Posts Tagged ‘Atlanta Braves’

Milwaukee County Stadium – Home Field To Three Different MLB Franchises

November 12th, 2013

Milwaukee County Stadium was located at 201 South 46th Street, nine miles southwest of downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Built entirely with public funds, County Stadium initially was conceived as a new ballpark for the American Association Milwaukee Brewers. However, that minor league team never had the chance to play at the new stadium because of the arrival in 1953 of the National League Milwaukee Braves.

County Stadium Panoramic

The Braves franchise had played the previous 82 seasons in Boston, most recently (1915-1952) at Braves Field, located less than two miles west of Fenway Park. Indeed, the Braves are the oldest continuously operating professional sports franchise in United States.

Milwaukee County Stadium (Postcard Genuine Curteich-Chicago, Dist. by L.L. Cook Co.)

The Braves never had a losing season while in Milwaukee. In 1957, they brought Milwaukee a World Series title as well as a second National League pennant the following year. However, by 1965 the team was on its way out of town – the team’s new owner having shopped the Braves in search of a larger market with a larger television audience. The team moved to Atlanta’s new Fulton County Stadium for the 1966 season.

Exterior of Milwaukee County Stadium

In 1968 and 1969, through the efforts of local business man Bud Selig, the Chicago White Sox played several home dates at County Stadium. Selig’s plan was to demonstrate to Major League Baseball through the attendance at those games that Milwaukee still deserved to be a major league city. Selig’s efforts paid off and, in 1970 the expansion Seattle Pilots, after only one season in Seattle, moved to Milwaukee.

Miller Park Under Construction with Milwaukee County Stadium Awaiting Its Fate

The Brewers played at County Stadium from 1970, through the 2000 season. In 2001, they moved to a new ballpark built in a parking lot just south of County Stadium.

Raising the Roof at Miller Park, Milwaukee County Stadium is to the Right

The difference between the two ballparks could not be more striking. County Stadium was one of the last old school, classic double deck ballparks, while Miller Park, with it’s arched glass and steel enclosed roof, rises some 30 stories tall.

County Stadium with Miller Park Under Construction Behind Center Field

In addition to being the home ballpark for three different major league franchises, County Stadium also hosted some Green Bay Packers home games from 1953 to 1994.

Cubs Right Fielder Sammy Sosa at Milwaukee County Stadium

Bernie Brewer, the team’s mascot since the early 1970’s, had two different versions of beer keg chalet while at County Stadium. Both chalets, including the one in use during the final years of County Stadium, were purchased by Lakefront Brewery and relocated to the brewery at 1872 N Commerce Street. They can be seen as part of the brewery tour.

Bernie Brewer's Chalet, Milwaukee County Stadium

The Brewer’s sixth inning sausage race – known formally as Klement’s Racing Sausages – began at County Stadium in the mid 1990s.

The Four Racing Sausages - With the Addition of Chorizo - at Milwaukee County Stadium Circa 2000

Support columns for County Stadium’s upper deck afforded fans sitting underneath it in the lower seating bowl penty of obstructed views. The upper deck  seating was accessed from the upper level concourse by a series of catwalks.

Lower Seating Bowl, Section 3, Milwaukee County Stadium, with View of the Upper Level Concourse

County Stadium’s narrow concourses were typical for ballparks of that era.

Souvenir Stand, Milwaukee County Stadium

With Miller Park looming in the background during County Stadium’s final season, Brewers fans had a constant reminder that the end was near for the old ballpark. Even County Stadium’s scoreboard added to the drumbeat, advertising the sale of stadium seats to be made available soon after the end of the 2000 season.

Milwaukee County Stadium Scoreboard Advertising The Sale of Seats from the Stadium

The Brewers and Milwaukee County have done a good job keeping the memory of County Stadium alive. Helfaer Field is a youth baseball field constructed on the former site of County Stadium. The field is named in honor of Evan Helfaer, a part owner of the Brewers at the time of their arrival in Milwaukee. A foundation in his name helped provide funds to build the field.

Helfaer Field Located on the Former Site of Milwaukee County Stadium

On the concourse behind Helfaer Field’s third base is a marker noting the spot of County Stadium’s home plate. The foul poles used at Helfaer Field are from County Stadium.

Milwaukee County Stadium Right Field Foul Pole Now Relocated To Helfaer Field

Much of County Stadium’s third base grandstand and left field is now a parking lot – “Brewers 1.” Behind Helfaer Field’s left field corner (on what was once County Stadium’s left field foul line) is a granite monument honoring the Milwaukee Braves.

Milwaukee County Stadium's Left Field Grandstand and Bleachers - Now "Brewers 1" Parking Lot

In the parking lot beyond Helfaer Field’s left field fence (Brewer 1) is an inground marker surrounded by red concrete bricks that honors Hank Aaron’s last home run. The plaque states: “This marks the landing location of the final home run of Hank Aaron’s career, #755, hit at County Stadium on July 20, 1976.” Aaron, who began his major league career with the Milwaukee Braves in 1954, returned to Milwaukee at the end of his career, playing for the Brewers in 1975 and 1976.

County Stadium’s first base grandstand, and portions of right field, are now a parking lot in front of Miller Park demarcated as “Cubs” lot.

Milwaukee County Stadium's Right Field Grandstand and Scoreboard - Now "Cubs" Parking Lot

In front of Miller Park are statues honoring Robin Yount , Hank Aaron, Bud Selig, and Bob Uecker. A sculpture entitled “Teamwork,” by artist Omri Amrany, honors Jerome Starr, Jeff Wischer, and William DeGrave, three construction workers killed during construction of Miller Park.

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Atlanta’s Other Lost Ballpark – Ponce De Leon Park

August 5th, 2013

Long before Turner Field, before Fulton County Stadium, there was a wonderful minor league  ballpark in Atlanta known as Ponce De Leon Park.

Ponce De Leon Park, Atlanta, Georgia

Ponce De Leon was the home to the Atlanta Crackers and Atlanta Black Crackers. The Atlanta Crackers played in the Southern Association from 1901 until 1965, and played at Ponce De Leon in an earlier incarnation of the stadium starting in 1907. Destroyed by fire in 1923, the stadium was rebuilt for the 1924 season.  The Atlanta Black Crackers played in the Negro Southern League and played at Ponce De Leon Park from 1920 to 1937, and 1940 until 1952.

Aerial View of Ponce De Leon Park

Located  at  the intersection of Ponce De Leon Avenue and Lakeview Avenue, less than four miles south of  the Braves current home, Turner Field, the former site of Ponce De Leon Park is a shopping center known as Midtown Place.

Midtown Place, Former Site of Ponce De Leon Park

The ballpark was demolished in 1966, the same year that the Atlanta Braves, having just relocated from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, began play at Fulton County Stadum.

Shopping Center Sign At The Former Site of Ponce De Leon Park

The stores at the site today, such as Home Depot and Whole Foods, intersect what was once third base and left field.

Whole Food and T. J. Max Built On Hallowed Ground

The most notable landmark at the former site of Ponce De Leon Park is the old Sears and Roebuck Warehouse at 675 Ponce De Leon Avenue.

Sears and Roebuck Warehouse Looming Beyond Ponce De Leon park (Image courtesy of Georgia State University Library (LBCB114-072b, Lane Brothers Commercial Photographers Photographic)) Collection)

The Sears warehouse remains at the site today.

Former Site of Center Field Looking Toward First Base, With Former Sears Warehouse In Background

Built in 1926, the former warehouse now houses offices of the city of Atlanta and is known informally as City Hall East.

Sears and Roebuck Warehouse

In addition to the former Sears warehouse, another notable landmark at the former Ponce De Leon site is a magnolia street that sits beyond what was once center field.

Magnolia Tree, a Landmark of Ponce De Leon Park

The magnolia tree remains from the days of Ponce De Leon Park. Two ballplayers are known to have hit home runs into the tree  during exhibition games, Hall of Famers Eddie Mathews and Babe Ruth.

Stone and Concrete Wall At Former Site of Ponce De Leon Park

Another landmark is a stone and concrete wall that ran along the parking lot, paralleling the third base side.

The Atlanta Crackers and the Atlanta Black Crackers may be long gone from Atlanta, but they are not forgotten. Located on the northwest side of Turner Field at Aisle 134 is the Ivan Allen Jr. Braves Museum& Hall of Fame which includes over 600 Braves artifacts and photographs, including some items relevant to Ponce De Leon Park.

Jersey of Former Atlanta Black Cracker James “Red” Moore.

Ponce De Leon Park was named after the avenue along which it sat.

Postcard “Ponce De Leon Base Ball Park, Atlanta, GA, ‘Watching The Game.'” (Published By I.F. Co., Inc., Atlanta, GA, C.T. American Art)

Of course, Ponce De Leon was a Spanish explorer associated with the legend of the fountain of youth. Ponce De Leon died in 1521. The ballpark that bears his name was demolished in 1966. Neither apparently were able to benefit from that legend. However, the several landmarks that remain at the site make a trip to the corner of Lakeview and Ponce De Leon well worth the journey.

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Fulton County Stadium Redux

April 5th, 2012

The Georgia Historical Society and Georgia Public Broadcasting honor the memory of Fulton County Stadium on April 15th as part of their joint collaboration Today in Georgia History. The one minute video includes some pictures from my 2010 blog about Fulton County Stadium on Fulton County Stadium Makes A Great Parking Lot. Atlanta broke ground on Fulton County Stadium on April 15, 1964. The Braves arrived two years later.

Click here: Today in Georgia History to watch the video.

Click here: Credits and Bibliography for additional information about Fulton County Stadium from the Georgia Historical Society.

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Fulton County Stadium Makes A Great Parking Lot – For Now

April 23rd, 2010

Atlanta/Fulton County Stadium was the fourth home of the National League Braves and the first in Atlanta. The Braves two previous homes were Braves Field in Boston and County Stadium in Milwaukee.

Atlanta/Fulton County Stadium, Once Home of the Braves (Dexter Press, Inc.)

Once nestled at the confluence of Interstates 75, 85, and 20, Fulton County Stadium is now a parking lot.

The Friendly Confines of Atlanta/Fulton County Stadium and Interstate 75 (Scenic South Card Co.)

Unlike other lost ballparks, however, Fulton County Stadium is not quite gone or forgotten.  Portions of the old ballpark remain in the parking lot adjacent to the Braves’ current home, Turner Field.

Baseball Paradise Now A Parking Lot

The stadium’s outer retaining wall, now painted blue, marks the outline of Fulton County Stadium.

Fulton County Stadium Outer Wall

The blue outer wall marks the area from the right field corner around to the first base side of home plate.

The Right Field Corner

The infield, foul lines, and warning track are marked with brown pavers.

No Place Like Home

And if all that weren’t enough, the que de gras of the former Fulton County Stadium site is the portion of the metal, outfield fence marking where Hank Aaron’s record breaking home run number 715 cleared Dodger’s outfielder Bill Buckner and landed in the mit of Braves relief pitcher Tom House, who was standing in the Braves’ bullpen.

"There's new home run champion of all time and it's Henry Aaron" (Braves Announcer Milo Hamilton)

Hank Aaron at Fulton County Stadium (1972 Atlanta Braves Fan Photo)

In 1997, the Braves moved across Hank Aaron Street to Turner Field.

Turner Field, Home of the Atlanta Braves

The original plaque honoring Fulton County Stadium – Atlanta Stadium – is located in the plaza outside the main gate of Turner Field just south of Georgia Avenue.

Original "Atlanta Stadium" Plaque Now Located Outside Turner Field

Located on the northwest side of Turner Field at Aisle 134 is the Ivan Allen Jr. Braves Museum & Hall of Fame which includes over 600 Braves artifacts and photographs, including several items from Fulton County Stadium.

Turnstile from Fulton County Stadium

The Braves museums offers fans the chance to sit in Fulton County Stadium seats and relive Hank Aaron’s famous home run breaking Babe Ruth’s record of 714.

Stadium Seats from Fulton County Stadium

The Atlanta dugout is recreated as well, including the bat and helmet racks.


Recreated Dugout of Fulton County Stadium

Fans are free to have a seat on the dugout bench or lean on the railing.

Dugout from Fulton County Stadium

Former player lockers from Fulton County Stadium are used throughout the museum to display Atlanta Braves memorabilia.

Fulton County Stadium Player Lockers

The piece de resistance of the Braves museum is the actual ball that Hank Aaron hit over Fulton County Stadium’s left field wall to break Babe Ruth’s home run record of 714. Also on display is the bat Hammerin Hank used that day.

One of the Greatest Baseball Artifacts Ever - Hank Aaron's Home Run Ball No. 715

Any fan of the game visiting Atlanta or Turner Field should make a stop at the parking lot across the street.  Thanks to the forward thinking of Atlanta officials, it is still possible visit Fulton County Stadium and experience its most famous moment. Once inside Turner Field, the Braves Museum and Hall of Fame is definitely worth the one token it costs to enter (approximately $2).

With the Braves announcement in November 2013 that the team will be leaving Turner Field at the end of the 2016 season for a new ballpark to be built in Cobb, a suburb ten miles north of Atlanta, the future of the Fulton County Stadium parking lot and stadium markers is now in doubt. Demolition of Turner Field is scheduled for 2017. Only time will tell what, if anything, will remain of Fulton County Stadium or Turner Field.

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