Posts Tagged ‘Casey Stengel’

Toledo’s Swayne Field And Its Century-Old Outfield Wall

May 8th, 2015

Swayne Field was located at the intersection of Monroe Street and Detroit Avenue in Toledo, Ohio. The ballpark opened on July 3, 1909, as the home of the American Association Toledo Mud Hens. The ballpark was named after Noah Swayne, Jr., who purchased the land for the ballpark and leased it to the team.

Postcard “Toledo Ball Park, Toledo, Ohio” (Published by Harry N. Hamm, Toledo, Ohio)

Toledo’s American Association franchise played at Swayne Field through the 1955 season, with the exception of 1914 and 1915 when the team relocated to Cleveland and played at League Park to keep the Federal League from establishing a team in that city. As a replacement for the city baseball fans, the Southern Michigan League Mud Hens played at Swayne Field in 1914.

Toledo’s team was known primarily as the Mud Hens, although the team changed names twice, beginning with the Toledo Iron Men from 1916 to 1918 and the Toledo Sox from 1952 to 1955. Many great ballplayers passed through  future Hall of Famer Casey Stengel who managed the team from 1926 to 1931.

Swayne Field Postcard (Publisher not stated)

Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio, Showing 12,000 Interested Baseball Fans (No Postcard Publisher Stated)

Negro League baseball was played at Swayne Field, including the Negro National League Toledo Tigers in 1923, the Negro American League Toledo Crawfords in 1939 (featuring future Hall of Famer Oscar Charleston), and the United States League Toledo Cubs in 1945 (featuring future Hall of Famer Norman “Turkey” Stearnes). Swayne Field also was the site of many Negro League exhibition games over the years.

Professional Football also was played at Swayne Field. The Ohio League Toledo Maroons played at Swayne Field from 1909 to 1921 and the National Football League Toledo Maroons played there in 1923.

"Wayne Field Base Ball Park Toledo Ohio" Postcard With Error in Name (Published by Boutelle, Toledo, Ohio)

“Wayne Field Base Ball Park Toledo Ohio” Postcard With Error in Name (Published by Boutelle, Toledo, Ohio)

The ballpark was demolished in 1956 to make way for Swayne Field Shopping Center and what was then the largest Kroger store store in the country.

Location of FIrst Base Grandstand, Infield, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Save-A-Lot Grocery Store, Former Koger Store and Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

A McDonald’s Restaurant sits in the former site of right field, just as a different McDonald’s sits in the former site of left field at Baltimore’s old American League Park. St. Ann’s Catholic Church is visible behind Swayne Field’s former right field corner, just as a different St. Ann’s Catholic Church is visible a few blocks from Baltimore’s old American League Park.

Former Site of Right Field, Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Former Site of Right Field, Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

The building that comprises the Swayne Field Shopping Center is located in what was once left and center field.

Location of Left Field Grandstand, Left Field, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Location of Left and Center, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Home plate and the grandstand behind home plate was located mid block on Monroe Street between Detroit Street and former Toledo Terminal Railroad tracks. A Sherwin-Williams store now marks the spot.

Location of Infield Looking Toward Home Plate, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Location of Infield Looking Toward Home Plate, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

First base ran parallel to Monroe Street. Some of the buildings dating to the time of Swayne Field remain near the site on Monroe Street.

Center Field Looking Toward First Base Foul Line, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Center Field Looking Toward First Base Foul Line, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Most remarkable, however, is that a portion of Swayne Field’s original concrete wall remains at the site.

Original Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Left Field Corner From Detroit Street, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Original Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Left Field Corner From Detroit Street, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

The concrete wall once enclosed the the ballpark along Detroit Street (the first base foul line) around to Council Street (left and center field).

Swayne Field Opening Day 1909 (Bryan Postcard Company, Bryan, Ohio)

Swayne Field Opening Day 1909 (Bryan Postcard Company, Bryan, Ohio)

The portion of the wall that remains today was once part of the left center field wall, and is located behind the shopping center, parallel to Council Street.

Original Outfield Wall, Center Field, Intersection of Detroit Street and Council Street, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Original Concrete Outfield Wall at Intersection of Detroit Street and Council Street, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

The structure is over one hundred years old and in desperate need of repair.

Hole In Original Left Field Wall (Looking Toward Council Street) Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Hole In Original Left Field Wall (Looking Toward Council Street) Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

How historically significant is the Swayne Field wall? As an actual ballpark relic, the Swayne Field wall is one year older than both Rickwood Field, the oldest former professional ballpark still standing, which opened in August 1910, and the 1910 renovation of League Park in Cleveland (League Park’s ticket house may date to 1909). The wall is three years older than Fenway Park, the oldest Major League ballpark still standing, which opened in 1912. The wall is five years older than the somewhat famous Washington Park Wall, a relic of Brooklyn’s Federal League Tip Tops ballpark, which was constructed in 1914, and Wrigley Field, which opened in 1914 as Weeghman Park, home for the Federal League Chicago Whales. The wall is six years older both Bosse Field, the third oldest professional ballpark still in continuous use, built in 1915, and the remnants of Braves Field, which opened in 1915. Athough Forbes Field was constructed in 1909, the same year as Swayne Field, the outfield wall that remains at the Forbes Field site was built in 1946.

Brooklyn's Washington Park Wall, A Relic of the Federal League Brooklyn Tip Tops, Built in 1914

Brooklyn’s Washington Park Wall, A Relic of the Federal League Brooklyn Tip Tops, Built in 1914 (photo circa 2006, note: a portion of the wall has since been demolished)

All that is left of the Swayne Field wall closest to the left field corner are some of the concrete pillars.

Concrete Pillars From Original Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Center Field, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Concrete Pillars From Original Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Center Field, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Original Concrete Pillars of Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Left Field Corner, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Original Concrete Pillars of Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Left Field Corner, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Out beyond what was once the left field corner is a brick building that dates back to the time of Swayne Field and is now Burkett Restaurant Supply.

Industrial Building (Currently Burkett Restaurant Supply), Beyond Left Field Corner, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Industrial Building (Currently Burkett Restaurant Supply), Beyond Left Field Corner, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

After Swayne Field was demolished, Toledo was without a minor league affiliate from 1956 to 1964. In 1965, the Mud Hens returned to the area, playing in what was then called Lucas County Stadium, a converted race track at the Lucas County Fairgrounds, ten miles southwest of Swayne Field in Maumee, Ohio. Lucas County Stadium was subsequently renamed Ned Skeldon Stadium after the person  who helped bring minor  league baseball back to the Toledo area.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

In 2003 the Toledo Mud Hens left Ned Skeldon Stadium and returned to downtown Toledo, playing in brand new Fifth Third Field located just two miles southeast of the Swayne Field site.

Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio, Home Of The Toledo Mud Hens

Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio, Home Of The Toledo Mud Hens

On the Fifth Third Field club level is a display dedicated to the memory of Swayne Field.

Swayne Field Display, Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

Swayne Field Display, Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

Included in the display is a piece of the original Swayne Field Wall.

Swayne Field Display, Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

Swayne Field Display With Piece of Original , Outfield Wall, Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

If you are a fan of the game and the history of baseball, a stop at Swayne Field Shopping Center is a must, if for no other reason than to see a ballpark relic that is over one hundred years old. There are not many professional baseball stadium structures in the United States older than the Swayne Field wall. The portion that remains is located at the corner of Detroit Street and Council Street.

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Honolulu Stadium – Hawaii’s Sheltered Harbor Of Professional Baseball

March 17th, 2015

Honolulu Stadium was located at the southwest corner of King Street and Isenberg Street in Honolulu, Hawaii. The ballpark was constructed in 1925 by local businessman J. Ashman Beaven, who served as general manager of the stadium from 1925 until 1939.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of King Street and Isenberg Street

Honolulu Stadium was caddy-corner to Moiliili Field, which was located at the northeast corner of King and Isenberg Streets. Moliili Field was one of the primary locations for amateur and semi-pro baseball in Honolulu prior to the construction of Honolulu Stadium.

Moiliili Field, Southwest Corner of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

Moiliili Field, Northeast Corner of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

In 1925, Beaven formed the Hawaii Baseball League, and a new semi-pro baseball league, and in 1927 the league began playing games at Honolulu Stadium.

Honolulu Stadium Aerial Photograph, Honolulu, Hawaii (1963 Star-Bulletin Photo By Warren Roll)

Honolulu Stadium Aerial Photograph, Honolulu, Hawaii (1963 Star-Bulletin Photo By Warren Roll)

In addition to amateur and semi-pro baseball, Honolulu Stadium quickly became the main venue in Honolulu for outdoor sport activities such as football and boxing. In the 1930s, Beaven brought baseball teams from other countries such as Japan and Korea to play at Honolulu Stadium. In 1933, Babe Ruth played an exhibition game at the stadium. Honolulu Stadium also hosted college football’s Poi Bowl from 1936 to 1939 and and Pineapple Bowl from 19389 to 1941 and 1947 to 1952. In 1957, Elvis Presley brought the precursor to his Aloha From Hawaii Concert to Honolulu Stadium.

Babe Ruth at Honolulu Stadium with Promoter Herb Hunter and Hawaii Territorial Governor Lawrence Judd in 1933 (Photo by Fritz Kraft)

Babe Ruth at Honolulu Stadium with Promoter Herb Hunter and Hawaii Territorial Governor Lawrence Judd in 1933 (Photo by Fritz Kraft)

During World War II, many major league stars played at the ballpark as part of their military teams, and in 1944, the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants played an exhibition game at the stadium. Major League teams and stars continued to play exhibition games at Honolulu Stadium after World War II, including the New York Giants in 1953, the Eddie Lopat All-Stars in 1954, the New York Yankees in 1955, and the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956. In addition to Babe Ruth, other future Hall of Famers who appeared at Honolulu Stadium include Lou Gehrig, Jimmy Foxx, Joe DiMaggio, Pee Wee Reese, Eddie Mathews, Roy Campanella, Casey Stengel, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Jackie Robinson.

Plaque Honoring Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

Plaque Honoring Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

In 1961, Honolulu Stadium became the home field of the Pacific Coast League Hawaii Islanders. Over the course of their history in Hawaii, the Islanders were affiliated with the Kansas City Athletics in 1961, the Los Angeles Angels from 1962 to 1964, the Washington Senators from 1965 to 1967, the Chicago White Sox in 1968, the California Angels from 1969 to 1970, the San Diego Padres from 1971 to 1982.The Islanders departed Honolulu Stadium after the 1975 season.

Detail of Plaque Honoring Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

Detail of Plaque Honoring Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

The ballpark was demolished in 1976. A plaque at the former site states: “Old Stadium Park. A lasting memorial to the many great athletes who have played here. This park was the site of the Honolulu Stadium (1926 – 1976), affectionately known as “The Termite Palace” in its later years. The 26,000 seat stadium was often filled to capacity for activities that included: barefoot football, pro and semi-pro baseball, high school athletic events, stock car races, UH football, polo, carnivals, boxing, Boy Scout Makahiki, aquacades, concerts, and track and field meets.”

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Left Field Corner Toward Home Plate, Parallel King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Left Field Corner Toward Home Plate, Paralleling King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

The plaque honoring Honolulu Stadium is located near what was once the ballpark’s left field corner, as well as its main box office, at the intersection of King and Isenberg Streets. Center field was once located along Isenberg Street, south of Citron Street.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Center Corner Toward Left Field Corner, Parallelling Isenberg Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Center Corner Toward Left Field Corner, Paralleling Isenberg Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

The main grandstand and home plate were located on King Street, just west of Makahiki Way.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Home Plate Toward Left Field Corner, Parallelling King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Home Plate Toward Left Field Corner, Paralleling King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

A row of buildings paralleling Makahiki Way sat between the street and the ballpark. Many of those buildings remain at the site today.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Back of Buildings Located Along Makahiki Way, Next to Former First Base and Right Field Foul Line, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Back of Buildings Located Along Makahiki Way, Next to Former First Base and Right Field Foul Line, Honolulu, Hawaii

An outer wall on the stadium property that separated those buildings from the stadium grounds also remains at the site.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Outer Stadium Wall Behind What would Have Been FIrst Base Grandstand, Still Standing on Site

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Outer Stadium Wall Behind What would Have Been First Base Grandstand, Still Standing on Site

Old Stadium Park is 14 acres of parkland and mature shade trees located in urban Honolulu.

Former Location of Honolulu Stadium Infield Looking Toward Home Plate

Former Location of Honolulu Stadium Infield Looking Toward Home Plate

A playground in the park is located in what was once left field.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Playground Located in What Was Once Left Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Playground Located in What Was Once Left Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

A concrete patio and picnic area is located in what was once center field.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Picnic Area  Located in What Was Once Center Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Picnic Area Located in What Was Once Center Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

A covered picnic area is located in what was once right field.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Covered Picnic Area, Located in What Was Once Right Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Covered Picnic Area, Located in What Was Once Right Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

There are many buildings that surround the ballpark site that date back to the time of Honolulu Stadium, including the distinctive Bowl-O-Drome which opened in the 1950s and currently sits vacant.

Bowl-O-Drome, Located Just Beyond What Was Once Center Field, Honolulu Stadium, Hawaii

Bowl-O-Drome, Located Just Beyond What Was Once Center Field, Honolulu Stadium, Hawaii

Many of the buildings along King Street also date back to the time of Honolulu Stadium.

Builidngs Located on King Street Across From Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Hawaii

Builidngs Located on King Street Across From Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Hawaii

In 1976 the Pacific Coast Hawaii Islanders moved to brand new Aloha Stadium, where they played up through the 1987. The Islanders also played some of their home games in 1986 and 1987 at the University of Hawaii’s Les Murakami Stadium. The 1987 season was the last year of professional baseball in Hawaii.

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii, Home of the Hawaii Islanders from 1976 to 1987

It seems a shame that professional baseball no longer is played in Hawaii, given the year round picture perfect weather offered there. If you find yourself on vacation, and in need of a baseball fix, you can take a trip to Old Stadium Park and the former site of Honolulu Stadium. If the timing is right, you might also be able to catch a college game at the University of Hawaii’s Rainbow Stadium (currently Les Murakami Stadium). For more information about Honolulu Stadium, see Arthur Suehiro’s extremely informative book Honolulu Stadium: Where Hawaii Played which provided much of the historical information contained herein.

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Crescent Lake Park/Huggins-Stengel Field in St. Petersburg, Florida

January 12th, 2014

Crecent Lake Park is located at 1320 5th Street N in St. Petersburg, Florida. In the southern most part of the park, tucked away in a residential neighborhood, is an important and relatively unspoiled historical baseball site.

Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

Beginning in 1925, the ball field at Crescent Lake Park was the spring training home of the American League New York Yankees.

Postcard Crescent Lake Field, St. Petersburg, Florida (Curteich-Chicago, published by Sun News Co., St. Petersburg

The park is dominated by a large, crescent-shaped lake (hence the name) located in the center of the park.

The Lake at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The former training grounds appear much as they did when the Yankees made the field their spring training home.

“Babe Ruth, King of Swat, at St. Petersburg, Florida” Stereo Card, Published by Keystone View Company, Meadville PA (Library of Congress Division of Prints and Photographs, Washington, D.C.)

Such greats as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and the rest of the 1927 World Champion Yankees played on this unassuming ball field.

Baseball Practice Field at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The Yankees trained at Crescent Lake Park until 1942.

Babe Ruth Training At Crescent Lake Park, Late 1920s

In 1943, when World War II restricted travel for things such as spring training, the Yankees stayed closer to home, training in Atlantic City and Asbury Park, New Jersey. The Yankees returned to Crescent Lake Park in 1946.

Baseball Backstop, Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

In 1947, the Yankees moved their spring training home games less than two miles south to Al Lang Field, now known as Progress Energy Park.

Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

Joe DiMaggio At Crecsent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

They continued to hold practice sessions at Crescent Lake Park.

Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

Beginning in 1947, the Yankees shared Al Lang Field with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Progress Energy Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The Yankees continued to use Crescent Lake Park as a spring practice field until 1961, with the exception of 1951 when they trained in Phoenix, Arizona (the Yankees and the New York Giants swapped spring training sites for one season, with the Yankees training that year in Arizona). In 1962 the Yankees departed St. Petersburg and the west coast of Florida for a new stadium built for them on the east coast in Fort Lauderdale.

Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Former Spring Training Home of the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles

In 1962 the New York Mets took over the spring training at Crescent Lake Park. The Mets trained there through the 1987 season and played their home games at Al Lang Field (renamed Al Lang Stadium in 1977). From 1992 to 1995, the Baltimore Orioles trained at Crescent Lake Park, with their home games being played at Al Lang Stadium.

Practice Field, Crescent Lake Park Baseball Complex, St. Petersburg, Florida

In 1931, Crescent Lake Park was renamed Miller Huggins Field, after the manager of the Yankees who had died in 1929. In 1962, Casey Stengel returned to Crescent Lake as Manager of the New York Mets and, in 1963, the facility was renamed Huggins-Stengel Field. Today it is known as Huggins-Stengel Baseball Complex.

Huggins-Stengel Baseball Complex Sign, St. Petersburg, Florida

The grandstand at Huggins-Stengel Field was never particularly large, holding only a few thousand fans. Today, seating at the stadium consists only of a few rows of metal bleachers.

Bleachers at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

A water tower that dominates the skyline at the southern end of the park remains from the time when the field was used for major league spring training.

Water Tower at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The base of that same water tower is is clearly visible in this postcard photograph of Huggins Field.

Postcard “Huggins Field, On Crescent Lake , Spring Training Camp Of Major League Baseball, St. Petersburg, Florida, ‘The Sunshine City.'” Natural Color Reproduction – Cureichcolor Art Creation, Sun News Co.. St. Petersburg

Several other structures dating back to the Yankees’ days at Crescent Lake remain as well.

Practice Field with Original Club House in Backgrouind, Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

Most notably, one of the original clubhouses remains. Inside the building is one wooden locker purportedly dating back to the time when the Yankees trained there.

Club House, Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

Outside the former club house (Building #4) are two plaques commemorating Miller Huggins and Casey Stengel.

Plaques Honoring Miller Huggins and Casey Stengel, St. Petersburg, Florida

The plaque honoring Miller J. Huggins states: “As a memorial and tribute to an outstanding sportsman and splendid character, who as Manager of the New York Yankees and resident of this city contributed to its fame and the betterment of baseball, the citizens of St. Petersburg dedicate this ground, which forever shall be known as Miller Huggins Field.”

Plaque Honoring Miller Huggins at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The plaque honoring Charles Dillon “Casey” Stengel states: “One of baseball’s most popular and widely known figures who as Manager of the New York Yankees won ten American League Pennants in 12 years helping to make the Sunshine City the spring training capital of the world and who now has returned as Manager of the New York Mets this plaque is gratefully and affectionately dedicated.”

Plaque Honoring Casey Stengel at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The original flag pole remain as well.

Flag Pole at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The neighborhood surrounding the park appears much the way it did when the Yankees and Mets practiced at the facility.

Houses Located on 5th Street, Across from Crescent Lake Park’s Baseball Complex

On the facade of Progress Energy Park in downtown St. Petersburg are a series of  plaques, some of which mention the history of Crescent Lake Park and Huggins-Stengel Field. Previously, those plaques had been part of the “Jim Healey and Jack Lake Baseball Boulevard,” which included 85 brass home plate plaques that told the story of Major League baseball St. Petersburg. The Boulevard plaques originally were located from First Street S in front of Al Lang Stadium to Central Avenue south along the sidewalk, to 13th Street west, stopping at Tropicana Field.

Progress Energy Park, With Historic Plaques Lining the Facade, St. Petersburg, Florida

One of the plaques commemorates the Yankees’s first year at Crescent Lake Park.

Progress Energy Field Plaque Honoring 1925 Arrival of the Yankees in St. Petersburg, Florida

Another plaque commemorates the renaming of Crescent Lake Park Miller Huggins Field in 1931.

Plaque at Progress Energy Field Honoring Former Yankees Manager Miller Huggins

A similar plaque honors the return of Casey Stengel to Crescent Lake in 1962 as manager of the New York Mets.

Progress Energy Stadium Plaque Honoring Former New York Yankee and Mets Manger Casey Stengel

Another plaque commemorates the renaming of the practice field Huggins-Stengel Field in 1963.

Progress Energy Stadium Plaque Commemorating Renaming of Huggins-Stengel Field

Huggins-Stengel Baseball Complex is used today by high school and college teams for both practice and games. The City of St. Petersburg recognizes the historical significance of the park and seems intent on maintaining it as a baseball facility. This is good news for fans of the game who want to appreciate first hand the national pastime’s rich history.

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