Posts Tagged ‘Connie Mack’

The West Coast Wrigley Field

April 5th, 2020

Wrigley Field was located at 425 East 42nd Place, in Los Angeles, California, on the northwest corner of East 42nd Place and S. Avalon Boulevard.

Fan Photo Front Entrance of Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, California

William Wrigley, owner of the National League Chicago Cubs, became principle owner of the Pacific Coast League California Angels in 1921.  Wrigley set about constructing a ballpark based upon the design of Cubs Park, the home of his National League team.  Wrigley hired architect Zachary Taylor Davis, who had designed Cubs Park, as well as Cominskey Park on the south side of Chicago.  See James Gordon, Los Angeles’ Wrigley Field: “The Finest Edifice in the United States, https://sabr.org/research/los-angeles-wrigley-field-finest-edifice-united-states.

Postcard of “Los Angeles Baseball Park, ‘Wrigley Field.’ Newest And Finest In The United States.” Western Publishing & Novelty Co., Los Angeles, California.

Cubs Park began its existence in 1914 as Weeghman Park, a Federal League ballpark for the Chicago Chifeds (known as the Chicago Whales in 1915). After the Federal League folded at the end of the 1915 season, Charlie Weeghman, owner of the Federal club, purchased a majority ownership of the National League Chicago Cubs and move the team to Weeghman Park.  See James Gordon, Wrigley Field (Los Angeles), https://sabr.org/bioproj/park/3912a666, and Scott Ferkovich, Wrigley Field (Chicago), https://sabr.org/bioproj/park/wrigley-field-chicago.

Postcard “National League ‘Cubs’ Ball Park Chicago” copyright © 1914 Max Rigot,,Published By Max Rogot Selling Company Chicago

Three years later, Wrigley took a controlling ownership of the team and in 1923 expanded the grandstand down both foul lines, according to Davis’s design. Wrigley Field in Los Angeles opened in September 1925, as the first ballpark by that name. The ballpark seated approximately 20,000 fans, several thousand more than Cubs Park in Chicago did at the time.

In 1927, the ballpark was renamed Wrigley Field and an upper deck was added.  See Raymond D. Kush, The Building of Chicago’s Wrigley Field, https://sabr.org/research/building-chicagos-wrigley-field.

Postcard “Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois,” Aero Distributing Co., Inc., Chicago, Genuine Curteich-Chicago C. T. Art-Colortone Postcard

While Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, was modeled after Cubs Park, the California ballpark included an upper deck three seasons before the Chicago ballpark.  With the addition of the upper deck in Chicago, the Cub’s Wrigley Field more closely resembled Wrigley Field Los Angeles.

Postcard “Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, Calif.” Silver Lake Studios, Los Angeles, California, Tichnor Quality Views

Postcard “Wrigley Field,” Published by Cameo Greeting Cards, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, Plastichrome by Colourpicture Publishers, Inc., Boston, Mass., Color by Egon Berka, Chicago

One distinctive difference between the two parks was the entrance to Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, which included a nine story clock tower, dedicated by Baseball Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis in January 1926.

Fan Photo of Wrigley Field (Los Angeles) 150 Foot Tall Clock Tower

Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, was home to the Pacific Coast League  (PCL) Los Angeles Angels from 1925 to 1957, and the PCL Hollywood Stars from 1926 to 1935, and again in 1938.  The Chicago Cubs also played some Spring Training games Wrigley Field, Los Angeles.

Fan Photo of Spring Training, Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, Calfornia, March 19, 1938, Tony Lazzeri at Bat

Fan Photo of Pre-Game Ceremony Honoring Connie Mack, Chicago Cubs/Philadelphia Athletics Exhibition Game at Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, California, April 17, 1940.

Given Wrigley Field’s proximity to Hollywood, as many as 14 movies were filmed there, beginning with the silent film Babe Comes Home, in 1927 (starring Babe Ruth as himself) and ending with Damn Yankees.  See Gordon, Los Angeles’ Wrigley Field: “The Finest Edifice in the United States.”   Just as Wrigley Field is a lost ballpark, Babe Comes Home is a lost movie, as there are no known copies in existence.

In December 1959, the TV show Home Run Derby was filmed at Wrigley Field, featuring many of baseball’s greatest stars of the day.  The show aired in 1960.  The episode in the YouTube video linked below features Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle.

In 1961, a Major League Baseball tenant, the Los Angeles Angels, called Wrigley Field home, but for just that season.  In 1962, the Angels relocated to Chavez Revine and shared the stadium there with the Los Angeles Dodgers, before moving in 1966 to their own stadium, Anaheim Stadium, now Angels Stadium.

Fan Photo, Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, California

The ballpark site is utilized by both public and private organizations, including a hospital and two community centers.  On land adjacent to the former ballpark, including a portion of what was once the parking lot out beyond the third base grandstand, is the Gilbert Lindsay Recreation Center, named after a former city councilman.

Wrigley Little League Field, Gilbert Lindsay Recreation Center, Los Angeles, California

The recreation center includes a youth baseball field,  appropriately named, “Wrigley Little League Field,” on the southeast corner of E. 41st Place and San Pedro Street.

Wrigley Little League Field, Gilbert Lindsay Recreation Center, Los Angeles, California

To the south and east of Wrigley Little League Field are two soccer fields.  The soccer field to the east of the little league field is located adjacent to what was once a portion of Wrigley Field’s parking lot.

Soccer Field, Gilbert Lindsay Recreation Center, Los Angeles, California

In the middle of the block on E. 42nd Place are basketball courts and an indoor recreation center, located near what was once the main entrance to Wrigley Field (behind home plate).

Basketball Court and Indoor Rec Center, Part of the Gilbert Lindsay Recreation Center, Los Angeles, California

Wrigley Field’s 150 foot tall clock tower sat just to the east of the front entrance to Wrigley Field, on E. 42nd Place.

Fan Photo Front Entrance of Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, California

The former site of that clock tower is just east of the basketball court fronting E. 42nd Place. Several tall trees now mark the spot.

Trees Mark Approximate Location of Wrigley Field Clock Tower, Los Angeles, California

The Watts Labor Community Action Center (WLCAC), Theresa Lindsay Center, named after the wife of Councilman Lindsay, is located on the former site of the first base grandstand.

WLCAC Theresa Lindsay Center, Los Angeles, California

Just north of the Theresa Lindsay Center on S. Avalon Boulevard and E. 41st Place, is the Kedren Community Health Center.

Theresa Lindsay Center and the Kedren Community Health Center, Los Angeles, Calfiornia

The building housing the Kedren Community Health Center is constructed on what was once Wrigley Field’s infield.

Entrance to Kedren Community Health Center, Los Angeles, Calfiornia

First Base Grandstand, Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, Calfiornia

The right side of the infield was located in what is now the Kedren Community Health Center front lobby.

Lobby, Kedren Community Health Center, Los Angeles, Calfiornia

A courtyard with a bust honoring Dr. J.Alfred Cannon, Founder of the Central City Community Mental Health Center (1962), sits in the approximate location of right field.

Kedren Community Health Center, Los Angeles, Calfiornia

A grass field with large trees marks the the former site of center field, and the center field bleachers.

Former Site of Center Field, Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, California, Looking From Center Field Toward Infield

Former Site of Center Field Bleachers, Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, California, Looking South Down Right Field Line

The center field bleachers and scoreboard can be seen in this fan photo of Wrigley Field, looking across left field.

Fan Photo, Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, Left Field Corner Looking East toward Center Field

The former site of left field is now a parking lot for the community health center.

Former Site of Left Field, Wrigley, Field, Los Angeles, Now The Kedren Community Health Center, Los Angeles, California

Several houses that date to the time of Wrigley Field remain on E. 41st Place, across from the former left field and center field wall.

Houses On E. 41st Place (looking west), Across From The Former Left Field to Center Field Wall of Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, California

Houses On E. 41st Place (looking east), Across From The Former Left Field to Center Field Wall of Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, California

These houses are visible in the photograph of Wrigley Field below.

Fan Photo, Wrigley Field , Los Angeles, California, With Houses On E., 41st Place Visible Beyond Outfield Wall

Of particular note is the distinctive two-story bungalow that is visible in the above photo just beyond the left field wall.  Presumably, the residents could watch games from the second story of that house, a la the rooftop bars along W. Waveland and N. Sheffield Avenues, across from Wrigley Field in Chicago.

House on E.41st Place, Los Angeles, California, Located Just Beyond What Was Once the Left Field Fence of Wrigley Field.

Many of the buildings that line S. Avalon Boulevard also date to the time of Wrigley Field.

Building Located on northeast intersection of S. Avalon Boulevard and E. 42nd Street, Los Angeles, California

Intersection of  E. 41st Place and S. Avalon Boulevard, Los Angeles, California

The former site of Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, is located 13 miles southwest of Dodger Stadium and 37 miles northwest of Angels Stadium of Anaheim. Although Wrigley Field obtained its lost ballpark status almost sixty years ago, there still are several buildings in the area surrounding the former site which helped mark where the ballpark once sat.  Baseball is still played close by to the former ballpark site, at Wrigley Little League Field.  There also is plenty of open green space at the former site of center field, enough perhaps to imagine what it once looked like when baseball was played at LA’s Wrigley Field.

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Posted in California ballparks, Wrigley Field | Comments (0)

Fort Myer’s Terry Park – Over 100 Years of Baseball History

February 24th, 2015

Terry Park is located at 3410 Palm Beach Boulevard in Fort Myers, Florida. The ballpark hosted major league spring training for over 50 years, from the early 1920s to the late 1980s. The earliest professional baseball activity at the site was in 1914 when the American Association Louisville Colonels held spring training on the grounds of the Fort Myers Yacht and Country Club, owned by Dr. Marshall Terry and his wife Tootie MacGregor Terry. The Colonels also played exhibition games against the Philadelphia Athletics and the St. Louis Browns that year (although the baseball field used by the Colonels was not the same field that would become Terry Park).

Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

In 1918, Lee County began holding its annual fair on the country club property and, in 1921, Dr Terry donated to the county the land on which the country club was built. That same year the county officially named the property “Terry Park.” See Terry Park 100 Year Anniversary Book, Lee County Parks for a detailed history of the property and Terry Park. In 1923, Lee County convinced Connie Mack to bring his Philadelphia Athletics to Fort Myers for spring training. The county utilized plans provided by Mack in designing the ballpark and field, which opened in 1925. The Athletics departed Terry Park after the 1936 season. The Cleveland Indians subsequently trained at Terry Park in 1941 and 1942.

Ty Cobb, Thomas Edison, and Connie Mack at Terry Park (Photo From Collection of Edison and Ford Winter Estates)

Ty Cobb, Thomas Edison, and Connie Mack at Terry Park (Photo From the Edison and Ford Winter Estates Collection)

A fire started during an amateur baseball game destroyed Terry Park’s grandstand in 1943. In hopes of bringing Major league spring training back to Terry Park, the county and the City of Fort Myers in 1954 constructed a new 2,500 concrete and steel grandstand. In 1955 the Pittsburgh, Pirates moved their spring training to Terry Park. The Pirates departed after 1968, and the following year the Kansas City Royals made Terry Park their home. The Royals trained at Terry Park until 1987. In March 1990, the Minnesota Twins used Terry Park as the spring training grounds for its minor league players while Lee County Stadium was being built.

Terry Park Postcard "Pittsburgh Pirates WInter Home" (Lustercrome, Tichnor Bros. Boston)

Terry Park Postcard “Pittsburgh Pirates Winter Home” (Lustercrome, Tichnor Bros. Boston)

Although the baseball complex is still known today as Terry Park, the stadium itself was renamed Park T. Pigott Memorial Stadium in 1972, after a local baseball enthusiast and government administrator.

Terry Park Sign, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Terry Park Sign, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

During his long career of service to the City of Fort Myers, Pigott was Director of both City of Fort Myers Parks and Recreation and Lee County Parks and Recreation, as well as the Superintendent of Terry Park.

Park T. Pigott Historical Plaque, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Park T. Pigott Historical Plaque, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Pigott also was instrumental in bringing both the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Kansas City Royals to Terry Park for spring training.

Park T. Pigott Historical Sign, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Park T. Pigott Historical Sign, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Terry Park also was home to the Florida State League Fort Myers Palms from 1926 to 1927, and the Fort Myers Royals from 1978 to 1987. In 1989 and 1990 it was the home to the Fort Myers Sun Sox of the Senior Professional Baseball Association.

Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Terry Park includes three practice fields named after Hall of Famers who played at Terry Park for three of the teams that trained there: Connie Mack, Roberto Clemente, and George Brett.

Connie Mack Field at Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Connie Mack Field at Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Practice Field Bleachers Behind Main Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Practice Field Bleachers Behind Main Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Once professional baseball departed, Terry Park was used primarily for youth, American Legion, and high school baseball.

Outfield Wall, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Concrete Block Outfield Wall, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

In 1965, Terry Park was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. However, in 2004 the grandstand was demolished after Hurricane Charley damaged the structure.

Left Field Line Looking Toward Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Left Field Line Looking Toward Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Although some of the girders installed in 1955 remain, the structure bears little resemblance to the historic grandstand it replaced.

Grandstand Interior, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Grandstand Interior, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

During the 2004 renovation, the dugouts also were replaced, as well as some, if not all, of the outfield wall.

View of Grandstand from Behind First Base Dugout, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

View of Grandstand from Behind First Base Dugout, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

The good news is that baseball is still played at Terry Park. The stadium is used year round for amateur and college baseball.

Sign Welcoming Players to Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Sign Welcoming Players to Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

In February and March each year, over 100 teams travel to Terry Park for the The Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic.

First Base Dugout, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

First Base Dugout, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Fort Myers boasts a proud history of major league spring training. Three other facilities nearby once held or currently hold spring training in Fort Myers. From 1993 to 2011, the Boston Red Sox held their spring training at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers.

City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida, Former Spring Training Home of the Boston Red Sox

Since 2012, the Red Sox have trained at Jet Blue Stadium, located in Fort Myers 14 miles southeast from City of Palms Park.

Jet Blue Stadium, Spring Training Home of the Boston Red Sox, Fort Myers, Florida

Jet Blue Stadium, Current Spring Training Home of the Boston Red Sox, Fort Myers, Florida

The Minnesota Twins also train in Fort Myers, at Hammons Stadium, located just seven miles west of Jet Blue Stadium.

Hammond Stadium, Fort Myers, Florida, Spring Training Home of the Minnesota Twins

Hammons Stadium, Fort Myers, Florida, Spring Training Home of the Minnesota Twins

If you are attending spring training at either of these stadiums in Fort Myers, take a moment to visit Terry Park as well. It is a beautiful park full of baseball history. And chances are you might catch an amateur or college game while you are there. For additional photos of Terry Park (including many vintage photos), see naplesnews.com.

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Posted in Florida ballparks, Terry Park/Park T. Pigott Memorial Stadium | Comments (2)

Rickwood Field – Baseball’s Time Capsule

September 19th, 2013

Rickwood Field, located at 1137 2nd St W, in Birmingham, Alabama, is a century-old time capsule of America’s National Pastime. It is recognized by the Historic American Building Survey as the country’s oldest surviving baseball park.

Rickwood Field, Birmingham, Alabama

Constructed by Birmingham Barons owner Rick Woodward (hence the name), the first professional game  played there was a contest between the Barons and the Montgomery Climbers on August 18, 1910. This was approximately two years before the opening of Fenway Park, major league baseball’s oldest surviving ballpark.

Ridkwood Field, As Seen From 11th Street

Rickwood was the first concrete and steel minor league ballpark constructed in the United States. The stadium’s facade is truly remarkable for its unspoiled, vintage appearance, and would be worthy of a photo essay all its own.

Rickwood Field Third Base Side Grandstand

The first base side grandstand runs the length of the ballfield and wraps around behind right field.

Rickwood Field First Base Side Grandstand

Two historic plaques honor the history of Rickwood Field. The first plaque, erected by the Alabama Historical Commission in 1996, recognizes Rickwood Field’s placement on the National Register for Historic Places.

Rickwood Field Historic Marker

The second plaque, erected by the Alabama Tourism Department in 2010, celebrates the 100th anniversary of the first game played at Rickwood Field.

Rickwood Field Historic Marker Noting Opening Day 1910

The distinctive Mission style front entrance to Rickwood Field was added in 1928.

Mission Style Front Entrance to Rickwood Field

On the first base side of the ballpark, past the front entrance, is a sign welcoming visitors to a guided tour of the ballpark. Free pamphlets are available there for visitors to take along on their tour.

Rickwood Field's Self Guided Tour

The main entrance way to the ballpark appears much as it did in 1940.

Rickwood Field Front Entrance Turnstiles

A chalkboard listing the players for the day’s contest sits just to the right beyond the turnstiles.

Lineup From 2013 Rickwood Classic

Rickwood was home to the Southern Association (later Southern League) Birmingham Barons from 1910 until 1987.

Field of Dreams, Alabama Style

It also was home to the Birmingham Black Barons from 1920 until 1963. The Black Barons played in various leagues over the years including the Negro Southern League, the Negro National League, and the Negro American League.

Rickwood Field Tower

Notable players who called Rickwood Field their home included Hall of Famers Willie Mays (a native of Birmingham), Sachel Paige, Willie Wells, George Suttles, Bill Foster, Pie Traynor, Rollie Fingers, Reggie Jackson, and Burleigh Grimes.

Rickwood Field Third Base Dugout

During the design phase of Rickwood Field, Philadelphia Athletics Manager Connie Mack served as a consultant. The field and stadium were patterned after Forbes Field and Shibe Park. Both the Philadelphia Phillies (1911, 1920) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (1919) held their spring training at Rickwood Field.

Rickwood Field View From the First Base Dugout

The distinctive cantilevered light stanchions date to 1936, when Rickwood became one of the first minor league facilities to host night baseball.

Louvered Windows at Rickwood Field

The steel and wood roof is a visual masterpiece. The supports for that roof, placed one per section, provide vintage obstructed views of the field.

Right Field Seating Rickwood Field

Rickwood Field currently has a seating capacity of 10,800. All of the original seating has long since been replaced.

Obstructed View At Rickwood Field Is Part of the Charm

The first base side grandstand, which wraps around to right field, was designed after Forbes Field, which had a similar wrap around, right field grandstand.

View From the Right Field Grandstand

The concrete outfield fence dating to 1928 sits behind the “newer” wooden fence. In 1948 Walt Dropo famously hit a home run over the wooden fence that hit the concrete fence on the fly.

Original Outfield Wall at Rickwood Field

Although long since replaced, at one time Rickwood Field could boast having wooden box seats and wooden row seats from the Polo Grounds, with wrought iron “NY” emblems at the end of each row. In the 1970s the seats were replaced and, for a time, could be purchased at nearby Legion Field in Birmingham.

Gambling Not Permitted at Rickwood Field

Because Rickwood Field offers so much to see, including the colorful outfield wall signage  and the recreated scoreboard, as well as so many great angles from which to photograph the ballpark, I have included a four minute video meant to capture the feel of the ballpark.

If you would like to see more photographs of Rickwood Field taken by a professional photographer, please visit Lou Dina at dinagraphics.com. As you can see from the picture below, Lou has an amazing eye for detail.

Today the Birmingham Barons play their home games at Regions Field. From 1988 until 2012, they played at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. Once a year, since 1996, however, the Barons return to Rickwood Field to take part in the Rickwood Classic. Held typically on a Wednesday around the last week of May, the game is an official Southern League contest that helps insure professional baseball is still a part of Rickwood’s present and future.

Regions Field, Home of the Birmingham Barons

Friends of Rickwood has been the caretaker of Rickwood Field since 1992. If you are interested in reading more about their organization or how you can help insure the preservation of the ballpark, visit them at rickwood.com. Baseball fans owe that organization a debt of gratitude helping insure that Rickwood Field never becomes just another lost ballpark.

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J.P. Small Memorial Park – Jacksonville’s Oldest Ballfield

September 13th, 2013

Baseball has been played at 1701 Myrtle Avenue in Jacksonville, Florida, since 1912. Currently known as J.P. Small Memorial Park, the ball field has been the site of major league spring training, minor league games, Negro League games, and countless high school and college contests, as well as high school and college football.

J.P. Small Park, Jacksonville, Florida

From 1912 until 1926 it was known as Barrs Field, named in honor of local businessman Amander Barrs who spearheaded construction of the field. The first professional game played on that field was held on April 18, 1912, with the Jacksonville Tarpons defeating the Savannah Indians 4-1. To put that in perspective, the RMS Titanic sank just three days earlier on April 14-15 1912, and the Boston Redsox played their first professional game at Fenway Park just five days later, defeating the New York Highlanders 7-6 on April 20, 1912.

J.P. Small Park – Baseball Has Been Played On This Field Since 1911

In 1915 and 1916 it was the spring training home for Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics. The Pittsburgh Pirates trained at Barrs Field in 1918 and the Brooklyn Dodgers trained there in 1919, 1920, and 1922.

Philadelphia Athletics Train at Barrs Field in 1916 (J.P. Smalls Park Negro League Museum)

In 1926 the field came under the ownership of the City of Jacksonville and the name of the ballpark was changed to Joseph H. Durkee Athletic Field.The original grandstand was constructed of wood, which was destroyed by a fire in 1934.

Grandstand at J.P. Smalls Parkk

The current grandstand was constructed in 1935. An exhibition celebrating the remodeled stadium was played in March 1935 between the Philadelphia Athletics and the New York Giants.

J.P. Small Park Grandstand Constructed in 1935

In 1937 the city added an additional section to the grandstand along the third base side.

1937 Addition to Grandstand at J.P. Small Park

The minor league Jacksonville Tarpons played at Barrs Field, from the ballpark’s inaugural game in April 1912, through the 1917 season. The Jacksonville Scouts (later called the Indians) of the Florida State League played at Barrs Field in the early 1920s. Football also was played at Barrs Field, which for a time hosted University of Florida football games, including the very first game ever between the University of Florida and the University of Georgia, on November 6, 1915.

Original 1935 Grandstand As Seen From 7th Street

In 1926 the Southern League Jacksonville Tars began play at newly renamed Durkee Field with future Hall of Famer Rube Marquard as their manager. The 1927 New York Yankees, featuring rs Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig also played at Durkee Field. On April 1st of that year the Yankees played a spring exhibition game against the St. Louis Cardinals, in which Ruth hit a ball into the overflow crowd in right field, for a ground rule double.

Field Entrance to 1937 Grandstand Addition

The Southern Negro League Jacksonville Red Caps (owned by the Jacksonville Terminal Station, hence the name) also played their home games at Barr Field, later Durkee Field. In 1938 the Red Caps attained major league status joining Negro American League and played at Durkee Field for one season before relocating to Cleveland. The Red Caps returned to Jacksonville for the 1941 and 1942 seasons.

Historic 1937 Dugout With Entrance to Clubhouse

In 1938 the Jacksonville Tars were a farm team for the New York Giants.  On March 22, 1946, a spring training contest between the Montreal Royals and the Jersey City Giants was scheduled to be played at Durkee Field.  Jackie Robinson, who had played for the Royals at Daytona Beach just five days earlier on March 17, 1946, and in doing so had made minor league baseball history, was scheduled to play for Montreal in Jacksonville.  However, the  Jacksonville Recreation Commission cancelled the game because it would have violated rules of Jacksonville Playground and Recreation Board.

Entrance to the Third Base Side Dugout (now boarded up)

In 1952 the Jacksonville Tars became a farm team for the Milwaukee Braves, changing their name to the Jacksonville Braves.  In 1953 the Braves added Hank Aaron to their roster, becoming one of two teams to break the color line in the South Atlantic League.

Stairway From Third Base Dugout To Locker Room

The last year of professional play at Durkee Field was 1954. In 1955, the Jacksonville Braves moved to a newly constructed ballpark later renamed in honor of their owner Samuel Wolfson. Jacksonville’s minor league team played at Wolfson Park through the 2002 season. In 2003 they moved to the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, constructed on the former site of Wolfson Park.

Bragan Field, the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville

In 1980 the City of Jacksonville renovated the ballpark and renamed it in honor of James P. Small, a longtime baseball coach at Stanton High School in Jacksonville.

Ticket Booths With Plaque Commemorating J.P. Small Memorial Park

J.P. Small Park also includes a Negro League Museum with information about the ballpark and the teams that played there.

Negro League Museum Display, J.P. Small Park

The museum also honors J.P. Small and his many years working with the youth of Jacksonville.

Museum Display Honoring J.P. Small

Installed in 2006, outside the ballpark is a statue of Buck O’Neil, honoring the historical significance of J.P. Small Park to the history of Negro League baseball.

Buck O’Neil Statute Outside J.P. Small Park

J.P. Small Park is currently the home of the Stanton College Preparatory School baseball team. The caretaker of the park, a wonderful man named Russell, was kind enough to give us a tour of the entire ballpark on our visit.

Locker Room, J.P. Small Park, With Russell, the Caretaker Of The Ballpark

J.P. Small Park is a baseball time capsule. Its rich history and its beautiful preservation make it a must-see for anyone who appreciates old ballparks. For more information about the history of the park be sure to read the National Register of Historic Places Application issued by the National Park Service, placing J.P. Smalls Stadium on the Historic Register.

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The Vet – Veterans Stadium

July 24th, 2010

Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia was home to the National League Phillies from 1971 until 2003.

Phillies at Veterans Stadium (Philadelphia Post Card Co./photo by Frank Burd)

The stadium was part of a larger sports complex located south of downtown Philadelphia adjacent to Interstate 95 at Broad Street.

Stadium Complex (Art Color Card Distributors)

The only sports venue still standing in the postcard pictured above is the Spectrum, which was once home to Philadelphia’s hockey and basketball teams.

Veterans Stadium Visible from I-95 Heading North

The “Vet,” as it also was known, dominated the landscape along Interstate 95 heading north into Philadelphia.

Veterans Stadium along Pattison Avenue with Broad Street Subway Stop in Forground

Veterans Stadium was dedicated on April 4, 1971, to the “brave men and women of Philadelphia who served in defense of their country.”

Philadelphia Veterans Stadium Bronze Plaque Posted on Pillar Outside Stadium

Like many of the so called “cookie-cutter” stadiums constructed in the 1960s and 1970s, Veterans Stadium’s playing field was mainly artificial turf.  During summer days like the one in the picture below, it was not uncommon for the field temperature to reach 120 degrees.

View of Veterans Stadium from Center Field

A flattened version of Philadelphia’s famed Liberty Bell stood high above the stadium’s the center field seats.

Veterans Stadium Liberty Bell

Veterans Stadium section signs continued the Liberty Bell theme.

Veterans Stadium Sections Signage

The Vet’s original yellow and red plastic seats were replaced during the 1990s with blue plastic seats, making the seating area more uniform, if less colorful.

Giants Players In Pre-game Stretch on Veterans Stadium's Light Green Turf

One advantage of the artificial turf, as opposed to natural grass,  was it allowed fans the opportunity to sit on the field during firework night without any fear of damaging the playing field.

Baseball Fans Cover Veterans Stadium Outfield in Anticipation of Fourth of July Fireworks Display

The Vet’s linoleum floor on the concourse behind the 200 level looked more like something out of a high school cafeteria than a professional baseball venue.

Veteran Stadium's Red and White Linoleum Tile

In an effort to attract more fans, the Phillies added several family-friendly activities in the concourse, including speed pitch.  Such additions, however, could not hide the fact that the Vet was not designed with such activities in mind – an approach the designers of the new ballpark were certain to change.

Veterans Stadium Speed Pitch

As with just about every other multi-purpose ballpark, the Vets days were numbered, both literally and figuratively.

Only 644 Days Left Until the Death of Veterans Stadium

During the final two seasons of Veterans Stadium, the new ballpark, later named Citizens Bank Park, could be seen rising in a parking lot east of the Vet.

New Scoreboard Under Construction as Seen from Veterans Stadium

Although not visible from inside the ballpark’s seating bowl, construction of Citizens Bank Park was easily monitored standing along the outer concourse.

New Light Stanchions as Seen from Veterans Stadium

In late winter 2003 and early spring 2004, the Phillies and the City of Philadelphia put finishing touches on the new ballpark, while the Vet stat silently by, awaiting demolition.

The New and the Old

The end came quickly for Veterans Stadium.  During the summer of 2004, fans were treated with live action views of the stadium’s demolition site as city workers carted away stadium debris.

Veterans Stadium Lies in Ruins, As seen From the Upper Deck of Citizens Bank park

Although the former site of Veterans Stadium is now a parking lot, the Phillies ballclub and City of Philadelphia have included several markers and monuments recognizing the lost ballpark.  The entrance to parking area, Lot T, is a good place to start.

Lot T - Former Site of Veterans Stadium

A state historical marker pay tribute to significant milestones of Veterans Stadium.

Veterans Stadium State Historical Marker

The Phillies also relocated the Veterans Stadium dedication plaque to a garden on Pattison Avenue.

Veterans Stadium Dedication Plaque Relocated Along Pattison Avenue

Recognizing that the City of Philadelphia had dedicated Veterans Stadium in honor of Philadelphia’s veterans, the Phillies erected a new monument at the former site of Veterans Stadium as an “everlasting memorial to veterans who have defended America’s freedom since its inception in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776. ”

Memorial to Philadelphia's Veterans

The Phillies also restored four sports-themed statutes that once stood outside the entrances to Veterans Stadium.  Designed and produced by Joe Brown, a Philadelphia native, the statues now ring the parking lot that sits atop the Vet’s former site.

Statutes of Ballplayers Produced in 1976 by Joe Brown

The statute of a player sliding into base sits along Pattison Avenue, while the statue of a batter sits across the parking lot on South 1oth Street.

Joe Brown's Batter Statute

The Phillies also relocated between Citizens Bank Park and the site of Veterans Stadium a statute of former Philadelphia Athletics manager and owner Connie Mack.  The statue dates to the 1950s and originally was located on Lehigh Avenue in a park across from Connie Mack Stadium.

Connie Mack Statute Sandwiched Alongside Porta-potties

Parking Lot U, Area 3, marks the spot of the Veterans Stadium infield.

Parking Area, Lot U

A granite marker sits in the former location of home plate .

No Place Like Home

The marker is located in a driving lane as opposed to a parking space.

Veterans Stadium Home Plate with Spectrum in Background

Veterans Stadium Home Plate with Citizens Bank Park in Background

The same is true for the pitchers mound, now flattened, which also resides in a Lot U driving lane.

Location of Veterans Stadium Pitching Rubber

The Phillies have marked the former location of each bases as well.

Location of Veterans Stadium First Base

The granite marker for third base provides baseball fans the unique opportunity of parking their cars atop the spot where Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt once roamed the hot corner.  Let me just say what a thrill it was to park my car there.  A tip for those who want to experience the same thrill – arrive early.

Third Base Parking Space

The one vestige of Veterans Stadium that remains, still in its original location, is an electronic Phillies sign visible from I-76 (the Schuylkill Expressway) that resides near the entrance to parking Lots W and X.

Veterans Stadium-Era Phillies Sign Still Standing

That sign likewise is visible from inside Citizens Bank Park, out beyond center field.

Citizens Bank Park with Veterans Stadium Sign Visible Beyond Center Field

The many tributes and monuments to Veterans Stadium are well worth a stop for baseball fans visiting Citizens Bank Park.  The Vet may be long gone, but, thanks to the Phillies and the City of Philadelphia, she clearly has not been forgotten.

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