Archive for the ‘South Carolina ballparks’ Category

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

April 14th, 2015

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

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

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

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

Entrance to Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Entrance to Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

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

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

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

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

Ticket Windows, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Ticket Windows, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

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

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

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

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

Gate B, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Gate B, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Welcome Sign, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Welcome Sign, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

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

Concourse Signage, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Concourse Signage, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Concourse, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Concourse, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

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

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

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

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

Outfield Wall, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Outfield Wall, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

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

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

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

Scoreboard, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Scoreboard, Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, South Carolina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Knights Stadium/Knights Castle, South Carolina ballparks | Comments (2)

Charleston’s College Park – A Lost Ballpark In The Making

August 31st, 2013

College Park in Charleston, South Carolina, still stands, but just barely. From 1939 to 1996 it was the home of several Charleston, South Carolina, minor league teams including the Rebels, the White Sox, the Pirates, and the River Dogs.

College Park, South Carolina, Former Home of the Charleston Riverdogs

Beginning in 1997, the River Dogs have played their home games at Joesph P. Riley, Jr., Park, located one and a half miles southwest of College Park.

Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park, Current Home of the Charleston River Dogs

Baseball is still played at College Park – it is a practice field for Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina.

College Park, Current Practice Field of The Citadel

The ballpark is located in a residential neighborhood at the intersection of Grove Street . . .

Grove Street, Imprinted in the Sidewalk

and Rutledge Avenue.

Rutledge Avenue, Imprinted in the Sidewalk

From all outward appearances, i.e, from the street, looking through the fence, College Park looks to be quite well kept.

Front Gates to College Park

However, behind that fence is evidence of a stadium structure not long for this world.

Grandstand at College Park, Barely Standing

The grandstand bench seating has been removed.

Grandstand Seating Is No More At College Park

All that remains of the seating is the metal risers with their dinosaur scales-like construction.

The Metal Risers That Once Supported College Park's Grandstand Seating

The concessions stands behind the grandstand are likewise on the decline. Strolling through the concession area, as well as the grandstand, is akin to visiting a ghost town. All that is needed is some tumble weed rolling through the ballpark.

Concession Stands At College Park

The  roof that once protected the concession stands from the weather is no more.

Delapidated Concession Stands at College Park

The original box seats remain in place at College Park, ringing the third and first base side of the infield.

First Base Box Seats, College Park

Third Base Box Seats, College Park

What is unusual about College Park’s box seats is that they are installed below field level, giving spectators a view similar to what ballplayers might have had from the dugout.

Box Seats Put Fans At Eye Level With the Field

The wooden dugouts at College Park remain, currently used by members of the Citadel’s baseball team.

College Park Dugout Along Third Base

There are not too many 1930’s era minor league ballparks remaining in the United States. College Park is one such park, but it is hanging on for dear life. If you find yourself in the Charleston area, stop by the corner of Grove Street and Rutledge Avenue for a visit to the old ballpark. But you better do so soon, as College Park is well on its way to becoming yet another lost ballpark.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in College Park, South Carolina ballparks | Comments (9)

Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes To Greenville And Stays

April 12th, 2013

Joesph Jefferson Wofford “Shoeless Joe” Jackson was born in 1887 in Pickens County, South Carolina, just west of Greenville. He began his professional baseball career in 1908, playing first for the Greensville Spinners and then for the Philadelphia Athletics later that season.

Detail of Shoeless Joe Jackson Statute by South Carolina Sculptor Doug Young

In addition to the Athletics, Shoeless Joe also played for the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox.  After being banned from baseball in 1921, Jackson and his family moved to Savannah in 1922 where he started a valet service. Jackson left Savannah, returning to Greenville in 1929 to take care of his mother.

Former Location of Shoeless Joe Jackson's Home - 119 E. Wilburn Avenue

Jackson lived in several residences in Greenville until his death in 1951. His last residence was in a brick home located at 119 E. Wilburn Avenue in Greenville.

The neighborhood in which he lived remains very much unchanged, except for the fact that his house is now gone and the land is for sale (Keller Williams Realty – if you’re looking to build your “field of dreams” home).

Neighboring Houses On E. Wilburn Avenue, Former Neighborhood of Shoeless Joe Jackson

In 2006, Jackson’s home on E. Wilburn was relocated to 356 Field Street in Greenville and opened as a museum in 2008.

Former Home of Shoeless Joe Jackson

The Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library is open 10-2 on Saturdays, or by appointment (call: 862 235 6280 or email: info@shoelessjoejackson.org).

Historic Marker Noting Last Home of Shoeless Joe Jackson

Reverse of Historic Marker Noting Last Home of Shoeless Joe Jackson

The home is located across the street from Fluor Field, home of the Greenville Drive.

Shoeless Joe Jackson's Home With Fluor Field, Home of the Greenville Drive, in the Background

The Greenville Drive’s stadium includes a tribute Shoeless Joe in its Heritage Plaza.

Fluor Stadium's Tribute to Shoeless Joe Jackson in Heritage Plaza

Part of the tribute recounts the story of how Jackson earned his nickname:

The “shoeless” Joe nickname is credited to Scoop Latimer, a writer for the Greenville News. According to the story, Jackson was breaking in a new pair of cleats in a textile baseball game. When his feet became blistered, Jackson asked to be taken out of the game. His coach refused, so Jackson pulled off his shoes. Later in the game, when he hit a home run, a fan for the other team shouted, “Oh, you shoeless son of a gun.”

In 2002, the town of Greenville placed a statute of Jackson in a plaza at the intersection of S. Main Street and Augusta Street. Created by South Carolina Sculptor Doug Young, the statute is quite impressive, with a wonderful likeness of Shoeless Joe just completing his swing.

Statute of Shoeless Joe Jackson in Greenville, South Carolina

A plaque commemorating the plaza notes that the base of the statute is made from bricks from Comiskey Park, removed during its demolition in 1990.

Greenville Plaque Commemorating Shoeless Joe Jackson and Comiskey Park

A plaque at the base of the statute recounts Jackson’s playing career and his ties to Greenville.

Shoeless Joe Jackson Plaque at Base of Statue in Greenville, South Carolina

Jackson and his wife are interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in Greenville, approximately 4 1/2 miles northeast of the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum.  Much of downtown Greenville and the surrounding neighborhoods remain as they did when Jackson was alive. Brandon Mills, where Jackson once worked and played baseball for the local mill team remains well, as does the neighboring ball field where Jackson played (now named Shoeless Joe Jackson Memorial Park at 406 West Avenue). If you want to get a feel for the man many say was one of the best pure hitter in baseball, Greenville offers a living history of Shoeless Joe. The best place to start is his former house turned museum, which is literally just a short fly ball away from Fluor Field, home of the Greenville’s minor league team. Just make sure you are there on a Saturday.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Shoeless Joe Jackson Home/Statute, South Carolina ballparks | Comments (1)