Archive for the ‘Alabama ballparks’ Category

Eagle Stadium Still Soaring In Ozark, Alabama

March 2nd, 2019

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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The Stars No Longer Shine At Huntsville’s Joe W. Davis Stadium

August 30th, 2014

Joe W. Davis Municipal Stadium is located at 3125 Leeman Ferry Road in Huntsville, Alabama.

Joe W. Davis Stadium Marquee at Memorial Parkway and Don Mincher Drive

The ballpark is named after a former Mayor of Huntsville who spearheaded the effort to bring professional baseball to Huntsville.

Entrance to Joe W. Davis Stadium, Huntsville, Alabama

Constructed in 1985, it has been the home of the Southern League Huntsville Stars for the team’s entire existence.

Entrance to Joe W. Davis Stadium Circa 2003

The team’s name and logo is a nod to the city’s connection to space exploration. Both NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the United States Army Aviation and Missile Command at the Redstone Arsenal are located in the Huntsville area.

View of Joe W. Davis Stadium From Behind Outfield Wall

The ballpark was designed and built prior to the rebirth movement that swept professional baseball parks with the introduction of Camden Yards in 1992.

View of Joe W. Davis Field From Behind Outfield Wall Circa 2003

Thus, both the exterior and interior of Joe Davis Stadium are plain and functional, with little in the way of architectural flourishes.

Turnstiles at Front Entrance to Joe W. Davis

Because the ballpark lacks any real je ne sais quoi, it truly harkens back to an earlier era when only the game on the field mattered.

Beer Stand and Beer Man, Joe W. Davis Stadium

The stadium’s dated structure also helps explain why the Stars wanted to relocate to a new facility.

Joe W. Davis Stadium Concourse Behind Third Base

Given the ballpark’s location in Rocket City, there certainly was ample inspiration for a space-themed baseball ballpark. Unfortunately, other than the Stars logo and Jet’s Pizza, there is very little in the way of space-themed concourse or ballpark offerings.

Jet’s Pizza – Gotta Love the Pun

When the stadium opened in 1985, the Stars were an affiliate of the Oakland Athletics.

Day’s Lineup Posted on Stadium Concourse

In 1999, their affiliation switched to the Milwaukee Brewers, who have remained with the Stars ever since.

Entrance to First Base Seating Bowl, Joe W. Davis Stadium

The ballpark faces northeast, providing an inspiring view of Monte Sano State Park.

The View Behind Home Plate, Joe W. Davis Stadium, Huntsville, Alabama
Joe W. Davis Stadium with Monte Sano State Park Visible Beyond Outfield

Although intended primarily for baseball, the City of Huntsville designed Joe Davis stadium as a multi-purpose venue.

Joe W. Davis Left Field Seating Bowl

This accounts for the exceptionally long grandstand that runs along the third base foul line and wraps around to left field, while the first base grandstand stops opposite first base.

View of Joe W. Davis from Behind Outfield Fence

The ballpark can hold over 10,000 spectators, a size much larger than necessary for those who come to watch the Stars come out.

Entrance to Section 201 Joe W. Davis Stadium

Built to include 15 sky suites long before such luxury boxes were the norm for minor league baseball, even that portion of the structure looks very much outdated.

Who On Earth Designed this Entrance to the Joe W. Davis Luxury Boxes?

The majority of the seats are uncovered, with shade provided only for those sitting in the grandstand running along first base.

Huntsville Stars Warm Up Pregame

Perhaps it is Joe Davis Stadium’s dated feel that makes me lament the departure of the Stars.

Wahoos Manager Delino DeShields and Stars Manager Carlos Subero Exchange Lineup Cards

It remains a good place to watch baseball, with plenty of room to spread out.

Huntsville Stars take on the Pensacola Blue Wahoos

For several years now the Stars have been looking for another venue in which to shine.

Scoreboard, Joe W. Davis Stadium, Huntsville

Perhaps knowing that the end was near, the City did not invest much in the stadium in the way of extras. Even the stadium scoreboard is perfunctory at best.

Joe W. Davis Entrance to Team Store

In January 2014, the Stars announced they were moving to a brand new ballpark being constructed in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Slim Pickings in the Huntsville Team Store’s Final Season

Alas, 2014 was to be the last season of the Stars in Huntsville. However, construction shortfalls at the Biloxi site have delayed the team’s move to that ballpark  for the start of the 2015 season.

Huntsville’s Parting Banner, Joe W. Davis Stadium

It is unclear where the team will play to start the season, but apparently it will not be in Huntsville.

Huntsville Stars Logo

There are no current plans to demolish Joe Davis Stadium. Presumably the City could still use the facility for high school football games and the occasional monster truck rally. There is also talk of perhaps a new Southern League franchise locating to Huntsville in the next few years, should the city agree to construct a new, downtown ballpark. What does seem certain, however, is that come September 1, 2014, the days of professional baseball at Joe Davis Stadium will come to an end. And after that, it will be just a matter of time before the stadium becomes yet another lost ballpark.

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Rickwood Field – Baseball’s Time Capsule

September 19th, 2013

Rickwood Field, located at 1137 2nd St W, in Birmingham, Alabama, is a century-old time capsule of America’s National Pastime. It is recognized by the Historic American Building Survey as the country’s oldest surviving baseball park.

Rickwood Field, Birmingham, Alabama

Constructed by Birmingham Barons owner Rick Woodward (hence the name), the first professional game  played there was a contest between the Barons and the Montgomery Climbers on August 18, 1910. This was approximately two years before the opening of Fenway Park, major league baseball’s oldest surviving ballpark.

Ridkwood Field, As Seen From 11th Street

Rickwood was the first concrete and steel minor league ballpark constructed in the United States. The stadium’s facade is truly remarkable for its unspoiled, vintage appearance, and would be worthy of a photo essay all its own.

Rickwood Field Third Base Side Grandstand

The first base side grandstand runs the length of the ballfield and wraps around behind right field.

Rickwood Field First Base Side Grandstand

Two historic plaques honor the history of Rickwood Field. The first plaque, erected by the Alabama Historical Commission in 1996, recognizes Rickwood Field’s placement on the National Register for Historic Places.

Rickwood Field Historic Marker

The second plaque, erected by the Alabama Tourism Department in 2010, celebrates the 100th anniversary of the first game played at Rickwood Field.

Rickwood Field Historic Marker Noting Opening Day 1910

The distinctive Mission style front entrance to Rickwood Field was added in 1928.

Mission Style Front Entrance to Rickwood Field

On the first base side of the ballpark, past the front entrance, is a sign welcoming visitors to a guided tour of the ballpark. Free pamphlets are available there for visitors to take along on their tour.

Rickwood Field's Self Guided Tour

The main entrance way to the ballpark appears much as it did in 1940.

Rickwood Field Front Entrance Turnstiles

A chalkboard listing the players for the day’s contest sits just to the right beyond the turnstiles.

Lineup From 2013 Rickwood Classic

Rickwood was home to the Southern Association (later Southern League) Birmingham Barons from 1910 until 1987.

Field of Dreams, Alabama Style

It also was home to the Birmingham Black Barons from 1920 until 1963. The Black Barons played in various leagues over the years including the Negro Southern League, the Negro National League, and the Negro American League.

Rickwood Field Tower

Notable players who called Rickwood Field their home included Hall of Famers Willie Mays (a native of Birmingham), Sachel Paige, Willie Wells, George Suttles, Bill Foster, Pie Traynor, Rollie Fingers, Reggie Jackson, and Burleigh Grimes.

Rickwood Field Third Base Dugout

During the design phase of Rickwood Field, Philadelphia Athletics Manager Connie Mack served as a consultant. The field and stadium were patterned after Forbes Field and Shibe Park. Both the Philadelphia Phillies (1911, 1920) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (1919) held their spring training at Rickwood Field.

Rickwood Field View From the First Base Dugout

The distinctive cantilevered light stanchions date to 1936, when Rickwood became one of the first minor league facilities to host night baseball.

Louvered Windows at Rickwood Field

The steel and wood roof is a visual masterpiece. The supports for that roof, placed one per section, provide vintage obstructed views of the field.

Right Field Seating Rickwood Field

Rickwood Field currently has a seating capacity of 10,800. All of the original seating has long since been replaced.

Obstructed View At Rickwood Field Is Part of the Charm

The first base side grandstand, which wraps around to right field, was designed after Forbes Field, which had a similar wrap around, right field grandstand.

View From the Right Field Grandstand

The concrete outfield fence dating to 1928 sits behind the “newer” wooden fence. In 1948 Walt Dropo famously hit a home run over the wooden fence that hit the concrete fence on the fly.

Original Outfield Wall at Rickwood Field

Although long since replaced, at one time Rickwood Field could boast having wooden box seats and wooden row seats from the Polo Grounds, with wrought iron “NY” emblems at the end of each row. In the 1970s the seats were replaced and, for a time, could be purchased at nearby Legion Field in Birmingham.

Gambling Not Permitted at Rickwood Field

Because Rickwood Field offers so much to see, including the colorful outfield wall signage  and the recreated scoreboard, as well as so many great angles from which to photograph the ballpark, I have included a four minute video meant to capture the feel of the ballpark.

If you would like to see more photographs of Rickwood Field taken by a professional photographer, please visit Lou Dina at dinagraphics.com. As you can see from the picture below, Lou has an amazing eye for detail.

Today the Birmingham Barons play their home games at Regions Field. From 1988 until 2012, they played at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. Once a year, since 1996, however, the Barons return to Rickwood Field to take part in the Rickwood Classic. Held typically on a Wednesday around the last week of May, the game is an official Southern League contest that helps insure professional baseball is still a part of Rickwood’s present and future.

Regions Field, Home of the Birmingham Barons

Friends of Rickwood has been the caretaker of Rickwood Field since 1992. If you are interested in reading more about their organization or how you can help insure the preservation of the ballpark, visit them at rickwood.com. Baseball fans owe that organization a debt of gratitude helping insure that Rickwood Field never becomes just another lost ballpark.

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