Archive for the ‘Missouri ballparks’ Category

Kansas City Municipal Stadium – Muehlebach, Ruppert, and Blues

November 11th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The first base line ran parallel to 22nd Street.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Meet the Old Busch

May 12th, 2010

Opened in 1966, the former home of the St. Louis Cardinals originally was known as Civic Center Busch Memorial Stadium.

Civic Center and Gateway Arch (St. Louis Color Postcard Co./photo Art Grossman)

The Cardinals left their previous home, Sportsman Park, in June 1970, and inaugurated the new, multi-purpose stadium later that month.

Busch Stadium's Plaza of Champions, Covered in Snow

The stadium’s original playing surface was grass, which proved difficult to maintain in a multi-purpose setting.  Replaced with Astroturf in the 1970’s, grass returned to the stadium during mid-1990’s renovations.

Busch Stadium's Natural Playing Surface

The stadium’s architecture paid homage to the St. Louis Arch.

Busch Stadium Concrete Arches Inspired by St. Louis Arch

The St. Louis arch loomed over the stadium, however, the stadium’s circular, enclosed shape did not allow for any sweeping vistas of the arch.

Busch Stadium Arches and the St. Louis Arch

Additional changes made during the mid-1990’s renovations were removal of seats above center field and addition of a hand-operated scoreboard.

Busch Centerfield Scoreboard with Construction Crane in Background

The mid-1990’s renovations improved significantly the stadium’s baseball ambiance.

Busch Stadium Manual Scoreboard and Retired Numbers

Nothing says baseball like a stadium named after a beer company.

Busch Neon Light Above Centerfield Scoreboard

Although considered a “cookie-cutter” stadium, Busch Stadium had its share of majestic sight lines.

Busch At Twilight

With its large expanse of seating and playing field, the glow of night baseball at Busch Stadium was especially striking.

Busch Night Game

One benefit of the cookie cutter stadiums was they allowed fans the opportunity to view the playing field from every vantage point simply by walking the entire circumference of the upper deck – something that is no longer possible in any major league ballpark still in use.

Busch Stadium Upperdeck Walkway

The upper and lower seating bowl was a sea of red plastic, riser-mount seats.

Rows of Red Upperdeck Seats

In 2004, the Cardinals began construction of new ballpark to be partially located in a parking lot just south of Busch Stadium.

Parking Lot Southwest of Stadium - Now Site of New Busch Stadium

During the summer of 2005, the new stadium could be seen rising along side old Busch Stadium.

Old and New Busch Stadium as Seen From St. Louis Arch

Construction of the new stadium dominated the view from the outer concourse located behind right field.

Busch Stadium Upperdeck Pillars and New Stadium

A walk along that concourse during the summer of 2005 was bittersweet as it foretold the end of an era and the coming of another lost ballpark.

Where Have You Gone Mark McGwire?

Fans purchasing souvenirs had a view of the shape of things to come.

Busch Stadium Souvenir Stand With New Stadium in Background

The entrance to the New Busch Stadium under construction at the intersection of Clark Avenue and  Stadium Plaza provided a striking example of the architectural differences between the two ballparks.

Old Busch Meets New Busch

The new ballpark’s left field sits in place of old Busch Stadium’s right field/first base seating section.  An outline of a portion of Busch Stadium’s outer wall is still visible across Clark Avenue (which was added after the demolition of old Busch Stadium) which runs alongside the new stadium.  The following two photographs show the former site along Walnut Street prior to asphalt pavement for parking.

Former Site of Busch Stadium Left/Center Field

The Cardinals plan to turn this portion of the site into a “ballpark village” with retail and residential development.

Former Site of Busch Stadium

Old Busch Stadium is now just another lost ballpark.  Hopefully, the Cardinals, in developing their ballpark village, will find a way to pay homage to the former ballpark and demarcate precisely where the ballpark used to sit.

New Busch Stadium with Former Site of Old Busch Stadium Visible Beyond Centerfield

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Sportsman Park and Herbert Hoover

April 11th, 2010

Baseball was first played at the intersection of Grand Boulevard and Dodier Street in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1867. Originally was called Grand Avenue Ball Grounds, the ballpark name was changed to Sportsman Park in 1876.

Sportsman Park in St. Louis (Curteich-Chicago)

Several different variants of Sportsman Park existed over the years. Originally the home of the National League St. Louis Cardinals, the ballpark also was the home of the American League St. Louis Browns from 1920 until 1953.

Busch Stadium "Home of the Cardinals" (Plastichrome Postcard, published by St. Louis Greeding Card Co.)

Anheuser-Busch purchased the Cardinals and Sportsman Park in 1953 and that same year renamed the ballpark Busch Stadium. The Cardinals departed Sportsman Park in June 1970 and inaugurated the new, multi-purpose Busch Stadium later that month.

Busch Stadium Postcard (Plastichrome Postcard Published by CharmCraft, St. Louis)

Located northwest of downtown, the Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club now sits on the site.

Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club at Dodier St. and Grand Blvd.

The Boys and Girls Club is located along the former first base side of the ballpark to the right field pavilion.

Sign at Corner of Dodier St. and Grand Blvd.

Although all vestiges of the ballpark are long gone, the former left field remains an athletic field at the Boys and Girls Club.

Former Left Field from Right Field Line

The site of center field is now occupied by tennis courts.

Center Field Tennis Courts at Corner of Sullivan and Grand

Several building surrounding the site remain from the time of Sportsman Park.  Across Sullivan Avenue opposite center field is the former Speedwa School building with a billboard on its roof that was once visible out past center field.

Center Field Billboard Still Visible atop Chinese Restaurant

The Speedwa School building also is visible in the postcard reproduced above.

Former Speedwa School now a Chinese Restaurant

Across the street from the former Speedwa School, at 3108 North Grand Street, is a five-story brick building, currently the headquarters of World Impact of St. Louis.  That building, which used to house a YMCA, looms beyond the center field wall in vintage photographs of Sportsman Park.

Distinctive Brick Building Visible Just Beyond Center Field in Plastichrome Postcard of Busch Stadium (see postcard above)

Another building that remains at the site today (and is visible in the postcard above) is the Carter Carburetor Corporation factory, located on Dodier Street opposite the first base line.

Carter Carburetor Corporation

Although the ballpark itself may be gone, enough remains of the neighborhood surrounding the park, as well as the former left field, to make a trip to the corner of Dodier and Grand worthwhile for anyone interested in lost ballparks and baseball’s past.

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