Sanford Field, Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium, and Sanford Museum

May 17th, 2020
by Byron Bennett

Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium is located at 1201 S. Mellonville Avenue in Sanford, Florida.

Entrance Sign, Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium, Sanford, Florida

One block south of Sanford Memorial Stadium, at the northeast corner of South Mellonville Avenue and Celery Avenue, is the former site of Sanford Field.

Former Site of Sanford Field, Intersection of South Mellonville, Sanford, Florida (photo taken in 2017; a black painted metal fence now surrounds the site)

The two ballparks coexisted briefly.

Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium and Sanford Field (courtesy of the Sanford Museum)

Sanford Field was constructed in 1926.  It included a simple, wooden grandstand and bleacher seating along third base.

Sanford Field, Sanford, Florida (courtesy of Sanford Museum)

The ballpark was demolished during the early 1950s and replaced, for a time, with dormitories to house players during spring training.

Sanford Minor League Baseball Compound, Sanford, Florida (courtesy of Sanford Museum)

Today, the former site of Sanford Field is an open grass field.

Former Site of Sanford Field, Sanford, Florida, Looking from Center Field Toward Home Plate

Former Site of Sanford Field, Sanford, Florida, Looking from Home Plate Down Left Field Line

Former Site of Sanford Field, Sanford, Florida, Looking from Home Plate Down Right Field Line

According to baseballreference.com, minor league baseball was played in Sanford as far back as 1919, beginning with the Sanford Celeryfeds of the Florida State League.

Sanford Celeryfeds, Sanford Field, Sanford, Florida, with Uniforms Depicting Celery Stalks  (courtesy of the Sanford Museum)

The Celeryfeds, so named because celery was a major crop grown there, played in Sanford from 1919 to 1920, from 1925 to 1928, and again in 1946.

Florida State League Sanford Giants (courtesy of the Sanford Museum)

Other Sanford team names included the Lookouts, from 1936 to 1939, the Seminoles, from 1940 to 1941, and again in 1947, the Giants, from 1948 to 1951, the Seminole Blues in 1952, the Cardinals in 1953 and 1955, and the Greyhounds, from 1959 to 1960.  Major league teams affiliated with Sanford Florida State League teams, include the Washington Senators, from 1936 to 1939, and in 1959, the New York Giants, from 1948 to 1951, the St. Louis Cardinals, in 1953 and 1955, and the Kansas City Athletics in 1959.

The Washington Senators’ affiliate, the Sanford Lookouts, in 1937, included future Hall of Famer Early Wynn.

Sanford Museum Display Honoring Local Hero and Hall of Famer Early Wynn

According to a Washington Post article, “[b]ecause his Aunt Sophie happened to live in Sanford, Fla., where the Chattanooga club was holding a baseball school, and because he happened to be visiting her at the time, Earl Wynn is now a bright young pitching prospect of the Nats.”  “Nats Rookie Parade at Orlando Camp,” Washington Post, February 22, 1940: 20.  Another notable team, the 1939  Sanford Lookouts, posted a record of 98-35, and were ranked by Minor League Baseball the 68th greatest team in minor league history.

Exhibition games and spring training have played an important part of Sanford’s baseball history.  In the 1930s, the Chattanooga Lookouts held spring training at Sanford Field, including games against its parent club, the Washington Senators.  “Exhibition Baseball,” Washington Post, April 2, 1937:19.  Washington also held four-week baseball schools for hopeful rookies at Sanford Field.  “Nats Open Baseball School,” Washington Post, March 1, 1937: 11.  In May 1936, the Ethiopian Clowns played a game at Sanford Field, beating the Sanford team 14-1. “Watching the Scoreboard,” Chicago Defender, May 30, 1936: 14.

In 1942, for one season, the Boston Braves moved their spring training camp from Texas to Sanford Field, with Casey Stengel at the helm for the Braves.  “Training Plans Set By Major Leagues,” Washington Post, January 25, 1942: 55; “Lombardi Slugs Hard, Hitting 19 Over Fence,” Washington Post, March 4, 1942: 18.  That one season, Stengel brought his unique personality to Sanford.  A newspaper account for March 13, 1942, reports “[r]ather than bucking the Friday-the-Thirteenth jinx, Manager Casey Stengel today called off his Boston Braves’ inter-squad game and limited his players to light batting and field drills.”  “Fearing Jinx, Stengel Cuts Out Braves’ Game,” Washington Post, March 14, 1942:15.

In 1946, Jackie Robinson played for the International League Montreal Royals, a Brooklyn Dodgers farm club.  The Dodgers held spring training that year at City Island Park in Daytona Beach Florida, with some of the Dodger’s minor league clubs training 40 miles southwest at Sanford Field.  Alicia Clarke, the now recently-retired Curator of the Sanford Museum, related to me the story of Robinson’s time in Sanford.

Sanford Field, Brooklyn Dodgers Spring Training, February 1946, Sanford, Florida

Robinson arrived in Sanford along with his wife, Rachel Robinson, in early March 1946.  Robinson spent March 4, 1946, his first day of training, at Sanford Field, along with teammate Johnny Wright.  Robinson and Wright stayed in a private residence in a neighborhood located less than a mile west of Sanford Field.

Intersection of East 6th Street and South Sanford Avenue, Sanford, Florida

The house where they stayed, located at 612 S. Sanford Avenue, was owned by David C. Brock, and today remains a private residence.

612 S. Sanford Avenue, Sanford, Florida, Where Robinson and Wright Stayed During Their Brief Time in Sanford, Florida

Front Entrance, 612 S. Sanford Avenue, Sanford, Florida, Where Jackie and Rachel Robinson Stayed During Their Brief Time in Sanford, Florida

After the second day of practice, Branch Rickey ordered Robinson and Wright to leave Sanford and travel to Daytona Beach, after Rickey was informed of racial threats made against Robinson and Wright while staying at at the Brock home.

Newspaper Clipping and Photo of Jackie Robinson with Montreal Teammates Bob Fontaine, Johnny Wright, and Hank Behrman (clipping believed to be from Brooklyn Daily Eagle – accompanying article written by Eagle Sportswriter Harold Burr)

Twelve days later, Robinson would make history at City Island Park in Daytona Beach, on March 17, 1946, when he played for the Royals in his first minor league game.

Jackie Robinson Ballpark at City Island Park, Daytona Beach, Florida

The Royals returned to Sanford on April 7, 1946, to play a game against Dodgers’ affiliate, the American Association St. Paul Saints.

Sanford Field, Brooklyn Dodgers Spring Training, February 1946, Sanford, Florida, Much How it would Appear on April 7, 1946, when Robinson Took the Field

Robinson played in the first and perhaps second inning of the game, but departed after being ordered off the field by the Sanford police chief.  The incident was covered in the press, not by the local Sanford paper, but by the Montreal Gazette.

April 8, 1946, Montreal Gazette Article About Jackie Robinson’s One Inning of Baseball in Sanford, Florida (courtesy Sanford Museum)

The ballpark in Daytona Beach is named in Robinson’s honor, and its current resident, the Daytona Tortugas, are in the process of renovating the former site of Kelly Field, located at George Engram Boulevard and Keech Street, in Daytona Beach, Florida, where the Royals practiced after departing Sanford.  On the occasion of 50th anniversary of Robinson’s first major league game with the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Mayor of Sanford, on April 15, 1997, issued a proclamation apologizing for the way in which Robinson was treated in Sanford in 1946.

Jackie Robinson Ballpark, Daytona Beach, Florida

In December 1947, the Giants signed a five-year lease of the former Naval Air Station in Sanford.  “Giants Lease Sanford Air Base Five Years As Florida Spring Camp For 15 Farm Clubs,” New York Times, December 28, 1947: S1.  Naval Air Station Sanford, which played an important role during World War II training carrier-based Navy pilots, was decommissioned in 1946, and the New York Giants leased a portion of the former airfield to the west of the runways for its minor league baseball operations.

Sanford Museum Display of Aerial Photo, New York Giants Farm System Training Site, Sanford, Florida (courtesy of the Sanford Museum)

The Giants constructed eight full size ballfields on what is now the northwest corner of East Airport Boulevard and Carrier Avenue.

New York Giants Farm Clubs Training Site at Former Naval Air Station, Sanford, Florida (courtesy of the Sanford Museum)

Six of the ballfields were clustered just south of 30th Street.  The two additional fields were located north of the six practice fields, one near the southwest corner of 29th Street and Carrier Avenue, and the other near the southwest corner of 28th Street and Carrier Avenue.

Aerial Photo of New York Giants Farm System Training Site at Former Naval Air Station, Sanford, Florida. The road running the bottom of the Photo, Angling to the Right, is Carrier Avenue (courtesy of the Sanford Museum)

Beginning in 1948, 15 of the Giants’ 20 clubs conducted spring training at the former air station.  The Giants took over use of the administrative buildings and dormitories as well.  The Giants also utilized Sanford Field.

Carl Hubbell and Congressman Eugene McCarthy at Sanford Field, 1950 (courtesy of Sanford Museum)

Former Giants great and Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell was put in charge of the Giant’s Sanford operations.

Sanford Museum Display Honoring Mel Ott

On March 17, 1948, Babe Ruth visited Sanford as part of a promotional tour for Ford Motor Company.

Babe Ruth with Babe Ruth Day, March 17, 1948, Sanford, Florida (courtesy Sanford Museum)

The Sanford Museum includes displays highlighting Babe Ruth Day in Sanford, including pictures of Ruth at the local newspaper office and sitting in the grandstand at Sanford Field. Ruth would pass away just three months later, on August 16, 1948.

Babe Ruth at Sanford Field, Sanford, Florida, on Babe Ruth Day, March 17, 1948 (courtesy Sanford Museum)

The American Association Minneapolis Millers wee one of the Giants affiliates who moved their spring training to Sanford.  “Training Sites Are Selected,” Baltimore Sun, January 8, 1949: 13.  In 1948, Giants owner Horace Stoneham purchased the Mayfair Hotel to house players, as well as the Mayfair Country Club, to provide recreation for his players and to increase tourism in the area.

Mayfair Hotel, Sanford, Florida

Stoneham renovated the hotel, renaming it the Mayfair Inn.

Sanford Museum Display of Mayfair Inn Dining Service and Accoutrements

With the onset of the Korean War in 1951, the Navy reclaimed the air station, thereby requiring that the Giants vacate the expansive minor league training camp.  The Giants moved operations just a couple miles north to land adjacent to Sanford Field, and in 1951 constructed a new ballpark, Sanford Memorial Stadium.

Sanford Memorial Stadium Grandstand, Sanford, Florida (courtesy Sanford Museum)

Sanford Memorial Stadium, Sanford, Virginia

The stadium was “Dedicated To The Memory Of The Men And Women Of Seminole County Who Served Their County In All Wars.”

Sanford Memorial Stadium Dedication Plaque, Sanford, Florida

The Giants also constructed additional practice fields near the stadium.  Willie Mays was one of many former Giants who trained as minor leaguers at Sanford Memorial Stadium.

Sanford Memorial Stadium, Sanford, Florida

Three of the practice fields were constructed to the east of the stadium, and a fourth field was constructed just southeast of the stadium.

Sanford Memorial Stadium and Practice Fields, Sanford, Florida

The Giants conducted minor league spring training at Sanford throughout the 1950s.  With the major league Giants’ move to San Francisco in 1958, however, the Giants soon wound down their operations in Sanford.

Today, Hamilton Elementary School sits on the former site of three of the Giants’ practice fields.

Hamilton Elementary School, Sanford, Florida

Located behind Stanford Memorial Stadium is Zinn Beck “Field of Legends” – adjacent to what was once the Giants’ western-most minor league practice field.

Zinn Beck Field Located Behind Historic Stanford Memorial Stadium

Chase Park, located next to the stadium site at 1300 Celery Avenue, includes additional youth baseball fields.

Entrance to Chase Park, Sanford, Florida

The Herbert H. Whitey Eckstein Youth Sports Complex is named in honor of the father of David and Rick Eckstein, a high school teacher and coach in Sanford.

The Herbert H. Whitey Eckstein Youth Sports Complex, Sanford, Florida

Baseball Complex, Part of the Herbert H. Whitey Eckstein Youth Sports Complex

One of the four baseball fields that make up the Eckstein sports complex – Field Four – is located on the former site of one of the Giants’ minor league practice fields.

Eckstein Complex “Field Four” Located on Former Site of Giants’ Minor League Practice Field, Sanford Florida

In 2001, the City of Sanford renovated Sanford Memorial Stadium, renaming it Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium.

Dedication P:laque Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium, Renovated 2001, Sanford, Florida

The stadium, however, retains much of its 1950s charm.

Grandstand, Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium, Sanford, Florida

Press Box, Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium, Sanford, Florida

A Concrete Block Wall Dating to 1951 Surrounds Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium, Sanford, Florida

In 2009, the Seminole County Naturals of Florida Winter Baseball League played their home games at Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium home.  They were the last professional team to call the stadium their home.

Scoreboard, Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium, Sanford, Florida

Currently, the Florida Collegiate Summer League Sanford River Bats play their home contests at Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium home.

Grandstand, Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium, Sanford, Florida

Light Stanchion, Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium, Sanford, Florida

Entrance to Grandstand, Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium, Sanford, Florida

The Sanford Museum is located at 520 East 1st Street, along the shores of the St. John’s River.

Sanford Museum, Sanford, Florida

In addition to the many displays and photographs noted above, the museum includes memorabilia and photographs of notable Sanford residents who played professional baseball, such as Hall of Famer Andre Dawson.

Sanford Museum Display Honoring Sanford Native Andre Dawson

The Eckstein Brothers, David and Rick, grew up in Sanford, and the museum includes a display celebrating David Eckstein’s 2006 World Series exploits.

Sanford Museum Display Honoring 2006 World Series MVP David Eckstein

Sports announcer Walter Lanier “Red” Barber lived in Sanford, beginning at the age of 10.  Barber as the voice of the Brooklyn Dodgers during the 1930s and 1940s, suggested to team executives that the Dodgers hold spring training in Sanford.

Sanford Museum Display for Hall of Fame Sports Announcer Red Barber

If you visit Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium, or find yourself in or around Orlando or Daytona Beach, be sure to stop by the Sanford Museum. It is wonderful place to spend an afternoon, lost in baseball history.

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Fleming Stadium and the North Carolina Baseball Museum

April 11th, 2020
by Byron Bennett

Fleming Stadium is located at 300 Stadium Street SW, in Wilson, North Carolina.

Fleming Stadium, Wilson, North Carolina

It also houses the North Carolina Baseball Museum, located on the stadium ground past the third base grandstand.

Fleming Stadium and North Carolina Baseball Museum Sign, Wilson, North Carolina

According to Chris Epting’s Roadside Baseball: The Locations of America’s Baseball Landmarks, Fleming Stadium was erected in 1938 as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project, with the stadium’s official dedication on June 29, 1939.

Fleming Stadium, Wilson, North Carolina

When it opened, the stadium was known as Wilson Municipal Park. In 1948, the name changed to Wilson Municipal Stadium and in 1952, it was renamed Fleming Memorial Stadium, in honor of Allie W. Fleming, former president of the minor league team that played there.  Mr. Fleming passed away in 1952.  His house is part of the Wilson, North Carolina, Historic District and is located at 112 North Rountree Street in Wilson.

Plaque Honoring Allie W. Fleming, Fleming Stadium, Wilson, North Carolinaa

Mr. Fleming worked in the tobacco industry.  According to the Wilson Historic District National Register of Historic Places application, “[i]n 1939 Fleming, a former summer semi-pro baseball player, joined with a group of businessmen to purchase the Ayden franchise of the Coast [sic] Plain League and re-establish professional baseball in Wilson. He was president and general manager of the “Wilson Tobacconists” for the several years they were active in Wilson.”  https://files.nc.gov/ncdcr/nr/WL0007.pdf.

Infield on a Rainy Day, Fleming Stadium, North Carolina

In 1939, the Coastal Plain League was a Class-D league consisting of eight teams, the Goldsboro Goldbugs, the Greenville Greenies, Kinston Eagles, New Bern Bears, Snow Hill Billies, the Tarboro Serpents/Goobers, the Williamston Martins, and the Wilson Tobacconists.  https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/league.cgi?id=f1db885b.

Grandstand, Fleming Stadium, Wilson, North Carolina

At some point after the team’s arrival in 1939, the Wilson Tobacconists’ name was shortened the Wilson Tobs.  The Tobs were Coastal Plain League  champions from 1940 to 1941.

Scoreboard, Fleming Stadium, Wilson, North Carolina

In 1939, the stadium held 3,800 fans, which was increased to 4,000 in 1950, and 5,000 in 1973.  The dimensions of the ballpark, from left field to center, to right field were 350-380-350  in 1939, and were decreased in 1973 to 332-450-332.  https://www.statscrew.com/venues/v-2937.

Outfield Wall, Fleming Stadium, Wilson, North Carolina

The Coastal Plain League did not play during the 1942 season with the United States’ entry into World War II.  Wilson Tobs joined Bi-State League for just that season, and the Tobs returned to the Coastal Plain League in 1946, through 1952, and won the championship in 1947.  The league folded after the 1952 season.  https://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Wilson_Tobs.

Outfield Wall Signage, Fleming Stadium, Wilson, North Carolina

In 1956, the Tobs joined the Carolina League, where they played until 1968.  The Tobs were affiliated with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1956, the Washington Senators in 1957, and 1960, the Baltimore Orioles  in 1958, the Pittsburgh Pirates 1959, and the Minnesota Twins from 1961 to 1968.  https://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Wilson_Tobs.

Light Stanchion, Fleming Stadium, Wilson, North Carolina

In 1991, the Southern League Carolina Mudcats  played part of their season at Fleming Stadium, before moving to Five County Stadium later that season.

Five County Stadium, Home of the Carolina Mudcats

Since 1997, the summer collegiate wooden bat Wilson Tobs of the Coastal Plain League have called  Fleming Stadium home.  Current Major League Baseball Stars such as Justin Verlander have played at Fleming Stadium for the Tobs.

Wilson Tobs Lineup Board, Fleming Stadium, Wilson, North Carolina

The collegiate Coastal Plain League All-Star games were played at Fleming Stadium in 2000, 2005, and 2012.  https://www.wilsontobs.com/fleming-stadium/History

Office Entrance, Wilson Tobs of the Collegiate Coastal Plain League, Fleming Stadium, Wilson, North Carolina

On September 14, 1955, Elvis Presley performed at Fleming Stadium.  http://scottymoore.net/tourdates50s.html.  In 1987, a scene from the movie Bull Durham was filmed at Fleming Stadium.

First Base Grandstand, Fleming Stadium, Wilson, North Carolina

The scene was filmed along the first base grandstand, with the actors entering between the grandstand and the brick building to the right of the grandstand.  Known as the “rain out scene,” it featured  starsKevin Costner and Tim Robbins.

In 2014, the City of Wilson renovated and added improvements to the ballpark.

Welcome to Wilson Plaque, Fleming Stadium, Wilson, North Carolina

The stadium was rededicated Historic Fleming Stadium by the City Council of the City of Wilson.

Historic Fleming Stadium Plaque, Wilson, North Carolina

Fleming Stadium is a wonderful place to see a game.  The stadium and grounds are well kept and the pride the City of Wilson has for its stadium is apparent as soon as you enter the entrance.

Ticket Booth, Fleming Stadium, Wilson, North Carolina

First Base Grandstand, Fleming Stadium, Wilson, North Carolina

Because the city was careful to maintain the original feel of the ballpark, spending a day or evening  at Fleming Stadium is like stepping back into the 1940s, when the ballpark was built.

Portal Through Which Visitors Can Step Back Into Time , Fleming Stadium, Wilson, North Carolina

Improvements over the years include the replacement of the grandstand seats.

Steel and Plastic Grandstand Seats, Fleming Stadium, Wilson, North Carolina

In renovating the stadium, however, it is evident that care was taken to maintain many of the original features that make the grandstand so unique.

New Aluminum Bench Seating With Original Steel Stair Risers, Fleming Stadium, Wilson, North Carolina

Storage Area Underneath Grandstand, Fleming Stadium, Wilson, North Carolina

Fleming Stadium also is home to the North Carolina Baseball Museum http://ncbaseballmuseum.com/.

Entrance to North Carolina Baseball Museum, Fleming Stadium, Wilson, North Carolina

The museum celebrates the many baseball players from North Carolina, as well as those who played at Fleming Stadium.

North Carolina Baseball Museum, Fleming Stadium, Wilson, North Carolina

The museum features memorabilia from the stadium, such as original wooden stadium seats re-purposed as part of a seating area for museum events.

North Carolina Baseball Museum, Original Stadium Seats, Fleming Stadium, Wilson, North Carolina

On October 15, 1961, a Home Run Derby contest was held at Fleming Stadium, featuring the new Home Run King, Roger Maris, Harmon Killebrew, and Jim Gentile.  A poster from the event hangs in the museum and is signed by Mr. Killebrew.

Home Run Derby Poster, North Carolina Baseball Museum, Fleming Stadium, Wilson, North Carolina

The museum includes display cases featuring Hall of Fame Players who played at Fleming Stadium, such as Rod Carew.

Rod Carew Display, North Carolina Baseball Museum, Fleming Stadium, Wilson, North Carolina

If Fleming Stadium was simply an empty, old ballpark where professional baseball once was played, it still would have been worth the trip off I-95 just to see the vintage 1940 ballpark.  But Fleming Stadium offers so much more, including first class college baseball and an outstanding baseball museum.  It is just 50 miles east of Raleigh, North Carolina, and 30 miles south of Rocky Mount, North Carolina.  Be sure to add it to your baseball pilgrimage list.

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The West Coast Wrigley Field

April 5th, 2020
by Byron Bennett

Wrigley Field was located at 425 East 42nd Place, in Los Angeles, California, on the northwest corner of East 42nd Place and S. Avalon Boulevard.

Fan Photo Front Entrance of Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, California

William Wrigley, owner of the National League Chicago Cubs, became principle owner of the Pacific Coast League California Angels in 1921.  Wrigley set about constructing a ballpark based upon the design of Cubs Park, the home of his National League team.  Wrigley hired architect Zachary Taylor Davis, who had designed Cubs Park, as well as Cominskey Park on the south side of Chicago.  See James Gordon, Los Angeles’ Wrigley Field: “The Finest Edifice in the United States, https://sabr.org/research/los-angeles-wrigley-field-finest-edifice-united-states.

Postcard of “Los Angeles Baseball Park, ‘Wrigley Field.’ Newest And Finest In The United States.” Western Publishing & Novelty Co., Los Angeles, California.

Cubs Park began its existence in 1914 as Weeghman Park, a Federal League ballpark for the Chicago Chifeds (known as the Chicago Whales in 1915). After the Federal League folded at the end of the 1915 season, Charlie Weeghman, owner of the Federal club, purchased a majority ownership of the National League Chicago Cubs and move the team to Weeghman Park.  See James Gordon, Wrigley Field (Los Angeles), https://sabr.org/bioproj/park/3912a666, and Scott Ferkovich, Wrigley Field (Chicago), https://sabr.org/bioproj/park/wrigley-field-chicago.

Postcard “National League ‘Cubs’ Ball Park Chicago” copyright © 1914 Max Rigot,,Published By Max Rogot Selling Company Chicago

Three years later, Wrigley took a controlling ownership of the team and in 1923 expanded the grandstand down both foul lines, according to Davis’s design. Wrigley Field in Los Angeles opened in September 1925, as the first ballpark by that name. The ballpark seated approximately 20,000 fans, several thousand more than Cubs Park in Chicago did at the time.

In 1927, the ballpark was renamed Wrigley Field and an upper deck was added.  See Raymond D. Kush, The Building of Chicago’s Wrigley Field, https://sabr.org/research/building-chicagos-wrigley-field.

Postcard “Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois,” Aero Distributing Co., Inc., Chicago, Genuine Curteich-Chicago C. T. Art-Colortone Postcard

While Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, was modeled after Cubs Park, the California ballpark included an upper deck three seasons before the Chicago ballpark.  With the addition of the upper deck in Chicago, the Cub’s Wrigley Field more closely resembled Wrigley Field Los Angeles.

Postcard “Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, Calif.” Silver Lake Studios, Los Angeles, California, Tichnor Quality Views

Postcard “Wrigley Field,” Published by Cameo Greeting Cards, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, Plastichrome by Colourpicture Publishers, Inc., Boston, Mass., Color by Egon Berka, Chicago

One distinctive difference between the two parks was the entrance to Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, which included a nine story clock tower, dedicated by Baseball Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis in January 1926.

Fan Photo of Wrigley Field (Los Angeles) 150 Foot Tall Clock Tower

Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, was home to the Pacific Coast League  (PCL) Los Angeles Angels from 1925 to 1957, and the PCL Hollywood Stars from 1926 to 1935, and again in 1938.  The Chicago Cubs also played some Spring Training games Wrigley Field, Los Angeles.

Fan Photo of Spring Training, Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, Calfornia, March 19, 1938, Tony Lazzeri at Bat

Fan Photo of Pre-Game Ceremony Honoring Connie Mack, Chicago Cubs/Philadelphia Athletics Exhibition Game at Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, California, April 17, 1940.

Given Wrigley Field’s proximity to Hollywood, as many as 14 movies were filmed there, beginning with the silent film Babe Comes Home, in 1927 (starring Babe Ruth as himself) and ending with Damn Yankees.  See Gordon, Los Angeles’ Wrigley Field: “The Finest Edifice in the United States.”   Just as Wrigley Field is a lost ballpark, Babe Comes Home is a lost movie, as there are no known copies in existence.

In December 1959, the TV show Home Run Derby was filmed at Wrigley Field, featuring many of baseball’s greatest stars of the day.  The show aired in 1960.  The episode in the YouTube video linked below features Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle.

In 1961, a Major League Baseball tenant, the Los Angeles Angels, called Wrigley Field home, but for just that season.  In 1962, the Angels relocated to Chavez Revine and shared the stadium there with the Los Angeles Dodgers, before moving in 1966 to their own stadium, Anaheim Stadium, now Angels Stadium.

Fan Photo, Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, California

The ballpark site is utilized by both public and private organizations, including a hospital and two community centers.  On land adjacent to the former ballpark, including a portion of what was once the parking lot out beyond the third base grandstand, is the Gilbert Lindsay Recreation Center, named after a former city councilman.

Wrigley Little League Field, Gilbert Lindsay Recreation Center, Los Angeles, California

The recreation center includes a youth baseball field,  appropriately named, “Wrigley Little League Field,” on the southeast corner of E. 41st Place and San Pedro Street.

Wrigley Little League Field, Gilbert Lindsay Recreation Center, Los Angeles, California

To the south and east of Wrigley Little League Field are two soccer fields.  The soccer field to the east of the little league field is located adjacent to what was once a portion of Wrigley Field’s parking lot.

Soccer Field, Gilbert Lindsay Recreation Center, Los Angeles, California

In the middle of the block on E. 42nd Place are basketball courts and an indoor recreation center, located near what was once the main entrance to Wrigley Field (behind home plate).

Basketball Court and Indoor Rec Center, Part of the Gilbert Lindsay Recreation Center, Los Angeles, California

Wrigley Field’s 150 foot tall clock tower sat just to the east of the front entrance to Wrigley Field, on E. 42nd Place.

Fan Photo Front Entrance of Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, California

The former site of that clock tower is just east of the basketball court fronting E. 42nd Place. Several tall trees now mark the spot.

Trees Mark Approximate Location of Wrigley Field Clock Tower, Los Angeles, California

The Watts Labor Community Action Center (WLCAC), Theresa Lindsay Center, named after the wife of Councilman Lindsay, is located on the former site of the first base grandstand.

WLCAC Theresa Lindsay Center, Los Angeles, California

Just north of the Theresa Lindsay Center on S. Avalon Boulevard and E. 41st Place, is the Kedren Community Health Center.

Theresa Lindsay Center and the Kedren Community Health Center, Los Angeles, Calfiornia

The building housing the Kedren Community Health Center is constructed on what was once Wrigley Field’s infield.

Entrance to Kedren Community Health Center, Los Angeles, Calfiornia

First Base Grandstand, Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, Calfiornia

The right side of the infield was located in what is now the Kedren Community Health Center front lobby.

Lobby, Kedren Community Health Center, Los Angeles, Calfiornia

A courtyard with a bust honoring Dr. J.Alfred Cannon, Founder of the Central City Community Mental Health Center (1962), sits in the approximate location of right field.

Kedren Community Health Center, Los Angeles, Calfiornia

A grass field with large trees marks the the former site of center field, and the center field bleachers.

Former Site of Center Field, Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, California, Looking From Center Field Toward Infield

Former Site of Center Field Bleachers, Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, California, Looking South Down Right Field Line

The center field bleachers and scoreboard can be seen in this fan photo of Wrigley Field, looking across left field.

Fan Photo, Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, Left Field Corner Looking East toward Center Field

The former site of left field is now a parking lot for the community health center.

Former Site of Left Field, Wrigley, Field, Los Angeles, Now The Kedren Community Health Center, Los Angeles, California

Several houses that date to the time of Wrigley Field remain on E. 41st Place, across from the former left field and center field wall.

Houses On E. 41st Place (looking west), Across From The Former Left Field to Center Field Wall of Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, California

Houses On E. 41st Place (looking east), Across From The Former Left Field to Center Field Wall of Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, California

These houses are visible in the photograph of Wrigley Field below.

Fan Photo, Wrigley Field , Los Angeles, California, With Houses On E., 41st Place Visible Beyond Outfield Wall

Of particular note is the distinctive two-story bungalow that is visible in the above photo just beyond the left field wall.  Presumably, the residents could watch games from the second story of that house, a la the rooftop bars along W. Waveland and N. Sheffield Avenues, across from Wrigley Field in Chicago.

House on E.41st Place, Los Angeles, California, Located Just Beyond What Was Once the Left Field Fence of Wrigley Field.

Many of the buildings that line S. Avalon Boulevard also date to the time of Wrigley Field.

Building Located on northeast intersection of S. Avalon Boulevard and E. 42nd Street, Los Angeles, California

Intersection of  E. 41st Place and S. Avalon Boulevard, Los Angeles, California

The former site of Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, is located 13 miles southwest of Dodger Stadium and 37 miles northwest of Angels Stadium of Anaheim. Although Wrigley Field obtained its lost ballpark status almost sixty years ago, there still are several buildings in the area surrounding the former site which helped mark where the ballpark once sat.  Baseball is still played close by to the former ballpark site, at Wrigley Little League Field.  There also is plenty of open green space at the former site of center field, enough perhaps to imagine what it once looked like when baseball was played at LA’s Wrigley Field.

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Space Coast Stadium’s New Frontier

March 17th, 2019
by Byron Bennett

Space Coast Stadium (now Space Coast Complex) is located at 5800 Stadium Parkway in Viera, Florida.

Space Coast Stadium Marque When the Washington Nationals Held Spring Training at the Facility

A former minor league ballpark and major league spring training facility, Space Coast Complex is now operated by the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA).

Space Coast Stadium Complex Marque For Current Tenant United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA)

Space Coast Stadium opened in March 1994 as the Spring Training Home of the Florida Marlins.

Space Coast Stadium March 2005, Then Spring Training Home of the Washington Nationals

The Florida Marlins departed Space Coast Stadium after the 2002 Spring Training season.

Loading Dock Concession Stand, Space Coast Florida, Viera, Florida, March 2005

The Montreal Expos made Space Coast Stadium their Spring Training home in 2003.

Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Florida, March 2005

Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Florida, March 2015

Two years later the Nationals arrived at Space Coast Stadium, when the Expos franchise was relocated to Washington, D.C., in 2005 and changed to the Washington Nationals.

Washington Nationals Logo Banner, Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Florida, March 2005

The Nationals held their Spring Training at Space Coast Stadium through the 2016 season.

Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Florida

During the Nationals 11 seasons at Space Coast Stadium, the franchise made numerous upgrades to the ballpark,including  repainting much of the structure Nationals red, white, and blue colors.

Exterior of Grandstand, Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Florida

Ticket Kiosk, Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Florida

The interior concourse was upgraded as well, although most of the 1990s stadium architecture remained unchanged.

Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Florida

The Space Coast Stadium grandstand had no cover and, as such, offered little reprieve from the Florida Sun during day games.

Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Florida

In addition to Spring Training, Space Coast Stadium was the home to the Florida State League Brevard County Manatees from 1994 through 2016.

Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Florida

It also hosted Gulf Coast League games for the GCL Nationals from 2005 through 2016.

Scoreboard, Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Florida

The light stanchions at Space Coast Stadium had additional seating for ospreys or owls on a first come, first served basis.

Light Stanchion and Bird Nest, Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Florida

The Nationals team store was markedly minor league when compared to Spring Training team stores as they appear today.

Team Store, Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Florida

The Nationals departed Space Coast Stadium for good after the 2016 season. Bryce Harper departed the Nationals for good after the 2018 season.

Former National Bryce Harper, Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Florida

The good news for Space Coast Stadium is that it does not appear it will become a lost ballpark, unlike so many of the other former Grapefruit League MLB Spring Training homes.

Space Coast Stadium Complex, Current Tenant United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA)

Rechristened Space Coast Complex, the ballpark and surrounding practice fields appear much as they did when Major League Baseball reigned at the complex.

Space Coast Stadium Complex, Current Tenant United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA)

The practice fields surrounding the stadium remain, many converted for use as softball fields.

Practice Fields, Space Coast Stadium Complex Marque For Current Tenant United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA)

A map of the complex shows the location of the various practice fields.

Map of Space Coast Complex, Formerly Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Florida

A monument to the Space Shuttle remains at Space Coast Complex. The plaque states it is “Dedicated to America’s Pioneering Spirit in Space Exploration by the men and women of the John F. Kennedy Space Center.”

Space Shuttle Monument, Space Coast Complex, Viera, Florida

Another vestige of the site’s former use is a statute of a baseball player celebrating the early days of baseball.

Statute of Baseball Player, Space Coast Complex, Viera, Florida

The ballplayer faces towards Space Coast Stadium, as if waiting in vain for professional baseball players who never will return now that the Nationals hold their spring training 117 miles south down I-95 in West Palm Beach, Florida.

The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach, Florida (Photo Courtesy of Pete Kerzel)

The Nationals new spring home, known as FITTEAM Ballpark at the Palm Beaches, is a modern facility that, like its pretentious name, outshines and out-glosses the 1990s minor league charm of Space Coast Stadium. If you are traveling south down I-95 towards West Palm Beach for a Nationals Spring Training game, Space Coast Complex is just a few miles west and worth a stop, if you want to get a feel for a spring training baseball site built in 25 years ago. Thankfully, it does not appear that Space Coast Stadium is in any danger of becoming a lost ballpark any time soon.

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Hamtramck Stadium – Detroit’s Diamond in the Rough

March 16th, 2019
by Byron Bennett

Hamtramck Stadium is located at 3201 Dan Street in Hamtramck, Michigan, one block east of  Joseph Campau Avenue.

Entrance, Grandstand, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

The ballpark was constructed by John Roseink in 1930 on land owned by the Detroit Lumber Company. Roesink was owner of the Detroit Stars, a member of the National Negro League.  Hamtramck Stadium also was known as Roesink Stadium.

Grandstand, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

Located in the Veterans Park, the city of Hamtramck, Michigan, took over ownership of the ballpark in the early 1940s.

Historic Marker, Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

The State of Michigan placed a historic marker near one entrance to Veterans Park, at the northeast corner of Joseph Campau Avenue and Berres Street.

Historic Marker, Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

Hamtramck Stadium is on the National Trust for Historic Places. If you approach the ballpark from Dan Street, the historic marker is located two blocks west on Joseph Campau Avenue.

Historic Marker, Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

It is remarkable that Hamtramck Stadium still exists, given the fate of so many lost ballparks around the country. The distinctive grandstand of Hamtramck Stadium appears almost to hover over the playing field.

Grandstand, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

Hamtramck Stadium, at least the portion nearest the grandstand, has not been used for baseball since the 1990s. The grandstand currently is not open to the public.

Grandstand, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

The history of Hamtramck Stadium is rich and much of the factual history recounted here is from the websites Detroit: the History and Future of the Motor City and Hamtramck Stadium: Historic Negro League Ballpark

Back of Ticket Booth, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

When Hamtramck Stadium opened in 1930, it featured a 12-foot high outfield fence, box seating, and right field bleachers.

Steel Supports, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

The grandstand that remains is constructed of steel beams and girders supporting a mostly wooden floor and ceiling structure.

Steel Supports, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

The first game played was on May 10, 1930, when the Detroit Stars hosted the Cuban Stars. The Cuban Stars won that 13-inning contest 6-4.

Access Ramp to Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

The ballpark’s grand opening was held a day later, on Sunday May 11, 1930, and the Detroit Stars defeated the Cuban Stars 7 to 4. Former Detroit Tiger Ty Cobb threw out the first pitch, with over 9,000 fans in attendance that day.

Grandstand Ramp, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

The Detroit Stars played only two seasons at Hamtramck Stadium, as the team’s league, the Negro National League, folded half way through the 1931 season.

Ball field, as Seen From Center Grandtand, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

However, those two years were remarkable. Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium has determined that 18 members of baseball’s Hall of Fame played at the ballpark.

Grandstand, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

They include Negro League players Turkey Stearnes, Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell, Willie Wells, and Mules Suttles.

Grandstand Railing, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

Portions of the grandstand were renovated by the city in the 1950s and again in the 1970s.

Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

On June 28, 1930, the first night baseball game in the state of Michigan was played in Hamtramck Stadium using a portable lighting system. The Detroit Stars faced the Kansas City Monarchs with a crowd of over 10,000 people in attendance.

Baseball Field Light Stanchion, Located Beyond Outfield of Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

Hamtramck Stadium is one of the last surviving Negro League baseball parks. Others include Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama and Hinchcliffe Stadium in Patterson, New Jersey.

Grandstand, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

A third stadium, West Field in Munhall, Pennsylvania, recently was demolished in 2015, although the field remains and the site still hosts local and high school baseball and football.

Ramp, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

Rickwood Field is still utilized as a baseball park by the city of Birmingham and hosts a minor league game once every year, known as the Rickwood Classic. Effort is underway to preserve and restore Hinchcliffe Stadium, which, like Hamtramck Stadium, is listed on the National Trust for Historic Places.

Grandstanp Ramp, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

Concession stands and additional storage buildings located along the third base side of the stadium were constructed by the city of Hamtramck in the 1950s.

Mural, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

Those buildings now include murals that help tell the story of the ballpark.

Mural, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

Fun Fact: Right Field is located adjacent to the Grand Trunk Western Railroad Line. Those old enough to remember “We’re An American Band” will recognize the railroad from which the band Grand Funk Railroad got its name.

Grandstand, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

The following video of Hamtramck Stadium includes a walk through the grandstand and a drive around the stadium.

Hamtramck Stadium was home to the city’s 1959 Little League World Series champions, featuring local legend Art “Pinky” Deras, considered one of the greatest Little League World Series players.

Concession Stand, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

Three years ago, members of the former Navin Field Grounds Crew banded together to form the Hamtramck Stadium Grounds Crew. Their interest in the historic ballpark helped bring renewed attention to the history of Hamtramck Stadium, and helped begin the process of restoring this once-proud ballpark.

Hamtramck Stadium Grounds Crew Members Tom Derry and Elaine Rucinski, with Calvin Stinson at
Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

In the northern-most point of Hamtramck Stadium’s center field is a second baseball diamond used and maintained by Hamtrack Public Schools.

Baseball Field Located Beyond Outfield of Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

Like Hamtramck stadium, this smaller ballpark has a certain old-school charm, with its tall, fenced backstop and rustic light stanchions.

Baseball Field Located Beyond Outfield of Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

Also worth visiting is Keyworth Stadium, located in the same complex, Veterans Park, just north of Hamtramck Stadium.

Exterior Wall, Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

Hamtramck Public Schools owns Keyworth Stadium, and hosts athletic events such as local soccer and football, as well as other community events.

Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

The stadium was constructed in 1936 as Michigan’s first Works Progress Administration project.

Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

The first event held at the stadium was a rally featuring President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during his second campaign for President in October 1936.

Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

Keyworth Stadium’s grandstands are a bit rough around the edges, and certain sections are cordoned off by chain link fence. However, the fact that the stadium remains a living part of the city of Hamtramck is a testimony to city and its appreciation of such historic places.

Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

hamtramckstadium.org, with the help of assistance of the Piast Institute, Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium, and Detroit’s own  Jack White, have launched campaign to help restore Hamtramck Stadium. The campaign began in early 2019 and has set a goal of raising $50,000. Anyone interested in contributing can contact patronicity.com for more information, and to make a donation. Opportunities such as this to help reclaim a historic, almost lost ballpark, are rare, and truly are worth the effort.

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Eagle Stadium Still Soaring In Ozark, Alabama

March 2nd, 2019
by Byron Bennett

Eagle Stadium is located at 698 Martin Street in Ozark, Alabama.

Eagle Stadium in Ozark, Alabama

The concrete and steel grandstand was constructed in 1946 and remains to this day an excellent example of ballparks from the post World War II era.

Grandstand, Eagle Stadium, Ozark, Alabama

The sign posted at the front of Eagle Stadium boasts the history of the ballpark. Much of the history set forth in this blog is a restatement of information on that sign.

Sign Telling History of Eagle Stadium, Ozark, Alabama

Prior to construction of Eagle Stadium, the ballpark site was known as Marley Field, which dates back to 1933.

Grandstand, Eagle Stadium, Ozark, Alabama, as Seen From Right Field

In 1989, the ball field at Eagle Stadium was named in honor of B.F. Buddy Williams, a member of the Ozark City Council and Chairman of the Dade Alabama County Commission.

Dedication Plaque, Eagle Stadium, Ozark, Alabama

A plaque inside the stadium honoring Buddy Williams states: “In recognition of his interest and support of the youth and adults in the recreation and athletic programs of this city. He was instrumental in the building of Eagle Stadium and bringing organized baseball to Ozark in 1946.”

Field Dedication Plaque, Eagle Stadium, Ozark, Alabama

The site first hosted professional baseball in 1935, when the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals played a game at Marley Field against the Dixie Amateur League All-Stars. Cardinal players who appeared that day include Dizzy Dean, Daffy Dean, Leo Durocher, Pepper Martin, Joe Medwick, and manager Franke Frish.

Entrance To Eagle Stadium, Ozark, Alabama

Although pets, profanity, slurs, and artificial noise makers are not allowed in Eagle Stadium, based upon the size of the sign, apparently it is coolers that present the greatest concern at the ballpark and are most certainly not allowed in the stadium.

Grandstand Entrance, Eagle Stadium, Ozark, Alabama

From 1936 to 1937, the Ozark Cardinals played at Marley Field as a member of the Class D Alabama-Florida League.

The Ozark Eagles played at Eagle Stadium beginning in 1946. The Eagles were members of the Class D Alabama-Florida League from 1946 to 1950. Beginning in 1951, the league was renamed the Alabama League because, well, there were no Florida teams in the league that year.

Interior of Grandstand, Eagle Stadium, Ozark, Alabama

The Ozark Eagles played at Eagle Stadium through the 1952 season.

First Base Side Grandstand, Eagle Stadium, Ozark, Alabama

The City of Ozark does an excellent job maintaining this historic ballpark, so much so that walking into the seating bowl is like walking back in time.

Press Box, Eagle Stadium, Ozark, Alabama

Eagle Stadium includes large, covered dugouts on either side of home plate.

Third Base Dugout, Eagle Stadium, Ozark, Alabama

The water tower just beyond center field gives the ballpark a bit of a “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” vibe.

Outfield, Eagle Stadium, Ozark, Alabama

The ballpark is surrounded by a concrete block wall, much of which appears to dates back to the building of Eagle Stadium.

Exterior of Outfield Wall, Eagle Stadium, Ozark, Alabama

A well-kept, vintage electronic scoreboard sits just beyond left field

Scoreboard, Eagle Stadium, Ozark, Alabama

A concession stand is located along the left field foul line.

Concession Stand, Eagle Stadium, Ozark, Alabama

In 1962, one final professional ball club called Eagle Stadium home when the Panama City Flyers, a Dodgers affiliate and member of the Class D Alabama-Florida League, played their home games at Eagle Stadium during the second half of the season. The team was renamed the Ozark Dodgers during their brief stay at Eagle Stadium. The league folded at the end of the 1962 season.

Light Stanchion, Eagle Stadium, Ozark, Alabama

Eagle Stadium is home to the Carroll High School Eagles baseball team and the Ozark Eagles, an Alabama Dixie Pre-Majors team. The ballpark also sometime hosts the Alabama Community College Conference State Baseball Tournament.

Ozark Eagles Team Photo, Eagle Stadium, Ozark, Alabama

Although a bit off the beaten base path, Eagle Stadium is only an hour and a half drive southeast of Montgomery, Alabama, off Route 231, and a two hour and 15 minute drive northwest of Tallahassee Florida off I-10 and Route 231. Many thanks to the Ozark, Alabama city employees who graciously showed me around the ballpark the day I made my trip there. Their kindness was much appreciated.

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Miami Stadium – Later Bobby Maduro Stadium

February 23rd, 2019
by Byron Bennett

Miami Stadium was located at 2301 Northwest 10th Avenue in Miami, Florida. 

Miami Stadium Postcard (Gulf Stream Card & Distribution Co., Miami , Florida, City of Miami News Photo, Genuine Curteich-Chicago C.T. Art Colortone)

Constructed in 1949, Miami Stadium hosted both Major League Spring Training and Minor League baseball games.

Former Site of Miami Stadium Front Entrance, NW 10th Avenue, and NW 23rd Street, Miami, Florida

In 1987, Miami Stadium was renamed Bobby Maduro Miami Stadium in honor of Miami resident Roberto “Bobby” Maduro. Mr. Maduro was the former owner of two professional baseball teams in Cuba, the Havana Cubans and the Havana Sugar Kings. He emigrated from Cuba in 1960 after Fidel Castro rose to power.

Entrance to Miami Stadium (From Cover, 1986 Baltimore Orioles Spring Training Program)

The Miami Sun Sox of the Florida International League began play in the ballpark in 1949, playing at Miami Stadium through the 1954 season. 

Fan Photo of Miami Stadium, July 5, 1951

In 1950, the Brooklyn Dodgers made Miami Stadium their Spring Training home, where they played through the 1957 spring season. The Dodgers also trained in Vero Beach, Florida, beginning in 1948, however, the big league club played their Spring Training games in Miami.

Former Site of Miami Stadium First Base Grandstand Paralleling NW 23rd Street

The following year, the Los Angeles Dodgers played their spring training games at stadium, but just for the 1958 spring season. The following year, the Los Angeles Dodgers moved their games to Holman Stadium, which was constructed in Vero Beach in 1953.

Miami Stadium Postcard (Tichnor Quality Views, Card 693, Tichnor Brothers, Inc., Boston)

The Baltimore Orioles took over Miami Stadium the following spring season, training there over 30 seasons, from 1959 until 1990. 

Miami Stadium Outfield and Scoreboard, April 1966

The Orioles previously had spent Spring Training in Daytona Beach, Florida (1955), and Scottsdale, Arizona (1956 to 1958).

Baltimore Oriole Earl Williams Taking Batting Practice at Miami Stadium March 3, 1973

Miami Stadium 1975 Orioles Scorecard

 
The Florida State League Miami Marlins and the Miami Orioles also played their home games at Miami Stadium from 1962 to 1988. 
 

Miami Orioles Ticket, 1975, Miami Stadium

 
 
Once the Orioles departed, Miami Stadium hosted no additional major league teams, although a Miami entrant to the Inter-American League played for part of one season in 1979, and the Gold Coast Suns of the Senior Professional Baseball League played at Miami Stadium from 1989 to 1990.
 

Banner Advertising Miami Stadium Apartments, Former Site of Miami Stadium Third Base Grandstand

 
The ballpark stood another 10 years, largely unused, with the exception of some college baseball games that were played there during the 1990s. 
 

Entrance to Miami Stadium Apartments, Former Site of Miami Stadium Third Base
Grandstand

 

In 2001, Miami Stadium was demolished and construction began that same year on the Miami Stadium Apartments, which now sit on a majority of the former ballpark site.

Intersection of NW 10th Avenue and NW 24th Street, Looking Toward Former Site of Miami Stadium Third Base Grandstand and Infield

The entrance to the apartments is on NW 10th Avenue.

Gated Entrance, Miami Stadium Apartments, Former Site of Miami Stadium Third Base Grandstand and Left Field

At the entrance is a historical marker, designated as a Florida Heritage Site. 

Historical Marker, Miami Stadium

The marker was installed in 2017, courtesy of Abel Sanchez, Rolando Llanes of CIVICA Architecture Group, The Swezy Family, Friends of Miami Stadium, and the Florida Department of State.

Miami Stadium Historical Marker

The intersection of NW 10th Avenue and NW 25th Street is where the third base grandstand once stood. 

Miami Stadium Apartments from NW 10th Avenue, Former Site of Miami Stadium, Looking Toward First Base Grandstand and Home Plate

Intersection of NW 10th Avenue and NW 25th Street, Looking Toward Former Site of Miami Stadium Third Base Grandstand

A parking lot for the apartments covers a significant portion of the former infield.

Miami Stadium Apartments, Former Site of Miami Stadium Approximate Location of Pitchers Mound Looking Toward Home Plate (intersection 10th Ave and 23rd st)

Miami Stadium Apartments Parking Lot, Former Site of Miami Stadium Second Base Looking Toward Center Field

The same is true for a portion of the former site of center field. The paving of paradise . . . 

Former Site of Miami Stadium Center Field Looking Toward First Base Line

Folks enjoying the pool at Miami Stadium Apartments are swimming in the area that was once left field.

Swimming Pool At Miami Stadium Apartments, Former Site of Miami Stadium Left Center Field Bleachers

A volley ball court also sits in a portion of what was once Miami Stadium’s left field. 

Volley Ball Court, Miami Stadium Apartments, Former Site of Miami Stadium Left Field

The former Site of Miami Stadium’s right field, and a portion of center field, remain undeveloped, with a grass field marking the spot.

Former Site of Miami Stadium Looking Toward Center and Left Field

Vacant Lot, Former Site of Miami Stadium Center and Left Field

Many buildings from the 1950s and 1960s surrounding the former stadium site remain.

House on NW 10th Avenue Dating Back to Time of Miami Stadium

Building at Southwest Corner of NW 10th Avenue and NW 23rd Street, Across from Former Front Gates, Miami Stadium

Warehouse at 864 NW 23rd Street, Across Street from Former Site of First Base Grandstand, Miami Stadium

Of particular note is the Miami Stadium Market, located across the street from the former left field corner. 

Miami Stadium Market, Located Across The Street Former Site of Miami Stadium Left Field Corner

 
The store certainly captures a bit of the neighborhood/architectural feel of the old ballpark. 
 

Miami Stadium Market, Located Across The Street Former Site of Miami Stadium Left Field Corner

 

The Miami Stadium Apartments are located a mere two miles northeast of Marlins Park, home of the current-day Miami Marlins.

Opening Day 2016 at Marlins Park, Home of the Miami Marlins

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Flamingo Field in Miami Beach, Florida

March 7th, 2018
by Byron Bennett

Flamingo Park Baseball Stadium is located at 15th St and North Michigan Avenue in Miami Beach, Florida.

Flamingo Field, Miami Beach Florida,on Michigan Avenue, Just South of 15th Street

It is part of a larger recreation area also known as Flamingo Park. The main entrance to the Park is located south of the baseball stadium at 1200 Meridian Avenue.

Welcome To Flamingo Field, Miami Beach Florida

Flamingo Park includes tennis courts, a swimming pool, and handball courts. The park has a Rich history of its own.

Handball Courts, Flamingo Park, Miami Beach, Florida

In 1925, Flamingo Field was constructed in the same location of the current baseball stadium. Flamingo Field’s grandstand was constructed by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration in the 1930s.

Grandstands at Flamingo Park – Miami Beach, Florida. 1935. Black & white photonegative, 4 x 5 in. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. <https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/144428>, accessed 4 March 2018.

The New York Giants held their Spring Training at Flamingo Field in 1934 and 1935. Henry Fabian, the famed groundskeeper for the New York Giants, created at Flamingo Field what the New York Times called “exclusive swank with a dash of Coney Island” (Drebinger, John, “21 Giants Report as Training Starts In a Bizarre Setting at Miami Beach,” New York Times, February 25, 1934). The Times noted that Flamingo Field was built “on an expansive meadow that had once been used for polo and subsequently converted into a baseball field of sorts.” Also, according to the Times, “[a] small grand stand forms a semi-circle behind home plate. The rest of the field is closed off with a canvas fence and off to one side is a stucco dwelling which has been converted into a clubhouse.”

Training With the Giants. New York Giants Outfielder Mel Ott training at Flamingo Field, March 7, 1934 (Photo Credit; ACME -United Press International)

The Philadelphia Phillies trained at Flamingo Field both before World War II, from 1940 to 1942, and after, in 1946. The last major league team to train at Flamingo Field was the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1947.

Other New York Giants Florida Spring Training cites include Payne Park (1924 to 1927), Al Lang Field (1951), and Sanford, Florida (minor league camp). Other Philadelphia Phillies Florida Spring Training cites include LECOM Park – McKechnie Field (1925 to 1927), Clearwater Athletic Field (1947 to 1954), and Jack Russell Stadium (1955 to 2003). Other Pittsburgh Pirates Florida Spring Training cites include J.P. Small Memorial Park (1918), Rickwood Field (1919), Jaycee Park (1954), Terry Park (1955 to 1968), and LECOM Park – McKechnie Field (1969 to present).

Flamingo Field, Miami Beach Florida

Two minor league teams called Flamingo Field their home: the Class D Florida East Coast League Miami Beach Tigers in 1940, the Miami Beach Flamingos from 1941 to 1942, and the Class C and B Florida International League Miami Beach Flamingos from 1946 to 1952, as well as in 1954.

Flamingo Field, Miami Beach Florida

Flamingo Field was demolished in 1967 and a new structure was built on the same site. Designated as Miami Beach Stadium, today it is commonly known as Flamingo Park.

Dedication Plaque for Miami Beach Stadium, 1967, at Flamingo Park, Miami Beach Florida

Flamingo Park was built with the idea of bringing Major League Spring Training back to Miami Beach. The team associated with that effort was the New York Mets, who at the time were training in Al Lang Field.

First Base Dugout, Flamingo Field, Miami Beach Florida

The “new” steel grandstand (now over 50 years old) is somewhat reminiscent of the original wooden grandstand that was located behind home plate and built by the FERA.

Grandstand, Flamingo Field, Miami Beach Florida

Flamingo Park features an Art Deco-inspired front entrance, in keeping with much of the architecture of Miami Beach.

Front Entrance, Flamingo Field, Miami Beach Florida

Ticket Booth and Front Gate, Flamingo Field, Miami Beach Florida

A metal grate located behind the stadium grandstand includes a sign proclaiming “Flamingo Park Baseball Stadium,” and  also serves to protects against over zealous fans who might be tempted to climb out on the grandstand roof from the stairs that lead to the press box.

Grandstand, Flamingo Field, Miami Beach Florida

Just Southeast of Flamingo Park Baseball Stadium is a second baseball field located behind center field, which presumably was once part of the larger Spring Training baseball complex.

Practice Field, Flamingo Field, Miami Beach Florida

Practice Field, Flamingo Field, Miami Beach Florida

Although Major League Baseball never returned to Flamingo Park, according to the City of Miami Beach, Major League players use the field to train during the off season. In addition, Flamingo Park Baseball Stadium is used for high school baseball (the Miami Beach High Tides) and various adult amateur leagues.

Marlins Park, Home of the Miami Marlins

Flamingo Park is located just six miles East of Marlins Park, the Home of the Miami Marlins, and just 18 miles Southeast of the Miami Marlins former home, Hard Rock Stadium (formerly Joe Robbie Stadium).

Opening Day 2016 at Marlins Park, Home of the Miami Marlins

If you are visiting Miami or attending a Major League game at Marlins Park, consider taking the short drive East along A1A to see where Major League Spring Training once was played over 70 years ago.

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West Palm Beach Spring Training History – Connie Mack Field and Municipal Stadium

March 2nd, 2018
by Byron Bennett

West Palm Beach boasts a proud Spring Training history. Both the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals now call West Palm Beach their Spring Training home. Opened in 2017, The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches is located at 5444 Haverhill Road in West Palm Beach.

The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach, Florida (Photo Courtesy of Pete Kerzel)

Since 1998, the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals have play their Spring Training home games at Roger Dean Stadium in nearby Jupiter Florida. Located at 4751 Main Street, Roger Dean Stadium is just 12 miles north of The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter Florida,

Spring Training in West Palm Beach dates back to at least 1928. The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches and Roger Dean Stadium both were preceded by two other now-lost ballparks, Connie Mack Field and West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium.

Connie Mack Field (Photo – The Remembering Connie Mack Field Committee)

West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium Complex (Postcard Holley Studio, Palm Beach Florida)

Connie Mack Field (formerly Municipal Athletic Field (1924 to 1926) and Wright Field 1927 to 1952)) was located approximately seven miles southeast of The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches at the intersection of Tamarind Avenue and Okeechobee Boulevard.

Intersection of Okeechobee Blvd. and Tamarind Avenue, Former Site of Connie Mack Field.

Connie Mack Field was the spring training home of the St. Louis Browns from 1928 to 1936, and the Philadelphia/Kansas City Athletics from 1946 to 1962. Previously, the Athletics had trained in Florida at Durkee Field (later renamed J. P. Small Memorial Park) in Jacksonville, Florida, from 1914 to 1918, and Terry Park in Fort Myers, Florida, from 1925 to 1936.

Bobby Shantz at Connie Mack Field circa 1950’s during Philadelphia Athletics Spring Training

Connie Mack Field also was home to the West Palm Beach Indians, who played in the Florida East Coast League from 1940 to 1942, the Florida International League from 1946 to 1955, and the Florida State League in 1955. In 1956 the Florida State League West Palm Beach Sun Chiefs played at Connie Mack Field, and from 1965 to 1968 the Florida State League West Palm Beach Braves played their home games at the ballpark.

Connie Mack Field Grandstand (Photo – The Remembering Connie Mack Field Committee)

Demolished in 1992, the former grandstand site is now a parking garage for the Kravitz Center for the Performing Arts.

Entrance to Kravis Center Parking Garage, Iris Street, Former Site of Connie Mack Field

The Remembering Connie Mack Field Committee has memorialized the ballpark with a display located near the elevators on the first floor of the Kravis Center Parking Garage.

Display About Connie Mack Field Located on Level 1 of the Kravis Center Garage – The Remembering Connie Mack Field Committee

The display includes photographs of the ballpark, two of which are reproduced above (with attribution to The Remembering Connie Mack Field Committee).

Photos of Connie Mack Field – The Remembering Connie Mack Field Committee)

Home plate is marked with a plaque just to the south the Kravitz Center Parking Garage.

Home Plate Looking Toward Pitchers Mound, Former Site of Connie Mack Field, Located Adjacent To Kravis Center Parking Lot, West Palm Beach, Florida

A significant portion of the former infield is now a storm water retention pond.

Former Site of Connie Mack Field, Infield Near the Intersection of Okeechobee Blvd. and Tamarind Avenue,

The former left field line paralleled Okeechobee Boulevard.

Okeechobee Blvd. Looking East , Former Site of Connie Mack Field Left Field Line

Center field was located at the northeast corner of Okeechobee Boulevard and Tamarind Avenue.

Former Site of Connie Mack Field, Center Field Near the Intersection of Okeechobee Blvd. and Tamarind Avenue

The plaque honoring the location of home plate states “Connie Mack Field (Wright Field)  This monument marks the exact location of home plate. The concrete base that supports this plaque is the original base set in 1924. Some of the great players who batted here Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, & Ted Williams. Go ahead step up to the plate.”

Home Plate Marker, Former Site of Connie Mack Field, Located Adjacent To Kravis Center Parking Lot, West Palm Beach, Florida

West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium was located just five miles southeast of The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, at 715 Hank Aaron Drive.

Doyle Alelxander, Circa Early 1970s, West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium

Municipal Stadium was the spring training home of the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves from 1963 to 1997, and the Montreal Expos from 1969 to 1972 and 1981 to 1997. Previously, the Braves had trained in Florida at Waterfront Park in St. Petersburg, Florida, from 1922 to 1937, and McKechnie Field (now LECOM Park), in Bradenton, Florida, from 1938 to 1940, and 1948 to 1962.

Batting Tunnels, Municipal Stadium, West Palm Beach, Florida (Postcard Montreal Expos)

The stadium complex included four playing fields in addition to the stadium structure.

Aerial View of Municipal Stadium, West Palm Beach, Florida (Postcard Montreal Expos)

In addition to Spring Training, West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium was the home of the Florida State League West Palm Beach Expos from 1969 to 1997 and the Senior Professional Baseball Association West Palm Beach Tropics from 1989 to 1990.

West Palm Beach Expos 1987 Program

Demolished in 2002, the former ballpark site is now a Home Depot and Cameron Estates, a gated housing development.

Home Depot Parking Lot Entrance, Former Site of West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium Parking Lot Behind Grandstand

The entrance to the former stadium complex is on Hank Aaron Drive, where it intersects North Congress Avenue.

Intersection of Hank Aaron Drive and Congress Drive, Former Site of West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium

The grandstand was located near the entrance to the Home Depot off Hank Aaron Drive.

Entrance to Home Depot Off Hank Aaron Drive, Former Site of West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium Grandstand and Infield

Back Entrance To Home Depot From Hank Aaron Drive, Former Site of West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium First Base Grandstand

Home plate was located approximately in the back lot behind the Home Depot.

Home Depot Back Lot Looking West, Former Site of West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium Home Plate

Al Bumbry, Circa Early 1970s, West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium

The right field line paralleled Hank Aaron Drive.

Hank Aaron Drive Looking South Along former right field line of West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium

A portion of Cameron Estates, behind the Home Depot, now occupies the former right field.

Cameron Estates, Private Drive Off Hank Aaron Drive, Former Site of West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium Right Field

Center field was located in the northeast section of Cameron Estates, behind the Home Depot back lot.

Cameron Estates on Left and Home Depot Back Lot on Right, Looking East, Former Site of West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium Center Field

Cameron Estates also envelops portions of the former practice fields that sat to the south of the stadium structure.

Entrance to Cameron Estates, former site of Former Site of West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium Practice Fields

One distinctive landmark that remains just northeast of the former site of West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium is the former West Palm Beach Auditorium, now the West Palm Beach Christian Convention Center.

West Palm Beach Christian Convention Center

Although both Connie Mack Field and West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium are now lost ballparks, The Remembering Connie Mack Field Committee has done a wonderful job of memorializing the history and former site of Connie Mack Field. Perhaps a similar group will take it upon itself to memorialize West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium as well. These ballparks are significant to the history of baseball in Florida, for both their Spring Training games and the minor league teams that played at those ballparks.

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The Polo Grounds and the Autonomy of a Baseball Snapshot

June 4th, 2017
by Byron Bennett

A baseball snapshot is a souvenir of a day at the ballpark.  Taken not by a professional photographer, but by a fan capturing a moment in time. The name of the fan who took this snapshot is unknown, lost now to time. That fan’s memory of the game, however, as captured in the photo, remains.

A Fan’s Souvenir Of A Day At The Ballpark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is evident the fan was sitting in box seats along the third base side of the playing field. The photo captures a play at second base. If you know your old time ballparks, perhaps the arched windows and the GEM BLADES sign on the outfield wall is all you need to know to identify the ballpark.

If not, there are other clues as well. A section of the scoreboard announces: “Cinni Here Tues May 14 Night Game 8:15 PM.”

Cinni Here Tues May 14 Night Game 8:15 PM.

To solve the riddle, all that needs to be done, it would seem, is search online for a mid-century Tuesday May 14th Cincinnati Reds road game that started at 8:15 pm. However, a search of both baseballreference.com and baseball-almanac.com turned up empty. No such game was listed on either website.

I emailed the photo to a friend of mine, Bernard McKenna, a professor at the University of Delaware and a man who knows both baseball and historical research. Professor McKenna started with an informed guess that the ballpark was the Polo Grounds. Other known photos of that ballpark featured both the arched windows and the outfield signage.

But what about the game being played? The photo could not have been taken prior to 1940 because the first night game at the Polo Grounds was played May 25, 1940. The photo could not have been taken after 1952 because, according to the scoreboard, Boston is playing Philadelphia that day, and the Braves moved to Milwaukee in 1953 (unless of course the scoreboard was referencing the Red Sox playing the A’s).

Detail of Scoreboard

Baseballreference listed road games played by Cincinnati against the New York Giants on May 14th during the 1942 and 1952 seasons. However, the games and scores identified on the scoreboard did not match any of the games those years played prior to May 14, 1942, or May 14, 1952.

Searching the New York Times database, Professor McKenna discovered that a game scheduled between Cincinnati and the Giants at the Polo Grounds for May 14, 1946, was rained out and played the following day. Assuming the eventual rainout game is the one noted on the scoreboard, 1946 was the year the snapshot was taken. Checking the Giant’s game results for 1946, there was an April 28, 1946, game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants played at the Polo Grounds. Here is the box score: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NY1/NY1194604282.shtml.

The Brooklyn Dodgers lineup, as identified on the scoreboard (listed under the moniker “VIS”) matches up with the box score for that game: Whitman (15), Stanky (12), Reiser (27), Walker (11), Stevens (36), Furillo (5), Anderson (14), Reese (1), and Behrman (29). The other games listed on the scoreboard match up as well, Cleveland and New York, the Cubs and St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.

Giant Buddy Blattner Sliding Into Second Base While Dodger Pee Wee Reese Awaits The Throw

As for the action in the photo, this is what Professor McKenna determined from the scoreboard and the box score:

From the scoreboard, we know that it is the bottom of the second. The box score states that Giant Bill Rigney, hit a home run in the 2nd inning with two runners on base and one out. No other runs scored that inning. But who were the runners on base when Rigney hit his home run? The scoreboard identifies the player at bat as number 10, which, for the Giants, was Buddy Kerr. The box score indicates that both Kerr and teammate Bob Joyce sacrificed to advance runners that inning (the box score reads “SH” (sacrifice hit)). The box score suggests that Joyce reached base successfully in that inning with his SH and not Kerr, because Joyce only reached base once that game, scoring a run. As such, he had to have been on base when Rigney hit the homer.

Willard Marshall and Buddy Blattner also batted that inning in front of Kerr and Joyce. Marshall did not reach base that inning because, according to the box score, he never scored a run. He reached base one time that game on a walk. Had he been caught stealing that inning, it would have been reflected in the box score, and if Kerr or Joyce bunted into a force play with Marshall on base, the box score would have read FC (fielders choice) not SH. Blattner, on the other hand, reached base three times that game, with two hits and one hit by pitch. He also scored three runs. As such, it would appear that Blattner, along with Joyce, was on base when Rigney homered.

In the photo, a runner is sliding into second base. That runner must be Buddy Blattner, the first Giant to successfully reach base that inning, because the snapshot shows no runner going to third. As such, Kerr’s SH has advanced Blattner to second. Kerr was put out at first base and the throw to second was was either late or there was no there was no throw.

Thus, our fan’s snapshot has captured Buddy Blattner, the Giants second baseman sliding successfully into second, while the Dodgers shortstop Pee Wee Reese awaits the throw from first after Buddy Kerr’s successful sacrifice. Joyce subsequently would advance Blattner to third while reaching base as well on a SH. Both eventually would score on Rigney’s home run.

Although the identity of the fan who took this photo is unknown, the snapshot captured the fan’s memory of that game. We now know that the game was played on April 28, 1946. The memory of the unknown fan has come back to life, with just a little bit of research (and an assist from websites such as baseballreference.com and baseball-almanac.com). If anyone reading this knows of someone who attended the Giants/Dodgers game at the Polo Grounds on April 28, 1946, let me know.

 

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Jacksonville’s Wolfson Park Now the NFL Jaguars’ Practice Field

December 12th, 2016
by Byron Bennett

Jacksonville Baseball Park was located at 1201 East Duval Street in Jacksonville, Florida, just northwest of the former Gator Bowl.

Gator Bowl Sports Complex, Jacksonville, Florida (Postcard Curteichcolor, Seminole Souvenirs, Inc.)

Constructed in 1954, the ballpark opened in March 1955, hosting a spring training game between the Washington Senators and the Cincinnati Reds. That same month, the ballpark hosted another spring training game between the soon-to-be World Champion Brooklyn Dodgers and the Milwaukee Braves.

Aerial view of Baseball Park, Gator Bowl, Matthews Bridge on the St. John’s River (Postcard Plastichrome by Colourpicture Publishers Boston MA, Charles Smith Studio, Jacksonville, Florida)

Jacksonville Baseball Park replaced Durkee Field (later renamed J. P. Small Memorial Park) which had hosted baseball in Jacksonville since 1911. J.P. Smalls Memorial Park remains to this day, located just 3.5 miles northwest of the former site of Jacksonville Baseball Park.

J.P. Smalls Park Memorial Park, Jacksonville, Florida, Where Baseball Has Been Played Since 1911

In April 1955, the Jacksonville Braves moved to Jacksonville Baseball Park. The owner of the team at the time was Samuel W. Wolfson. Wolfson sold the team in 1958 to Hall of Famer Bill Terry and became President of the South Atlantic League. After Wolfson died unexpectedly in 1963, the ballpark was renamed Samuel W. Wolfson Baseball Park in his honor.

Postcard of Wolfson Park, Jacksonville, Florida (Photo By Chris Nichol)

Wolfson Park was the home ballpark of the single-A South Atlantic League Jacksonville Braves from 1955 to 1960, and the Jacksonville Jets in 1961. In 1962 the triple-A International League Jacksonville Suns took up residence at Wolfson Park, playing there through the 1968 season. In 1970, the double-A Southern League Jacksonville Suns took up residence for one year, followed by the double-A Dixie Association Jacksonville Suns in 1971. In 1972, the Southern League Jacksonville Suns returned to Wolfson Park. In 1984, Suns’ owner Lou Eliopulos sold the team to Peter Bragan. Eliopulos purchased a South Atlantic League affiliate and moved it to Hagerstown, Maryland, keeping the Suns as the team name. Jacksonville changed its name to the Expos beginning in 1985, which it remained through the 1990 season. In 1991, Jacksonville changed its name back to the Suns, which is why there currently are two minor league teams, both with the name Suns.

The Jacksonville Suns played their last home game at Wolfson Park in September 2002. Wolfson Park was demolished that same year, soon after the Suns departed.

Duval Street, Looking East Toward Former Site Of First Base Grandstand, Now Florida Blue Practice Field (Jacksonville Jaguars)

Franklin Streets Looking North, Former Site Of Thrid Base Grandstand, Jacksonville Baseball Stadium, Now Florida Blue Practice Field (Jacksonville Jaguars)

In 2003, the Suns moved into a brand new stadium known now as Bragan Field at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, located at 301 A. Philip Randolph Boulevard, just two blocks southwest of Wolfson Park.

Bragan Field, Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville

The former site of Wolfson Park is now occupied by practice fields for the National Football League Jacksonville Jaguars.

Entrance to Florida Blue Practice Field (Jacksonville Jaguars), Former site of Jacksonville Stadium

The naming rights for the practice fields is owned by Florida Blue, a health insurance company.

Former Location of Home Plate, Jacksonville Baseball Stadium, Now Florida Blue Practice Field (Jacksonville Jaguars)

The practice fields are adjacent to EverBank Field, the home of the Jacksonville Jaguars. EverBank Field sits in the former location of the Gator Bowl.

EverBank Field, Home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Jacksonville, Florida

Wolfson Park’s grandstand is long gone, but the playing field remains, although covered now with plastic grass and hash marks.

Former First Base Line Of Jacksonville Baseball Stadium, Now Florida Blue Practice Field (Jacksonville Jaguars)

Over the years, Wolfson Park was affiliated with 10 different major league organizations: the Milwaukee Braves (1955 – 1960), the Houston Colf 45’s (1961), the Cleveland Indians (1962 -1963, 1971), the St. Louis Cardinals (1964 – 1965), the New York Mets (1966 – 1968), the Kansas City Royals (1972 – 1983), the Montreal Expos (1984 – 1990), the Seattle Mariners (1991 – 1994), the Detroit Tigers (1995 – 2001), and the Los Angeles Dodgers (2002). In 1970, the Suns were unaffiliated with any major league organization.

Former Third Base Line Of Jacksonville Baseball Stadium, Now Florida Blue Practice Field (Jacksonville Jaguars)

One aspect of Wolfson Park remains at the site – several of its light stanchions ring the practice fields, providing night time illumination for the Jaguars.

Light Stanchion, Florida Blue Practice Field (Jacksonville Jaguars), Former site of Jacksonville Stadium

Out past the former site of center field are bleachers, which were added after the demolition of Wolfson Park.

Beachers, Florida Blue Practice Field (Jacksonville Jaguars), Former site of Jacksonville Stadium, Located Beyond What Was Once Center Field

The Sun’s current home is visible from the practice field bleachers.

Looking Southwest Florida Blue Practice Field (Jacksonville Jaguars) toward Jacksonville Baseball Grounds

And by the same token, the former site of Wolfson Park is visible beyond the current center field fence, just to the left of EverBank Field.

Bragan Field, Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville

The former light stanchions of Wolfson Park also are readily visible, especially from the walkway behind center field, looking in the direction of EverBank Field.

Looking Northeast From Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville Toward Former Site of Jacksonville Stadium

Outside the south end zone of EverBank Field, the Jaguars are constructing Daily’s Place, a new amphitheater and indoor flex field, which is scheduled to open in May 2017. It is uncertain what impact the opening of Daily’s Place will have on the Jaguar’s current practice facility. However, paving the field and turning it into a parking lot, is a good guess.

Florida Blue Practice Field (Jacksonville Jaguars), Former site of Jacksonville Stadium

For now, however, there is still a playing field located on the former site of Wolfson Park, albeit for professional football. Time will tell whether professional sports or sports of any kind will continue to be played at that site.

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Ocala’s Gerig Field – A Former Spring Training Minor League Gem

November 29th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Gerig Field was located in what is now the Martin Luther King, Jr., Recreation Complex, located at 1510 NW 4th Street in Ocala, Florida. The ballpark was constructed  in 1936 at a cost of approximately $100,000 with funds from the Works Progress Administration. Gerig Field was named in honor of John Jacob Gerig, the then-mayor of Ocala who was instrumental in gaining the funding needed to construct the ballpark.

Recreation Park, Ocala, Florida (Postcard Hartman Litho Sales Company, Largo, Florida)

Recreation Park, Ocala, Florida (Postcard Hartman Litho Sales Company, Largo, Florida)

At the time of its construction, Gerig Field was part of a sports complex known as Recreation Park, which also included softball and football fields. Recreation Park was built on the former site of the Ocala Fairgrounds. The land where Gerig Field was constructed had been a transient camp established on the fairgrounds during the Great Depression.

Infield, Former Site of Gerig Field, Ocala, Florida

Infield, Former Site of Gerig Field, Ocala, Florida

In July 1993, the grandstand was demolished. However, the field remains at the site to this day.

Former Site of Gerig Field, Ocala, Florida

Former Site of Gerig Field, Ocala, Florida

The American Association Milwaukee Brewers were the first professional baseball team to make Gerig Field their spring training home, training there from 1939 to 1941. The Texas League Tulsa Oilers (a Chicago Cubs affiliate) trained there also in 1940 and 1941. Both teams ceased operations in Ocala once the country entered World War II. In 1940 and 1941, the Ocala Yearlings of the Florida State League played their home games at Gerig Field.

Entrance to Baseball Fiels at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Recreation Center, Former Site of Gerig Field

Entrance to Baseball Fiels at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Recreation Center, Former Site of Gerig Field

After World War II, baseball returned to Gerig Field in 1948 with the arrival of the Southern Association Birmingham Barons. At that time the Barons were an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. Thus began a 23 year affiliation between the Red Sox and Ocala, Florida. As an example, in 1958, the Red Sox brought the following minor league affiliates to train at Gerig: the Southern Association Memphis Chicks (short for Chickasaws), the Eastern League Allentown Red Sox, the Carolina League Raleigh Capitals, the Midwest League Waterloo Hawks, and the New York- Pennsylvania League Corning Red Sox. In 1953, the Barons became an affiliate of the New York Yankees and in 1957 an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. At the request of the Red Sox, the Barons ceased training at Gerig Field after the 1959 spring season.

Detail of Recreation Park, Ocala, Florida (Postcard Hartman Litho Sales Company, Largo, Florida)

Detail of Recreation Park, Ocala, Florida (Postcard Hartman Litho Sales Company, Largo, Florida)

During the time that the minor league Red Sox were training in Ocala, the major league team trained at Payne Park in Sarasota, Florida (through 1958), Scottsdale, Arizona (1959 to 1965), and Chain of Lakes Park in Winter Haven, Florida (beginning in 1966). The Red Sox’s minor league clubs continued to train in Ocala until 1971, when the organization moved its entire minor league operation to Chain of Lakes Park. Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, who played for the Raleigh Capitals in 1958, was one of the many Red Sox farm hands to train at Gerig Field.

Former Site of Gerig Field, Ocala, Florida

Former Site of Gerig Field, Ocala, Florida

An adjoining practice field – known now as Pinkney Woodbury Field – remains at the site. Pinkney Woodbury was a Ocala resident and community activist who encouraged the construction of youth playgrounds and athletic fields in the western section of Ocala.

Pinkney Woodbury Field, Former Spring Training Practice Field Adjacent to Gerig Field

Pinkney Woodbury Field, Former Spring Training Practice Field Adjacent to Gerig Field

Surrounding Pinkney Woodbury Field along the first and third base lines is a white painted fence built of Ocala limerock that is original to the spring training site.

Ocala Limerock Fence Located along the Third Base Side of Pinkney Woodbury Field in Ocala, Florida

Ocala Limerock Fence Located along the Third Base Side of Pinkney Woodbury Field in Ocala, Florida

The limerock fence that parallels the first base side of Pinkney Woodbury Field is a remnant of Gerig Field, as it a portion of the fence that ran along the ballpark’s left field foul line.

Gerig Field's Right Field Foul Line Fence Constructed of Ocala Limerock

Gerig Field’s Limerock That Ran Along the Left Field Foul Line

When first constructed, limestone fence once encircled perimeters of both Gerig Field and the adjacent practice field (Pinkney Woodbury Field). The portion of the fence that remains at the site terminates just beyond Pinkney Woodbury Field’s  first base and third base grandstands.

Terminus of Original Ocala Limestone  Fence, Third Base Grandstand,  Pickney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Terminus of Original Ocala Limestone Fence, Third Base Grandstand, Pickney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Terminus of Original Ocala Limestone  Fence, Third Base Grandstand,  Pickney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Terminus of Original Ocala Limestone Fence, First Base Grandstand, Pickney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Pinkney Woodbury Field, like Gerig Field, is a throwback to early Florida ballpark construction.

Main Entrance Gate, Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Main Entrance Gate, Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

The first base and third base grandstands at Pinkney Woodbury Field match the limerock fence that surrounds the field.

Third Base Grandstand, Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Third Base Grandstand, Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

First Base Grandstand, Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

First Base Grandstand, Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Pinkney Woodbury Field also includes a distinctive concrete concession stand located behind home plate.

Concession Stand, Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Concession Stand, Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Covered, concrete block dugouts sit just beyond the first and third base grandstands.

Third Base Dugout, Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Third Base Dugout, Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Pinkney Woodbury Field is used for local school teams, as well as youth baseball leagues.

Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Pinkney Woodbury Scoreboard, Ocala, Florida

Pinkney Woodbury Scoreboard, Ocala, Florida

The building that once housed the Gerig Field’s player clubhouse also remains at the site.

Building That  Was Once Player Clubhouse, Gerig Field, Ocala, Florida

Building That Was Once Player Clubhouse, Gerig Field, Ocala, Florida

The clubhouse was located in the left field corner of Gerig Field. The limestone fence once intersected the northern most side of clubhouse.

Building That  Was Once Player Clubhouse, Gerig Field, Ocala, Florida

Building That Was Once Player Clubhouse, Gerig Field, Ocala, Florida

In 2010, the former clubhouse was renovated and is now used as a Senior Activity Center.

Plaque Dedicating Former Gerig Field Player Clubhouse as the Barbara Gaskin Washington Senior Advisory Center.

Plaque Dedicating Former Gerig Field Player Clubhouse as the Barbara Gaskin Washington Senior Activity Center.

Although Gerig Field is long gone, the site is still very much worth a visit for fans of the history of the game. The ball field where many former major league and minor league players once trained remains at the site. Likewise, Pinkney Woodbury Field is a wonderful gem that harkens back to early days of Florida spring training.

Center Field Fence Looking Toward Infield, Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Center Field Fence Looking Toward Infield, Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

For more information about the history of Gerig Field and baseball in Ocala, Florida, be sure to read the excellent article by Carlos Medina on ocala.com, from which much of the factual information for this blog was obtained.

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Bears And Mile High Stadium in Denver CO

August 18th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Bears Stadium was located at 2755 West 17th Avenue, in Denver, Colorado. Constructed in 1947, the ballpark was the home of the Western Association Denver Bears beginning in 1948. From 1949 to 1951, the Bears were an affiliate of the Boston Braves, and from 1952 to 1954, they were an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1955, the Bears joined the American Association, where the team remained through the 1992 season, with the exception of 1963 to 1968 when the team played in the Pacific League.

Bears Stadium, Denver, Colorado (Postcard Dexter Press Inc., Published by Sanborn Souvenir Co.)

Bears Stadium, Denver, Colorado (Postcard Dexter Press Inc., Published by Sanborn Souvenir Co.)

The team’s major league affiliation changed every few years, beginning with the New York Yankees from 1956 to 1958, the Detroit Tigers from 1960 to 1962, the Milwaukee Braves from 1963 to 1964, the Minnesota Twins from 1965 to 1969, the Washington Senators from 1970 to 1971, the Texas Rangers in 1972 and 1982, the Houston Astros from 1973 to 1974, the Chicago White Sox in 1975 and from 1983 to 1984, the Montreal Expos from 1976 to 1981, the Cincinnati Reds from 1986 to 1987, and the Milwaukee Brewers from 1988 to 1992. In 1984, the team changed its name to the Denver Zephyrs in honor of a passenger train of the same name that ran between Chicago, Illinois, and Denver, Colorado, beginning in the 1930s. In 1993, with the arrival of the Major League Colorado Rockies, the Zephyrs moved to New Orleans, Louisiana.

Aerial Photo of Mile High Stadium With Denver, Colorado in Background (Postcard Sanborn Souvenir Co., Made by Kina Italia, Photo by William P. Sanborn)

Aerial Photo of Mile High Stadium With Denver, Colorado in Background (Postcard Sanborn Souvenir Co., Made by Kina Italia, Photo by William P. Sanborn)

Beginning in 1960 the ballpark was expanded with additional bleacher seating to house fans of the American Football League Denver Broncos.

Mile High Stadium Configured for Baseball (Postcard Plastichrome, Distributed by G.R. Dickson)

Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado,  Configured for Baseball (Postcard Plastichrome, Distributed by G.R. Dickson)

In 1968, the City of Denver purchased the ballpark, added portions of an upper deck, and renamed the venue Mile High Stadium. In 1970, the Broncos joined the National Football League. Additional seats were added during the 1970s, including a section in left field that could be moved to accommodate either baseball or football.

Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado (Postcard by Plastichrome, Distributed by G.R. Dickson Co.)

Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado (Postcard by Plastichrome, Distributed by G.R. Dickson Co.)

In 1993, the MLB expansion Colorado Rockies began play at Mile High Stadium. That season the Rockies set the all-time MLB home attendance record of 4,483,350.

Coors Field, Denver, Colorado, Circa 1998

Coors Field, Denver, Colorado, Circa 1998

In 1996, the Rockies moved two miles northeast of Mile High Stadium to the newly constructed Coors Field, leaving the Broncos as the sole permanent tenant of Mile High Stadium.

Coors Field, Denver, Colorado, Circa 1998

Coors Field, Denver, Colorado, Circa 1998

The Broncos played at Mile High Stadium through the 2000 season. In 2001 the team moved to newly constructed Invesco Field at Mile High, which was built adjacent to Mile High Stadium, directly to the south.

Sports Authority Stadium at Mile High, Located South of Former Site of Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

Sports Authority Stadium at Mile High, Located South of Former Site of Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

In 2012, the football stadium was renamed Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

Former Site, Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

Colorado Sports Hall of Fame at Sports Authority Field, Former Site, Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

A plaque located in the north parking lot of Sports Authority Field commemorates the history of Bears Stadium and Mile High Stadium.

Plaque Honoring Former Site of Bears Stadium and Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

Plaque Honoring Former Site of Bears Stadium and Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

Former Site of Bears Stadium and Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

Former Site of Bears Stadium and Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

Placed there by the Society for American Baseball Research and the Colorado Rockies, the plaque reads:

“As you look to the north from this spot you are viewing the land upon which stood Bears Stadium. From 1948 to 1994, it was the home of professional baseball in Denver. The Denver Bears (later renamed the Zephyrs in 1985) played at Bears Stadium (later renamed Mile High Stadium) through 1992. When Major League Baseball arrived in Denver in 1993, Mile High Stadium housed the Colorado Rockies for two seasons until Coors Field was completed in 1995. The precise location of home plate is indicated by a commemorative landmark approximately 500 ft. to the north of this plaque.”

Former Site of Bears Stadium and Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

Former Site of Home Plate, Bears Stadium and Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

A grass berm sits along the north and west side of the parking lot. That area is where the first and third base grandstand of Bears Stadium once stood.

Former Site of Center Field, Looking Towards Home Plate, Bears Stadium and Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

Former Site of Center Field, Looking Towards Home Plate, Bears Stadium and Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

One additional landmark at the site is the former Hotel VQ, which is located at 1975 Mile High Stadium Circle just beyond the former site of left field. Built in 1982, the building is being converted to micro apartments.

Hotel VQ, Located Beyond Former Site of Left Field, Bears Stadium and Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

Hotel VQ, Located Beyond Former Site of Left Field, Bears Stadium and Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

For almost half a century, baseball was played in what is now the north parking lot of Stadium Authority Field. Thanks to SABR and the Colorado Rockies, the site is well marked and certainly worth a visit. Many thanks to Jason Papka for providing the recent pictures of the site.

Former Site of Bears Stadium and Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

Former Site of Bears Stadium and Mile High Stadium, Located Just South of Downtown Denver, Colorado

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Dutch Damaschke Field In Oneonta NY

August 6th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Damaschke Field is located at 15 James Georgeson Avenue in Oneonta, New York, just 24 miles south of Cooperstown, New York.

Entrance to Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Entrance to Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

The ball field dates back to 1905 when it was known as Elm Park. Located in Neahwa Park, for a time the ball field also was known as Neahwa Park.

Aerial of Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York (Postcard McGrew Color Graphics, Kansas City MO, photo copyright 1987 Bruce Endries)

Aerial of Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York (Postcard McGrew Color Graphics, Kansas City MO, photo copyright 1987 Bruce Endries)

In 1968, the ballpark was renamed Dutch Damaschke Field in honor of Earnest C. “Dutch” Damaschke, the long-time Commissioner of Recreation for the City of Oneonta.

Ticket Booth, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Ticket Booth, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

The stadium structure has changed over the years, although the concrete and steel grandstand dates back to 1939. Like many other ballparks of that era, it was constructed with funds from the Works Projects Administration. Funds also were donated by William F. Eggleston, owner of the Oneonta Grocery Company.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Plaque Honoring William F. Eggleston, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

in 2007, the city renovated the ballpark, adding new bleacher seating down the first and third base lines, as well as new player clubhouses and concession stands.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

The view from the grandstand down the first and third base lines is an interesting juxtaposition of the old and the new, with the 1930s WPA grandstand seating along side the modern bleacher seating behind first and third base.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

In 2008, with the addition of a new clubhouse for the players, the former locker room located under the grandstand was turned into storage space.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Locker Room Turned Storage Room, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

A Oneonta Yankees Time Capsule, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

During the first two decades of its existence, the ballpark hosted mostly amateur, college, and semi professional teams. The Brooklyn Royal Giants played an exhibition game at Neahwa Park on August 19, 1920,  defeating the Oneonta Cubs 13-3. Two months later, on October 16, 1920, the Babe Ruth All Stars played an exhibition game against the local Endicott-Johnson team. Babe Ruth hit a home run over the right field fence during the eighth inning of the barnstorming game. In the fifth inning of that game, Ruth reportedly fractured a small bone in his left wrist while attempting  slide into first base, although the following day in Jersey City he hit another of his exhibition home runs, suggesting that his wrist was fine.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

The first professional team to call the ballpark home was the Oneonta Indians, who played in the New York-Pennsylvania League for one season in 1924.

Grandstand Roof, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Grandstand Roof, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Professional baseball returned to Oneonta in 1940 with the arrival from Ottawa of the Canadian-American Baseball League (Can-Am) Oneonta Indians. In 1941 the Indians became an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. Baseball in Oneonta was suspended after the 1942 season, but the team returned in 1946 following the end of World War II as the Oneonta Red Sox. The Red Sox played in Oneonta through the 1951 season, and professional baseball once again was on hiatus in Oneonta.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York, Situated in the Foothills of the Catskill Mountains.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York, Situated in the Foothills of the Catskill Mountains.

Professional baseball returned in 1966, with the arrival of the New York-Penn League Oneonta Red Sox. In 1967, Oneonta became a farm team of the New York Yankees, thus beginning the city’s longest affiliation with a single major league team. Over the years, MLB players such as Don Mattingly, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte, Al Leiter, Jorge Posada, Curtis Granderson, and Willie McGee began their careers at Damaschke field.

Wall of Fame, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Wall of Fame, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Future National Football Hall of Famer John Elway also began his professional baseball career at Damaschke Field in 1981. The following year he was drafted by the Denver Broncos. In 1985, Buck Showalter started his professional managerial career as skipper of the Oneonta Yankees.

Former Locker Room, Painted Yankee Blue Located Under Grandstand, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Former Locker Room, Painted Yankee Blue, Located Under Grandstand, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

The Oneonta Yankees departed Damaschke Field after the 1998 season. The Oneonta Tigers arrived the following season, and played at Damaschke Field through the 2009 season.

Oneonta Tigers Sign, In Storage in Former Players Lockerroom Underneath Grandstand at Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Oneonta Tigers Sign, In Storage in Former Players Lockerroom Underneath Grandstand at Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Although professional baseball no longer is played at Damaschke Field, it still is possible to take in a baseball game at the ballpark during the summer. Damaschke Field currently is the home of the New York Collegiate Baseball League Oneonta Outlaws, who play during the months of June and July. The city of Oneonta still uses the ballpark for civic events such as graduations, holiday celebrations, and concerts.

Grandstand Seating, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Grandstand Seating, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

The ballpark most certainly is worth a visit. Given its proximity to Cooperstown, there should be a steady stream of visitors each summer, looking for a wonderful baseball experience in what is known as one of the coziest ballparks in the country.

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Henninger Field And 120 Years of Baseball in Chambersburg PA

August 3rd, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Henninger Field is located at the intersection of Vine Street and Riddle Alley in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

Herringer Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The ball field dates back to 1895 and originally was known as Wolf Park, part of the Wolf Lake Park development named after Chambersburg businessman Augustus Wolf.

Herringer Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Located at the Intersection of Vine and Poplar Street

Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Located at the Intersection of Vine and Poplar Street

In 1895, Clay Henninger, a Chambersburg businessman and local baseball promoter, founded the Chambersburg Maroons. The team began play at Wolf Park that same season.

Herringer Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Herringer Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Originally an amateur team, over the years the Maroons played both semi-professional and a minor league baseball. In 1896, the Maroons joined the independent Cumberland Valley League and won the the championship that season. The following year, the Maroons joined the Industrial League.

The 1914 Chambersburg Maroons With Manager Clay Henninger (wearing suit) (photograph from display at Herringer Field, Franklin County Historical Society)

The 1914 Chambersburg Maroons With Manager Clay Henninger (wearing suit) (photograph from display at Herringer Field, Franklin County Historical Society)

In 1915, the Maroons joined the Class D Blue Ridge League, where they played through the 1917 season. With baseball operations suspended during World War I, the Maroons returned to Chambersburg and the Blue Ridge League in 1920, after the end of the war. That same year the ballpark was renamed Henninger Field in honor of Clay Henninger.

Scoreboard, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Scoreboard, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

In 1929 and 1930 the team was owned by the New York Yankees and its name was changed to the Chambersburg Young Yanks. The Young Yanks were the New York Yankees first farm team.

Backstop, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Backstop, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

May 31, 1929, the World Champion New York Yankees played an exhibition game at Henninger Field. The Yankees arrived in Chambersburg earlier in the day and, after a brief rest at the Hotel Washington, traveled to Henninger Field for a 3:30 game against the Chambersburg Young Yanks.

Hotel Washington, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania (Postcard Curt Teich & Co., Published by Louis Kaufmann & Sons)

Hotel Washington, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania (Postcard Curt Teich & Co., Published by Louis Kaufmann & Sons)

Babe Ruth played first base and hit a home run in the fifth inning over the center field fence, with Lou Gehrig and one other player aboard.

Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The Yankees won the exhibition 8-1. After the game, Ruth reportedly visited a Waters Street speakeasy while Gehrig signed autographs at a local drug store.

First Base, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

First Base, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

First Base Bleachers, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

First Base Bleachers, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Reportedly the Negro American League Pittsburgh Crawfords played some exhibition games at Henninger Field as well.

Third Base Foul Line, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Third Base Foul Line, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Several Major League players have called Henninger Field home, including third baseman Mike Mowery, a 15 year veteran who played for the Cincinnati Reds, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Third Base, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Third Base, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Presumably future Hall of Famer Nellie Fox, who was born and raised just one town over from Chambersburg in St. Thomas, Pennsylvania, played baseball at Henninger Field, perhaps the year he played in the Chambersburg Twilight League.

First Base Dugout, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

First Base Dugout, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The bowling alley Fox once owned, which still bears his name, is located in Chambersburg, just four and a half miles south of Henninger Field on Molly Pitcher Highway.

Nelly Fox Bowl in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Nelly Fox Bowl in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The Chambersburg Maroons ceased playing at Henninger Field after the 2010 season. The Chambersburg High School Trojans football, baseball, and soccer teams also played their games at Henninger Field, although in the last decade the school has played elsewhere.

A Left Field Backdrop of Warehouses, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

A Left Field Backdrop of Warehouses, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Henninger Field is a little-known, historic ballpark that represents a part of baseball’s bygone era of town baseball. The Borough of Chambersburg has owned and operated the property since the early 1930s, once professional baseball departed the borough. Chambersburg is rightly proud of its historic ballpark and should be commended for maintaining the field for the last 80-plus years.

Historical Display at Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Historical Display at Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The ballpark is just two miles west of I-81 at the interchange for Stoufferstown, Pennsylvania, should you find yourself traveling that highway. Take a moment to soak in the history of this modest ballpark. And while you are at it, stand on the same spot where Babe Ruth once hit one of his famous exhibition game home runs.

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Savannah’s Historic Grayson Stadium and the Extermination of the Sand Gnats

July 29th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Grayson Stadium is located at 1401 East Victory Drive in Savannah, Georgia. Opened in 1926, the ballpark originally was known as Municipal Stadium.

Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Located in Daffin Park, Grayson Stadium is part of the Daffin Park-Parkside historic district and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

The ballpark is one of the most picturesque in the country. Sadly, it appears professional baseball will be departing Savannah at the end of the 2015 season.

Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

The Savannah Indians of the South Atlantic League played at Municipal Stadium beginning in 1926, through the 1928 season, and returned in 1936.

Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

On August 11, 1940, a  Category 2 hurricane struck Savannah, destroying a substantial portion of the ballpark. Only two sections of concrete bleachers were left standing.

Exteterior of Original Concrete Bleachers, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Exterior of Original Concrete Bleachers, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

One of those sections, which once sat beyond left field, was demolished during a renovation of the ballpark in 1995.

Blue Prints Detailing Original Municipal Stadium Layout (armstrongdigitalhistory.org)

Blue Prints Detailing Original Municipal Stadium Layout (armstrongdigitalhistory.org)

The other concrete bleachers section remaining from the original 1926 ballpark sits along the first base line.

Exterior of Original Concrte Bleachers, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Exterior of Original Concrete Bleachers, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

View from Grandstand of Original Concrete Bleachers, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

View from Grandstand of Original Concrete Bleachers, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Interior View of Original Concrete Bleachers, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Interior View of Original Concrete Bleachers, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

After the hurricane, Municipal Stadium was rebuilt in 1940-1941, under the leadership of Spanish-American War veteran General William L. Grayson, and with funds from the Work Progress Administration.

1941 Grandstand, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

1941 Grandstand, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Wood and Steel Grandstand Ceiling, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Wood and Steel Grandstand Ceiling, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

To see additional blueprints of the 1940 renovation, visit armstrongdigitalhistory.org – Grayson Stadium Project.

Grandstand, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

View from Grandstand, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

With the ballpark substantially complete in 1941, construction was a halted during World War II.

First Base Side Grandstand, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

First Base Side Grandstand, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

A portion of the third base grandstand remained uncompleted for seven decades, and was finished only recently.

Third Base Grandstand With Brick Work Completed Some 70 Seasons Later

Third Base Grandstand With Brick Work Completed Some 70 Seasons Later

In 1941, the City of Savannah renamed the ballpark in honor of General Grayson, who died that same year.

Plaque Honoring 1941 Renovation of Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Plaque Honoring William H. Grayson and 1941 Renovation of Grayson Stadium Grandstand, Savannah, Georgia

In 1943, the South Atlantic League suspended operations because of the war and the Indians departed Grayson Stadium. The Indians returned in 1946, playing at Grayson Stadium through the 1953 season.

Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Concession Stand Underneath First Base Grandstand, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

In 1954, Savannah’s South Atlantic League team became an affiliate of the Kansas City Athletics. The team switched its name to the Savannah A’s in 1954. Savannah’s South Atlantic League team switched affiliates several more times, beginning in 1956 with Cincinnati Reds (through 1959), Pittsburgh Pirates (1960, also from 1936 to 1938), and the Chicago White Sox (1962).

Grayson Stadium Grandstand, Circa 1941, Savannah, Georgia

Grayson Stadium Grandstand, Circa 1941, Savannah, Georgia

Savannah did not field a team in 1961, and from 1963 to 1967. In 1968 Savannah joined the Southern League as an affiliate of the Washington Senators. The team remained in the Southern League through 1983, with the exception of 1971, when Savannah played in the Dixie Association. In 1969 the Senators and the Houston Astros shared the Savannah affiliate, and, in 1970, Savannah became an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. From 1971 to 1983, Savannah was an affiliate of the Atlanta Braves.

Ticket Booth, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Ticket Booth, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

In 1984, Savannah rejoined the South Atlantic League, as an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, with whom they remained affiliated through the 1994 season. The team changed its name to the Sand Gnats in 1995, and was an affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1995 to 1997, the Texas Rangers from 1998 to 2002, the Montreal Expos from 2003 to 2005, the Washington Nationals from 2005 to 2006, and the New York Mets from 2007 to 2015.

Tonight's South Alantic League Standings and Lineup, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Tonight’s South Alantic League Standings and Lineup, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

In addition to the Indians and the Sand Gnats, since 1926, Savannah’s minor league team has been known as the A’s, the Redlegs, the Reds, the Pirates, the White Sox, the Senators, the Braves, and the Cardinals.

Plaque Honoring John Henry Moss, President SAL, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Plaque Honoring John Henry Moss, President SAL, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

According to Armstrong State University History Department, no Negro League baseball ever was played at Municipal or Grayson Stadium.

Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

As for Babe Ruth, he appeared at least two times at Municipal Stadium: first, in 1927, during a spring exhibition game between the 1926 World Series champions St. Louis Cardinals and the American League champions New York Yankees, which the Cardinals won 20-10; and second in 1935, as a member of the Boston Braves when his team played an exhibition game against South Georgia Teacher’s College, which is now Georgia Southern University. The Braves won that contest 15 – 1, during which Ruth hit a third-inning home run over the fence in right field.

Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

A 1995 renovation to Grayson Stadium was renovated, brought the addition of a press box above the grandstand roof and the demolition of the left field bleachers.

Press Box Above Home Plate and Third Base, Home Team Dugout, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Press Box Above Home Plate and Third Base, Home Team Dugout, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

In 2007, another renovation added a new scoreboard in center field.

"New" Scoreboard, Installed 2007, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

“New” Scoreboard, Installed 2007, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Original Hand Operated  Scoreboard, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Original Hand Operated
Scoreboard, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

For the past several seasons, Savannah’s current minor league affiliate has encouraged the city to construct a new ballpark.

Concession Stand, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Concession Stand, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Concession Stand, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Concession Stand, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Apparently, the older the ballpark, the louder the drum beat is to replace it. Unfortunately, what fans find quaint about old ballparks, the teams actually playing there find challenging at best.

Years of Paint and Changing Colors, Reflected in Bench Seating at Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Years of Paint and Changing Colors, Reflected in Bench Seating at Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

In 2015, the Sand Gnats announced they would be departing Grayson Stadium at the end of the season and relocating to a new ballpark being constructed in Columbia, South Carolina.

Main Concourse, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Main Concourse, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

The departure of the Sand Gnats most likely spells the end of professional baseball at Grayson Stadium.

Entrance to Grandstand from Concourse, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Entrance to Grandstand from Concourse, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

The good news is it appears that a collegiate wooden bat team will be playing at Grayson Stadium beginning in 2016.

Bullpen, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Bullpen, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

If you want to catch a professional game at Grayson Stadium, the Sand Gnat’s season runs through September 2, 2015.

Carolina Pines Left Field at Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Carolina Pines Left Field at Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

The ballpark most definitely is worth a visit. If you are anywhere near Savannah, and are a fan of the game (which presumably you are or you would not be reading this) be sure to take in a game at Historic Grayson Stadium before professional baseball departs its friendly confines.

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

May 10th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

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

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

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

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

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

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

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

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

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

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

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

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

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

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

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

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

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

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

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

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

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

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

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

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

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

May 8th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

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

Postcard “Toledo Ball Park, Toledo, Ohio” (Published by Harry N. Hamm, Toledo, Ohio)

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

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

Swayne Field Postcard (Publisher not stated)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

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

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

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

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

Swayne Field Display, Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

Swayne Field Display, Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

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

Swayne Field Display, Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

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

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

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

May 6th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

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

Home Plate, Formerly Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bill Meyer Stadium Postcard

Bill Meyer Stadium Postcard

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

Plaque Honoring Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Plaque Honoring Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

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

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

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

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

Fence Surrounding Infield, Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Detail of Standard Knitting Mills Building, Knoxville, Tennessee

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

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

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

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

RIght Field Line, Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

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

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

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

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

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

Smokies Park and Smoky Mountain Visitors Center, Kodak, Tennessee

Smokies Park and Smoky Mountain Visitors Center, Kodak, Tennessee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pullman Park – From Railroad Cars to Kelly Automotive Park

May 5th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

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

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

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

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Grandstand, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Grandstand, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

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

The front entrance from the third base side:

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

The exterior of the third base grandstand:

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

The front entrance from the first base side:

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Exterior of the ballpark looking south:

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler,  Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

The first base grandstand:

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

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

First Base Grandstand, Kelly Automotive Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

First Base Grandstand, Kelly Automotive Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Interior of the first base grandstand:

Pullman Park Grandstand, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park Grandstand, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

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

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

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

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

View of center field:

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

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

Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

View of left field:

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

View of Houses Fronting Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

View of Houses Fronting Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Concrete Plant, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

DuBrook Concrete Plant, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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