Henley Field – A Walk Back In Time

February 26th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

Henley Field is located at 1125 North Florida Avenue in Lakeland Florida. In 1923, the ballpark was known as Adair Field, built  on land purchased from Dr. Pike Adair by the City of Lakeland.

Front Entrance, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Front Entrance, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

At the urging of Clare Henley, President of the Lakeland Baseball Club, the Cleveland Indians began training at Adair Field in 1923. In 1925, the City of Lakeland completed construction of a Mission Revival grandstand and the ballpark was christened Athletic Park. The Cleveland Indains trained at Athetlic Park through the 1927 spring season.

Exterior, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Exterior, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

The first professional baseball team to play at the site was the International League Louisville Colonels who trained at Adair field in 1915 after having spent the previous spring training at Terry Park in Fort Myers, Florida.

Front Entrance Gate, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Front Entrance Gate, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

From 1919 to 1926, the Florida State League Lakeland Highlanders (owned by Henley) played their home games at Adair Field and Athletic Park.

Ticket Windows, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Ticket Windows, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

In 1934, also at the urging of Henley, the Detroit Tigers moved their spring training home to Athletic Field.

Exterior, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida, Parallel to First Base Foul Line

Exterior, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida, Parallel to First Base Foul Line

In 1952 the ballpark was renamed Clare “Doc” Henley Ball Park.

Dedication Plaque, Clare Henley, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Dedication Plaque, Clare Henley, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

The concrete block wall that surrounds the stadium dates back to the late 1920s.

FIrst Base-Right Field Wall, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

FIrst Base-Right Field Wall, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

From 1940 until 1985, a press box stat atop the grandstand.

View of Grandstand from Center Field, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

View of Grandstand from Center Field, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Grandstand Netting, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Grandstand Netting, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

The original dugouts were part of the grandstand. The current dugouts were erected long after the Tigers ceased playing at Henley Field.

View of Dugout and Grandstand from Left Field Line, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

View of Dugout and Grandstand from Left Field Line, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

First Base Dugout, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

First Base Dugout, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

In 2002, Henley Field had one final fling with professional baseball when the Florida State League Lakeland Tigers played one season at the ballpark during the renovation of Joker Merchant Stadium. In preparation for that season, the original wood seats in the grandstand were replaced with aluminum seating

Grandstand Seating, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Grandstand Seating, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

The first few rows behind home plate in the grandstand now include seating for the press.

Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

As part of the renovation, a new scoreboard was installed as well.

Scoreboard, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Scoreboard, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

However, Henley Field retains much of its 1920s baseball charm.

Administrative Office, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Administrative Office, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Inside Front Entrance, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Inside Front Entrance, Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

The Tigers continued to train at Henley Field until 1965, with the exception of 1943 to 1945 when they trained at Bosse Field in Evansville, Indiana, because of war time travel restrictions. In 1966, the Tigers moved to brand new Joker Merchant Stadium

Joker Merchant Stadium, Spring Training Home of the Detroit TIgers, Lakeland Florida

Joker Merchant Stadium, Spring Training Home of the Detroit TIgers, Lakeland Florida

The Tigers and Lakeland have the longest relationship in Major League Baseball between a team and its spring training city.

Tiger Villa Motel Postcard, Lakeland, Florida (Curteichcolor 3-D Natural Color).

Tiger Villa Motel Postcard, Lakeland, Florida (Curteichcolor 3-D Natural Color).

Henley Field currently is the home of the Florida Southern University Moccasins baseball team.

Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Henley Field, Lakeland, Florida

Henley Field is located only one and a half miles south of Joker Merchant Stadium, so there really is no excuse not to visit the ballpark if you are in Lakeland attending Tigers spring training. Even with its renovation, Henley Field is like walking back in time to see spring training as it was in the 1920s and 1930s.

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Posted in Florida ballparks, Henley Field/Athletic Park/Adair Park | Comments (0)

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