Posts Tagged ‘Indianapolis Clowns’

Bush Stadium Apartments – There’s No Place Like Home

April 17th, 2015

Bush Stadium was located at 1510 Stadium Way, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Constructed in 1931, the ballpark originally was known as Perry Stadium, named after the family responsible for its construction.

Entrance to Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Entrance to Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

In 1942, the ballpark was renamed Victory Field in recognition of the country’s entrance into World War II. In 1967 the City of Indianapolis purchased the ballpark and renamed it Owen J. Bush Stadium, in honor of Donnie Bush, a part owner and President of the Indianapolis Indians, as well as a former major league player and Indianapolis native.

"Entrance to Victory Field, Indianapolis, Indiana" Postcard (Craft Greeting Card Co., Indianapolis, Indiana, Publishers)

“Entrance to Victory Field, Indianapolis, Indiana” Postcard (Craft Greeting Card Co., Indianapolis, Indiana, Publishers)

The ballpark was constructed by Osborne Engineering, an architectural and engineering firm responsible for designing many major league ballparks. In 1995, because of its cultural significance and its Art Deco design, Bush Stadium was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Stadium Flats, Bush Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana

Stadium Flats, Bush Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana

The ballpark was the home of the American Association Indianapolis Indians from 1931 to 1962, and from 1969 to 1996. In 1963, the ballpark was the home of the International League Indianapolis Indians, and from 1964 to 1986 it was the home of the Pacific Coast League Indianapolis Indians.

View of Former Bush Stadium Infield and Grandstand, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

View of Former Bush Stadium Infield and Grandstand, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Bush Stadium also hosted many seasons of Negro Leagues baseball. According to Philip Lowery’s Green Cathedrals, the ballpark was the home field of the Negro National League Indianapolis ABC’s in 1931, the Negro Southern League Indianapolis ABC’s in 1932, the Negro American League (NAL) Indianapolis Athletics in 1937, the NAL in 1938 and 1939, the NAL Indianapolis Crawfords in 1940, the NAL Indianapolis Clowns in 1944 and 1946 to 1955, and the NAL Kansas City Monarchs from 1957 to 1961. In 1933 the ballpark was used as a neutral site for the Negro National League Chicago Cole’s American Giants and in 1943 the Washington-Homestead Grays and the NAL Birmingham Black Barons played game five of the Negro World Series at the stadium.

Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

In 1987, Bush Stadium was used as the backdrop for the filming of the movie Eight Men Out.

Cast of the movie Eight Men Out (Photo by  Bob Marsak, Still Photographer on Eight Men Out)

Cast of the movie Eight Men Out (Photo by Bob Marsak, Still Photographer on Eight Men Out)

Bush Stadium Postcard (designed and published by Vic Pallos)

Bush Stadium Postcard (designed and published by Vic Pallos)

In July 1996, the Indians moved two miles southeast to Victory Field, located in White River State Park near downtown Indianapolis.

Victory Field , Indianapolis, Indiana, Home of the Indianapolis Indians

Victory Field , Indianapolis, Indiana, Home of the Indianapolis Indians

Like Bush Stadium in it’s day, Victory Field is considered one of the finest minor league ballparks in the country.

Victory Field , Indianapolis, Indiana, Home of the Indianapolis Indians

Victory Field , Indianapolis, Indiana, Home of the Indianapolis Indians

Like so many abandoned ballparks before it, once Bush Stadium’s major tenant departed, the future did not look bright. For a time Bush Stadium was transformed into a midget car dirt track raceway and later a parking lot for the United States Government’s Cash for Clunkers program.

Fiew of Former Grandstand, Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

View of Former Grandstand, Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Luckily for fans of the game, the City of Indianapolis, and some concerned citizens, spearheaded an effort to save the ballpark from demolition through re-purposing.

Signs Located at Former Bush Stadium, Advertising Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Signs Located at Former Bush Stadium, Advertising Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

In 2011, the City embarked upon a project to turn the former ballpark into an apartment complex, based upon an idea originally proposed by Indiana Landmarks Chairperson John Watson, who ultimately brought the project to fruition.

Sign at Former  Bush Stadium, Advertising Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Sign at Former Bush Stadium, Advertising Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

In 2013, Stadium Lofts opened, followed by Stadium Flats, constructed by Core Redevelopment.

The Next Phase - Sign Showing Planned Development of Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

The Next Phase – Sign Showing Planned Development of Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Portions of the stadium’s exterior brick and limestone wall, and the grandstand wood roof, have been preserved, along with light stanchions and a portion of the outfield wall.

Exterior of Center Field Wall at Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Exterior of Center Field Wall at Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Exterior of Outfield Wall, Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Exterior of Outfield Wall, Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Light Stanchions, Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Light Stanchions, Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

In the former center field corner is slated to be constructed a building with office, medical, and commercial space.

Interior of Outfield Wall at Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Interior of Outfield Wall, Right Field Corner, at Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Bush Stadium Postcard

Bush Stadium Postcard (American GeoGraphics, Bloomington, Indiana)

Also preserved is the original infield area and a portion of the outfield. The base paths are delineated with a red stamped-concrete walkway.

View of Former Grandstand, from Left Field Corner, Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

View of Former Grandstand, from Left Field Corner, Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Although Bush Stadium,as it once was may now be a lost ballpark, a distinct portion of it lives on.

Scoreboard at Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Scoreboard at Former Bush Stadium, Now Stadium Flats, Indianapolis, Indiana

Kudos to the City of Indianapolis for not simply bulldozing the historic ballpark and instead coming up with a use that celebrates the stadium’s history and preserves a significant portion of the ballpark fans of the game to enjoy – or to live in (apartments range in cost from between $600 and $1,300 a month).

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Posted in Bush Stadium/Perry Stadium/Victory Field, Indiana ballparks | Comments (0)

Buffalo Base Ball Park and Offermann Stadium

January 28th, 2015

Professional baseball was played at the corner of East Ferry and Michigan Avenue in Buffalo, New York, for 72 years beginning in 1889, through the end of the 1960 season.

Postcard, Buffalo Base Ball Park, Buffalo, New York (David Ellis Publisher)

Postcard, Buffalo Base Ball Park, Buffalo, New York (David Ellis Publisher)

Originally known as new Olympic Park (old Olympic Park housed Buffalo baseball teams from 1884 to 1888 at the intersection of Richmond Avenue and Summer Street), in 1907 the ballpark was renamed Buffalo Base Ball Park. The original wooden ballpark structure was raised in 1924 and replaced with a concrete and steel structure, and renamed Bison Stadium. In 1935 the ballpark was renamed Offermann Stadium, in honor of Frank J. Offermann, the recently-deceased former owner of the Buffalo Bison.

Entrance to Offerman Stadium (photo courtesy of the Buffalo Sports Museum)

Entrance to Offermann Stadium (photo courtesy of the Buffalo Sports Museum)

The site’s primary tenant was the International League Buffalo Bison, who played there from 1889 to 1960. According to Philip Lowry’s Green Cathedrals, Major league baseball also was played at this site for one year in 1890 when the Buffalo Bison of the Players League played their home games at new Olympic Park. The Negro National League New York Black Yankees played games at Offermann Park as a neutral site in the 1940s. The Negro American League Indianapolis Clowns played some games at Offermann (neutral site) from 1951 to 1955. Professional football also was played at the site, including National Football League Buffalo franchises (the All-Americans from 1920 to 1923, the Buffalo Bisons from 1924 to 1925, and 1927 to 1929, and the Buffalo Rangers in 1926).

Bethel AME Church, intersection of East Ferry Street and Michigan Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Bethel AME Church, intersection of East Ferry Street and Michigan Avenue, Buffalo, New York

The ballpark was located directly behind what is now the Bethel AME Church (formerly Covenant Presbyterian Church), with home plate near the back of the church at the intersection of East Ferry Street and Michigan Avenue.

Intersection of Masten Avenue and Woodlawn Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Intersection of Masten Avenue and Woodlawn Avenue, Buffalo, New York

The ballpark faced Southeast towards the intersection of Masten Avenue and Woodlawn Avenue. Center field was located on the northwest corner of that intersection. After the ballpark was demolished in 1962, Woodlawn Junior High School was constructed on the site. To see an aerial photograph of Offermann Stadium from 1956 click here (fixbuffalo.blogspot.com).

Corner Stone for Woodlawn Jr. High, Buffalo, New York

Corner Stone for Woodlawn Jr. High, Buffalo, New York

The Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts now occupies the site.

The Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, Located on the Former Site of Offerman Stadium.

The Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, Located on the Former Site of Offermann Stadium.

In 2012, John Boutet of the Buffalo Sports Museum spearheaded a drive to place a historical plaque at the site. The plaque notes that Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, and Hank Aaron all played baseball at Offermann Stadium. Babe Ruth played one of his first professional games at what was then Buffalo Base Ball Park, pitching in 1914 for the International League Baltimore Orioles.

Historical Plaque at the Former Site of Offerman Stadium

Historical Plaque at the Former Site of Offermann Stadium

The former site of right field was located at the northeast corner of Woodlawn Avenue and Michigan Avenue.

Intersection of Woodlawn Avenue and Michigan Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Intersection of Woodlawn Avenue and Michigan Avenue, Buffalo, New York, Former Site of Offermann Stadium’s Right Field

The former site of left field was located at the southwest corner of Masten Avenue and Ferry Street.

Intersection of Masten Avenue and Ferry Street, Buffalo, New York

Intersection of Masten Avenue and Ferry Street, Buffalo, New York, Former Site of Offermann Stadium’s Left Field

The area behind what was once the ballpark’s home plate is now a parking lot for the school.

Former Site of Offerman Stadium Infield

Former Site of Offermann Stadium Infield

In addition to Bethel AME Church, many other structures surrounding the ballpark date to the time of Buffalo Base Ball Park and Offermann Stadium. The houses in the photograph below sat just beyond the ballpark’s center field fence.

Houses at the Intersection of Woodlawn Avenue and Masten Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Houses at the Intersection of Woodlawn Avenue and Masten Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Houses at the intersection Masten Avenue and Ferry Street sat beyond the ballpark’s left field corner.

Houses at the Intersection of Masten Avenue and Ferry Street

Houses at the Intersection of Masten Avenue and Ferry Street

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Building at 78 East Ferry Street ran parallel to third base.

Brick Building Located on Ferry Street, Near Former Site of Third Base Line

NFTA Metro Building Located on Ferry Street, Sat Parallel to Former Site of Third Base Line

In 1961, the Buffalo Bison moved ten blocks south from Offermann Stadium to Buffalo’s War Memorial Stadium.

Aerial View, Buffalo War Memorial, Buffalo, New York

Aerial View, War Memorial Stadium, Buffalo, New York

In 1988, the Bison (American Association) moved two miles southwest to Pilot Stadium, later renamed Coca-Cola Field

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

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

Coca-Cola Field includes a wonderful museum – The Buffalo Sports Museum – featuring memorabilia from and information about Offermann Stadium, as well as Buffalo’s other ballparks. It certainly is worth a visit if you haven’t been there already.

Buffalo Sports Museum Display Featuring Offerman Stadium, as well as Former Buffalo Bison Luke Easter

Buffalo Sports Museum Display Featuring Offermann Stadium, as well as Former Buffalo Bison Luke Easter

The City of Buffalo boasts a rich baseball history, much of it taking place years ago at the intersection of  East Ferry and Michigan Avenue. Although the ballpark is long gone, enough of the neighborhood that existed at the time of Buffalo Base Ball Park and Offermann Stadium remains to give anyone with an interest in the National Pastime with a sense of where the ballpark once stood. The former ballpark site is located just three miles north of Coca-Cola Field and for fans of the game it certainly is worth the trip.

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Posted in New York ballparks, Offermann Stadium | Comments (0)

Westport Stadium – Baltimore’s Last Negro League Ballpark

October 28th, 2013

Westport Stadium was Baltimore’s last Negro League ballpark. Located in Westport, a Baltimore neighborhood just south of the intersection of I-95 and I-295, the ballpark was the home field of the 1950 Negro American League Baltimore Elite Giants. Previously, the Elite Giants had played their home games primarily at Bugle Field located in East Baltimore at the intersection of Federal Street and Edison Highway. Westport Stadium is not to be confused with Westport Park, where the Negro League Baltimore Black Sox played their home games from 1917-1920 and which was located two miles north at 1701 Russell Street (now a Holiday Inn Express).

Entrance to Westport Stadium on Annapolis Road (Bob Williams photo from the Larry Jendras Jr. Collection)

After the Elite Giants departed Westport Stadium in 1951, the field was used primarily for NASCAR events, although Negro League All Star Teams still occasionally played at Westport into the mid 1950’s and the Indianapolis Clowns played yearly exhibition games there until the early 1960s. Also, in May 1953, Willie Mays (then in the Army stationed at Fort Eustis, Virginia) played in a double header at Westport Stadium for the Newport News Royals, who faced the Yokely Baltimore Stars. Laymon Yokely was a former Baltimore Black Sox and Elite Giant who barnstormed with his own semi-pro team.

For more information about Westport Stadium’s connection to NASCAR racing, see thevintageracer.com (and many thanks to Larry Jendras, Jr., for sharing his knowledge of Westport Stadium).

Westport Stadium (Bob Williams photo from the Larry Jendras Jr. Collection)

The stadium was located on a triangular shaped piece of property north of the intersection of Patapsco Avenue and Annapolis Road and just south of the Baltimore Washington Parkway (I-295).

USGS Image Of Westport Stadium (Road to Left of Home Plate is Annapolis Road)

The entrance to Westport Stadium was located on Annapolis Road, just north of what is now the Patapsco Arena. The actual ball field was located below grade level, at the base of approximately 25 to 30 rows of seats.

Patapsco Arena, Located Just South of Westport Stadium's Former Site

The entrance to Westport Stadium, like much if not all of the former ballpark, is buried under tons of landfill.

Former Location of Entrance to Westport Stadium

Westport Stadium’s NASCAR operations ceased in 1963 and the stadium eventually was filled in with sludge and debris from excavation from the Baltimore Harbor and the construction of Camden Yards.

Former Location of Left Field Corner Just Beyond Top of Earthen Berm

Westport Stadium was primarily an earthen stadium, much like Baltimore’s Municipal Stadium (also known as Baltimore Stadium, Venable Stadium, and Babe Ruth Stadium), which eventually became the site of Memorial Stadium. A portion of Westport’s earthen berm is still evident around the back side of Westport Stadium’s former site, near what was once the right field corner.

Pathway To Former Right Field Corner, Westport Stadium

The entire infield and outfield is now covered with asphalt placed on top of the landfill.

Looking North From Former Right Field Corner Toward Third Base

Railroad tracks are located behind the backside of the former ballpark, beyond what was once center field. A gravel parking lot for the ballpark was once located alongside those railroad tracks.

Looking Northwest Toward Former Location of Westport Stadium's Center Field

A two lane asphalt ramp now runs parallel to what was once the area behind left field.

Looking North Toward Westport Stadium's Former Left Field Corner

Home plate was located behind Westport Stadium’s main entrance on Annapolis Road.

Looking East From Annapolis Road Toward Former Location of Home Plate and Infield

Somewhere underneath the asphalt and landfill material is a lost ballpark, historic not only for its connection to Negro League baseball, but also for its connection to NASCAR’s early years.

The Remains of Westport Stadium Waiting To Be Excavated

The former ballpark remains buried, awaiting perhaps some future excavation or archaeological dig.  Until that time, it is still possible to gain an appreciation for Westport Stadium by simply walking around the site and seeing the earthen berm that sat just beyond the stadium’s right field corner.

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Posted in Maryland ballparks, Westport Stadium | Comments (4)