Archive for the ‘North Carolina Ballparks’ Category

Durham Athletic Park – A Real Life Major Motion Picture Site

September 8th, 2013

Durham Athletic Park (often referred to with the acronym DAP) is located at the intersection of Washington Street and W. Corporation Street in Durham, North Carolina.

Durham Athletic Park, Former Home of the Durham Bulls

Home to minor league baseball beginning in 1926, for the first seven years of its existence the ballpark was known as El Toro Park. The ballpark was renamed Durham Athletic Park in 1933 after the stadium was acquired by the City of Durham. The original ballpark, which included a wooden grandstand, was destroyed by fire in 1939. A new steel and concrete grandstand was constructed and ready for the 1940 season.

Durham Athletic Park Turret Topped Building That Housed Ticket Booth

Although there were some years where minor league baseball was not played in Durham, the ballpark primarily was home to the Durham Bulls up through the 1994 season. Local Durham Negro League teams including the Eagles and the Rams also played at Durham Athletic Park.

Entrance Behind To Durham Athletic Park Behind Home Plate

Durham Athletic Park is perhaps the most famous minor league ballpark in the country, thanks to its use as the primary filming site for the movie Bull Durham, staring Kevin Costner, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, and the late Trey Wilson. War Memorial Stadium, located in nearby Greensboro, North Carolina, 50 miles west of DAP, also was used for filming some of the scenes in Bull Durham.

View of DAP Grandstand From Home Team Dugout

For fans of Bull Durham, a visit to Durham Athletic Park is like walking through a movie set.

View Of DAP Grandstand From Behind Home Plate

The City of Durham recently completed a $4 million renovation of the ballpark. Although some things have changed, like the color of the grandstand wall that runs along the infield, which is now brown, not green, the ballpark is readily recognizable as the ballpark where Crash Davis helped tutor Nuke LaLoosh to become a major league pitcher.

Box Seats And General Admission At DAP

The home team dugout where many memorable scenes were filmed now has a protective fence in front of it.

DAP Home Team Dugout

The radio announcer’s booth, made famous by Garland Bunting, remains. In real life, Bunting was a North Carolina Revenue Agent.

DAP Radio Announcer's Booth

The press box remains as well.

Box Seats Behind Top Of Press Box, Durham Athletic Park

In the movie, the press box was visible directly behind home plate.

Press Box At DAP

The outfield signage has been removed, including the famous bull that blew smoke and moved its tail when hit by a home run ball. In addition, at least two of the buildings beyond the right field fence have been painted blue.

Buildings Behind Right Field Where Once Sat The Bull SIgn

Durham Athletic Park and the movie Bull Durham helped revive the popularity of minor league baseball in the United States. They also helped end the ballpark’s affiliation with a minor league team.

Concession Stand, Durham Athletic Park

The team soon found that the small stadium could no longer hold the crowds that came to see the Bulls.

Field Of Dreams, DAP Infield

Beginning in 1995, the Durham Bulls began play at newly constructed Durham Bulls Athletic Park (“DBAP”). Some of the iconic features of the DAP, such as the “Hit Bull Win Steak” sign are included in the new ballpark.

Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Current Home of the Durham Bulls

Thanks to the popularity of the movie Bull Durham and the forward thinking of the city of Durham, North Carolina, Durham Athletic Park is here to stay.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Durham Athletic Park, North Carolina Ballparks | Comments (4)

War Memorial Stadium – Greensboro, North Carolina

September 5th, 2013

War Memorial Stadium in Greensboro, North Carolina, was opened in 1926. From 1930 until 2004, the ballpark was the home to a Greensboro’s minor league baseball teams.

War Memorial Stadium, Greensboro, South Carolina

The ballpark’s first minor league tenants were the Greensboro Patriots, an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Over the years, the major league affiliated teams that made War Memorial their home included the Red Sox, the Pirates, and the Yankees, through 1968. The Greensboro Red Wings, a minor Negro Leagues team, also played at War Memorial in the late 1940’s. After a ten year absence, in 1979, professional baseball returned to War Memorial when the Greensboro Hornets of the South Atlantic League began play. That team had the longest uninterrupted stretch of professional baseball at War Memorial, with the Hornets, later named the Bats, playing at the ballpark through the 2004 season.

War Memorial Stadium Concrete and Stucco Exterior

In 2005, Greensboro’s minor league team moved to a new stadium located just one mile west of War Memorial Stadium. The team changed its name as well, to the Greensboro Grasshoppers.

NewBridge Bank Park, Current Home of the Greensboro Grasshopers

War Memorial Stadium is dedicated “In Memory Of All Those Of Guilford County Who Made The Supreme Sacrifice In The World War.”

War Memorial Stadium Plaque Honoring Military Members Who Lost Their Lives

On either side of the main entrance to the stadium are large bronze plaques listing the names of people from Guilford County who died in World War I. The plaques also state: “They Served That Liberty May Not Perish From The Earth.”

Detail of War Memorial Stadium

Although professional baseball has left, the game is still played at War Memorial Stadium. These pictures of the ballpark were taken in July 2010 during the Metropolitan Junior Baseball League Classic Tournament.

Greensboro Bats Ticket Booth

In addition, the ballpark still hosts college baseball. It is the home field of both North Carolina A&T University and Greensboro College.

Main Entrance Under Grandstand, War Memorial Stadium

In July 2014, the Greensboro Yankees held a reunion at War Memorial Stadium. Ike Futch, an infielder for the Greensboro Yankees in 1961, was kind enough to send me pictures of the reunion.

Greensboro Yankees Reunion, 2014, War Memorial Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina

Greensboro Yankees Reunion, 2014, War Memorial Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina (Photo Courtesy Ike Futch)

The Greensboro Yankees also gathered inside the clubhouse. Around the table (clock wise) Johnny Smith (bat boy in 1961), Rudy Serrett, Jeff and Laura Womack’s daughters (Dooley Womack’s grandchildren), Butch Cretara, Ike Futch, Dooley Womack, Chuck Boone, Art Lopez, Unknown Local Sports Writer, Brian Dunphy (Producer, Channel 8, Greensboro Community TV), Judie Paul, Attonia Lopez, and Ron Paul.

Greensboro Yankees Reunion, 2014, War Memorial Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina (Photo Courtesy  Ike

Greensboro Yankees Reunion, 2014, War Memorial Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina (Photo Courtesy Ike Futch)

The craftsmanship that went into building War Memorial is evident throughout the ballpark.

Concession Booths Under Grandstand, War Memorial Stadium

A covered grandstand constructed of steel and concrete anchors the ballpark.

Main Grandstand War Memorial Stadium

The view of the playing field from the grandstand harkens back to an earlier era.

Playing Field at War Memorial Stadium

War Memorial made a cameo appearance in the 1989 movie Bull Durham, which was filmed primarily at Durham Athletic Park. About midway through the movie the team bus pulls up to the front entrance of War Memorial.

Steel and Wood Construction of the Main Grandstand

In addition, the locker room scenes in Bull Durham supposedly were filmed inside War Memorial’s locker room, including the late Trey Wilson’s famous “lollygag” scene. Apparently the locker rooms at Durham Athletic Park, where much of the movie was filmed, were considerably smaller.

War Memorial Stadium Entrance to General Admission Seating

With it’s major tenant gone since 2005, War Memorial has fallen into disrepair

War Memorial Stadium General Admission

Although the field is still maintained, the stadium structure itself shows signs of neglect.

Entrance to Concourse, War Memorial Stadium

In recent years there has been talk about tearing down War Memorial Stadium. However, the City of Greensboro has decided to renovate the stadium as part of a revitalization plan for the area surrounding the ballpark.

Entrance From Concourse To Third Base Seating

Although some parts of the ballpark have been demolished, such as some of the stands along third base and near left field, the future certainly seems brighter now for the ballpark. Perhaps now, with the help of the City of Greensboro, War Memorial Stadium will not become just another lost ballpark.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in North Carolina Ballparks, War Memorial Stadium | Comments (5)