Posts Tagged ‘lost ballpark’

A Pre-Renovation Wrigley Field Walk Around

October 4th, 2014

Knowing that the Chicago Cubs are embarking on  a $575 million renovation of historic Wrigley Field, I visited the ballpark on September 19, 2014, for a day game against the Dodgers. My purpose was to photograph and video Wrigley Field as it exists prior to its renovation.

Wrigley Field Left and Center Field September 19, 2014

Wrigley Field Left and Center Field September 19, 2014

Although perhaps not quite as drastic as the Yankees 1970s renovation of their former ballpark, the Cubs plans for Wrigley Field certainly will alter forever the appearance of the ballpark, both inside and out. In the years to come, fans very well may preface discussion about their visits to that ballpark in terms of old Wrigley and new Wrigley, just as fans used to talk about old Yankee Stadium  – pre 1970s renovation – and new Yankee Stadium – post 1970s renovation (not to be confused with the team’s new, current Yankee Stadium).

Wrigley Field  From Left Field Grandstand September 19, 2014

Wrigley Field From Left Field Grandstand September 19, 2014

Say what you will about the Cub’s decision to renovate the ballpark, at least they are keeping the ballpark where it is, with the same field and historic facade. It has been my opinion that the Yankees should have taken the same approach rather than demolish their historic ballpark and build a new one across the street.

Panoramic Photo Wrigley Field September 19, 2014

Panoramic Photo Wrigley Field September 19, 2014

Wrigley Field’s renovation will take several years, conducted mostly during the off season. Work already has begun on the bleachers to the left and right of the historic scoreboard. Those bleachers will be demolished and the seating capacity extended out over Waveland Avenue and Sheffield Avenue. Other planned renovation includes demolition and replacement of the wood roof that covers the grandstand from the left field corner around to the right field corner, demolition and replacement of the lower seating bowl, including the dugouts, demolition and expansion of the concourse behind the lower seating bowl, additional concessions for the upper deck, an upper deck patio above Seminary Avenue, and the construction of shops, a parking garage, and a hotel at Waveland Avenue, Seminary Avenue, and Clark Street.

For posterity, I have shared here six videos of how those areas looked (as well as the rest of the stadium) before the renovation.

The tour starts with a ride north on the “L” red line, stopping at Addison Street.

This next video is a walk around the outside of Wrigley Field, starting at the intersection of Addison Street and Clark Street, and continuing to Waveland Avenue, Sheffield Avenue, and back to Addison Street. The Cubs renovation plans include construction of an office building, hotel, and plaza which will straddle both sides Clark Street along the left field foul line, and expanded bleacher seating that will overhang Waveland Avenue and Sheffield Avenue. With these renovations, the cityscape  of the area surrounding Wrigley Field will be forever altered.

The next video is a walk through of the concourse area behind the lower seating bowl. The Cubs plan to bring this area into the 21st century by expanding the concourse area and revamping the concessions options and restroom areas. As it currently exists, this walk through the concourse is a charming, yet cramped experience. Most patrons who frequent the ballpark undoubtedly will appreciate the upgrades. Some will miss the charm, but few will miss the cramped quarters.

The next video is a walk around the lower seating bowl. With changes to the signage along the outfield walls, the addition of a new scoreboard, and replacement of the lower bowl seats and concrete risers, this view of Wrigley Field also will be forever altered.

The next video (which clocks in at about 20 minutes) is a walk along the ramps, walkways, and concourse areas of the upper deck, starting at the up ramp near the Waveland Avenue entrance and continuing up through the backside of the ballpark to the upper levels. How much of this view changes depends on structural work planned for replacing the wooden roof and the addition and expansion of concession areas on the upper concourse.

The final video is a view of Wrigley Field from the current roof top deck. Renovation of Wrigley Field includes an expansion of this area and the addition of other roof top concessions and eating areas.

Although with its renovation Wrigley Field is will lose some of its century-old charm, hopefully the renovation of Wrigley Field will help insure the ballpark’s existence for at least another 100 years. Fans in Boston and Chicago are fortunate that their ballparks remain a baseball destination where the game is still played. Most Yankee fans I have talked to since the demolition of their historic ballpark in 2010 wish the same could be said for Yankee Stadium. It is better that Wrigley Field be a renovated ballpark, as opposed to just another lost ballpark.

And for the record, the Dodgers defeated the Cubs 14-5, with Clayton Kershaw getting the win and the Dodgers clinching a 2014 playoff spot.

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Posted in Illinois Ballparks, Wrigley Field | Comments (1)

There Once Was A Ballpark – Rochester’s Silver Stadium/Red Wing Stadium

September 24th, 2014

Silver Stadium was located at 500 Norton Street in Rochester, New York. The ballpark opened in 1929 as Red Wing Stadium, and was home to the International League Rochester Red Wings. The Red Wings were then an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, who also constructed and owned the ballpark.

Red Wing Stadium, Rochester NY (Postcard by Rochester News Co., Curteich Chicago C.T. Art Colortone)

Red Wing Stadium, Rochester NY (Postcard by Rochester News Co., Curteich Chicago C.T. Art Colortone)

The ballpark is notable also as the home field for the Negro National League New York Black Yankees in 1948, and the American Football League Rochester Braves in 1936, and the American League Rochester Tigers in 1936 and 1937.

The main entrance to the stadium was through a gate behind the first base grand stand. Next to that gate was a two story house that served as both a ticket booth and administrative offices for the team. The two-story building is somewhat reminiscent of similar buildings at League Park in Cleveland and Braves Field in Boston.

Entrance to Silver Stadium, Rochester NY (George Tinker Postcard), Now 500 Norton Street

Entrance to Silver Stadium, Rochester NY (George Tinker Postcard), at 500 Norton Street

The house at 500 Norton Street remains at the site today and now is occupied by one of the city’s four Neighborhood Service Centers.

500 Norton Street, Former Ticket and Administrative Offices, Silver Stadium, Rochester NY

500 Norton Street, Former Ticket and Administrative Offices, Silver Stadium, Rochester NY

Behind the building at 500 Norton Street is a one story structure that was added to the site after the ballpark’s demolition.

Back Side of 500 Norton Street, Former Ticket And Administrative Offices for Silver Stadium

Back Side of 500 Norton Street, Former Ticket And Administrative Offices for Silver Stadium

On the eastern side of the building at 500 Norton Street are three plaques honoring the history of the ballpark.

Historical Plaques Located at Site of Silver Stadium's Former Ticket And Administrative Offices

Historical Plaques Located at Site of Silver Stadium’s Former Ticket And Administrative Offices

The first plaque details what the land there was used for prior to construction of the ballpark, as well as significant milestones in the ballpark’s history.

Plaque Honoring History of Silver Stadium

Plaque Honoring History of the Site That Was Once Silver Stadium

In 1956, local Rochester businessman Morrie Silver helped purchase the team and it’s stadium from the St. Louis Cardinals, thus ensuring that the Red Wings would remain in Rochester should the Cardinals decide to relocate to another town. It is for this reason that Mr. Silver is credited with saving professional baseball for the City of Rochester.

Plaque Honoring Morrie Silver at Former Site of Silver Stadium, Rochester NY

Plaque Honoring Morrie Silver at Former Site of Silver Stadium, Rochester NY

In 1960 the St. Louis Cardinals departed Rochester and the Baltimore Orioles became affiliated with the International League Red Wings. In 1968 Red Wing Stadium was renamed Silver Stadium in honor of the team’s owner. After Mr. Silver’s death in 1974, his widow Anna Silver remained with the team as a Member of the Board of Directors from 1975 to 1990, and as Chairperson of Board from 1981-1990. The Silver’s daughter Naomi Silver currently serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Red Wings.

Silver Stadium Historic Plaque, Rochester NY

Silver Stadium Historic Plaque, Rochester NY

Silver Stadium’s home plate was located directly north of the two story house that served as the ballpark’s main entrance.

Aerial View of Red Wing Stadium, Rochester NY (Albert R. Stone Negative Collection, Rochester Museum & Science Center)

Aerial View of Red Wing Stadium, Rochester NY (Albert R. Stone Negative Collection, Rochester Museum & Science Center)

What appears to be the outline of Silver Stadium’s first and third base foul lines still can be seen in the Google Maps Satellite View of the former Silver Stadium Site (you will need to zoom in on the site).

A Piece of Silver Stadium Rises Like a Phoenix Near Former Location of Home Plate Grand Stand

A chunk of Silver Stadium Nestled in the Grass Near the Former Location of Home Plate Grand Stand

The ballpark faced east, with the first base foul line running diagonally toward Norton Street.

Looking Toward Former Location of First Base From Home Plate, Silver Stadium

Looking Toward Former Location of First Base From Home Plate, Silver Stadium

Silver Stadium was a single-deck ballpark with a roof covering the grandstand from first base around to third base. Uncovered bleachers extended along the foul lines toward right field with a smaller uncovered section near left field.

Silver Stadium, Rochester NY (Chrome Postcard)

Silver Stadium, Rochester NY (Chrome Postcard)

The third base foul line ran diagonally toward Bastion Street.

Looking Toward Former Location of Third Base From Home Plate, Silver Stadium

Looking Toward Former Location of Third Base From Home Plate, Silver Stadium

Silver Stadium closed after the 1996 season and the following year the ballpark was demolished. In its place the city constructed 14621 Industrial Park (the reference to 14621 is the area’s zip code).

Entrance at Intersection of Excel Drive and Norton Street to 14621 Industrial Park

Entrance at Intersection of Excel Drive and Norton Street to 14621 Industrial Park

Center field was located due east of home plate. Two single story warehouse buildings now sit just beyond what used to be the center field fence. The entire area that once encompassed center field remains an open field.

Looking Toward Former Location of Center Field From Home Plate, Silver Stadium

Looking Toward Former Location of Center Field From Home Plate, Silver Stadium

After the ballpark’s demolition, the city added a new street, Excel Drive, which runs north and south through the center of the former ballpark site.

Excel Drive, Rochester NY, Intersecting Silver Stadium Infield

Excel Drive, Rochester NY, Intersecting Silver Stadium Infield

Where once sat the third base grandstand is now a one-story industrial building at 85 Excel Drive, currently housing SPEX Precision Machine Technologies.

85 Excel Drive, SPEX Precision Machine Technologies

85 Excel Drive, SPEX Precision Machine Technologies

In what was once the right field corner and the right field bleachers sits a large warehouse at 10 Excel Drive. Just beyond the warehouse, across Norton Street, is Our Lady of Perpetual Help, whose steeple was readily visible beyond the right field bleachers back during the time of Silver Stadium.

Looking Toward Former Location of Right Field From Home Plate, Silver Stadium

Looking Toward Former Location of Right Field From Home Plate, Silver Stadium, with Our Lady of Perpetual Help’s Steeple Still Visible

The building at 10 Excel Drive currently houses Premier Sign Systems. Its parking lot sits atop the right field corner.

10 Excel Drive, Rochester NY, Premier Sign Systems

10 Excel Drive, Rochester NY, Premier Sign Systems

In what was once left field also sits a large one-story industrial building and parking lot.

Looking Toward Former Location of Left Field From Home Plate, Silver Stadium

Looking Toward Former Location of Left Field From Home Plate, Silver Stadium

That building, located at 80 Excel Drive, currently houses Macauto USA Corp.

80 Excel Drive, Rochester NY, Macauto USA Corp.

80 Excel Drive, Rochester NY, Macauto USA Corp.

Second base and beginning of the outfield is marked by Excel Drive.

Former Location of Second Base Looking Toward Home Plate, Silver Stadium

Former Location of Second Base Looking Toward Home Plate, Silver Stadium

Many of the houses that sat along the perimeter of Silver Stadium remain to this day.

Houses Fronting Norton Street Located Beyond Former Site of Silver Stadium Right Field

Houses Fronting Norton Street Located Beyond Former Site of Silver Stadium Right Field

In addition, several of the industrial buildings that sat beyond the home plate grandstand remain at the site.

Looking Toward Former Location of Home Plate Grand Stand (From Home Plate), Silver Stadium

Looking Toward Former Location of Home Plate Grand Stand (From Home Plate), Silver Stadium

The former school building at 1550 N Clinton Street, which sat behind the first base grandstand, remains as well, and now houses a ministry.

1550 N Clinton Avenue, Rochester NY, New Born Fellowship Ministries

1550 N Clinton Avenue, Rochester NY, New Born Fellowship Ministries

In 1997, the Red Wings moved three miles south of Silver Stadium to a new state-of-the-art minor league facility located at 333 N. Plymouth Avenue.

Exterior of Frontier Field, Rochester NY

Exterior of Frontier Field, Rochester NY

Frontier Field remains one of the finest ballparks in minor league baseball. When comparing Silver Stadium to Frontier Field it is easy to appreciate the team’s decision to construct a new ballpark in the heart of downtown Rochester.

Frontier Field, Home of the Rochester Red Wings

Frontier Field, Home of the Rochester Red Wings

Frontier Field pays homage to Morrie Silver with a statue outside the ballpark’s front gates.

Statue of Morrie Silver, Frontier Field, Rochester NY

Statue of Morrie Silver, Frontier Field, Rochester NY

The plaque at Mr. Silver’s feet states, in part: “The man who saved baseball for Rochester in 1957. Spearheading a stock drive, he and 8,221 others bought shares in the team in order to purchase the franchise and the stadium from the St. Louis Cardinals.”

Plaque Honoring Morrie Silver at Frontier Field

Plaque Honoring Morrie Silver at Frontier Field

Although Silver Stadium is now a lost ballpark, much of the outfield and many of the buildings surrounding the stadium site remain as they were were back when baseball was played at 500 Norton Avenue.

Frontier Field, Home of the Rochester Red Wings

Frontier Field, Home of the Rochester Red Wings

If you live in Rochester and attend Red Wing games, a pilgrimage just three miles south of Frontier Field to the former site of Silver Stadium is a must. The City of Rochester should place a marker indicating where home plate once sat. Given the information above, it should not be difficult to locate the exact spot.

Many great ballplayers and managers made the ballpark their home, including Rochester Hall of Famers and Baseball Hall of Famers Cal Ripken, Jr., Red Schoendienst, Earl Weaver, and Johnny Mize. Who knows? Given how much of the field remains unencumbered, a baseball game very well could break out on that field at any time, helping to bring back to that area a game that was played there for over 60 years.

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Posted in New York ballparks, Silver Stadium/Red Wing Stadium | Comments (18)

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)

Paterson New Jersey’s Hinchliffe Stadium – A Diamond In The Rough

September 10th, 2014

Hinchliffe Stadium is located at the intersection of Liberty Street and Maple Street in Paterson, New Jersey.

Entrance to Hinchiffe Stadium at Intersection of  Liberty and Maple Street

Entrance to Hinchliffe Stadium at Intersection of Liberty and Maple Street

The ballpark is set directly behind Paterson Public School No. 5, located at 430 Totowa Avenue, just three blocks northeast of the entrance on Maple Street to Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park.

Paterson Public School No. 5, Paterson, NJ

Side View of Paterson Public School No. 5, Paterson, NJ

Hinchliffe Stadium is named after Paterson’s former Mayor John V. Hinchliffe (although the mayor himself once claimed that the stadium was named after his Uncle John, also once the mayor of Paterson).

Exterior of Hinchliffe Stadium Looking Northwest  Along Maple Street

Exterior of Hinchliffe Stadium Looking Northwest Along Maple Street

Constructed in 1931 and 1932, the ballpark was financed by the City of Paterson at a cost of approximately $250,000.

Panoramic Photo of Exterior of Hinchliffe Stadium Facing Maple Street

Panoramic Photo of Exterior of Hinchliffe Stadium Facing Maple Street

The ballpark was designed by Fanning & Shaw, a local architectural firm, in the Art Deco style.

Exterior of Hinchliffe Stadium Near Corner of Liberty and Jasper Streets

Exterior of Hinchliffe Stadium Near Corner of Liberty and Jasper Streets

The stadium’s exterior walls are constructed of poured concrete.

Exterior of Hinchliffe Stadium Fronting Liberty Street

Exterior of Hinchliffe Stadium Fronting Liberty Street

The exterior walls include many architectural flourishes such as clay tile roofing and plaster inlay plaques created by Paterson native Gaetano Federici.

Detail of Hinchliffe Stadium Exterior Fronting Liberty Street

Detail of Hinchliffe Stadium Exterior Fronting Liberty Street

Ownership of the ballpark was transferred from the city to the Paterson School District in 1963. In 1997 the school district closed Hinchliffe Stadium, unable to pay for its continued upkeep.

Entrance Gates to Hinchliffe Stadium Near Corner of Liberty and Jasper Streets

Entrance Gates to Hinchliffe Stadium Near Corner of Liberty and Jasper Streets

In the last 20 years, the stadium’s structure has continued to deteriorate from neglect. Were this just another aging high school athletic stadium, Hinchliffe might already have been lost to time.

Hinchliffe Stadium Ticket Windows Facing Jasper Street

Hinchliffe Stadium Ticket Windows Facing Jasper Street

However, Hinchliffe’s rich history is what may just save it from demolition and ultimately what might ensure its restoration for future generations to appreciate.

Detail of Ticket Window Facing Jasper Street, Hinchliffe Stadium

Detail of Ticket Window Facing Jasper Street, Hinchliffe Stadium

Most notably, Hinchliffe is recognized as one of the last surviving ballparks where a significant number of Negro League games were played.

Inside Ticket Booth, Hinchliffe Stadium

Inside Ticket Booth, Hinchliffe Stadium

Starting in 1933, the Negro National League New York Black Yankees called Hinchliffe their home, continuing for 12 seasons until they departed at the end of 1945 (the Black Yankees played their home games at Triborough Stadium in 1937). Many Negro League greats played at Hinchliffe, including one 1934 contest between the Black Yankees and the Pittsburgh Crawfords featuring future Hall of Famers James “Cool Papa” Bell, Oscar Charleston, Josh Gibson, and Judy Johnson. Other Hall of Famers who played at Hinchliffe Stadium include Martín Dihigo, Monte Irwin, Buck Leonard, and Satchel Paige (note: it is unclear whether Paige actually played in a game at Hinchliffe). Hinchliffe also was home to the Negro National League New York Cubans in the mid 1930s.

Detail of Hinchliffe Stadium Ticket Booth From Inside Stadium

Detail of Hinchliffe Stadium Ticket Booth

Future Hall of Famer and Paterson native Larry Doby grew up playing at Hinchliffe Stadium, first as a star at Eastside High School playing both football and baseball, and later as a member of the Negro National League Newark Eagles, beginning in 1942.

Entrance of Hinchliffe Stadium Near Corner of Liberty and Jasper Streets

Entrance of Hinchliffe Stadium (Interior) Near Corner of Liberty and Jasper Streets

In addition to Negro League baseball, Hinchliffe stadium hosted professional soccer (the New Jersey Stallions and New Jersey Eagles) and football (Paterson Giants, the Silk City Bears, the Paterson Panthers and the Paterson Nighthawks), as well as boxing and auto racing. Notable athletes who played at Hinchliffe include future football Hall of Famers Vince Lombardi playing for the Brooklyn Eagles in a game against the Panthers, Earl Clark playing for the Portsmouth Spartans in a game against the Giants, and Bill Dudley playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game against the Panthers. For more information about Hinchliffe’s rich history, see Hinchliffe’s Stadium’s application filed with National Trust For Historic Preservation Application which provided much of the history outlined above and Friends of Hinchliffe Stadium.

Hinchliffe Stadium Grandstand With Paterson Public School No. 5 in Background

Hinchliffe Stadium Grandstand With Paterson Public School No. 5 in Background

Thankfully, many historians and fans of the game have stepped in to help protect Hinchliffe including Brian LoPinto, founder of Friends of Hinchliffe Stadium.

Hinchliffe Stadium, View of First Base Grandstand From Home Plate Grandstand

Hinchliffe Stadium, View of First Base Grandstand From Home Plate Grandstand

In 2004, Hinchliffe Stadium was added to the National Register of Historic Places and the New Jersey Register of Historic Places.

Scoreboard, Hinchliffe Stadium

Scoreboard, Hinchliffe Stadium

In 2013 it was designated a National Historic Landmark. On July 22, 2014, the Hinchliffe Stadium Heritage Act sponsored by Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr., passed the U.S. House of Representatives. That bill would expand Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park – which sits just south of the ballpark – to include Hinchliffe Stadium.

Hinchliffe Stadium Looking Toward Former Center Field With Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park in Background

Hinchliffe Stadium Looking Toward Former Center Field With Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park in Background

Even with all that has been done to help ensure Hinchliffe Stadium’s future, the current condition of the ballpark, and the passage of time, continue to  work against it.

Third Base Grandstand, Hinchliffe Stadium

Third Base Grandstand, Hinchliffe Stadium

The poured concrete structure that helped sustain the ballpark since it’s construction in the early 1930’s is crumbling, which will require extensive repair or replacement of the actual concrete.

Hinchliffe Stadium Grandstand Staircase

Hinchliffe Stadium Grandstand Staircase

An assessment of the stadium conducted by the City of Paterson concluded that although much of the concrete is salvageable, the cost of restoration and modernization could be as high as $44 million. The City of Greensboro, North Carolina, is facing a similar challenge as it grapples with how best to restore historic War Memorial Stadium which, like Hinchliffe, is constructed mainly of poured concrete.

Hinchliffe Stadium Bathroom

Hinchliffe Stadium Bathroom

Although the continued existence of Hinchliffe Stadium is not yet a certainty, the good news on many fronts suggests that the ballpark might just stand the test of time.

Houses Fronting Totowa Avenue, Paterson, NJ

Houses Fronting Totowa Avenue Near Hinchliffe Stadium, Paterson, NJ

Restoration of the ballpark would be good news not only for the citizens of Paterson, New Jersey, but for baseball fans and historians far and wide. However, to paraphrase Nelson Wilbury, “it’s gonna take a whole lot of spending money to do it right.” If you are interested in helping preserve Hinchliffe Stadium, contact Friends of Hinchliffe Stadium. And while you are at it, be sure to thank them as well.

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Posted in Hinchliffe Stadium, New Jersey ballparks | Comments (2)

The Stars No Longer Shine At Huntsville’s Joe W. Davis Stadium

August 30th, 2014

Joe W. Davis Municipal Stadium is located at 3125 Leeman Ferry Road in Huntsville, Alabama.

Joe W. Davis Stadium Marquee at Memorial Parkway and Don Mincher Drive

The ballpark is named after a former Mayor of Huntsville who spearheaded the effort to bring professional baseball to Huntsville.

Entrance to Joe W. Davis Stadium, Huntsville, Alabama

Constructed in 1985, it has been the home of the Southern League Huntsville Stars for the team’s entire existence.

Entrance to Joe W. Davis Stadium Circa 2003

The team’s name and logo is a nod to the city’s connection to space exploration. Both NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the United States Army Aviation and Missile Command at the Redstone Arsenal are located in the Huntsville area.

View of Joe W. Davis Stadium From Behind Outfield Wall

The ballpark was designed and built prior to the rebirth movement that swept professional baseball parks with the introduction of Camden Yards in 1992.

View of Joe W. Davis Field From Behind Outfield Wall Circa 2003

Thus, both the exterior and interior of Joe Davis Stadium are plain and functional, with little in the way of architectural flourishes.

Turnstiles at Front Entrance to Joe W. Davis

Because the ballpark lacks any real je ne sais quoi, it truly harkens back to an earlier era when only the game on the field mattered.

Beer Stand and Beer Man, Joe W. Davis Stadium

The stadium’s dated structure also helps explain why the Stars wanted to relocate to a new facility.

Joe W. Davis Stadium Concourse Behind Third Base

Given the ballpark’s location in Rocket City, there certainly was ample inspiration for a space-themed baseball ballpark. Unfortunately, other than the Stars logo and Jet’s Pizza, there is very little in the way of space-themed concourse or ballpark offerings.

Jet’s Pizza – Gotta Love the Pun

When the stadium opened in 1985, the Stars were an affiliate of the Oakland Athletics.

Day’s Lineup Posted on Stadium Concourse

In 1999, their affiliation switched to the Milwaukee Brewers, who have remained with the Stars ever since.

Entrance to First Base Seating Bowl, Joe W. Davis Stadium

The ballpark faces northeast, providing an inspiring view of Monte Sano State Park.

The View Behind Home Plate, Joe W. Davis Stadium, Huntsville, Alabama
Joe W. Davis Stadium with Monte Sano State Park Visible Beyond Outfield

Although intended primarily for baseball, the City of Huntsville designed Joe Davis stadium as a multi-purpose venue.

Joe W. Davis Left Field Seating Bowl

This accounts for the exceptionally long grandstand that runs along the third base foul line and wraps around to left field, while the first base grandstand stops opposite first base.

View of Joe W. Davis from Behind Outfield Fence

The ballpark can hold over 10,000 spectators, a size much larger than necessary for those who come to watch the Stars come out.

Entrance to Section 201 Joe W. Davis Stadium

Built to include 15 sky suites long before such luxury boxes were the norm for minor league baseball, even that portion of the structure looks very much outdated.

Who On Earth Designed this Entrance to the Joe W. Davis Luxury Boxes?

The majority of the seats are uncovered, with shade provided only for those sitting in the grandstand running along first base.

Huntsville Stars Warm Up Pregame

Perhaps it is Joe Davis Stadium’s dated feel that makes me lament the departure of the Stars.

Wahoos Manager Delino DeShields and Stars Manager Carlos Subero Exchange Lineup Cards

It remains a good place to watch baseball, with plenty of room to spread out.

Huntsville Stars take on the Pensacola Blue Wahoos

For several years now the Stars have been looking for another venue in which to shine.

Scoreboard, Joe W. Davis Stadium, Huntsville

Perhaps knowing that the end was near, the City did not invest much in the stadium in the way of extras. Even the stadium scoreboard is perfunctory at best.

Joe W. Davis Entrance to Team Store

In January 2014, the Stars announced they were moving to a brand new ballpark being constructed in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Slim Pickings in the Huntsville Team Store’s Final Season

Alas, 2014 was to be the last season of the Stars in Huntsville. However, construction shortfalls at the Biloxi site have delayed the team’s move to that ballpark  for the start of the 2015 season.

Huntsville’s Parting Banner, Joe W. Davis Stadium

It is unclear where the team will play to start the season, but apparently it will not be in Huntsville.

Huntsville Stars Logo

There are no current plans to demolish Joe Davis Stadium. Presumably the City could still use the facility for high school football games and the occasional monster truck rally. There is also talk of perhaps a new Southern League franchise locating to Huntsville in the next few years, should the city agree to construct a new, downtown ballpark. What does seem certain, however, is that come September 1, 2014, the days of professional baseball at Joe Davis Stadium will come to an end. And after that, it will be just a matter of time before the stadium becomes yet another lost ballpark.

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The Polo Grounds, Coogan’s Bluff, and the Brush Memorial Stairway

January 9th, 2013

The Polo Grounds was located in Harlem, New York, at 157th Street and 8th Avenue. Various incarnations of ballparks at that location were home to three different major league teams: the National League New York Giants from 1891 to 1957, the New York Yankees from 1913 to 1922, and the New York Mets in 1962 and 1963, as well as a team from the Players’ League in 1890 also known as the Giants) .   Prior to 1890, a sports venue known as the Polo Grounds was located in Manhattan near Central Park, and a second venue, also known as the Polo Grounds, was located at 155th Street and 8th Avenue on a plot adjacent to the Polo Grounds at 157th Street.

Postcard of the Polo Grounds Postcard Showing Newly Rebuilt Ballpark After Fire Destroyed the Original Ballpark (Success Postal Card Co., photo New York Times)

The original wooden ballpark at 157th Street was destroyed by fire in 1911 and a new concrete and steel ballpark was constructed on the site.

Postcard of the Polo Grounds (H. Pinkelstein & Sons, American Art Publishing)

The new Polo Grounds were the third concrete and steel ballpark in the country.

Polo Ground’s Concrete and Steel Construction (Library of Congress  Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

Coogan’s Bluff  (not to be confused with the movie of the same name starring Clint Eastwood) was located northwest of the Polo Grounds just beyond home plate at 155th Street and Edgecombe Avenue. The playing field of the Polo Grounds sat in Coogan’s Hollow

New York City Park Sign Advertising Coogan’s Bluff

Rock outcroppings just northwest of the ballpark at Harlem River Driveway (which dissects Coogan’s Bluff) provided an excellent vantage point for free viewing of at least portions of the ball field.

View of Polo Grounds From Coogan’s Bluff at Harlem River Driveway (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

Those rock outcroppings remain to this day along Harlem River Driveway, providing an excellent view now of Polo Grounds Towers.

Looking Southeast Toward Polo Grounds Tower No. 4 from Coogan’s Bluff and Harlem River Driveway

In 1913 a stairway at 157th Street and Edgecomb Avenue in Harlem was constructed to allow subway riders who departed the 155th Street station more direct access to the ballpark at Harlem River Driveway. That stairway remains, a lasting baseball relic of the Polo Grounds at its former site.

Stairway at 157th Street and Edgecomb Avenue.

The stairs, whose inscription states  “The John T. Brush Stairway Presented by the New York Giants,” was dedicated in 1913 to the former Giants’ owner.

“The John T. Brush Stairway Presented by the New York Giants”

The Brush Memorial Stairway emptied onto the sidewalk at Harlem River Driveway, allowing fans direct access into the Polo Grounds from Harlem River Driveway.

Polo Grounds and the Harlem River Driveway (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

A second stairway that would have taken fans north of the ballpark at ground level still exists alongside Harlem River Driveway.

Looking Northeast Down Harlem River Driveway and Stairway to Former Site of Polo Grounds

Old Yankee Stadium was located southeast of the Polo Grounds, just across the Harlem River.

Aerial View of Yankee Stadium and Polo Grounds (photo from stuffnobodycaresabout.com)

Aerial View of Old Yankee Stadium and the Polo Ground Towers

Aerial View of Old Yankee Stadium and the Polo Ground Towers

In 1923, Yankee Stadium was visible from inside the Polo Grounds, across the Harlem River.

Polo Grounds, Opening Day 1923, with Yankee Stadium Visible Beyond Center Field (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

Prior to its demise in 2009, Old Yankee Stadium was still visible from Coogan’s Bluff at Harlem River Driveway looking southeast past the Polo Grounds Towers.

View of Old Yankee Stadium Looking Beyond Former Site of Polo Grounds, Circa 2001

The Polo Grounds Towers, which were built on the ballpark’s former site and completed in 1968, consist of four high rise apartments with a total of over 1600 units.

Entrance to Polo Grounds Towers on 8th Avenue

A plaque marking the approximate location of home plate is located on a column of Tower No. 4.

Plaque Honoring Polo Grounds and Former Location of Home Plate

The apartment building located at 155 Edgecombe Avenue is visible from the former location of home plate looking back toward Coogan’s Bluff.

Plaque Marking Location of Home Pate, with Apartment Building at 555 Edgecombe Avenue in Background

A sliver of that same apartment building is visible in top right corner of the postcard below.

Postcard of the Polo Grounds Showing Buildings Lining Edgecombe Avenue on Coogan’s Bluff (Alfred Mainzer, NY, NY, Curteich-Chicago)

The New York Giants abandoned the Polo Grounds in 1957, moving to San Francisco and Seal Stadium in 1958 and then Candlestick Park in 1960. Subsequent to the Mets move to Shea Stadium in 1964, the Polo Grounds was demolished.

Polo Grounds During the 1912 World Series (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

Although nothing remains at the actual ballpark site, the Brush Memorial Stairway does provide a link to the past. The stairway has sat in obscurity and disrepair for years, however an effort is now underway to restore the stairway and, with it, a piece of New York’s baseball past and baseball glory. See MLB.com article about restoration of John T. Brush Stairway [Editor’s Note: The Brush Memorial Stairway has been restored and is open for use. Woods surrounding the stairway have been turned into a small park with lighting, making the stairway quite accessible. A sign has been placed on Edgecombe Avenue at the entrance to the stairway.]

Polo Grounds During the 1913 World Series (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

 

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