group of ballpark enthusiasts known as Navins Field Grounds Crew is preserving the field. A movie about their efforts, Stealing Home, debuted in Detroit in the fall of 2013. Although the city has yet to decide the fate of the field, hopefully Detroit’s current administration recognizes the historical significance of the site and will allow what is left of the ballpark to remain as a public park.

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The Astrodome – “The Eighth Wonder Of The World” – But Not For Long

November 4th, 2013
by Byron Bennett

The Astrodome was the first multi-purpose, domed stadium in the country. Opened in 1965, it was home to the National League Houston Astros. The American Football League Oilers began play at the Astrodome in 1968 (the Oilers joined the National Football League in 1970).

Houston Astrodome From Fannin Street, Circa 2000

During its first year, the venue also was known as the Harris County Domed Stadium. The Astrodome replaced Houston Colt 45′s Stadium where the Astros played from 1962 to 1964. The Colt 45′s Stadium, which can be seen in the background of the postcard below, was demolished in 1970 and is now the Astrodome’s North Parking Lot.

Harris County Domed Stadium - Soon to be Renamed the Astrodome - With Houston Colt 45 Stadium in Background (Postcard publisher not specified)

Called the “Eighth Wonder of the World” when it was built, the Astrodome was the first major league baseball stadium with air conditioning.

Houston Astrodome From Third Base side Looking Toward Home Plate, Astrodome, Circa 2000, Southern Baptist Leadership Conference

The dome spans 642 feet. With retractable seats, the Astrodome held 45,000 spectators for baseball and 54,000 for football.

Houston Astrodome Left and Center Field Circa 2000

The Astrodome’s roof is 208 feet high, which is approximately 18 stories in height. The roof has 4,596 Lucite skylights that originally were designed to allow grass to grow inside the stadium.

Houston Astrodome Skylights

However, that grand experiment soon came to an end. The Astrodome’s skylights caused players to lose sight of fly balls so the panels were painted, which ultimately contributed to grass no longer being able to grow inside the stadium.

The Houston Astrodome: "Beautiful Astro Turf covers the baseball playing field" (Postcard - Astrocard Company)

In 1966, a newly developed artificial grass known as ChemGrass was installed in the Astrodome. That product soon became known as Astroturf.

The Houston Astrodome at Twilight (Postcard - Astrocard Company)

The Oilers departed the Astrodome – and Houston – after the 1997 season. The Astros left the Astrodome after the 1999 season, moving eight miles northeast to a new ballpark, known now as Minute Maid Park.

Enron Field - Now Minute Maid Park - the Home of the Houston Astros

Soon after the Astros vacated the Astrodome, construction began on Reliant Stadium, which would house a new National Football League expansion team. The Houston Texans now play at Reliant Stadium, located just west of the Astrodome. The Astrodome has since been renamed the Reliant Astrodome.

Marquee For Reliant Astrodome - Fannin Street

Events continued to be held in the Reliant Astrodome up until 2009.

Entrance to Reliant Astrodome From Fannin Street, Circa 2007

On November 2, 2013, a “Yard Sale” was held at the Reliant Astrodome, giving people a chance to purchase items such as stadium seats and Astroturf. An auction also was held to sell off more unique items such as player’s lockers and turnstiles.

Unfortunately, the future looks bleak for the Reliant Astrodome. A voter referendum that would have approved $217 million in bonds to renovate the Astrodome as a convention and exhibition center was defeated on November 5, 2013. Although a final decision on the Astrodome will be made by local county officials, the referendum’s defeat sealed the fate of the world’s Eighth Wonder. It is just a matter of time before the Astrodome is demolished, consigned to history as another lost ballpark.

[UPDATE: KUHF Houston reports that the Astrodome recently was added to the National Park Services list of historic places (thanks to Rob Noel for the tip). Although the historic designation does not effect the city's ability to demolish the Astrodome, it certainly demonstrates how at least some people in Houston feel about the ballpark and may be a step in the right direction of possibility saving the stadium from demolition.]

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Montreal Stadium – Delorimier Downs

November 1st, 2013
by Byron Bennett

Montreal Stadium was located at the intersection of Rue Ontario and Avenue De Lorimier in Montreal.  Constructed in 1928, the concrete and steel stadium was home to the International League Montreal Royals.

DeLorimier Park Montreal (public domain)

The stadium also was known as Delorimier Stadium or Delorimier Downs because of its location on the avenue named in honor of French Canadian explorer Pierre-Louis Lorimier.

Avenue DeLorimier and Rue Lariviere - Former Location of Montreal Stadium Home Plate

The Royals were the AAA affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers and many players from their 1955 World Series championship team played in Montreal, including Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Roy Campanella, as well as Don Newcombe, Carl Furillo, and Jim Gilliam. Hall of Famers Don Drysdale and Tommy Lasorda also played in Montreal as Royals.  Montreal Stadium is where Jackie Robinson made his debut in 1946, after having played one year with the Negro American League Kansas City Monarchs. Dodgers owner Branch Rickey thought Montreal a better location for starting the integration of professional baseball than the United States, although Robinson actually began the 1946 season on the road at Jersey City’s Roosevelt Stadium.

Montreal Stadium Home Plate Marker, Avenue De Lorimier and Rue Lariviere (Note Plaque Was Missing At Time I Took the Picture).

Home plate was located near the intersection of Delorimier and Lariviere. The third base foul line ran along Delorimier while first base paralleled Ontario. A plaque near that intersection notes the historical significance of the site.

The Royals played their final game at Delorimier Downs in 1960 and the ballpark was razed in 1965.

Delorimier Downs - Pierre-Dupuy School Construction Showing Stadium Bleachers

The Pierre Dupuy School, a French language high school, now occupies the site. Two school soccer fields reside in what was once the third base and left field foul line.

Pierre Dupuy School on the Former Site of Montreal Stadium

Center Field was located at the intersection of Rue Parthenais and Rue Lariviere.

Intersection of Rue Parthenais and Rue Lariviere, Former Location of Montreal Stadium Center Field

Left field bordered Lariviere.

Looking Southwest Down Rue Lariviere Toward Former Left Field Corner of Montreal Stadium

Right field bordered Parthenais.

Rue Parthenais Looking Southeast, Former Location of Montreal Stadium Right Field (Grover Building On Left)

Several buildings that date to the time of Montreal Stadium remain at the site.

DeLorimier Downs, Montreal, World War Two Bond Drive With Grover Building Beyond Right Field (http://vieillemarde.com/stade-delorimier-stadium-montreal)

Most notable is the Grover Knitting Mill, which can be seen in the picture above, behind the right field fence. The building runs the length of the site on Parthenais.

Grover Building, Rue Parthenais (Located Beyond Montreal Stadium Former Right Field)

Since 1994 the former textile mill has been the home to over 200 artist’s studios.

Entrance to Grover Building on Rue Parthenais, mid block

Montreal has renamed the former site of the stadium “Place des Royals.” Although it has been a lost ballpark for decades, the city has done well in preserving the memory of the ballpark and its place in baseball history.

Palace Des Royaux, Former Site of Montreal Stadium

Should you visit there, be sure also to visit Montreal’s two other professional baseball sites, Jarry Park, home of the Montreal Expos from 1969 to 1976, and Olympic Stadium, home of the Expos from 1977 to 2005.

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Louisville’s Parkway Field and Cardinal Stadium

October 31st, 2013
by Byron Bennett

Parkway Field was located at the intersection of Eastern Parkway and South Brook Street in Louisville, Kentucky.

Parkway Field, Louisville, Kentucky (Postcard Publisher Unknown)

Constructed in 1923 on land purchased from the University of Louisville, Parkway Field was the home ballpark of the Minor League American Association Louisville Colonels from 1923 until 1956. An earlier incarnation of the American Association Louisville Colonels played major league baseball in that city from 1885 to 1891 (they were the Louisville Eclipse from 1882-1884), when the American Association was considered a major league. Hall of Famer Honus Wagner was one notable Louisville player from that era.

View From Behind Home Plate Toward Right Field

The Colonel’s played for over three decades at Parkway Field, its final season being 1956. In 1952 the University of Louisville had begun playing its home games at Parkway Field and, in 1953, the University repurchased the land and ballpark. The University continued to play baseball there up through the 1997 season.

The University’s football team likewise played at Parkway Field. Notable alumni, Hall of Famer, Johnny Unitas, played all four years of his college career at Parkway Field, from 1951 to 1954.

Parkway Field Looking Down First Base Line Toward Home Plate

Parkway Field’s grandstand was torn down in 1961 and replaced by wooden dugouts and a chain link backstop. The original brick left and right field walls remained on site for another 40 years, until they were demolished in 2004.

Third Base Side Dugout, Parkway Field

The ballpark hosted several Negro League teams including the National Negro League Louisville White Sox in 1931, the Negro Southern League  Louisville Black Caps in 1932, the Negro American League Louisville Buckeyes in 1949, and the Negro American League Louisville Black Colonels in 1954.

Parkway Field, Left Field Wall

Famous Colonels who played at Parkway Field include Hall of Famers Billy Herman, Earle Combs, and Pee Wee Reese. In 1946, Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson played his first professional playoff game at Parkway Field, when the Louisville Colonels hosted the Montreal Royals in the first three games of the Junior World Series.

 

Detail of Left Field Wall, Parkway Field (With Parkway Behind Fence)

Other Hall of Famers who played at Parkway Field include Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, who barnstormed there in the 1920s, and Satchel Paige.

Parkway Field, Right Field Wall

Although nothing from the original stadium remains at the site, the field itself is still used as an athletic field, home to University’s intramural soccer and football programs.

Detail of Right Field Wall, Parkway Field

Some of the green-painted bricks that were once a part of Parkway Field’s outfield wall were reused in construction of the University’s new baseball stadium, Jim Patterson Stadium. Located a mile south of Parkway Field, at the intersection of 3rd Street and Central Avenue, the stadium includes a plaque noting the historical significance of those bricks.

Bricks From Parkway Field Reused at Jim Patterson Stadium (photo: Bkell from en.wikipedia commons)

In 1957 the American Association Louisville Colonels moved to Fairgrounds Stadium. The ballpark is located on the Kentucky State Fairgrounds, one and a half miles southeast of Parkway Field at the intersection of KFEC Gate 4 Drive and Circle of Champions.

Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, Kentucky Looking Toward Felt Field

Fairgrounds Stadium - Later Renamed Cardinal Stadium

After the American Association folded in 1962, professional baseball departed Louisville. In 1969 professional baseball returned to Fairground Stadium when the Colonels joined the International League, playing there through the 1972 season. Notable Colonels who played at Fairgrounds Stadium include Hall of Famers Phil Niekro and Carlton Fisk, as well as Dwight Evans, Luis Tiant, and Cecil Cooper.

Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, Kentucky

Fairgrounds Stadium almost became a major league venue in 1964 when Charlie Finley, owner of the Kansas City Athletics, staged an unsuccessful campaign with Major League Baseball to move his team to Louisville.

Entrance To Cardinal Stadium

The University of Louisville’s football team played at the stadium since its opening in 1957 and at the end of the 1972 season, with the departure again of professional baseball, Fairgrounds Stadium underwent a major renovation to accommodate primarily football.

View From the Left Field Stands Towards Home Plate, Cardinal Field

In 1982 professional baseball returned to Louisville. Fairground Stadium was renamed Cardinal Stadium with the arrival of the St. Louis Cardinal’s affiliate, the Louisville Redbirds, who played in the newly reformed American Association. That same year the Louisville became the first minor league team to draw 800,000 fans in one season (aided no doubt by the ballpark’s 30,000 seats). The following year, the Redbirds broke the minor league home attendance record by bringing in over one million fans.

View From the Third Base Stands, Cardinal Stadium

In 1999, the team changed its name to the Riverbats when it became an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. That season would be the last for professional baseball at Cardinal Stadium.

Right Field Pavilion, Cardinal Stadium

The University of Louisville baseball team continued to play at Cardinal Stadium through the 2004 season.

Left Field Scoreboard, Cardinal Stadium

The Louisville Bats now play their home games at Louisville Slugger Field, a 14,000 seat stadium located in downtown Louisville, three and one half miles north of Parkway Field.

Louisville Slugger Field - Current Home of the Louisville Bats

Although Cardinal Stadium remains standing, its days are clearly numbered. In 2013 the grandstand seating areas were deemed unsafe and condemned. The city currently is debating  the stadium’s fate, which looks to be eventual demolition of the facility.

Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum

Louisville has a long, rich history of professional baseball. For people interested in seeing for themselves where the game once was played, Louisville is certainly worth a visit, When searching out the locations of Parkway Field and Cardinal Stadium, be sure also to stop by the Louisville Slugger Factory and have your picture taken next to the “world’s largest bat.” The history of that company, and its ties to Louisville and major league baseball, warrants a post all unto itself.

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Posted in Cardinal Stadium, Kentucky ballparks, Parkway Field | Comments (2)

Westport Stadium – Baltimore’s Last Negro League Ballpark

October 28th, 2013
by Byron Bennett

Westport Stadium was Baltimore’s last Negro League ballpark. Located in Westport, a Baltimore neighborhood just south of the intersection of I-95 and I-295, the ballpark was the home field of the 1950 Negro American League Baltimore Elite Giants. Previously, the Elite Giants had played their home games primarily at Bugle Field located in East Baltimore at the intersection of Federal Street and Edison Highway. Westport Stadium is not to be confused with Westport Park, where the Negro League Baltimore Black Sox played their home games from 1917-1920 and which was located two miles north at 1701 Russell Street (now a Holiday Inn Express).

Entrance to Westport Stadium on Annapolis Road (Bob Williams photo from the Larry Jendras Jr. Collection)

After the Elite Giants departed Westport Stadium in 1951, the field was used primarily for NASCAR events, although Negro League All Star Teams still occasionally played at Westport into the mid 1950′s and the Indianapolis Clowns played yearly exhibition games there until the early 1960s. Also, in May 1953, Willie Mays (then in the Army stationed at Fort Eustis, Virginia) played in a double header at Westport Stadium for the Newport News Royals, who faced the Yokely Baltimore Stars. Laymon Yokely was a former Baltimore Black Sox and Elite Giant who barnstormed with his own semi-pro team.

For more information about Westport Stadium’s connection to NASCAR racing, see thevintageracer.com (and many thanks to Larry Jendras, Jr., for sharing his knowledge of Westport Stadium).

Westport Stadium (Bob Williams photo from the Larry Jendras Jr. Collection)

The stadium was located on a triangular shaped piece of property north of the intersection of Patapsco Avenue and Annapolis Road and just south of the Baltimore Washington Parkway (I-295).

USGS Image Of Westport Stadium (Road to Left of Home Plate is Annapolis Road)

The entrance to Westport Stadium was located on Annapolis Road, just north of what is now the Patapsco Arena. The actual ball field was located below grade level, at the base of approximately 25 to 30 rows of seats.

Patapsco Arena, Located Just South of Westport Stadium's Former Site

The entrance to Westport Stadium, like much if not all of the former ballpark, is buried under tons of landfill.

Former Location of Entrance to Westport Stadium

Westport Stadium’s NASCAR operations ceased in 1963 and the stadium eventually was filled in with sludge and debris from excavation from the Baltimore Harbor and the construction of Camden Yards.

Former Location of Left Field Corner Just Beyond Top of Earthen Berm

Westport Stadium was primarily an earthen stadium, much like Baltimore’s Municipal Stadium (also known as Baltimore Stadium, Venable Stadium, and Babe Ruth Stadium), which eventually became the site of Memorial Stadium. A portion of Westport’s earthen berm is still evident around the back side of Westport Stadium’s former site, near what was once the right field corner.

Pathway To Former Right Field Corner, Westport Stadium

The entire infield and outfield is now covered with asphalt placed on top of the landfill.

Looking North From Former Right Field Corner Toward Third Base

Railroad tracks are located behind the backside of the former ballpark, beyond what was once center field. A gravel parking lot for the ballpark was once located alongside those railroad tracks.

Looking Northwest Toward Former Location of Westport Stadium's Center Field

A two lane asphalt ramp now runs parallel to what was once the area behind left field.

Looking North Toward Westport Stadium's Former Left Field Corner

Home plate was located behind Westport Stadium’s main entrance on Annapolis Road.

Looking East From Annapolis Road Toward Former Location of Home Plate and Infield

Somewhere underneath the asphalt and landfill material is a lost ballpark, historic not only for its connection to Negro League baseball, but also for its connection to NASCAR’s early years.

The Remains of Westport Stadium Waiting To Be Excavated

The former ballpark remains buried, awaiting perhaps some future excavation or archaeological dig.  Until that time, it is still possible to gain an appreciation for Westport Stadium by simply walking around the site and seeing the earthen berm that sat just beyond the stadium’s right field corner.

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