Posts Tagged ‘Cal Ripken Sr Foundation’

The Field Where Babe Ruth Played – St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys

August 2nd, 2012

The baseball field where Babe Ruth honed his skills as a child still remains to this day in an area just west of downtown Baltimore at 3225 Wilkens Avenue.

Babe Ruth and His Baseball Team, St. Mary’s Industrial School For Boys (Huggins & Scott Auctions image)

With the demise of the House That Ruth Built and the demolition of so many of the major league parks where he once played, there appears to be good news out of Baltimore that the field where Ruth learned to play the game might be spared its uncertain fate and, instead, restored for future generations to appreciate.

The Infield at Babe Ruth Field, Baltimore, Maryland

Near the corner of South Canton Avenue and Route 1 just a half mile north of Interstate 95 is a ball field known as “Babe Ruth Field.”

Babe Ruth Field Scoreboard, Baltimore, Maryland

At the time these pictures were taken in 2007, the field was part of Cardinal Gibbons High School. Formerly, the school had been the St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, an orphanage and reform school run by the Catholic Church.

Dugout at Babe Ruth Field, Baltimore, Maryland

In addition to the cinder block dugouts and the chainlink backstop, one major difference between the field that Ruth played on and the field as it exists today is the orientation of home plate, which in Ruth’s day, was located in what is now centerfield.

Center Field at Babe Ruth Field, Baltimore, Formerly Location of Home Plate, With Industrial Arts Building in Background

Babe Ruth spent the majority of his formative years as a ward of the school, his parents having signed him over to the Xaverian Brothers out of desperation when he was just eight or nine years old.  Brother Matthias Bouttlier, the school’s disciplinarian,  helped harness Ruth’s natural abilities.

Home Plate at Babe Ruth Field, Baltimore, Maryland

Left field was formerly right field in the days of Ruth.

Left Field at Babe Ruth Field, Formerly Right Field

With Cardinal Gibbons High School now closed and the facility no longer in use, the future of Babe Ruth Field was uncertain, but perhaps no more. Plans were announced earlier this year for St. Agnes Hospital, which is located nearby, to purchase the former high school grounds and buildings (including the industrial arts building where Ruth went to school and the St. Mary’s Gymnasium), as well as Babe Ruth Field.

Plans to Save Babe Ruth Field Would Result in Reorienting Field to the Way it Was When Babe Played There

In 2012 St. Agnes Hospital purchased the former Cardinal Gibbons grounds. Bon Secours Baltimore Health System, which owns St. Agnes Hospital, is about to break ground on an apartment complex that hopefully will preserve the field and buildings that date back to Ruth’s time at St. Mary’s.

Panoramic View of Babe Ruth Field at Former Site of St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys

Panoramic View of Babe Ruth Field at Former Site of St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys

In 2017, St. Agnes Hospital, with the assistance of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, built a new turf baseball and football field at the site. The baseball field returns the configuration of the baseball diamond to its original location, during the time Babe Ruth played there.

Panoramic View of Babe Ruth Field, January 2018

Although the natural grass field is now covered with turf, the good news is the area remains a playing field where youth today can play where the Babe once learned his stills.

Babe Ruth Field, January 2018, Located Next to Industrial Arts Building

In 1919, a fire on the St. Mary’s campus destroyed most of the original buildings that dated to Babe Ruth’s time there. One building that remains from the time of Babe Ruth is the Industrial Arts Building where Babe Ruth would have learned to sew shirts.

Industrial Arts Building – Where Babe Ruth Learned Trades Other Than Baseball

A second building that dominates the campus at the southeast intersection of South Canton Avenue and Wilkins Avenue once housed both St. Mary’s Industrial School and Cardinal Gibbons High School.

Stone Building That Once Housed Cardinal Gibbons High School

The building was constructed in 1921 after the 1919 fire, and renovated prior to the arrival of Cardinal Gibbons High School in 1962.

The Former St. Mary’s Industrial School in Baltimore

A third structure, a former boiler house and garage with a distinctive brick smoke stack, exists from the time of Babe Ruth. It is located next to the stone building, out beyond what would have been right field at the time Babe Ruth played there.

Former Site of St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys, Baltimore, Maryland

Former Site of St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, Baltimore, Maryland

The Chapel, which survived the 1919 fire and sat at the corner of Wilkens Avenue and South Canton Avenue, was demolished in 1961 to make way for additional school buildings at Cardinal Gibbons High School.

Demolition of St. Mary's Industrial School Chapel in 1961 (Baltimore Sun Photo, Ralph Robinson photographer)

Demolition of St. Mary’s Industrial School Chapel in 1961 (Baltimore Sun Photo, Ralph Robinson photographer)

Anyone who enjoys the history of baseball should make it a point to see where Babe Ruth lived and played in the years prior to turning professional in 1914. There is much to see at the former site of St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys. With the plans for the campus still not certain, now is the time to make a visit, or pilgrimage, to see this historic landmark. For more local history about Babe Ruth, be sure to check out Babe Ruth’s Band at St. Mary’s Industrial SchoolSt. Paul’s Catholic Church in Ellicott City, Maryland, Where Babe Ruth Got Married and The Goddess “Gentlemen’s Club” – The Bar That Ruth Bought.

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Memorial Stadium – Time Will Not Dim the Glory of Their Deeds

February 12th, 2012

Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland, was the home of the American League Baltimore Orioles from 1954 through the 1991 season.

Memorial Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland (Pub. by D. E. Traub)

The National Football League  Baltimore Colts played at Memorial Stadium from 1953 through the 1983 season.

Memorial Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland (Photo by G.B. Smith/Pub. by Traub Co.)

Memorial Stadium was built on the site of an earlier stadium, known as Baltimore Stadium, Venable Stadium, and Municipal Stadium, which was constructed in 1922.

Baltimore Stadium (Pub. by James F. Hughes Co.)

The inaugural game played at the opening of Baltimore Stadium on December 2, 1922, was the Annual Football Game between the Third Corps Area, United States Army, and the Marines.

Souvenir Program for the First Game Played at Baltimore Stadium, Army v. Marines

Baltimore Stadium was primarily a football stadium, although the International League Orioles played their home games there after fire destroyed Oriole Park V in 1944. The Baltimore Elite Giants also played some of their home games at Baltimore Stadium in the late 1940s. For a time after the death of Baltimore native Babe Ruth, the structure was known as Babe Ruth Stadium Stadium.

Babe Ruth Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland (Pub. by   I & M Ottenheimer)

In 1949, construction began converting Municipal Stadium to Memorial Stadium.

Baby- Obstructed View of Memorial Stadium, Baltimore

The stadium was dedicated “As a memorial to all who so valiantly fought and served in the World Wars with eternal gratitude to those who made the ultimate supreme sacrifice to preserve equality and freedom throughout the world.  Time will not dim the glory of their deeds.” The last line is a quote from General John J. Pershing, who was the first chairperson of the American Battle Monuments Commission.

Memorial Plaque of Memorial Stadium, Baltimore

An unofficial name for Memorial Stadium was the Old Grey Lady of 33rd Street.

The View from Right Field Bleachers, Memorial Stadium, Baltimore

The seating in the upper reaches of the stadium and throughout the uncovered, outfield bleachers, was bench seating.

Right Field Bleachers, Memorial Stadium, Baltimore

The press box was located behind home plate between the upper and lower decks.  Steel camera decks were located to the right and left of the press box.

The Press Box, Memorial Stadium, Baltimore

When not in use by the media, they provided an excellent view of the proceedings below.

First Base Side Seating Bowl, Memorial Stadium

Once the Orioles departed after the end of the 1991 season, Memorial Stadium hosted other sport teams including the minor league Bowie Baysox in 1993 and 1994 (partial season), the Baltimore Stallions of the Canadian Football League in 1994 and 1995, and the National Football League Baltimore Ravens in 1996 and 1997.

Inaugural Preseason Game, Baltimore Ravens at Memorial Stadium

The Ravens’ two seasons at Memorial Stadium would be the final professional sports games ever played there.

The Sun Sets and the Lights Go Up at Memorial Stadium

The Baltimore sports world turned its attention 30 blocks south of Memorial Stadium, to where where the Maryland Stadium Authority had constructed the city’s new stadia.

The View of the Baltimore Skyline From the Top Row of Memorial Stadium

Once the Ravens departed, there was nothing to do but wait for Memorial Stadium’s demolition.

The Barren Fields of Memorial Stadium

In May 2000, the Maryland Stadium Authority gave Baltimore sports fans one last chance to visit the stadium and its playing field.

They Used To Play Baseball Here, Memorial Stadium, Baltimore

By that time, workers already had marked items, including signage, which was to be removed prior to demolition.

Section 40 Upper Deck, Memorial Stadium, Baltimore

Ultimately, the lockers from the players’ dressing rooms were removed and sold as part of an auction held by the Babe Ruth Museum.

Memorial Stadium Locker Room with Young Fans Sitting in the Locker of Cal Ripken, Jr.

The majestic light stanchions were torn down and sold for scrap.

Right Field Light Stanchion, Memorial Stadium, Baltimore

Astroturf, presumably used on the sidelines and the areas around the Raven’s grid iron, was rolled up and left in piles outside the stadium.

Astroturf From the Ravens Stay at Memorial Stadium, Baltimore

The end game for Memorial Stadium wasn’t pretty.  A valiant fight by preservationists held off destruction of the stadium’s front facade and memorial plaque while the city debated whether a portion of the structure was worth saving.

Almost Gone, Memorial Stadium, Baltimore

Ultimately, the preservationists and those who care about history lost, and the remaining portion of Memorial Stadium met the wrecking ball.

A Sad View, Memorial Stadium, Baltimore

One of the last vestiges of Memorial Stadium was the outfield scoreboard.  If my wife would have let me, I would have bought it and moved it to my back yard. Whether the neighbors would have complained became a moot point.

Only the Scoreboard Remained, Memorial Stadium, Baltimore

Which brings us to what was built in the place of Memorial Stadium.  First was a much-needed youth center in the form of the Harry and Janette Weinberg Family Center at Stadium Place.

The Harry and Janette YMCA at Stadium Place, former site of Memorial Stadium

Inside the YMCA’s gymnasium is signage from Memorial Stadium’s Ring of Honor which once graced the facade between the upper and lower decks.

YMCA Gymnasium at Former Site of Memorial Stadium

The names of prominent Orioles and Colts ring the gymnasium. At an autograph show in 2006, Frank Robinson signed autographs beneath his Ring of Honor sign.

Oriole Hall of Famer Frank Robinson Standing Beneath the Ring of Honor Sign Bearing His Name

For several years after Memorial Stadium’s demolition, all that marked the lost ballpark was a home plate placed in the approximate location of the original.

Young Orioles’ Fan Standing at the Site of Home Plate, Memorial Stadium

In 2010, that changed, thanks to the vision, talent, and generosity of Cal Ripken, Jr., and his brother Bill Ripken.  The Ripkens, with the help of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, and other charitable groups and donors, constructed a youth ball field on the former site of Memorial Stadium.

Memorial Field at Former Site of Memorial Stadium

A plaque placed behind home plate notes:   “This is the very site where so many where so many Baltimore legends once played and represented our city with pride.  In 2010, the Cal Ripken, Sr., Foundation dedicates this field creating a safe, clean place for kids to play, learn and grow.”

Plaque Honoring Memorial Stadium, at Stadium Place

A separate plaque honors the vision and contributions that Cal Ripken, Sr., made to baseball.

Plaque Honoring Cal Ripken, Sr, at Stadium Place, former site of Memorial Stadium

The playing surface of Memorial Field is AstroTurf Game Day grass.

Artificial Playing Surface Marks the Former Playing Surface of Memorial Stadium

The Ripkens’ vision and generosity has brought baseball (and football) back to the playing field at the former site of Memorial Stadium.

It’s Good to be Home, the Former Site of Memorial Stadium

In the former location of right field and the seating bowl along first base is housing for senior citizens.

Senior Citizen Housing Located on the Former Site of Memorial Stadium’s Right Field

In deep center field, a goal post once again stands in the approximate location of the northern most goal post of Memorial Stadium.

A Goal Post Rises Again on the Former Site of Memorial Stadium

The Baltimore Orioles also have done their share to commemorate Memorial Stadium by constructing a plaza in honor of the ballpark, complete with some of the lettering from the orginal stadium plaque, which says “Time will not dim the glory of their deeds.”

Memorial Stadium Plaque Reborn at Camden Yards

An urn that once was encased in the wall of Memorial Stadium is on display next to the Memorial Wall at Camden Yards.

Urn Containing Earth From United States Military Cemeteries on Display at Camden Yards

A separate granite plaque at Camden Yards also commemorates the memory of Memorial Stadium.

Camden Yards Granite Plaque Commemorating Memorial Stadium

The Sports Legends Museum (located next to Camden Yards in Baltimore) likewise includes displays honoring the memory of Memorial Stadium.

Original Memorial Stadium Dedication Plaque

The original 1954 Memorial Stadium corner stone is located in a display in the basement of  the Sports Legends Museum.

Memorial Stadium Corner Stone

The museum also includes a variety of items from Memorial Stadium, including signage and stadium seats.

Memorial Stadium Display at Sports Legends Museum

One final tribute to Memorial Stadium can be found at the Cal Ripken baseball Academy complex in Aberdeen, Maryland.  One of the many youth baseball fields is named in honor of Memorial Stadium

Memorial Stadium Plaque at the Ripken Academy, Aberdeen, Maryland

Once again, the Ripken Brothers have done a fine job keeping the memory of Memorial Stadium alive and giving young baseball fans a chance to play in the shadow of Memorial Stadium.

Memorial Stadium Located at the Ripken Academy in Aberdeen, Maryland

While Memorial Stadium has joined the every-growing list of lost ballparks, its memory lives on, not only at the site of the former ballpark, but in locations in and around Baltimore.  I even have a few stadium seats from Memorial Stadium lined up in my basement, awaiting the next game.

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