Posts Tagged ‘Branch Rickey’

Sanford Field, Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium, and Sanford Museum

May 17th, 2020

Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium is located at 1201 S. Mellonville Avenue in Sanford, Florida.

Entrance Sign, Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium, Sanford, Florida

One block south of Sanford Memorial Stadium, at the northeast corner of South Mellonville Avenue and Celery Avenue, is the former site of Sanford Field.

Former Site of Sanford Field, Intersection of South Mellonville, Sanford, Florida (photo taken in 2017; a black painted metal fence now surrounds the site)

The two ballparks coexisted briefly.

Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium and Sanford Field (courtesy of the Sanford Museum)

Sanford Field was constructed in 1926.  It included a simple, wooden grandstand and bleacher seating along third base.

Sanford Field, Sanford, Florida (courtesy of Sanford Museum)

The ballpark was demolished during the early 1950s and replaced, for a time, with dormitories to house players during spring training.

Sanford Minor League Baseball Compound, Sanford, Florida (courtesy of Sanford Museum)

Today, the former site of Sanford Field is an open grass field.

Former Site of Sanford Field, Sanford, Florida, Looking from Center Field Toward Home Plate

Former Site of Sanford Field, Sanford, Florida, Looking from Home Plate Down Left Field Line

Former Site of Sanford Field, Sanford, Florida, Looking from Home Plate Down Right Field Line

According to baseballreference.com, minor league baseball was played in Sanford as far back as 1919, beginning with the Sanford Celeryfeds of the Florida State League.

Sanford Celeryfeds, Sanford Field, Sanford, Florida, with Uniforms Depicting Celery Stalks  (courtesy of the Sanford Museum)

The Celeryfeds, so named because celery was a major crop grown there, played in Sanford from 1919 to 1920, from 1925 to 1928, and again in 1946.

Florida State League Sanford Giants (courtesy of the Sanford Museum)

Other Sanford team names included the Lookouts, from 1936 to 1939, the Seminoles, from 1940 to 1941, and again in 1947, the Giants, from 1948 to 1951, the Seminole Blues in 1952, the Cardinals in 1953 and 1955, and the Greyhounds, from 1959 to 1960.  Major league teams affiliated with Sanford Florida State League teams, include the Washington Senators, from 1936 to 1939, and in 1959, the New York Giants, from 1948 to 1951, the St. Louis Cardinals, in 1953 and 1955, and the Kansas City Athletics in 1959.

The Washington Senators’ affiliate, the Sanford Lookouts, in 1937, included future Hall of Famer Early Wynn.

Sanford Museum Display Honoring Local Hero and Hall of Famer Early Wynn

According to a Washington Post article, “[b]ecause his Aunt Sophie happened to live in Sanford, Fla., where the Chattanooga club was holding a baseball school, and because he happened to be visiting her at the time, Earl Wynn is now a bright young pitching prospect of the Nats.”  “Nats Rookie Parade at Orlando Camp,” Washington Post, February 22, 1940: 20.  Another notable team, the 1939  Sanford Lookouts, posted a record of 98-35, and were ranked by Minor League Baseball the 68th greatest team in minor league history.

Exhibition games and spring training have played an important part of Sanford’s baseball history.  In the 1930s, the Chattanooga Lookouts held spring training at Sanford Field, including games against its parent club, the Washington Senators.  “Exhibition Baseball,” Washington Post, April 2, 1937:19.  Washington also held four-week baseball schools for hopeful rookies at Sanford Field.  “Nats Open Baseball School,” Washington Post, March 1, 1937: 11.  In May 1936, the Ethiopian Clowns played a game at Sanford Field, beating the Sanford team 14-1. “Watching the Scoreboard,” Chicago Defender, May 30, 1936: 14.

In 1942, for one season, the Boston Braves moved their spring training camp from Texas to Sanford Field, with Casey Stengel at the helm for the Braves.  “Training Plans Set By Major Leagues,” Washington Post, January 25, 1942: 55; “Lombardi Slugs Hard, Hitting 19 Over Fence,” Washington Post, March 4, 1942: 18.  That one season, Stengel brought his unique personality to Sanford.  A newspaper account for March 13, 1942, reports “[r]ather than bucking the Friday-the-Thirteenth jinx, Manager Casey Stengel today called off his Boston Braves’ inter-squad game and limited his players to light batting and field drills.”  “Fearing Jinx, Stengel Cuts Out Braves’ Game,” Washington Post, March 14, 1942:15.

In 1946, Jackie Robinson played for the International League Montreal Royals, a Brooklyn Dodgers farm club.  The Dodgers held spring training that year at City Island Park in Daytona Beach Florida, with some of the Dodger’s minor league clubs training 40 miles southwest at Sanford Field.  Alicia Clarke, the now recently-retired Curator of the Sanford Museum, related to me the story of Robinson’s time in Sanford.

Sanford Field, Brooklyn Dodgers Spring Training, February 1946, Sanford, Florida

Robinson arrived in Sanford along with his wife, Rachel Robinson, in early March 1946.  Robinson spent March 4, 1946, his first day of training, at Sanford Field, along with teammate Johnny Wright.  Robinson and Wright stayed in a private residence in a neighborhood located less than a mile west of Sanford Field.

Intersection of East 6th Street and South Sanford Avenue, Sanford, Florida

The house where they stayed, located at 612 S. Sanford Avenue, was owned by David C. Brock, and today remains a private residence.

612 S. Sanford Avenue, Sanford, Florida, Where Robinson and Wright Stayed During Their Brief Time in Sanford, Florida

Front Entrance, 612 S. Sanford Avenue, Sanford, Florida, Where Jackie and Rachel Robinson Stayed During Their Brief Time in Sanford, Florida

After the second day of practice, Branch Rickey ordered Robinson and Wright to leave Sanford and travel to Daytona Beach, after Rickey was informed of racial threats made against Robinson and Wright while staying at at the Brock home.

Newspaper Clipping and Photo of Jackie Robinson with Montreal Teammates Bob Fontaine, Johnny Wright, and Hank Behrman (clipping believed to be from Brooklyn Daily Eagle – accompanying article written by Eagle Sportswriter Harold Burr)

Twelve days later, Robinson would make history at City Island Park in Daytona Beach, on March 17, 1946, when he played for the Royals in his first minor league game.

Jackie Robinson Ballpark at City Island Park, Daytona Beach, Florida

The Royals returned to Sanford on April 7, 1946, to play a game against Dodgers’ affiliate, the American Association St. Paul Saints.

Sanford Field, Brooklyn Dodgers Spring Training, February 1946, Sanford, Florida, Much How it would Appear on April 7, 1946, when Robinson Took the Field

Robinson played in the first and perhaps second inning of the game, but departed after being ordered off the field by the Sanford police chief.  The incident was covered in the press, not by the local Sanford paper, but by the Montreal Gazette.

April 8, 1946, Montreal Gazette Article About Jackie Robinson’s One Inning of Baseball in Sanford, Florida (courtesy Sanford Museum)

The ballpark in Daytona Beach is named in Robinson’s honor, and its current resident, the Daytona Tortugas, are in the process of renovating the former site of Kelly Field, located at George Engram Boulevard and Keech Street, in Daytona Beach, Florida, where the Royals practiced after departing Sanford.  On the occasion of 50th anniversary of Robinson’s first major league game with the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Mayor of Sanford, on April 15, 1997, issued a proclamation apologizing for the way in which Robinson was treated in Sanford in 1946.

Jackie Robinson Ballpark, Daytona Beach, Florida

In December 1947, the Giants signed a five-year lease of the former Naval Air Station in Sanford.  “Giants Lease Sanford Air Base Five Years As Florida Spring Camp For 15 Farm Clubs,” New York Times, December 28, 1947: S1.  Naval Air Station Sanford, which played an important role during World War II training carrier-based Navy pilots, was decommissioned in 1946, and the New York Giants leased a portion of the former airfield to the west of the runways for its minor league baseball operations.

Sanford Museum Display of Aerial Photo, New York Giants Farm System Training Site, Sanford, Florida (courtesy of the Sanford Museum)

The Giants constructed eight full size ballfields on what is now the northwest corner of East Airport Boulevard and Carrier Avenue.

New York Giants Farm Clubs Training Site at Former Naval Air Station, Sanford, Florida (courtesy of the Sanford Museum)

Six of the ballfields were clustered just south of 30th Street.  The two additional fields were located north of the six practice fields, one near the southwest corner of 29th Street and Carrier Avenue, and the other near the southwest corner of 28th Street and Carrier Avenue.

Aerial Photo of New York Giants Farm System Training Site at Former Naval Air Station, Sanford, Florida. The road running the bottom of the Photo, Angling to the Right, is Carrier Avenue (courtesy of the Sanford Museum)

Beginning in 1948, 15 of the Giants’ 20 clubs conducted spring training at the former air station.  The Giants took over use of the administrative buildings and dormitories as well.  The Giants also utilized Sanford Field.

Carl Hubbell and Congressman Eugene McCarthy at Sanford Field, 1950 (courtesy of Sanford Museum)

Former Giants great and Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell was put in charge of the Giant’s Sanford operations.

Sanford Museum Display Honoring Mel Ott

On March 17, 1948, Babe Ruth visited Sanford as part of a promotional tour for Ford Motor Company.

Babe Ruth with Babe Ruth Day, March 17, 1948, Sanford, Florida (courtesy Sanford Museum)

The Sanford Museum includes displays highlighting Babe Ruth Day in Sanford, including pictures of Ruth at the local newspaper office and sitting in the grandstand at Sanford Field. Ruth would pass away just three months later, on August 16, 1948.

Babe Ruth at Sanford Field, Sanford, Florida, on Babe Ruth Day, March 17, 1948 (courtesy Sanford Museum)

The American Association Minneapolis Millers wee one of the Giants affiliates who moved their spring training to Sanford.  “Training Sites Are Selected,” Baltimore Sun, January 8, 1949: 13.  In 1948, Giants owner Horace Stoneham purchased the Mayfair Hotel to house players, as well as the Mayfair Country Club, to provide recreation for his players and to increase tourism in the area.

Mayfair Hotel, Sanford, Florida

Stoneham renovated the hotel, renaming it the Mayfair Inn.

Sanford Museum Display of Mayfair Inn Dining Service and Accoutrements

With the onset of the Korean War in 1951, the Navy reclaimed the air station, thereby requiring that the Giants vacate the expansive minor league training camp.  The Giants moved operations just a couple miles north to land adjacent to Sanford Field, and in 1951 constructed a new ballpark, Sanford Memorial Stadium.

Sanford Memorial Stadium Grandstand, Sanford, Florida (courtesy Sanford Museum)

Sanford Memorial Stadium, Sanford, Virginia

The stadium was “Dedicated To The Memory Of The Men And Women Of Seminole County Who Served Their County In All Wars.”

Sanford Memorial Stadium Dedication Plaque, Sanford, Florida

The Giants also constructed additional practice fields near the stadium.  Willie Mays was one of many former Giants who trained as minor leaguers at Sanford Memorial Stadium.

Sanford Memorial Stadium, Sanford, Florida

Three of the practice fields were constructed to the east of the stadium, and a fourth field was constructed just southeast of the stadium.

Sanford Memorial Stadium and Practice Fields, Sanford, Florida

The Giants conducted minor league spring training at Sanford throughout the 1950s.  With the major league Giants’ move to San Francisco in 1958, however, the Giants soon wound down their operations in Sanford.

Today, Hamilton Elementary School sits on the former site of three of the Giants’ practice fields.

Hamilton Elementary School, Sanford, Florida

Located behind Stanford Memorial Stadium is Zinn Beck “Field of Legends” – adjacent to what was once the Giants’ western-most minor league practice field.

Zinn Beck Field Located Behind Historic Stanford Memorial Stadium

Chase Park, located next to the stadium site at 1300 Celery Avenue, includes additional youth baseball fields.

Entrance to Chase Park, Sanford, Florida

The Herbert H. Whitey Eckstein Youth Sports Complex is named in honor of the father of David and Rick Eckstein, a high school teacher and coach in Sanford.

The Herbert H. Whitey Eckstein Youth Sports Complex, Sanford, Florida

Baseball Complex, Part of the Herbert H. Whitey Eckstein Youth Sports Complex

One of the four baseball fields that make up the Eckstein sports complex – Field Four – is located on the former site of one of the Giants’ minor league practice fields.

Eckstein Complex “Field Four” Located on Former Site of Giants’ Minor League Practice Field, Sanford Florida

In 2001, the City of Sanford renovated Sanford Memorial Stadium, renaming it Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium.

Dedication P:laque Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium, Renovated 2001, Sanford, Florida

The stadium, however, retains much of its 1950s charm.

Grandstand, Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium, Sanford, Florida

Press Box, Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium, Sanford, Florida

A Concrete Block Wall Dating to 1951 Surrounds Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium, Sanford, Florida

In 2009, the Seminole County Naturals of Florida Winter Baseball League played their home games at Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium home.  They were the last professional team to call the stadium their home.

Scoreboard, Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium, Sanford, Florida

Currently, the Florida Collegiate Summer League Sanford River Bats play their home contests at Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium home.

Grandstand, Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium, Sanford, Florida

Light Stanchion, Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium, Sanford, Florida

Entrance to Grandstand, Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium, Sanford, Florida

The Sanford Museum is located at 520 East 1st Street, along the shores of the St. John’s River.

Sanford Museum, Sanford, Florida

In addition to the many displays and photographs noted above, the museum includes memorabilia and photographs of notable Sanford residents who played professional baseball, such as Hall of Famer Andre Dawson.

Sanford Museum Display Honoring Sanford Native Andre Dawson

The Eckstein Brothers, David and Rick, grew up in Sanford, and the museum includes a display celebrating David Eckstein’s 2006 World Series exploits.

Sanford Museum Display Honoring 2006 World Series MVP David Eckstein

Sports announcer Walter Lanier “Red” Barber lived in Sanford, beginning at the age of 10.  Barber as the voice of the Brooklyn Dodgers during the 1930s and 1940s, suggested to team executives that the Dodgers hold spring training in Sanford.

Sanford Museum Display for Hall of Fame Sports Announcer Red Barber

If you visit Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium, or find yourself in or around Orlando or Daytona Beach, be sure to stop by the Sanford Museum. It is wonderful place to spend an afternoon, lost in baseball history.

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Posted in Florida ballparks, Sanford Field/Sanford Memorial | Comments (0)

The Coop Has Flown – Cooper Stadium in Columbus, Ohio

May 15th, 2014

Cooper Stadium (“the Coop”) was a minor league baseball ballpark located at 1155 West Mound Street, in Columbus, Ohio.

Night View, Red Bird Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, Postcard C.T.Art Colortone, Curt Teeich & Co, W.E. Ayres, Columbus, Ohio

Christened Red Bird Stadium when it was opened on June 3, 1932, the ballpark originally was home to the American Association Columbus Red Birds. The Red Birds were the top minor league affiliate of Branch Rickey’s St. Louis Cardinals. 

Red Bird Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, Home of Columbus Base Ball Team, Postcard C.T.Art Colortone, Curt Teeich & Co, W.E. Ayres, Columbus, Ohio

Notable St. Louis Cardinal farm hands who played at Red Bird Stadium include Paul “Daffy” Dean, Joe Garagiola, Harvey Haddix, Max Lanier, Enos Slaughter, Harry Walker, and Sammy Baugh (Football Hall of Fame quarterback for the Washington Redskins).

Exterior, Cooper Stadium, Columbus, Ohio

When the Red Birds departed Columbus after the 1954 season, local businessman and former Red Bird clubhouse boy Harold Cooper brought an International League franchise to Columbus in 1955. 

Ticket Windows, Cooper Stadium, Columbus, Ohio

The new team was named the Columbus Jets and the ballpark was renamed Jets Stadium in honor of its new tenant. For the first two seasons, the Jets were an affiliate of the Kansas City Athletics. From 1957 to 1970 they were an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

Cooper Stadium Dedication Plaques

The name “Jets” was a nod to the city’s notable connections with aviation history, including the Wright Brothers and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Stadium Break Between First Base Grandstand and Souvenir Shop, Cooper Stadium

Professional baseball was not played in Columbus from 1971 to 1976. In 1977, Mr. Cooper, then a Franklin County Commissioner,  brought baseball back to Columbus and a newly-renovated Franklin County Stadium, which opened as the home of the Columbus Clippers. 

1930s Era Concession Stand, Cooper Stadium

The Clippers were an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates for the first two seasons at Franklin County Stadium and, from 1979 to 2006, were the AAA affiliate of the New York Yankees. In 2007 and 2008, the Clippers were an affiliate of the Washington Nationals. 

Entrance From Concourse to Sections 107-109, Cooper Stadium

Renovations to the stadium included the addition of sky boxes and a new press box above the grandstand roof.

Mesh Screening Behind Home Plate, With View of Sky Boxes Above Grandstand Roof, Cooper Stadium

The 1930s metal bracing for original grandstand roof was left intact and incorporated into the renovations.

1930's Metal Roof Crossbars, Cooper Stadium

The concourse behind the first and third base sides remained largely in tact as well.

Concourse, Cooper Stadium, Columbus, Ohio

The original wooden grandstand seats were replace with yellow-painted steel and aluminum seats.

Seats Behind Home Plate, Cooper Stadium

In 1984, the ballpark was renamed Cooper Stadium, in honor of Mr. Cooper, who also served as President of the International League from 1978 to 1990.

View of Infield, Cooper Stadium, From Behind Home Plate

The dugouts at Cooper Stadium were true dugouts, placing the players on the dugout bench at eye level with the playing surface.

Cooper Stadiums Truly Dug Out Dugout

Fans sitting in the box seats along the first and third base sides of the stadium were likewise close to the action.

Columbus Clipper Frank Menechino in the On Deck Circle, Cooper Stadium

Cooper Stadium was located along I-70 and I-71, sandwiched between a residential neighborhood to the north, and Greenlawn Cemetery to the south.

Columbus Clipper Will Nieves Lights Up the Scoreboard at Cooper Stadium

Once inside the stadium, however, the view was almost bucolic, with trees surrounding the outfield fence

Columbus Clippers Take On The Louisville Bats at Cooper Stadium

The final game at Cooper Stadium was played on September 1, 2008.

Cooper Stadium Post Game

The Columbus Clippers moved to a new ballpark located three miles northeast, closer to downtown Columbus.

View of Columbus Skyline Beyond Left Field, Cooper Stadium

The new ballpark, Huntington Park, opened on April 18, 2009.

Banner At Cooper Stadium Advertising Huntington Park Ballpark Opening 2008

After the Clippers departed, Cooper Stadium sat vacant for several years while a local development company negotiated with the city of Columbus to purchase the ballpark site. Arshot Investment Corporation currently is in the process of converting the Cooper Stadium site into a multi-use Sports Pavilion and Automotive Research Complex (SPARC). In April 2014, demolition of Cooper Stadium began, with the removal of the first base grandstand.

First Base Grand Stand, Cooper Stadium, Now Demolished

However, the third base grandstand of Cooper Stadium is being preserved and incorporated into a portion of the paved half-mile race track. Thus, Cooper Stadium will follow in the footsteps of Westport Stadium in Baltimore, the former home of the Baltimore Elite Giants, which in the 1950s was converted into Baltimore’s first NASCAR-sanctioned racetrack.

Westport Stadium (Bob Williams photo from the Larry Jendras Jr. Collection)

SPARC will also include a technology center, lodging, conference and exhibition space, and restaurants.

Cooper Stadium at Night

Although Cooper Stadium is now a lost ballpark, like Braves Field in Boston a portion of it remains, repurposed, allowing future generations the opportunity to experience at least a portion of what made Cooper Stadium a great place to watch a ballgame. Thanks to Arshot for having the vision to keep a part of Cooper Stadium, and baseball history, alive in Columbus, Ohio.

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Posted in Cooper Stadium/Red Bird Stadium, Jets Stadium | Comments (0)

Once Dodgertown Now Historic Dodgertown

March 13th, 2014

Dodgertown, located at 3901 26th Street in Vero Beach, Florida, was the spring training home of the Brooklyn Dodgers commencing in 1948 (the major league squad also trained in Ciudad Trujillo, Dominican Republic in 1948).

Entrance to Dodgertown, Vero Beach, Florida, Circa 2004

Dodgertown was built on the site of the former United States Naval Air Station. During World War II, the Vero Beach Municipal Airport was chosen to be a Naval Air Station and the U.S. Government purchased approximately 1,500 acres of land adjacent to the airport. After the war, the Naval Air Station was closed and the property returned to the City of Vero Beach.

Entrance to Holman Stadium, Dodgertown, Circa 2004

Dodgertown was the result of a collaboration between Vero Beach resident and local business owner Bud Holman, and Dodgers President Branch Rickey.

Ornamental Iron Gate, Vero Beach Dodgers at Dodgertown

Dodgertown occupies a portion of the 1,500 acres purchased by the U.S. Government, including a section where the Navy had constructed barracks.

View of Playing Field, Holman Stadium, Vero Beach, Florida, Circa 2004

In 1952, Brooklyn Dodger President Walter O’Malley began construction of a 5,000 seat stadium on the site of Dodgertown. The stadium was completed in time for the 1953 spring season.

Third Base Seating, Holman Stadium, Circa 2007

The Dodgers named the stadium in honor of Bud L. Holman.

Holman Stadium Dedication Plaque Honoring Bud Holman, 1953

After the end of the 1957 season, the Brooklyn Dodgers took part in a good will tour of Japan at the invitation of Matsutaro Shoriki, known then as the “father of Japanese professional baseball.” During a game held in Hiroshima on November 1, 1956, the Dodgers dedicated a plaque “in memory of those baseball fans and others who died by atomic action on August 6, 1945. May their souls rest in peace and with God’s help and man’s resolution peace will prevail forever, amen.” The Dodgers dedicated a replica plaque installed at Holman Stadium the following spring.

Plaque Recognizing Brookly Dodgers Goodwill Trip to Japan in 1956

Holman Stadium’s design is unique in that it lacks any roof over the grandstand, with a resultant lack of shade for the fans attending games at the stadium.

First base side seating, Holman Stadium, Circa 2004

The actual stadium structure is relatively small, with press boxes located on two levels.

Press Box, Holman Stadium

With the Dodgers move west after the 1957, Holman Stadium became the spring training site of the Los Angeles Dodgers. From 1980 through 2006, the Vero Beach Dodgers of the Florida State League played their home games at Holman Stadium. In 2007 and 2008 the Vero Beach Devil Rays of the same league played at Holman Stadium.

Press Box, Holman Stadium, Circa 2004

The stadium dugouts, like the stadium grandstand, also lacked any covering, giving the appearance that the ballplayers were sitting in the first row of stands, with fans sitting just behind them.

Dodgers' Uncovered Dugout, Holman Stadium, Circa 2007

Over the years many Dodgers greats played baseball at Holman Stadium, including Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella, Don Drysdale,  Duke Snider, Sandy Koufax, Don Sutton, Ricky Henderson, Hoyt Wilhelm, Frank Robinson, Eddie Murray, Juan Marichal, Greg Maddux, Gary Carter, and Jim Bunning.

View of the Field, Holman Stadium, Circa 2007

The outfield dimensions of Holman Stadium are more generous than those of Dodger Stadium.

View of Holman Stadium from Center Field, Circa 2007

Straight away center field at Holman Stadium sits at 400 feet from home plate, as compared to 395 feet at Dodger Stadium.

View of Holman Stadium from Left Field, Circa 2007

The left and right field corners of Holman Stadium are 340 feet from home plate, while those at Dodger Stadium are 330 feet.

Seating Along the First Base Foul Line, Holman Stadium, Circa 2007

The lack of covering over the grandstand leaves the plastic seats that ring the stadium not only hot during the day, but bleached from the sun. Thus, just as the uncovered wooden stands of the old ballparks were bleached by the sun, hence the name “bleachers,” the seats at Holman Stadium carry on that faded tradition.

Sun-Bleached Seating, Holman Stadium, Circa 2007

The home bullpen was located in foul territory down the left field line.

Hometeam Bullpen, Holman Stadium, Circa 2007

The visitor’s bullpen was located near the right field corner.

Visitor's Bulpen, Holman Stadium, Circa 2007

Dodgertown had it’s share of clever baseball signage, including “Bat Boy” and “Bat Girl” signs marking the entrance to restrooms located beyond right field.

Cleverly Marked Restrooms Entrance, Holman Stadium, Circa 2004

Holman Stadium’s concourse is quite small, offering only one concession stand inside the actual structure.

Holman Stadium Concourse behind Lower Level Press Box

When the Dodgers occupied Holman Stadium, trailers offering concessions and souvenirs lined the area beyond the left field line.

Concessions Trailer, Dodgertown, Circa 2007

The scoreboard at Holman Stadium, like the rest of the ballpark, is decidedly low tech, not that that is a bad thing.

Scoreboard, Holman Stadium, Circa 2007

Once the Dodgers departed after the 2008 spring season, Vero Beach entered into an agreement with Minor League Baseball to operate the facility as an umpire school and baseball tournament destination. The Dodgers took with them, however, the name Dodgertown and the facility was renamed the “Vero Beach Sports Village.” That arrangement last only a few years and, with possibility of facility closing forever, former Dodger President Peter O’Malley and his sister Terry O’Malley Seidler, thankfully stepped in to help save the sports village from being shuttered. In 2013, with the agreement of the Dodgers and Major League Baseball, the facility was renamed “Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida.” The future of Historic Dodgertown looks bright, with the hope that the historic stadium and grounds now will be maintained for future generations to appreciate and utilize. For more information about Historic Dodgertown, including a detailed history of the former spring training site, visit historicdodgertown.com.

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Posted in Florida ballparks, Holman Stadium | Comments (0)

Montreal Stadium – Delorimier Downs

November 1st, 2013

Montreal Stadium was located at the intersection of Rue Ontario and Avenue De Lorimier in Montreal.  Constructed in 1928, the concrete and steel stadium was home to the International League Montreal Royals.

DeLorimier Park Montreal (public domain)

The stadium also was known as Delorimier Stadium or Delorimier Downs because of its location on the avenue named in honor of French Canadian explorer Pierre-Louis Lorimier.

Avenue DeLorimier and Rue Lariviere - Former Location of Montreal Stadium Home Plate

The Royals were the AAA affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers and many players from their 1955 World Series championship team played in Montreal, including Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Roy Campanella, as well as Don Newcombe, Carl Furillo, and Jim Gilliam. Hall of Famers Don Drysdale and Tommy Lasorda also played in Montreal as Royals.  Montreal Stadium is where Jackie Robinson made his debut in 1946, after having played one year with the Negro American League Kansas City Monarchs. Dodgers owner Branch Rickey thought Montreal a better location for starting the integration of professional baseball than the United States, although Robinson actually began the 1946 season on the road at Jersey City’s Roosevelt Stadium.

Montreal Stadium Home Plate Marker, Avenue De Lorimier and Rue Lariviere (Note Plaque Was Missing At Time I Took the Picture).

Home plate was located near the intersection of Delorimier and Lariviere. The third base foul line ran along Delorimier while first base paralleled Ontario. A plaque near that intersection notes the historical significance of the site.

The Royals played their final game at Delorimier Downs in 1960 and the ballpark was razed in 1965.

Delorimier Downs - Pierre-Dupuy School Construction Showing Stadium Bleachers

The Pierre Dupuy School, a French language high school, now occupies the site. Two school soccer fields reside in what was once the third base and left field foul line.

Pierre Dupuy School on the Former Site of Montreal Stadium

Center Field was located at the intersection of Rue Parthenais and Rue Lariviere.

Intersection of Rue Parthenais and Rue Lariviere, Former Location of Montreal Stadium Center Field

Left field bordered Lariviere.

Looking Southwest Down Rue Lariviere Toward Former Left Field Corner of Montreal Stadium

Right field bordered Parthenais.

Rue Parthenais Looking Southeast, Former Location of Montreal Stadium Right Field (Grover Building On Left)

Several buildings that date to the time of Montreal Stadium remain at the site.

DeLorimier Downs, Montreal, World War Two Bond Drive With Grover Building Beyond Right Field (http://vieillemarde.com/stade-delorimier-stadium-montreal)

Most notable is the Grover Knitting Mill, which can be seen in the picture above, behind the right field fence. The building runs the length of the site on Parthenais.

Grover Building, Rue Parthenais (Located Beyond Montreal Stadium Former Right Field)

Since 1994 the former textile mill has been the home to over 200 artist’s studios.

Entrance to Grover Building on Rue Parthenais, mid block

Montreal has renamed the former site of the stadium “Place des Royals.” Although it has been a lost ballpark for decades, the city has done well in preserving the memory of the ballpark and its place in baseball history.

Palace Des Royaux, Former Site of Montreal Stadium

Should you visit there, be sure also to visit Montreal’s two other professional baseball sites, Jarry Park, home of the Montreal Expos from 1969 to 1976, and Olympic Stadium, home of the Expos from 1977 to 2005.

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Posted in Canadian ballparks, Delorimier Downs/Montreal Stadium | Comments (2)