Posts Tagged ‘Jim Bunning’

Mud Hens Former Roost – Ned Skeldon Stadium/Lucas County Stadium

May 10th, 2015

Ned Skeldon Stadium is located at 2901 Key Street in Maumee, Ohio. The ballpark was the home of the International League Toledo Mud Hens from 1965 to 2001.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

The ballpark is located in the Lucas County Recreation Center and originally was part of the Lucas County Fairgrounds.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

In 1955, when the Toledo Mud Hens departed Swayne Field and moved to Wichita, Kansas, Toledo was left without a minor league team. Ned Skeldon, who served as Toledo Vice Mayor and four terms as a Lucas County Commissioner, led the drive to bring minor league baseball back to area and to convert a former racetrack (Fort Miami Park) and football field on the Lucas County Fair Grounds into a minor league facility. The racetrack turned ballpark opened in 1965 as Lucas County Stadium.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

The former International League Richmond Virginians moved to Maumee in 1965, thanks in large part to the efforts of Skeldon, and in 1988 Lucas County Stadium was renamed in his honor, just three months prior to his death.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Several Major League franchises were affiliated with the Mud Hens during the team’s years in Maumee. Primarily, the Mud Hens were an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, for 22 seasons from 1967 to 1973 and from 1987 to 2001. Other Major League teams affiliated with the Mud Hens during the team’s years at Skeldon Field include the New York Yankees from 1965 to 1966, the Philadelphia Phillies from 1974 to 1975 (with future Hall of Famer Jim Bunning as manager), the Cleveland Indians from 1976 to 1977, and the Minnesota Twins from 1978 to 1986.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium’s grandstand is uniquely configured because of its past as a racetrack for harness racing.

Front Entrance to Former Fort Miami Park, Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Front Entrance to Former Fort Miami Park, Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Fort Miami Park opened in 1917. It’s grandstand is located along the third base foul line and dates back to at least the 1920’s. In the late 1920’s, Fort Miami Park became the first harness racetrack in the country to feature night racing under electric lights.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

When the ballpark was enclosed for baseball in the mid 1960’s Lucas County added a grandstand behind home plate that wrapped around to the first base.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

The break in the grandstand between home plate and third base is somewhat reminiscent of the third base grandstand at Washington’s Griffith Stadium.

Former Fort Miami Park Grandstand at Ned Skeldon Stadium, Maumee, Ohio

Former Fort Miami Park Grandstand at Ned Skeldon Stadium, Maumee, Ohio

Concourse Underneath Former Fort Miami Park Grandstand, Now Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Concourse Underneath Former Fort Miami Park Grandstand, Now Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

In 2002, the Mud Hens moved eight miles northeast to brand new Fifth Third Field, located at 406 Washington Street in Toledo, Ohio.  In case you were wondering, the name Fifth Third Field is a reference to Fifth Third Bank and the early 1900’s merger of two Cincinnati Banks, Third National Bank and Fifth National Bank.

Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

After the Mud Hens departed Ned Skeldon Stadium, the ballpark, as part of the Lucas County Recreation Center complex, has continued to host amateur baseball, as well special events such as Fourth of July Fireworks. Private companies such as Line Drive Sportz have leased the facility and helped provide funds for its upkeep.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium hosted Minor league baseball for 37 seasons. Prior to that, as Fort Miami Park, facility hosted harness racing for 40 years. The good news is Ned Skeldon Stadium does not appear to be in danger any time soon of becoming another lost ballpark.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

If you are a baseball fan in Toledo, be sure to visit not only Ned Skeldon Stadium but also the site of Swayne Field, where the Mud Hens played from 1909 to 1955. The site is now the Swayne Field Shopping Center. Behind the shopping center is one of the oldest ballpark relics still standing in its original spot – a concrete wall that was once the left field wall at Swayne Field. The wall was built in 1909, the year Swayne Field opened, and is located just 10 miles northeast of Ned Skeldon Stadium at the intersection of Detroit Street and Council Street. Swayne Field also is located just two miles northwest of Fifth Third Field.

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

Swayne Field’s Original Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Left Field Corner From Detroit Street, Toledo, Ohio

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Once Dodgertown Now Historic Dodgertown

March 13th, 2014

Dodgertown, located at 3901 26th Street in Vero Beach, Florida, was the spring training home of the Brooklyn Dodgers commencing in 1948 (the major league squad also trained in Ciudad Trujillo, Dominican Republic in 1948).

Entrance to Dodgertown, Vero Beach, Florida, Circa 2004

Dodgertown was built on the site of the former United States Naval Air Station. During World War II, the Vero Beach Municipal Airport was chosen to be a Naval Air Station and the U.S. Government purchased approximately 1,500 acres of land adjacent to the airport. After the war, the Naval Air Station was closed and the property returned to the City of Vero Beach.

Entrance to Holman Stadium, Dodgertown, Circa 2004

Dodgertown was the result of a collaboration between Vero Beach resident and local business owner Bud Holman, and Dodgers President Branch Rickey.

Ornamental Iron Gate, Vero Beach Dodgers at Dodgertown

Dodgertown occupies a portion of the 1,500 acres purchased by the U.S. Government, including a section where the Navy had constructed barracks.

View of Playing Field, Holman Stadium, Vero Beach, Florida, Circa 2004

In 1952, Brooklyn Dodger President Walter O’Malley began construction of a 5,000 seat stadium on the site of Dodgertown. The stadium was completed in time for the 1953 spring season.

Third Base Seating, Holman Stadium, Circa 2007

The Dodgers named the stadium in honor of Bud L. Holman.

Holman Stadium Dedication Plaque Honoring Bud Holman, 1953

After the end of the 1957 season, the Brooklyn Dodgers took part in a good will tour of Japan at the invitation of Matsutaro Shoriki, known then as the “father of Japanese professional baseball.” During a game held in Hiroshima on November 1, 1956, the Dodgers dedicated a plaque “in memory of those baseball fans and others who died by atomic action on August 6, 1945. May their souls rest in peace and with God’s help and man’s resolution peace will prevail forever, amen.” The Dodgers dedicated a replica plaque installed at Holman Stadium the following spring.

Plaque Recognizing Brookly Dodgers Goodwill Trip to Japan in 1956

Holman Stadium’s design is unique in that it lacks any roof over the grandstand, with a resultant lack of shade for the fans attending games at the stadium.

First base side seating, Holman Stadium, Circa 2004

The actual stadium structure is relatively small, with press boxes located on two levels.

Press Box, Holman Stadium

With the Dodgers move west after the 1957, Holman Stadium became the spring training site of the Los Angeles Dodgers. From 1980 through 2006, the Vero Beach Dodgers of the Florida State League played their home games at Holman Stadium. In 2007 and 2008 the Vero Beach Devil Rays of the same league played at Holman Stadium.

Press Box, Holman Stadium, Circa 2004

The stadium dugouts, like the stadium grandstand, also lacked any covering, giving the appearance that the ballplayers were sitting in the first row of stands, with fans sitting just behind them.

Dodgers' Uncovered Dugout, Holman Stadium, Circa 2007

Over the years many Dodgers greats played baseball at Holman Stadium, including Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella, Don Drysdale,  Duke Snider, Sandy Koufax, Don Sutton, Ricky Henderson, Hoyt Wilhelm, Frank Robinson, Eddie Murray, Juan Marichal, Greg Maddux, Gary Carter, and Jim Bunning.

View of the Field, Holman Stadium, Circa 2007

The outfield dimensions of Holman Stadium are more generous than those of Dodger Stadium.

View of Holman Stadium from Center Field, Circa 2007

Straight away center field at Holman Stadium sits at 400 feet from home plate, as compared to 395 feet at Dodger Stadium.

View of Holman Stadium from Left Field, Circa 2007

The left and right field corners of Holman Stadium are 340 feet from home plate, while those at Dodger Stadium are 330 feet.

Seating Along the First Base Foul Line, Holman Stadium, Circa 2007

The lack of covering over the grandstand leaves the plastic seats that ring the stadium not only hot during the day, but bleached from the sun. Thus, just as the uncovered wooden stands of the old ballparks were bleached by the sun, hence the name “bleachers,” the seats at Holman Stadium carry on that faded tradition.

Sun-Bleached Seating, Holman Stadium, Circa 2007

The home bullpen was located in foul territory down the left field line.

Hometeam Bullpen, Holman Stadium, Circa 2007

The visitor’s bullpen was located near the right field corner.

Visitor's Bulpen, Holman Stadium, Circa 2007

Dodgertown had it’s share of clever baseball signage, including “Bat Boy” and “Bat Girl” signs marking the entrance to restrooms located beyond right field.

Cleverly Marked Restrooms Entrance, Holman Stadium, Circa 2004

Holman Stadium’s concourse is quite small, offering only one concession stand inside the actual structure.

Holman Stadium Concourse behind Lower Level Press Box

When the Dodgers occupied Holman Stadium, trailers offering concessions and souvenirs lined the area beyond the left field line.

Concessions Trailer, Dodgertown, Circa 2007

The scoreboard at Holman Stadium, like the rest of the ballpark, is decidedly low tech, not that that is a bad thing.

Scoreboard, Holman Stadium, Circa 2007

Once the Dodgers departed after the 2008 spring season, Vero Beach entered into an agreement with Minor League Baseball to operate the facility as an umpire school and baseball tournament destination. The Dodgers took with them, however, the name Dodgertown and the facility was renamed the “Vero Beach Sports Village.” That arrangement last only a few years and, with possibility of facility closing forever, former Dodger President Peter O’Malley and his sister Terry O’Malley Seidler, thankfully stepped in to help save the sports village from being shuttered. In 2013, with the agreement of the Dodgers and Major League Baseball, the facility was renamed “Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida.” The future of Historic Dodgertown looks bright, with the hope that the historic stadium and grounds now will be maintained for future generations to appreciate and utilize. For more information about Historic Dodgertown, including a detailed history of the former spring training site, visit historicdodgertown.com.

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