Posts Tagged ‘Branch Rickey’

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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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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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)