Posts Tagged ‘Eastern League’

Ocala’s Gerig Field – A Former Spring Training Minor League Gem

November 29th, 2015

Gerig Field was located in what is now the Martin Luther King, Jr., Recreation Complex, located at 1510 NW 4th Street in Ocala, Florida. The ballpark was constructed  in 1936 at a cost of approximately $100,000 with funds from the Works Progress Administration. Gerig Field was named in honor of John Jacob Gerig, the then-mayor of Ocala who was instrumental in gaining the funding needed to construct the ballpark.

Recreation Park, Ocala, Florida (Postcard Hartman Litho Sales Company, Largo, Florida)

Recreation Park, Ocala, Florida (Postcard Hartman Litho Sales Company, Largo, Florida)

At the time of its construction, Gerig Field was part of a sports complex known as Recreation Park, which also included softball and football fields. Recreation Park was built on the former site of the Ocala Fairgrounds. The land where Gerig Field was constructed had been a transient camp established on the fairgrounds during the Great Depression.

Infield, Former Site of Gerig Field, Ocala, Florida

Infield, Former Site of Gerig Field, Ocala, Florida

In July 1993, the grandstand was demolished. However, the field remains at the site to this day.

Former Site of Gerig Field, Ocala, Florida

Former Site of Gerig Field, Ocala, Florida

The American Association Milwaukee Brewers were the first professional baseball team to make Gerig Field their spring training home, training there from 1939 to 1941. The Texas League Tulsa Oilers (a Chicago Cubs affiliate) trained there also in 1940 and 1941. Both teams ceased operations in Ocala once the country entered World War II. In 1940 and 1941, the Ocala Yearlings of the Florida State League played their home games at Gerig Field.

Entrance to Baseball Fiels at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Recreation Center, Former Site of Gerig Field

Entrance to Baseball Fiels at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Recreation Center, Former Site of Gerig Field

After World War II, baseball returned to Gerig Field in 1948 with the arrival of the Southern Association Birmingham Barons. At that time the Barons were an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. Thus began a 23 year affiliation between the Red Sox and Ocala, Florida. As an example, in 1958, the Red Sox brought the following minor league affiliates to train at Gerig: the Southern Association Memphis Chicks (short for Chickasaws), the Eastern League Allentown Red Sox, the Carolina League Raleigh Capitals, the Midwest League Waterloo Hawks, and the New York- Pennsylvania League Corning Red Sox. In 1953, the Barons became an affiliate of the New York Yankees and in 1957 an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. At the request of the Red Sox, the Barons ceased training at Gerig Field after the 1959 spring season.

Detail of Recreation Park, Ocala, Florida (Postcard Hartman Litho Sales Company, Largo, Florida)

Detail of Recreation Park, Ocala, Florida (Postcard Hartman Litho Sales Company, Largo, Florida)

During the time that the minor league Red Sox were training in Ocala, the major league team trained at Payne Park in Sarasota, Florida (through 1958), Scottsdale, Arizona (1959 to 1965), and Chain of Lakes Park in Winter Haven, Florida (beginning in 1966). The Red Sox’s minor league clubs continued to train in Ocala until 1971, when the organization moved its entire minor league operation to Chain of Lakes Park. Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, who played for the Raleigh Capitals in 1958, was one of the many Red Sox farm hands to train at Gerig Field.

Former Site of Gerig Field, Ocala, Florida

Former Site of Gerig Field, Ocala, Florida

An adjoining practice field – known now as Pinkney Woodbury Field – remains at the site. Pinkney Woodbury was a Ocala resident and community activist who encouraged the construction of youth playgrounds and athletic fields in the western section of Ocala.

Pinkney Woodbury Field, Former Spring Training Practice Field Adjacent to Gerig Field

Pinkney Woodbury Field, Former Spring Training Practice Field Adjacent to Gerig Field

Surrounding Pinkney Woodbury Field along the first and third base lines is a white painted fence built of Ocala limerock that is original to the spring training site.

Ocala Limerock Fence Located along the Third Base Side of Pinkney Woodbury Field in Ocala, Florida

Ocala Limerock Fence Located along the Third Base Side of Pinkney Woodbury Field in Ocala, Florida

The limerock fence that parallels the first base side of Pinkney Woodbury Field is a remnant of Gerig Field, as it a portion of the fence that ran along the ballpark’s left field foul line.

Gerig Field's Right Field Foul Line Fence Constructed of Ocala Limerock

Gerig Field’s Limerock That Ran Along the Left Field Foul Line

When first constructed, limestone fence once encircled perimeters of both Gerig Field and the adjacent practice field (Pinkney Woodbury Field). The portion of the fence that remains at the site terminates just beyond Pinkney Woodbury Field’s  first base and third base grandstands.

Terminus of Original Ocala Limestone  Fence, Third Base Grandstand,  Pickney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Terminus of Original Ocala Limestone Fence, Third Base Grandstand, Pickney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Terminus of Original Ocala Limestone  Fence, Third Base Grandstand,  Pickney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Terminus of Original Ocala Limestone Fence, First Base Grandstand, Pickney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Pinkney Woodbury Field, like Gerig Field, is a throwback to early Florida ballpark construction.

Main Entrance Gate, Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Main Entrance Gate, Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

The first base and third base grandstands at Pinkney Woodbury Field match the limerock fence that surrounds the field.

Third Base Grandstand, Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Third Base Grandstand, Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

First Base Grandstand, Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

First Base Grandstand, Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Pinkney Woodbury Field also includes a distinctive concrete concession stand located behind home plate.

Concession Stand, Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Concession Stand, Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Covered, concrete block dugouts sit just beyond the first and third base grandstands.

Third Base Dugout, Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Third Base Dugout, Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Pinkney Woodbury Field is used for local school teams, as well as youth baseball leagues.

Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Pinkney Woodbury Scoreboard, Ocala, Florida

Pinkney Woodbury Scoreboard, Ocala, Florida

The building that once housed the Gerig Field’s player clubhouse also remains at the site.

Building That  Was Once Player Clubhouse, Gerig Field, Ocala, Florida

Building That Was Once Player Clubhouse, Gerig Field, Ocala, Florida

The clubhouse was located in the left field corner of Gerig Field. The limestone fence once intersected the northern most side of clubhouse.

Building That  Was Once Player Clubhouse, Gerig Field, Ocala, Florida

Building That Was Once Player Clubhouse, Gerig Field, Ocala, Florida

In 2010, the former clubhouse was renovated and is now used as a Senior Activity Center.

Plaque Dedicating Former Gerig Field Player Clubhouse as the Barbara Gaskin Washington Senior Advisory Center.

Plaque Dedicating Former Gerig Field Player Clubhouse as the Barbara Gaskin Washington Senior Activity Center.

Although Gerig Field is long gone, the site is still very much worth a visit for fans of the history of the game. The ball field where many former major league and minor league players once trained remains at the site. Likewise, Pinkney Woodbury Field is a wonderful gem that harkens back to early days of Florida spring training.

Center Field Fence Looking Toward Infield, Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

Center Field Fence Looking Toward Infield, Pinkney Woodbury Field, Ocala, Florida

For more information about the history of Gerig Field and baseball in Ocala, Florida, be sure to read the excellent article by Carlos Medina on ocala.com, from which much of the factual information for this blog was obtained.

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Posted in Florida ballparks, Gerig Field | Comments (0)

Rock Cats Celebrate 20th Anniversary at New Britain Stadium By Leaving

April 27th, 2015

New Britain Stadium is located in Willow Brook Park at 230 John Karbonic Way in New Britain, Connecticut.

New Britain Stadium, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

The City of New Britain constructed the ballpark in 1995 as a replacement for Beehive Field, which the city had built only 12 years earlier in 1982 to entice a professional minor league team (the Bristol Red Sox) to move to New Britain.

View of New Britain Stadium from Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

View of New Britain Stadium from Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium was built adjacent to Beehive Field, which remains at the site just a few hundred feet from New Britain Stadium and is used by the local high school and American Legion teams.

View of Beehive Stadium from New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

View of Beehive Field from New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium with Beehive Field in Backgrouind, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium with Beehive Field in Backgrouind, New Britain, Connecticut

In 1996, the Eastern League Hardware City Rock Cats played their home games at New Britain Stadium. The name Hardware City is a reference to New Britain’s nickname (Stanley Black & Decker’s headquarters is located in New Britain).

Concourse, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Concourse, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

In 1997, the team changed its name to the New Britain Rock Cats.

New Britain Rock Cats Warming Up Prior to 2014 Game, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Rock Cats Warming Up Prior to 2014 Game, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

From 1995 to 2014, New Britain was an affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. In 2015, the Rock Cats became an affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.

Concourse, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Concourse, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

In addition to holding approximately 2,000 more fans than its predecessor Beehive Field,  New Britain Stadium is enclosed by a brick and concrete facade and stadium structure that is more in line with minor league ballparks built in the 1990s. New Britain Stadium, unlike Beehive Field, also has a covered concourse behind the grandstand with many more concessions options.

Stairway to Grandstand Seating, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Stairway to Grandstand Seating, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium includes a small covered grandstand with a press box behind home plate.

Grandstand, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Grandstand, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Much of the ballpark seating is uncovered, metal bleachers.

Bleacher Seating New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Bleacher Seating New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Bleacher Seating, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Bleacher Seating, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

The seats in the grandstand behind home plate and close to the field between first and third base, are made of plastic and have distinctive formed plastic arm rests.

Box Seats, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Box Seats, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

With its placement in the middle of a public park, New Britain Stadium has a rural feel, especially looking out beyond the center field fence.

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium’s scoreboard includes a video board. Mounted next to the scoreboard is a one story tall plastic milk bottle advertising Guida’s Dairy.

Jumbo Tron and Scoreboard, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Jumbo Tron and Scoreboard, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

The milk advertisement is perhaps a nod to the famous Hood plastic milk bottle sign that once sat atop the right field roof at Fenway Park and later was moved to LeLacheur Park, home of the Lowell Spinners.

Giant Milk Bottle, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Giant Milk Bottle, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

With racing mascot mania reaching new heights in professional baseball, New Britain features a 7th inning fast food run of donuts and coffee sponsored by Dunkin’ Donuts.

Racing Donuts and Coffee! New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Racing Donuts and Coffee! Caution Contents May Be Hot. New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Although a tour of New Britain Stadium does not leave one with the impression that the ballpark needs replacement, the Rock Cats after only 20 seasons in the ballpark are leaving anyway, and 2015 will be the last season of professional, affiliated minor league baseball at New Britain Stadium

Beautiful Sunset, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Beautiful Sunset, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

In 2016, the Rock Cats are moving 14 miles up Highway 9 to a new ballpark located at Main Street and Trumbull Street in the “Downtown North” section of Hartford, Connecticut.

Route 9, the Road Out of New Britain Stadium Which Leads to The Rock Cats New Home in Hartford, Connecticut

Route 9 Can Bee Seen Behind New Britain Stadium’s Right Field/First Base Foul Line. It Is the Road North Out of New Britain And Leads to The Rock Cats New Home in Hartford, Connecticut

The team’s move to Hartford is a bit of a homecoming for the city. From 1921 to 1952, Hartford hosted an Eastern League team at Bulkeley Stadium, once located on the southeast corner of Hanmer Street and George Street and currently the site of a nursing facility.

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Hopefully professional baseball will continue to be played at New Britain Stadium. The unaffiliated Atlantic League has expressed interest in placing a franchise in New Britain Stadium. Another option is the addition of a collegiate wooden bat league team at New Britain Stadium.

Thus, beginning in 2016, New Britain will have the distinction of having two former professional, affiliated ballparks standing in tact, side by side – presumably a claim that no other city in the United States can make.

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Posted in Connecticut ballparks, New Britain Stadium | Comments (2)

Beehive Field – Still Abuzz With Baseball In New Britain

April 26th, 2015

Beehive Field is located in Willow Brook Park on John Karbonic Way in New Britain, Connecticut.

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

The ballpark was constructed in 1982 by the City of New Britain in hopes of bringing a professional baseball franchise to the city. Joe Buzas, the legendary minor league baseball owner moved his team, the Bristol Red Sox, to New Britain in 1983.

Plaque Honoring Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Plaque Honoring Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Beehive Field’s name is a reference to the City of New Britain seal, which includes a depiction of bees swarming a beehive (thanks to alert reader Ed!). The city’s motto is “Industry fills the hive and enjoys the honey.”

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticutt

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticutt

Built on top of what once was a swamp, when it opened Beehive Field had one of the most expansive outfields in minor league baseball. The large outfield and thick air (because of the former swamp) tagged the ballpark as a pitcher’s park.

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Although perhaps considered “modern” when it was built in the early 1980s because it was new, the simplicity of the design more resembled a 1930’s era ballpark.

Under the Third Base Grandstand, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Under the Third Base Grandstand, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

The stadium seating is constructed of metal risers that wrap around from the infield, with no exterior wall to close in the structure.

Stairs to the Grandstand, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Stairs to the Grandstand, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

From 1983 to 1994, it was the home of the Eastern League New Britain Red Sox.

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

One of the most distinctive features of Beehive Field is that it is located just a few hundred feet from New Britain Stadium, the ballpark that replaced Beehive Field in 1996 as the home of professional baseball in New Britain.

Beehive Field, with New Britain Stadium in Background, New Britain, Connecticut

Beehive Field, with New Britain Stadium in Background, New Britain, Connecticut

By the early 1990s, with the Boston Red Sox threatening to leave New Britain unless the city built the franchise a new ballpark, New Britain began construction of a new ballpark next to Beehive Field. The Red Sox affiliate departed after the 1994 season anyway.

Grandstand, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Grandstand, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

In 1995, Buzas affiliated his New Britain team with the Minnesota Twins and the New Britain Rock Cats played their first season at Beehive Field (known then as the Hardware City Rock Cats).

First Base Dugout, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

First Base Dugout, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Third Base Dugout, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Third Base Dugout, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Beehive Field remains at the site today. The left field bleachers of New Britain’s current ballpark provide an excellent panoramic view of Beehive Field.

View of Beehive Stadium from New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

View of Beehive Stadium from New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Light Stanchion, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Light Stanchion, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Beehive Field is currently the home field of the New Britain High School Canes varsity baseball team.

Scoreboard, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Scoreboard, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Although the ballpark is in need of repair, it remains an important part of the New Britain community and, in 2015, additional funds were provided by the city to upgrade the facility to make it ADA compliant.

First Base Bleachers, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

First Base Bleachers, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

The New Britain Rock Cats currently are playing their 20th season at New Britain Stadium.

New Britain Stadium, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

The team has taken the unusual approach of celebrating their 20th anniversary by making it their last season in New Britain Stadium.

View of New Britain Stadium from Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

View of New Britain Stadium from Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Beginning in 2017, the Rock Cats will play their home games in Hartford, Connecticut, as the Hartford Yard Goats. Yes, the Yard Goats.

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Hopefully professional baseball will continue to be played in New Britain Stadium, thereby allowing the high school to play its games at Beehive Field. The Atlantic League has expressed interest in placing a franchise in New Britain Stadium. Another option is the addition of a collegiate wooden bat league team at New Britain Stadium. Regardless, New Britain, beginning in 2016, will have the distinction of having two former professional, affiliated ballparks standing in tact, side by side – presumably a claim that no other city in the United States can make.

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The Rockpile – Buffalo’s War Memorial Stadium

January 30th, 2015

War Memorial Stadium was a multi-use sports facility located at 285 Dodge Street in Buffalo, New York. The name of the venue changed over time, from Roesch Memorial Stadium (named after former Buffalo Mayor Charles Roesch) in 1937, to Grover Cleveland Stadium (in honor of the former President, Chief Justice, and Buffalo Mayor) from 1937-38, to Civic Stadium from 1938 to 1960, and finally to War Memorial Stadium from 1960 to 1987. Although it was a stadium of many names, Buffalo residents often referred to the ballpark as “The Old Rockpile.”

Buffalo Civic Stadium (Photocrome postcard, Metrocraft, Everett MA)

Buffalo Civic Stadium (Photocrome postcard, Metrocraft, Everett MA)

The derivation of the nickname Rockpile is not readily ascertained (believe me, I looked), but  perhaps it is a reference either to the condition of the stadium in its later years or the impressive wall constructed of large stones that once surrounded portions of the stadium as well as Masten Park (located directly west of the stadium). The stone wall was once part of the boundary for Prospect Reservoir. The stadium was built on top of the former reservoir site.

Stone Wall along Masten Avenue, western boundary of Masten Park, Buffalo, New York

Stone Wall along Masten Avenue, western boundary of Masten Park, Buffalo, New York. A Similar Wall Once Surrounded Portions of War Memorial Stadium

Although the stadium was completed as a Works Project Administration initiative in 1937, it did not have a professional sports tenant until 1940 with the arrival of the American Football League Indians, who played at Civic Stadium through the 1941 season. Football returned to the stadium in 1946 with the arrival of the Buffalo Bills of the All-American Football Conference, who played at Civic Stadium through the 1949 season. The Bills returned to War Memorial Stadium in 1960 as an American Football League franchise, after the stadium underwent a major renovation. In 1970 the Bills switched to the National Football League and played through the 1972 season at War Memorial.

War Memorial Stadium (Linen Postcard, Photo by Fitzgerald)

Civic Stadium, Buffalo, New York (Linen Postcard, Photo by Fitzgerald)

Professional baseball arrived at War Memorial Stadium about the same time professional football returned to venue at the beginning of the 1960s. With the closing and demolition of Offermann Stadium after the in 1960 season, the International League Buffalo Bisons moved to War Memorial Stadium the following year. The Bisons departed War Memorial during the 1970 season when the franchise was transferred to Winnipeg. The Bisons returned to War Memorial in 1979 as an AA Eastern League franchise. In 1985, the Bisons returned to AAA status as an American Association franchise, playing three full seasons at War Memorial Stadium before departing for a new ballpark, Pilot Field, after the end of the 1987 season.

Aerial View, Buffalo War Memorial, Buffalo, New York

Aerial View, War Memorial Stadium, Buffalo, New York

In 1983 baseball Hollywood style arrived at War Memorial Stadium. The ballpark used as a primary location for filming of the movie The Natural.

Movie Lobby Card Depicting Robert Redford at War Memorial Stadium (photo copyright Tri-Star Pictures)

Movie Lobby Card Depicting Robert Redford at War Memorial Stadium (photo copyright Tri-Star Pictures)

War Memorial Stadium’s distinctive vintage features provided an almost eerie back drop for the movie.

War Memorial Stadium (photo courtesy of Buffalo Baseball Museum)

War Memorial Stadium (photo courtesy of Buffalo Baseball Museum)

For additional information about the filming of The Natural at War Memorial Stadium, and at other locations in and around Buffalo, New York, see forgottenbuffalo.com.

Robert Redford at War Memorial Stadium (photographer unknown)

Robert Redford at War Memorial Stadium (photographer unknown)

War Memorial was demolished in 1988 and the City of Buffalo constructed in its place a youth sports complex. In 1997 the site was renamed the Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion in honor of a former Buffalo resident.

Football Scoreboard at Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion, Buffalo, New York

Football Scoreboard at Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion, Buffalo, New York

Although the stadium structure is long gone, fortunately for fans of the game, the City of Buffalo preserved two of the four distinctive entrance gates, both located on the eastern side of the former ballpark site.

Former Entrance  to War Memorial Stadium at the Intersection of Best Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Former Entrance to War Memorial Stadium at the Intersection of Best Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

The entrance at the northwest corner of Best Street and Jefferson Avenue was considered War Memorial Stadium’s main gate. During the years that the stadium was configured for baseball, the Best and Jefferson entrance was located just beyond center field.

Steel Gates, Former Entrance  to War Memorial Stadium at the Intersection of Best Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Steel Gates at the Former Entrance to War Memorial Stadium, Intersection of Best Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

A similar entrance at the southwest corner of Dodge Street and Jefferson Avenue also remains at the site. The gate was located behind what was once the left field corner. The left field grandstand was located just to the right of the entrance.

Former Entrance  to War Memorial Stadium at the Intersection of Dodge Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Former Entrance to War Memorial Stadium at the Intersection of Dodge Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

An entrance gate (now demolished) behind the right field corner of War Memorial Memorial was located near the intersection of Best Street and Peach Street.

War Memorial Stadium Exterior Best Street Near Peach Street (photo courtesy of Buffalo Baseball Museum)

War Memorial Stadium Exterior, Best Street Near Peach Street (photo courtesy of Buffalo Baseball Museum)

The City of Buffalo constructed on Best Street a new gated entrance with ticket windows near the location of the original gate.

Entrance to Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion at  Best Street Near Peach Street

Entrance to Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion at Best Street Near Peach Street

A new gated entrance on Dodge Street sits behind what would have been War Memorial Stadium’s home plate.

Entrance to Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion (looking Toward Dodge Street).

Entrance to Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion (looking Toward Dodge Street).

Home plate itself was located in what is now the turf football field, at approximately the 15 yard line on the field’s north end. It is unfortunate that the city did not place a marker where home plate once sat, or where the original goal posts once sat, for that matter.

War Memorial Stadium Former Infield, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavillion, Looking Toward Left Field

War Memorial Stadium Former Infield, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavilion, Looking Toward Left Field

Much of the former infield is now part of the running track that surrounds the northeast end of the turf football field.

War Memorial Stadium Former Infield, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavillion, Looking Toward  Home Plate

War Memorial Stadium Former Infield, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavilion, Looking Toward Home Plate

Metal bleachers placed along side the football field sit near what was once the western most portion of the stadium structure.

Bleachers, Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion, Former Site of First Base Grand Stand

Bleachers, Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion, Former Site of First Base Grand Stand

Concession stands and storage facilities sit in the approximate location of a facilities building that sat just to the west of War Memorial Stadium.

Concession Stands and Storage Areas, Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion, Buffalo, New York

Concession Stands and Storage Areas, Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion, Buffalo, New York

The right field foul line ran parallel to what is now the running track.

War Memorial Stadium Former Right Field Foul Line Corner, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavillion, Looking Toward Right Field Corner (New York' State Division of Military and Naval Affairs Armory in Background).

War Memorial Stadium Former Right Field Foul Line Corner, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavilion, Looking Toward Right Field Corner (New York’ State Division of Military and Naval Affairs Armory in Background).

The youth baseball infield  at the Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion sits in what was once War Memorial Stadium’s right field.

Baseball Field, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavillion, Former War Memorial Stadium Outfield

Baseball Field, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavilion, Former War Memorial Stadium Outfield

The current left field of the youth baseball diamond was once War Memorial Stadium’s left field.

War Memorial Stadium Former Center Field, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavillion, Looking Toward Home Plate

War Memorial Stadium Former Left/Center Field, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavilion, Looking Toward Home Plate

The two preserved entrances to War Memorial Stadium loom large over the current youth baseball outfield.

Backside of Former Entrance  to War Memorial Stadium at the Intersection of Best Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Backside of Former Entrance to War Memorial Stadium at the Intersection of Best Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Backside of Former Entrance  to War Memorial Stadium at the Intersection of Dodge Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Backside of Former Entrance to War Memorial Stadium at the Intersection of Dodge Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Directly to the west of the former site of War Memorial Stadium is Masten Park. The park, like the stadium, was built on top of Prospect Reservoir.

Masten Park, Buffalo, New York

Masten Park, Buffalo, New York

A swimming pool dating to the time of War Memorial Stadium sits just beyond the eastern boundary of Masten Park.

Masten Park Swimming Pool, Buffalo, New York

Masten Park Swimming Pool, Buffalo, New York

The stone wall that once surrounded Prospect Reservoir terminates just prior to the Dodge Street entrance near the turf football field.

Entrance to Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion From Dodge Street

Entrance to Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion From Dodge Street

In addition to the stone wall, Masten park boasts several distinctive concrete stairways into the park which date back to the time of War Memorial Stadium.

Masten Park, Steps to Dodge Street, Buffalo, New York

Masten Park, Steps to Dodge Street, Buffalo, New York

In 1988, the Buffalo Bisons moved to a new downtown ballpark on Washington Street, built just two miles southwest of War Memorial Stadium.

Coca-Cola Field, Buffalo, New York, Home of the Buffalo Bison

Coca-Cola Field, Buffalo, New York, Home of the Buffalo Bisons

Coca-Cola Field (originally known as Pilot Field) includes a wonderful museum with many displays dedicated to the history of War Memorial Stadium.

War Memorial Stadium Display at the Buffalo Baseball Museum

War Memorial Stadium Display at the Buffalo Baseball Museum, Coca-Cola Field

The museum’s curator, John Boutet, has spent the last 25 plus years acquiring mementos and pieces of War Memorial Stadium, as well as Offermann Stadium, to help educate fans about Buffalo’s rich baseball history.

Buffalo Baseball Historian John Boutet With War Memorial Stadium Sign at Buffalo Baseball Museum

Buffalo Baseball Historian John Boutet With War Memorial Stadium Sign at Buffalo Baseball Museum

The museum includes a wooden stadium chair from War Memorial Stadium, painted grey, which resembles the seats once used at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland.

War Memorial Stadium Seat on Display at Buffalo Baseball Museum

War Memorial Stadium Seat on Display at Buffalo Baseball Museum

An authentic War Memorial Stadium turnstile sits at the entrance to the museum.

War Memorial Stadium Turnstile on display at Buffalo Baseball Museum

War Memorial Stadium Turnstile on display at Buffalo Baseball Museum

The museum includes memorabilia of famous Buffalo Bisons, including the uniform once worn by Hall of Famer Johnny Bench.

Johnny Bench's Buffalo Bison Locker at Buffalo Baseball Museum

Johnny Bench’s Buffalo Bisons Locker at Buffalo Baseball Museum

The City of Buffalo has done an admirable job paying homage to memory of historic War Memorial Stadium. A visit to the former site is worth the trip if only to stand in front and take a pictures of the once-grand War Memorial Stadium entrances preserved by the city. For an excellent site devoted to the memory of War Memorial Stadium, with many vintage photographs of the ballpark, visit Rockpile Buffalo. And if you haven’t already, be sure to visit the Buffalo Baseball Museum on the concourse at Coca-Cola Field.

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Hartford’s Bulkeley Stadium – Now A Nursing Home With A Home Plate

September 11th, 2014

Morgan M. Bulkeley Stadium was located on the southeast corner of Hanmer Street and George Street in Hartford, Connecticut.

Bulkeley Stadium (photo courtesy of Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center)

Bulkeley Stadium (photo courtesy of Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center)

The ballpark originated in 1921 as Clarkin Field, named in honor of its builder, Jim Clarkin, the owner of the Eastern League Hartford Senators. After a fire in 1927,  the ballpark was rebuilt. Clarkin sold the team the following year and the ballpark was renamed Bulkeley Stadium in honor of Baseball Hall of Famer Morgan G. Bulkeley, the first president of the National League as well as a former president of Aetna Insurance Company, and a former politician (Connecticut Governor, U.S. Senator, and Hartford Mayor). Bulkeley had lived in Hartford and died  in 1922.

Buckeley Stadium Historical Marker at Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Bulkeley Stadium Historical Marker at Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

The site today is occupied primarily by Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Hartford native Norm Hausmann spearheaded a drive to get a historic marker placed at the former site of Bulkeley Stadium. The marker sits at the entrance to Ellis Manor on George Street in what was once left field.

Ellis Manor Marker Honoring Buckeley Stadium

Ellis Manor Marker Honoring Bulkeley Stadium

Clarkin Field/Bulkeley Stadium was home to the Eastern League Hartford Senators from 1921 to 1932 (in 1934 the Senators returned for one season to Bulkeley Stadium as part of the Northeastern League). Bulkeley Stadium also was home to the Eastern League Hartford Bees from 1939 to 1945 (also known as the Laurels), and the Eastern League Hartford Chiefs from 1946 to 1952. The Bees, Laurels, and Chiefs all were affiliated with the National League Boston Braves. The integrated semi-pro Savitt Gems (named after long time Hartford jeweler Bill Savitt) also played at Bulkeley Stadium. One of the stars of Savitt Gems was Johnny “Schoolboy” Taylor, a high school phenomenon who pitched for Bulkeley High School and later for the Negro National League Pittsburgh Crawfords and the Negro National League New York Cubans. In 1949, Taylor pitched for the Hartford Chiefs at Bulkeley Stadium.

Buckeley Stadium Home Plate Marker

Bulkeley Stadium Home Plate Marker

Clarkin Field also was home to the Hartford Blues football team in 1925 (the following season the Blues played their one professional season in the National Football League).

Buckeley Stadium Home Plate Marker, Looking Toward Pitcher's Mound

Bulkeley Stadium Home Plate Marker, Looking Toward Pitcher’s Mound

The location of home plate is marked with a granite plaque near the northeast corner of Ellis Manor, to the left of the front entrance. To better appreciate the former site of Bulkeley Stadium, click here: Courant.com for a vintage aerial photo of Bulkeley Stadium.

Bulkeley Stadium (photo courtesy of Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center)

Bulkeley Stadium (photo courtesy of Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center)

The grandstand directly behind home plate was located where Hanmer Street terminates just northeast of Ellis Manor.

Hanmer Street Terminating at Former Location of Grandstand  Buckeley Stadium Behind Home Plate

Hanmer Street Terminating at Former Location of Bulkeley Stadium Home Plate Grandstand

Although the ballpark was demolished in 1960, a chain link fence that ran alongside the third base grandstand dating back to Bulkeley Stadium remains on the site. The fence is clearly visible in the vintage photograph of Bulkeley Stadium that appears at the beginning of this blog. Although not quite as historically significant as the John T. Brush Memorial Stairway located near the former site of the Polo Grounds, the fence certainly is worth noting given its connection to Bulkeley Stadium.

Chain Link Fence Remaining from Buckeley Stadium Behind Former Location of Third Base Grandstand

Chain Link Fence Remaining from Bulkeley Stadium Behind Former Location of Third Base Grandstand

The third base grandstand paralleled a driveway that now runs north and south along the eastern side of the Ellis Manor.

Ellis Manor Driveway Running Parallel to Former Location of Third Base Grandstand

Ellis Manor Driveway Running Parallel to Former Location of Bulkeley Stadium Third Base Grandstand

Bulkeley Stadium was a basic, no frills ballpark. A single deck, covered grandstand ran from third base to the left field corner. Uncovered wood bleachers continued from third base to the right field corner.

Bulkeley Stadium (photo courtesy of Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center)

Bulkeley Stadium (photo courtesy of Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center)

First base was located in front of what is now a covered driveway near the front door entrance to Ellis Manor.

Former Location of First Base at Buckeley Stadium Looking Toward Home Plate

Former Location of First Base at Bulkeley Stadium Looking Toward Home Plate

The driveway from George Street into Ellis Manor was once left field.

Former Location of Buckeley Stadium Left Field Looking Toward Home Plate

Former Location of Bulkeley Stadium Left Field Looking Toward Home Plate

Some residences that ring the parameter of the ballpark site date to the time of Bulkeley Stadium. A few “new” houses actually sit on the former stadium site. One such house, at 204 George Street, sits in what was once the left field grandstand.

House at 204 George Street  Which Sits in Former Location of  Buckeley Stadium Left Field Grand Stand

House at 204 George Street Which Sits in Former Location of Bulkeley Stadium Left Field Grandstand

The open side yard at 204 George Street was once the left field corner.

Former Location of Buckeley Stadium Left Field Corner

Former Location of Bulkeley Stadium Left Field Corner

Right Field to Center field ran north to south along George Street.

Looking South Down George Street Which Ran Parallel to RIght Field Toward Center Field

Looking South Down George Street Which Ran Parallel to Bulkeley Stadium’s Right Field (Toward Center Field)

The center field was located across from the intersection of George Street and Goodrich Street where a grove of trees now sits.

Former Location of Buckeley Stadium Center Field Corner at Intersection of Goodrich Street and George Street

Former Location of Bulkeley Stadium Center Field Corner at Intersection of Goodrich Street and George Street

Inside the front entrance to Ellis Manor, across from the reception desk, is a wall of fame honoring the memory of Bulkeley Stadium. Many future Baseball Hall of Famers played for Hartford at Bulkeley Stadium, including Lou Gehrig, Leo Durocher, Hank Greenberg, Johnny Sain, and Warren Spahn. The wonderful staff at the nursing home and rehabilitation center are proud of their facility’s connection to professional baseball and are very helpful answering questions about the ballpark.

Buckeley Stadium Wall of Fame Display at Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Bulkeley Stadium Wall of Fame Display at Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

After 65 seasons without professional baseball, Hartford once again will have professional team beginning in 2016. The Eastern League Rock Cats are moving from their current home in New Britain Stadium to a new ballpark located at Main Street and Trumbull Street in the “Downtown North” section of Hartford, just five miles north of the former site of Bulkeley Stadium.

New Britain Stadium, Home of the Eastern League Rock Cats

New Britain Stadium, Home of the Eastern League Rock Cats

The City recently secured property in downtown Hartford at the intersection of Main Street and Trumbell Street, approximately three miles north of Bulkeley Stadium. Although professional baseball will never return to the site of Bulkeley Stadium, it is still possible to play catch in the left field corner of the old ballpark site – that is, as long as the folks who own the side yard at 204 George Street don’t mind you doing so.

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Posted in Buckeley Stadium, Connecticut ballparks | Comments (4)

The Six Different Ballparks Known As Oriole Park

December 30th, 2013

Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland, is considered by some to be one of the most beautiful ballparks in the country. Now over 20 years old, it helped usher in the era of “retro ballparks” that swept both major league and minor league ballparks over the past two decades.

Oriole Park (VI) at Camden Yards, Home of the Baltimore Orioles

Oriole Park at Camden Yards is actually the sixth Baltimore baseball park known as Oriole Park. The first five were located about three miles north of Camden Yards in the Harwood and Abell neighborhoods of Baltimore (for a more detailed view, click on the map below). Here is a rundown of Oriole Park I through V.

Locations of Oriole Park I through V, In The Harwood and Abell Sections of Baltimore – Atlas of the City of Baltimore, Maryland Topographical Survey Commission 1914 (mdhistory.net)

The first Oriole Park was the home of the American Association Baltimore Orioles from 1883 to 1889. Also known as Huntington Avenue Grounds and American Association Park, it was located at the southeast corner of what is now East 25th Street and Barclay Street. First base paralleled Greenmount Avenue, right field paralleled East 25th Street, left field paralleled Barclay Street, and third base paralleled East 24th Street. An apartment building and row houses now mark the site.

Site of Oriole Park I, Left Field Corner, East 24th Street and Barclay Street, Baltimore

Oriole Park II was the home of the American Association Baltimore Orioles from 1890 to 1891, and was located at the southwest corner of what is now Greenmount Avenue and East 29th Street. First base paralleled Barclay Street, right field paralleled East 28th Street, left field paralleled Greenmount Avenue, and third base paralleled East 29th Street. A McDonald’s Restaurant and row houses now mark the site.

Southwest Corner of East 29th Street and Barclay Street in Baltimore, Former Site of Oriole Park II and IV

Oriole Park III, also known as Union Park and the Baltimore Baseball and Exhibition Grounds, was the home of the American Association Baltimore Orioles in 1891 and the National League Baltimore Orioles from 1892 to 1899. It was located at the southeast corner of what is now Guilford Avenue and East 25th Street. First base paralleled Guilford Avenue, right field paralleled East 24th Street, left field paralleled Barclay Street, and third base paralleled East 25th Street.

Union Park, Baltimore, Home of the National League Orioles, circa 1897 (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

The site is now occupied by row houses and a parking lot. The distinctive pitched-roof house just to the right of the third base grand stand remains at the site.

Back Side of 321 East 25th Street, Former Site of Union Park, Baltimore

Oriole Park IV, also known as American League Park, was the home of the American League Baltimore Orioles from 1901 to 1902, and the Eastern League and the International League Orioles from 1903 to 1915. It was located at the southwest corner of Greenmount Avenue and East 29th Street on the same site as Oriole Park II. The ballpark was the home field for Babe Ruth during his one season playing professional baseball in Baltimore for the Eastern League Orioles.

American League Park (Photo – Babe Ruth Museum)

A McDonald’s Restaurant and row houses now mark the site.

Former Site of American League Park, Baltimore

Oriole Park V, also known as Terrapin Park, was the home of the Federal League Baltimore Terrapins from 1914 to 1915, and the International League Orioles from 1916 to 1944. It was located at the northwest corner of what is now Greenmount Avenue and 29th Street, across the street from the site of Oriole Park II and IV. First base paralleled East 29th Street, right field paralleled Greenmount Avenue, left field paralleled East 30th Street, and third base paralleled Vineyard Lane.

Terrapin Park (Later Known As Oriole Park)

The site now is occupied by row houses, the Barclay Elementary School, and Peabody Heights Brewery.

Former E.I. Dupont Finishes Division Building, East 29th Street, Baltimore, Site of Oriole Park V

All five original Oriole Parks are located less than a mile west of the Baltimore Orioles previous home, Memorial Stadium, which was located at the northeast corner of East 33rd Street and Ellerslie Avenue.

Memorial Plaque of Memorial Stadium, Baltimore

Prior to the construction of Memorial stadium, it was the site of Municipal Stadium, which was constructed in 1922. The site is now occupied by a youth baseball field, a retirement village, and a YMCA.

Memorial Field at Former Site of Memorial Stadium

Baltimore has made it easy for baseball fans to visit these former sites by putting them so close together. The rest is up to you.

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Posted in Maryland ballparks, Oriole Park, Oriole Park I, Oriole Park II, Oriole Park III, Oriole Park IV, Oriole Park V, Oriole Park VI/Camden Yards, Terrapin Park/Oriole Park V, Union Park/Oriole Park III | Comments (3)

Baltimore’s First American League Park – Original Home of the Future New York Yankees

August 23rd, 2012

The southwest corner of East 29th Street and Greenmount Avenue in Baltimore, Maryland, is the site of two former major league baseball fields.

Intersection of Greenmount Avenue and East 29th Street, Baltimore, Maryland

From 1890-1891, the site held Oriole Park (II) (the second Oriole Park according to Phillip Lowry and his excellent book Green Cathedrals) and was home to the American Association Baltimore Orioles.

Southwest Corner of East 29th Street and Barclay Street in Baltimore, Former Site of Two Former Major League Ballparks

A second ballpark – American League Park – was constructed on that site (also known as Oriole Park IV) (the fourth, according to Mr. Lowry) and was home to the American League Baltimore Orioles for the 1901 and 1902 seasons.

American League Park (Photo - Babe Ruth Museum) Entrance on Greenmount Avenue (Near 29th Street)

American League Park should not be confused with Terrapin Park, which was located across 29th Street from American League Park at the northwest corner of East 29th Street and Greenmount. Terrapin Park was home to the Federal League Baltimore Terrapins in 1914 and 1915, the International League Orioles from 1916 to 1944, and the Negro American League Baltimore Elite Giants from 1938 to 1944 (see Terrapin Park/Oriole Park). The 1914 map below (with thanks to Bernard McKenna) shows the locations of both parks.

Atlas of the City of Baltimore, Maryland Topographical Survey Commission 1914 (mdhistory.net)

In 1903, Baltimore’s American League franchise was sold to New York interests and became the New York Highlanders, and later the New York Yankees. The Eastern League Baltimore Orioles (the league was renamed the International League in 1911) took over American League Park for the 1903 season.

Opening Day April 26, 1909, at Oriole Park (Library of Congress Division of Prints and Photographs, Washington, D.C.)

The ballpark was also where Babe Ruth, playing for the International League Orioles in 1914, played for Baltimore during his one year of professional minor league baseball.

A Sanborn Insurance Map shows the location of much of the ballpark in 1901.

1901 Sanborn Insurance Map of Baltimore Showing Location of American League Park

A McDonald’s now stands at the site, its restaurant and drive through covering the left field corner and the parking lot behind it covering much of the infield.

Former Site of American League Park, Baltimore - Note the building on the corner is the same building in the above vintage picture of American League Park

Home plate was once located in the southeast corner of East 29th Street and Barclay. No, that is not a young Babe Ruth standing in the approximate location of home plate, it is actually SABR Bob Davids Chapter President Bruce Brown.

Former Site of American League Park's Home Plate

The first-base line ran parallel to Barclay.

American League Park's First Base Line Ran Parallel to Barclay Street (Seen Here Looking South)

The third-base line ran parallel to East 29th Street.

Former Site of American League Park Baltimore, Looking Across Left Field Toward Home Plate/First Base

Two-story row houses fronting both sides of Llchester Road, constructed after the demise of American League Park, cover the remaining portion of the ballpark site.

Back Side Of Houses Facing Llchester Road Located In Former Center Field

The perimeter of the park ran from East 29th Street to the north, to Greenmount Avenue to the east, to East 28th Street to the South and to Barclay Street to the west.

Greenmount Avenue Looking South From Former Left Field Corner Toward Center Field

Six blocks south of the former ballpark site is St. Ann’s Catholic Church (at the corner of Greenmount Avenue and East 22nd Street) which is where former Orioles John McGraw married his second wife, the former Blanche Sindall. The church’s Gothic spiral is visible down Greenmount.

The Steeple Of St. Ann's Church Visible Down Greenmount Avenue (just beyond red traffic light)

The areas surrounding the Harwood section of Baltimore includes several former ballpark sites. To the northwest is the former site of Memorial Stadium, home of the American League Baltimore Orioles from 1954 to 1991. It is located less than a mile from old American League Park – four blocks north on Greenmount and five blocks east on 33rd Street. Four blocks to the south is the former site of Union Park (East 25th and Barclay), home of the National League Baltimore Orioles of the 1890s (see Union Park). If you consider yourself a true fan of Baltimore baseball, be sure to make the effort and visit these former sites. You can even stop for a hamburger and fries and consume them while siting in a booth located in American League Park’s former left field.

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Posted in American League Park/Oriole Park IV, Maryland ballparks | Comments (12)