Posts Tagged ‘New York Yankees’

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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Dutch Damaschke Field In Oneonta NY

August 6th, 2015

Damaschke Field is located at 15 James Georgeson Avenue in Oneonta, New York, just 24 miles south of Cooperstown, New York.

Entrance to Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Entrance to Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

The ball field dates back to 1905 when it was known as Elm Park. Located in Neahwa Park, for a time the ball field also was known as Neahwa Park.

Aerial of Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York (Postcard McGrew Color Graphics, Kansas City MO, photo copyright 1987 Bruce Endries)

Aerial of Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York (Postcard McGrew Color Graphics, Kansas City MO, photo copyright 1987 Bruce Endries)

In 1968, the ballpark was renamed Dutch Damaschke Field in honor of Earnest C. “Dutch” Damaschke, the long-time Commissioner of Recreation for the City of Oneonta.

Ticket Booth, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Ticket Booth, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

The stadium structure has changed over the years, although the concrete and steel grandstand dates back to 1939. Like many other ballparks of that era, it was constructed with funds from the Works Projects Administration. Funds also were donated by William F. Eggleston, owner of the Oneonta Grocery Company.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Plaque Honoring William F. Eggleston, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

in 2007, the city renovated the ballpark, adding new bleacher seating down the first and third base lines, as well as new player clubhouses and concession stands.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

The view from the grandstand down the first and third base lines is an interesting juxtaposition of the old and the new, with the 1930s WPA grandstand seating along side the modern bleacher seating behind first and third base.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

In 2008, with the addition of a new clubhouse for the players, the former locker room located under the grandstand was turned into storage space.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Locker Room Turned Storage Room, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

A Oneonta Yankees Time Capsule, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

During the first two decades of its existence, the ballpark hosted mostly amateur, college, and semi professional teams. The Brooklyn Royal Giants played an exhibition game at Neahwa Park on August 19, 1920,  defeating the Oneonta Cubs 13-3. Two months later, on October 16, 1920, the Babe Ruth All Stars played an exhibition game against the local Endicott-Johnson team. Babe Ruth hit a home run over the right field fence during the eighth inning of the barnstorming game. In the fifth inning of that game, Ruth reportedly fractured a small bone in his left wrist while attempting  slide into first base, although the following day in Jersey City he hit another of his exhibition home runs, suggesting that his wrist was fine.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

The first professional team to call the ballpark home was the Oneonta Indians, who played in the New York-Pennsylvania League for one season in 1924.

Grandstand Roof, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Grandstand Roof, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Professional baseball returned to Oneonta in 1940 with the arrival from Ottawa of the Canadian-American Baseball League (Can-Am) Oneonta Indians. In 1941 the Indians became an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. Baseball in Oneonta was suspended after the 1942 season, but the team returned in 1946 following the end of World War II as the Oneonta Red Sox. The Red Sox played in Oneonta through the 1951 season, and professional baseball once again was on hiatus in Oneonta.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York, Situated in the Foothills of the Catskill Mountains.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York, Situated in the Foothills of the Catskill Mountains.

Professional baseball returned in 1966, with the arrival of the New York-Penn League Oneonta Red Sox. In 1967, Oneonta became a farm team of the New York Yankees, thus beginning the city’s longest affiliation with a single major league team. Over the years, MLB players such as Don Mattingly, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte, Al Leiter, Jorge Posada, Curtis Granderson, and Willie McGee began their careers at Damaschke field.

Wall of Fame, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Wall of Fame, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Future National Football Hall of Famer John Elway also began his professional baseball career at Damaschke Field in 1981. The following year he was drafted by the Denver Broncos. In 1985, Buck Showalter started his professional managerial career as skipper of the Oneonta Yankees.

Former Locker Room, Painted Yankee Blue Located Under Grandstand, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Former Locker Room, Painted Yankee Blue, Located Under Grandstand, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

The Oneonta Yankees departed Damaschke Field after the 1998 season. The Oneonta Tigers arrived the following season, and played at Damaschke Field through the 2009 season.

Oneonta Tigers Sign, In Storage in Former Players Lockerroom Underneath Grandstand at Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Oneonta Tigers Sign, In Storage in Former Players Lockerroom Underneath Grandstand at Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Although professional baseball no longer is played at Damaschke Field, it still is possible to take in a baseball game at the ballpark during the summer. Damaschke Field currently is the home of the New York Collegiate Baseball League Oneonta Outlaws, who play during the months of June and July. The city of Oneonta still uses the ballpark for civic events such as graduations, holiday celebrations, and concerts.

Grandstand Seating, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Grandstand Seating, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

The ballpark most certainly is worth a visit. Given its proximity to Cooperstown, there should be a steady stream of visitors each summer, looking for a wonderful baseball experience in what is known as one of the coziest ballparks in the country.

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Henninger Field And 120 Years of Baseball in Chambersburg PA

August 3rd, 2015

Henninger Field is located at the intersection of Vine Street and Riddle Alley in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

Herringer Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The ball field dates back to 1895 and originally was known as Wolf Park, part of the Wolf Lake Park development named after Chambersburg businessman Augustus Wolf.

Herringer Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Located at the Intersection of Vine and Poplar Street

Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Located at the Intersection of Vine and Poplar Street

In 1895, Clay Henninger, a Chambersburg businessman and local baseball promoter, founded the Chambersburg Maroons. The team began play at Wolf Park that same season.

Herringer Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Herringer Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Originally an amateur team, over the years the Maroons played both semi-professional and a minor league baseball. In 1896, the Maroons joined the independent Cumberland Valley League and won the the championship that season. The following year, the Maroons joined the Industrial League.

The 1914 Chambersburg Maroons With Manager Clay Henninger (wearing suit) (photograph from display at Herringer Field, Franklin County Historical Society)

The 1914 Chambersburg Maroons With Manager Clay Henninger (wearing suit) (photograph from display at Herringer Field, Franklin County Historical Society)

In 1915, the Maroons joined the Class D Blue Ridge League, where they played through the 1917 season. With baseball operations suspended during World War I, the Maroons returned to Chambersburg and the Blue Ridge League in 1920, after the end of the war. That same year the ballpark was renamed Henninger Field in honor of Clay Henninger.

Scoreboard, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Scoreboard, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

In 1929 and 1930 the team was owned by the New York Yankees and its name was changed to the Chambersburg Young Yanks. The Young Yanks were the New York Yankees first farm team.

Backstop, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Backstop, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

May 31, 1929, the World Champion New York Yankees played an exhibition game at Henninger Field. The Yankees arrived in Chambersburg earlier in the day and, after a brief rest at the Hotel Washington, traveled to Henninger Field for a 3:30 game against the Chambersburg Young Yanks.

Hotel Washington, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania (Postcard Curt Teich & Co., Published by Louis Kaufmann & Sons)

Hotel Washington, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania (Postcard Curt Teich & Co., Published by Louis Kaufmann & Sons)

Babe Ruth played first base and hit a home run in the fifth inning over the center field fence, with Lou Gehrig and one other player aboard.

Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The Yankees won the exhibition 8-1. After the game, Ruth reportedly visited a Waters Street speakeasy while Gehrig signed autographs at a local drug store.

First Base, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

First Base, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

First Base Bleachers, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

First Base Bleachers, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Reportedly the Negro American League Pittsburgh Crawfords played some exhibition games at Henninger Field as well.

Third Base Foul Line, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Third Base Foul Line, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Several Major League players have called Henninger Field home, including third baseman Mike Mowery, a 15 year veteran who played for the Cincinnati Reds, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Third Base, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Third Base, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Presumably future Hall of Famer Nellie Fox, who was born and raised just one town over from Chambersburg in St. Thomas, Pennsylvania, played baseball at Henninger Field, perhaps the year he played in the Chambersburg Twilight League.

First Base Dugout, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

First Base Dugout, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The bowling alley Fox once owned, which still bears his name, is located in Chambersburg, just four and a half miles south of Henninger Field on Molly Pitcher Highway.

Nelly Fox Bowl in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Nelly Fox Bowl in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The Chambersburg Maroons ceased playing at Henninger Field after the 2010 season. The Chambersburg High School Trojans football, baseball, and soccer teams also played their games at Henninger Field, although in the last decade the school has played elsewhere.

A Left Field Backdrop of Warehouses, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

A Left Field Backdrop of Warehouses, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Henninger Field is a little-known, historic ballpark that represents a part of baseball’s bygone era of town baseball. The Borough of Chambersburg has owned and operated the property since the early 1930s, once professional baseball departed the borough. Chambersburg is rightly proud of its historic ballpark and should be commended for maintaining the field for the last 80-plus years.

Historical Display at Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Historical Display at Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The ballpark is just two miles west of I-81 at the interchange for Stoufferstown, Pennsylvania, should you find yourself traveling that highway. Take a moment to soak in the history of this modest ballpark. And while you are at it, stand on the same spot where Babe Ruth once hit one of his famous exhibition game home runs.

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Honolulu Stadium – Hawaii’s Sheltered Harbor Of Professional Baseball

March 17th, 2015

Honolulu Stadium was located at the southwest corner of King Street and Isenberg Street in Honolulu, Hawaii. The ballpark was constructed in 1925 by local businessman J. Ashman Beaven, who served as general manager of the stadium from 1925 until 1939.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of King Street and Isenberg Street

Honolulu Stadium was caddy-corner to Moiliili Field, which was located at the northeast corner of King and Isenberg Streets. Moliili Field was one of the primary locations for amateur and semi-pro baseball in Honolulu prior to the construction of Honolulu Stadium.

Moiliili Field, Southwest Corner of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

Moiliili Field, Northeast Corner of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

In 1925, Beaven formed the Hawaii Baseball League, and a new semi-pro baseball league, and in 1927 the league began playing games at Honolulu Stadium.

Honolulu Stadium Aerial Photograph, Honolulu, Hawaii (1963 Star-Bulletin Photo By Warren Roll)

Honolulu Stadium Aerial Photograph, Honolulu, Hawaii (1963 Star-Bulletin Photo By Warren Roll)

In addition to amateur and semi-pro baseball, Honolulu Stadium quickly became the main venue in Honolulu for outdoor sport activities such as football and boxing. In the 1930s, Beaven brought baseball teams from other countries such as Japan and Korea to play at Honolulu Stadium. In 1933, Babe Ruth played an exhibition game at the stadium. Honolulu Stadium also hosted college football’s Poi Bowl from 1936 to 1939 and and Pineapple Bowl from 19389 to 1941 and 1947 to 1952. In 1957, Elvis Presley brought the precursor to his Aloha From Hawaii Concert to Honolulu Stadium.

Babe Ruth at Honolulu Stadium with Promoter Herb Hunter and Hawaii Territorial Governor Lawrence Judd in 1933 (Photo by Fritz Kraft)

Babe Ruth at Honolulu Stadium with Promoter Herb Hunter and Hawaii Territorial Governor Lawrence Judd in 1933 (Photo by Fritz Kraft)

During World War II, many major league stars played at the ballpark as part of their military teams, and in 1944, the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants played an exhibition game at the stadium. Major League teams and stars continued to play exhibition games at Honolulu Stadium after World War II, including the New York Giants in 1953, the Eddie Lopat All-Stars in 1954, the New York Yankees in 1955, and the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956. In addition to Babe Ruth, other future Hall of Famers who appeared at Honolulu Stadium include Lou Gehrig, Jimmy Foxx, Joe DiMaggio, Pee Wee Reese, Eddie Mathews, Roy Campanella, Casey Stengel, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Jackie Robinson.

Plaque Honoring Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

Plaque Honoring Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

In 1961, Honolulu Stadium became the home field of the Pacific Coast League Hawaii Islanders. Over the course of their history in Hawaii, the Islanders were affiliated with the Kansas City Athletics in 1961, the Los Angeles Angels from 1962 to 1964, the Washington Senators from 1965 to 1967, the Chicago White Sox in 1968, the California Angels from 1969 to 1970, the San Diego Padres from 1971 to 1982.The Islanders departed Honolulu Stadium after the 1975 season.

Detail of Plaque Honoring Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

Detail of Plaque Honoring Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

The ballpark was demolished in 1976. A plaque at the former site states: “Old Stadium Park. A lasting memorial to the many great athletes who have played here. This park was the site of the Honolulu Stadium (1926 – 1976), affectionately known as “The Termite Palace” in its later years. The 26,000 seat stadium was often filled to capacity for activities that included: barefoot football, pro and semi-pro baseball, high school athletic events, stock car races, UH football, polo, carnivals, boxing, Boy Scout Makahiki, aquacades, concerts, and track and field meets.”

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Left Field Corner Toward Home Plate, Parallel King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Left Field Corner Toward Home Plate, Paralleling King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

The plaque honoring Honolulu Stadium is located near what was once the ballpark’s left field corner, as well as its main box office, at the intersection of King and Isenberg Streets. Center field was once located along Isenberg Street, south of Citron Street.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Center Corner Toward Left Field Corner, Parallelling Isenberg Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Center Corner Toward Left Field Corner, Paralleling Isenberg Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

The main grandstand and home plate were located on King Street, just west of Makahiki Way.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Home Plate Toward Left Field Corner, Parallelling King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Home Plate Toward Left Field Corner, Paralleling King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

A row of buildings paralleling Makahiki Way sat between the street and the ballpark. Many of those buildings remain at the site today.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Back of Buildings Located Along Makahiki Way, Next to Former First Base and Right Field Foul Line, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Back of Buildings Located Along Makahiki Way, Next to Former First Base and Right Field Foul Line, Honolulu, Hawaii

An outer wall on the stadium property that separated those buildings from the stadium grounds also remains at the site.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Outer Stadium Wall Behind What would Have Been FIrst Base Grandstand, Still Standing on Site

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Outer Stadium Wall Behind What would Have Been First Base Grandstand, Still Standing on Site

Old Stadium Park is 14 acres of parkland and mature shade trees located in urban Honolulu.

Former Location of Honolulu Stadium Infield Looking Toward Home Plate

Former Location of Honolulu Stadium Infield Looking Toward Home Plate

A playground in the park is located in what was once left field.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Playground Located in What Was Once Left Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Playground Located in What Was Once Left Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

A concrete patio and picnic area is located in what was once center field.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Picnic Area  Located in What Was Once Center Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Picnic Area Located in What Was Once Center Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

A covered picnic area is located in what was once right field.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Covered Picnic Area, Located in What Was Once Right Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Covered Picnic Area, Located in What Was Once Right Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

There are many buildings that surround the ballpark site that date back to the time of Honolulu Stadium, including the distinctive Bowl-O-Drome which opened in the 1950s and currently sits vacant.

Bowl-O-Drome, Located Just Beyond What Was Once Center Field, Honolulu Stadium, Hawaii

Bowl-O-Drome, Located Just Beyond What Was Once Center Field, Honolulu Stadium, Hawaii

Many of the buildings along King Street also date back to the time of Honolulu Stadium.

Builidngs Located on King Street Across From Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Hawaii

Builidngs Located on King Street Across From Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Hawaii

In 1976 the Pacific Coast Hawaii Islanders moved to brand new Aloha Stadium, where they played up through the 1987. The Islanders also played some of their home games in 1986 and 1987 at the University of Hawaii’s Les Murakami Stadium. The 1987 season was the last year of professional baseball in Hawaii.

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii, Home of the Hawaii Islanders from 1976 to 1987

It seems a shame that professional baseball no longer is played in Hawaii, given the year round picture perfect weather offered there. If you find yourself on vacation, and in need of a baseball fix, you can take a trip to Old Stadium Park and the former site of Honolulu Stadium. If the timing is right, you might also be able to catch a college game at the University of Hawaii’s Rainbow Stadium (currently Les Murakami Stadium). For more information about Honolulu Stadium, see Arthur Suehiro’s extremely informative book Honolulu Stadium: Where Hawaii Played which provided much of the historical information contained herein.

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Ft. Lauderdale Stadium – The Ghost of Spring Trainings Past

February 12th, 2015

Fort Lauderdale Stadium is located at 1401 NW 55th Street, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, just east of the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport and north of Lockhart Stadium. Although the City of Fort Lauderdale operates the ballpark, the land it is on is part of the 64 acres that make up the airport.

Exterior, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Exterior, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

For almost 50 seasons, major league baseball teams trained at this palm tree lined outpost located just blocks from interstate 95. From 1962 until 1995, Fort Lauderdale Stadium was the spring training home of the New York Yankees. The Yankees previously had played at their spring training games in St. Petersburg, Florida at Al Lang Field and Crescent Lake Park/Huggins-Stengel Field.

N.Y. Yankees at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida - Postcard (M14, 13108)

N.Y. Yankees at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida – Postcard (M14, 13108)

In 1996 the Baltimore Orioles moved their spring training home to Fort Lauderdale Stadium, departing St. Petersburg’s Al Lang Field, where they had trained from 1992 to 1995. From 1959 to 1990 the Orioles trained at Miami Stadium. In 1991 they trained at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Florida.

Palm Trees, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Palm Trees, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

In addition to spring training games, Fort Lauderdale Stadium also hosted minor league baseball.  The Florida State League Fort Lauderdale Yankees played at the stadium from 1962 through 1992, and the Fort Lauderdale Red Sox played at the stadium in 1993.

Exit Gates, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Turnstiles and Entrance Gates for the Reserved Grandstand, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

During the time in which Baltimore trained at Fort Lauderdale Stadium, the Orioles did not field any minor league team at the stadium.

Ticket Office, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Ticket Office, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Through the years, Fort Lauderdale Stadium remained relatively unchanged from the time when the Yankees began play there in the early 1960s.

Food Court, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Food Court, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The front entrance, with its quaint marquee sign welcomed fans to baseball spring training 1960s style.

Front Entrance, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Front Entrance, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The ballpark had separate entrances for the reserved seat grandstand and the general admission bleacher sections.

Grandstand, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Grandstand, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The grandstand was had only a single deck, built long before the advent of sky boxes and luxury suites. The press box sat atop the grandstand.

Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Even after the Orioles moved into Fort Lauderdale Stadium the lower seating bowl sported plastic Yankee-blue seats.

Yankee Blue Seats, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Yankee Blue Seats, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The wooden seats in the grandstand however were repainted Camden-Yards green.

Oriole Park Green Seats, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Oriole Park Green Seats, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

There was no seating area beyond left field, nor any picnic areas or grass berm seating, something unheard of in modern day spring training venues.

Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

A section of bleachers with seat backs sat beyond right field. During Orioles spring training games this was a good place to sit if you wanted to be left alone. Few fans sat in the section because of its location, cut off from the rest of the ballpark amenities.

The View from Box 20, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The View from Box 20, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Out beyond left field were two practice fields. Because of limited space, the Orioles minor league teams trained some two hundred miles away at the Buck O’Neil Baseball Complex at Twin Lakes Park in Sarasota, Florida.

Scoreboard, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Scoreboard, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

A fenced off walkway between the bleachers and the grandstand provided players access the club house to the field.

Visiting Team Walkway, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Visiting Team Walkway, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The grandstand seats – even those closest to the field – were considerably high from the ground than today’s spring training venues, making it difficult for fans to interact with the players.

Oriole Right Fielder Nick Markakis Signing Autographs, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Oriole Right Fielder Nick Markakis Signing Autographs, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Autographs seekers congregated near the player walkway between grandstand and the bleachers.

Oriole WS MVP Rick Dempsey Signing Autographs, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Oriole WS MVP Rick Dempsey Signing Autographs, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The long dugouts on either side of the grandstand also acted as a barrier for fan/player interaction.

Fans Waiting for a Souvenir, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Fans Hoping for a Souvenir, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

At least during the Orioles’ years at the stadium, the home team dugout was on the right side of the ballpark.

Baltimore Orioles Pre-Game Stretch, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Baltimore Orioles Pre-Game Stretch, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The bullpens for both teams were on the field, with pitchers sitting on open air benches next to the dugout.

Home Team Bullpen, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Home Team Bullpen, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

If you were a baseball purist, interested only in the game and not modern day amenities, Fort Lauderdale Stadium was not a bad place to watch a game.

Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The grandstand provided ample shaded seating for those not interested in sitting in the sun.

Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

And if you were a fan of old ballparks, Fort Lauderdale certainly had earned the distinction of being one of the oldest still in use in the Grapefruit League.

Oriole Kevin Millar Practicing For His Next Career in Broadcasting

Oriole Kevin Millar Practicing For His Next Career in TV Broadcasting

Alas, the 2009 season was the Orioles’ and major league baseball’s last year at Fort Lauderdale Stadium.

Miguel Tejada Warming Up, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Miguel Tejada Warming Up, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

In 2010 the Orioles returned to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Florida, where they had trained for one season in 1991. After the 2010 season the Orioles and the City of Sarasota undertook a $32 million renovation of the ballpark. The results are nothing less than spectacular. The Orioles now play in one of the nicest ballparks in the Grapefruit League and hold a 30 year lease on the stadium, finally ending their once nomadic spring training existence. The move to Sarasota also brought the Orioles just ten miles from their minor league facility in Twin Lakes Park.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida

After the Orioles departed, Fort Lauderdale Stadium has been used for a smattering of local events, but no long term tenants.In 2013 the city removed the light stanchions. For several years, the city has been in protracted discussions with Schlitterbahn Water Resorts for the construction of a water park on the site. Because the land upon which the stadium sits is controlled by the Federal Aviation Commission, the FAA must approve any reuse of the property. The latest proposal being considered would have the city purchase the land from the FAA, thus removing the primary impediment for progress.

It is unfortunate that there seems to be no interest in keeping Fort Lauderdale Stadium and finding a use in keeping with its original purpose, for it is one of the baseball structures standing in Florida today. Only the grandstands at Henley Field Ballpark (1925) in Lakeland Florida, J.P. Smalls Memorial Park (1935) in Jacksonville, Florida, Holman Stadium (1953) in Vero Beach, Florida, and Jackie Robinson Park (1962) in Daytona Beach, Florida, as old or older.

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Baseballs and Superbowls – Tampa’s Al Lopez Field

January 24th, 2015

Al Lopez Field was located at the intersection of North Himes Avenue and West Woodlawn Avenue in Tampa, Florida.

Al Lopez Field, Tampa, Florida, Circa 1975

From 1955 to 1959 it was the Spring Training home of the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox relocated to Payne Park in Sarasota, Florida, in 1960.

Al Lopez Field, Tampa FL Postcard (Curtechcolor Art Creation, Hillsboro News Co.)

Al Lopez Field, Tampa FL Postcard (Curtechcolor Art Creation, Hillsboro News Co.)

From 1960 until 1987 Al Lopez Field was the Spring Training home of the Cincinnati Reds.

Ron Oester, Al Lopez Field, July 1985, Tampa, Florida

The Reds relocated their spring training home to Plant City, Florida, in 1988.

Jose Pegan, Al Lopez Field, Tampa, Florida

The minor league Tampa Tarpons of the Florida State League called Al Lopez Field home from 1957 to 1988.

Bob Robertson, Al Lopez Field, Tampa, Florida

In 1966, the City of Tampa constructed Tampa Stadium just north of Al Lopez Field on West Ohio Avenue.

Pre-Game Cerermony, Pittsburgh Pirates, 1975, Al Lopez Field, Tampa, Florida, With Tampa Stadium Visible In Background

Tampa Stadium was primarily a soccer and football venue, with notable tenants including the North American Soccer League Tampa Bay Rowdies  and the National Football League Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa Stadium hosted Super Bowl XVIII on January 22, 1984 (Los Angeles Raiders 38, Washington Redskins 9), and Super Bowl XXV on January 27, 1991 (New York Giants 20, Buffalo Bills 19).

Al Lopez Field Postcard (T-10-C Ward Beckett & Co., Clearwater FL)

Tampa Stadium and Al Lopez Field Postcard (T-10-C Ward Beckett & Co., Clearwater FL)

Al Lopez Field was demolished in 1989. In 1996 the City of Tampa began construction of Raymond James Stadium on the former site of Al Lopez Field. Al Lopez Field was located in what is now the Northeast quadrant Raymond James Stadium.

Raymond James Stadium, Former Site of Al Lopez FIeld, Tampa, Florida

Raymond James Stadium, Former Site of Al Lopez FIeld, Tampa, Florida

In the aerial photograph of Raymond James Stadium below (facing West), the site of Al Lopez Field is located in the bottom right quadrant of the stadium. The former site of Tampa Stadium, which was demolished in 1999, appears in the photograph below as the open grass field just to the right of Raymond James Stadium.

Aerial View of Raymond James Stadium, Former Site of Al Lopez Field, Tampa FL

Aerial View of Raymond James Stadium, Former Site of Al Lopez Field, Tampa, Florida (photo is facing West)

The right field corner of Al Lopez Field was located near the intersection of North Himes Avenue and West Woodlawn Avenue. Raymond James Stadium East Gate now marks the spot.

Al Lopez Field, Former Right Field Corner at W Woodlawn Avenue and N Himes Avenue

Al Lopez Field, Former Right Field Corner at W Woodlawn Avenue and N Himes Avenue

The former site of right field is now a parking area that parallels North Himes Avenue and Raymond James Stadium.

Raymond James Stadium, Former Site of Al Lopez Stadium Center Field Looking Toward Right Field

Raymond James Stadium, Former Site of Al Lopez Stadium Center Field Looking Toward Right Field

Center field was located near the intersection of North Himes Avenue and West Ohio Avenue.

Intersection of Himes Avenue and Ohio Avenue, Former Entrance to Al Lopez Field (Near Center Field)

Intersection of Himes Avenue and Ohio Avenue, Former Entrance to Al Lopez Field (Near Center Field)

A significant portion of the former site of center field is now an asphalt parking area just north of Raymond James Stadium.

Raymond James Stadium, Former Site of Al Lopez Stadium Center Field

Raymond James Stadium, Former Site of Al Lopez Stadium Center Field

A patch of grass that sits in the shadow of the Raymond James Stadium sign at the northern end of the stadium marks the former site of left field.

Raymond James Stadium, Former Site of Al Lopez Stadium Left Field Corner

Raymond James Stadium, Former Site of Al Lopez Stadium Left Field Corner

The former site of Al Lopez Field’s home plate sits in the north east corner of Raymond James Stadiums’ northern most end zone (the end zone near the pirate ship replica). Two Superbowls have been played at the former site of Al Lopez Field, Super Bowl XXXV on January 28, 2001 (Baltimore Ravens 34, New York Giants 7), and Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 (Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Arizona Cardinals 23).

Former Site of Al Lopez Field Home Plate - Northern End Zone of Raymond James Stadium (Looking South)

Former Site of Al Lopez Field Home Plate – Northern End Zone of Raymond James Stadium (Looking South)

Spring Training baseball, as well as minor league baseball, is still played just a long fly ball from the former site of Al Lopez Field. George Steinbrenner Field, Spring Training Home of the New York Yankees, is located just one block to the northwest of the former ballpark site.

George Steinbrenner Field, Spring Training Home of the N.Y. Yankees, Located One Block Northwest of Site of Al Lopez Field

George Steinbrenner Field, Spring Training Home of the N.Y. Yankees, Located One Block Northwest of Site of Al Lopez Field

The Florida State League Tampa Yankees play their home games at Steinbrenner Field.

View of Raymond James Stadium from Steinbrenner Field, Home of the Tampa Yankees

View of Raymond James Stadium from Steinbrenner Field, Home of the Tampa Yankees

In 1992, the City of Tampa honored Tampa resident Al Lopez with a statute located at the intersection of North Himes Avenue and West Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd, just a very long fly ball from the former site of Al Lopez Field.

Al Lopez Statue, Al Lopez Park

Al Lopez Statue, Al Lopez Park

A plaque at the base of the statue notes that Al Lopez was born in nearby Ybor City on August 20, 1908, and provides an overview of his accomplishments in baseball: “Distinguished himself as a professional baseball player with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Boston Braves, and Pittsburgh Pirates as a catcher, setting the original all-time record for most games caught in the Major Leagues. He further distinguished himself in Major League history as manager of the pennant-wining Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox. For his admirable accomplishments in the Major Leagues as a player and Manager, he was Tampa’s first inductee into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1977.”

Plaque Honoring Former Tampa Resident Al Lopez

Plaque Honoring Former Tampa Resident Al Lopez

The statute of Al Lopez is appropriately positioned, with the long-time catcher facing toward the former site of the ballpark named in his honor.

Al Lopez Statue Looking South Toward Raymond James Stadium and Former Site of Al Lopez Field

Al Lopez Statue Looking South Toward Raymond James Stadium and Former Site of Al Lopez Field

The statute is located in the southwest corner of Al Lopez Park, also dedicated to the memory of the Tampa native.

Entrance to Al Lopez Park, Tampa, Florida

Entrance to Al Lopez Park, Tampa, Florida

The sign at the park entrance (4810 North Himes Avenue) recognizes Al Lopez as “one of Tampa’s favorite sons.”

Detail of Al Lopez Park Sign

Detail of Al Lopez Park Sign

Al Lopez Park includes a lake, picnic areas, walking trails, and a certified 5K running course.

East Gate, Raymond James Stadium at Woodlawn Avenue and Himes Avenue looking toward Former Right Field Corner of Al Lopez Field

East Gate, Raymond James Stadium at Woodlawn Avenue and Himes Avenue looking toward Former Right Field Corner of Al Lopez Field

Al Lopez lived much of his life in Tampa and nearby Ybor City. His former house in Ybor City was moved in 2013 from its original location at 1210 E 12th Avenue to 2003 N. 19th Street in Ybor City.

Al Lopez House, Ybor City, Florida

Al Lopez House, Ybor City, Florida

Located across the street from the Ybor City State Museum, Al Lopez’s former home now houses the Tampa Baseball Museum.

Al Lopez House, Ybor City, Florida

Al Lopez House, Ybor City, Florida

Tampa, Florida boast a rich baseball history. Should you find yourself in Tampa during Spring Training, be sure to take a moment to visit Al Lopez Park, with its statutory tribute to Al Lopez, as well as the Tampa Baseball Museum. And should you happen to find yourself attending a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game or a baseball game at nearby Steinbrenner Field, take a moment to appreciate the baseball history that once took place in the northern most end zone of Raymond James Stadium.

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The Nashville Sounds of Silence At Greer Stadium

August 5th, 2014

Hershel Greer Stadium, home of the Nashville Sounds, currently is located at 534 Chestnut Street, in Nashville, Tennessee, just two miles south of downtown Nashville.

Hershel Greer Stadium, Home of the Nashville Sounds

Greer Stadium was constructed by the City of Nashville in 1978 on land that was once part of Fort Negley, a Civil War fortification once occupied by Union Troops. Fort Negley holds the distinction of being largest civil war fortification created during the war, but not built near water.

View of Hershel Greer Stadium From Left Field Parking Lot

The area around Greer Stadium and Fort Negley, located just southeast of the intersection of I-40 and I-65, is largely industrial. The result being that neighborhood does not offer baseball fans much to do before or after games other than come and go.

Access to Greer Stadium from Chestnut Street Bridge Over Railroad Tracks

Stone columns at the entrance to right field are designed to mimic the stone fence surrounding what is left of Fort Negley.

Greer Stadium Entrance Gate Near Right Field

A plaque at the entrance honors the opening of Greer Stadium in 1978.

Plaque Honoring Construction of Greer Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee

Plaque Honoring Construction of Greer Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee

The ballpark’s overall design is markedly old-school, somewhat reminiscent of Milwaukee’s County Stadium.

Fan Relations, Exterior of Greer Stadium

Much of the ballpark exterior is painted Army grey, perhaps also a nod to the site’s former use as a Fort.

Entrance to Right Field, Greer Stadium

Greer Stadium’s covered concourse runs behind behind a portion of the first and third base stands.

Greer Stadium Concourse

The extended concourses behind the bleachers located along the first and third base foul lines near left field and right field are uncovered.

Greer Stadium Standings Scoreboard

The view from home plate looking out toward center field faces southeast. Although the area is largely industrial, the view is almost pastoral, as all that is visible is a line of trees.

Greer Stadium, View Behind Home Plate

The view looking toward right field is downright bucolic, with the hills of Radnor Lake south of Nashville visible in the distance.

Greer Stadium Looking South Towards Hills of Nearby Radnor Lake

Without question, the most distinctive and recognizable part of Greer stadium is the guitar-shaped scoreboard that sits out beyond the left field fence.

Greer Stadium’s Iconic Guitar-Shaped Scoreboard, Nashville, Tennessee

The ballpark’s seating bowl is composed mainly of plastic blue seats that ring the playing field down the first and third base fould lines.

VIew of Greer Stadium Grandstand From Right Field Line

The visiting team dugout is located along first base.

Visitors Dugout, Greer Stadium, Nashville

The Nashville Sounds have been the primary tenant of Greer Stadium throughout its existence. From 1978 through 1984 the Sounds were members of the Double A Southern League. Beginning in 1985, they began play in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. In 1993 and 1994 Greer Stadium also served as the home field for the Nashville Express of the Double-A Southern League and a Minnesota Twins affiliate.

St. Louis Cardinals Prospect Oscar Traveras, Pre-Game Warmups, Greer Stadium

When Greer Stadium opened in 1978, the Sounds were an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. In 1980, the Sounds became an affiliate of the New York Yankees, through the 1984 season. 

Greer Stadium Visiting Team Bullpen

The Sounds affiliation with MLB continued to change over the years. The Detroit Tigers (1985-1986), the Cincinnati Reds a second time (1987 – 1992), the Chicago White Sox (1993-1997), and the Pittsburgh Pirates (1998-2004) were all at one time affiliated with the Sounds.

Full Moon Rises Over Sounds Bullpen at Greer Stadium

Since 2005, the Sounds have been an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Slugger’s Sports Bar and Grill, Greer Stadium

Above the press box, atop Greer Stadium, is the Slugger’s Sports Bar and Grill, which provides a fine view of the field and a place to come in from the cold when the game time temperatures dips into the 30’s in mid April.

View of the Field from Greer Stadium from Slugger’s Sports Bar and Grill

Greer Stadium is nothing if not quirky and, unfortunately, a dying breed in the annals of minor league ballparks.

A Zig-Zag of Seats Behind Home Plate, Greer Stadium

The seating seems to have been designed and accounted for only after the dimensions of the stadium structure were put into place.

Section QQ, Greer Stadium

Additions to the ballpark over the years only added to Greer’s stadium’s funky layout.

No View Right Field Concession Stand, Greer Stadium

But the quirks of Greer Stadium are part of what makes it still a charming place to watch baseball.

The Right Field Family Leisure Party Deck, Greer Stadium

For the past several seasons, the Sounds have been lobbying for a new ballpark.

A View of the Seats, Greer Stadium, Nashville

As the debate over if, where, and when to build a new ballpark continued, the condition of Greer Stadium suffered, with little interest from the city in spending money on significant upkeep or improvements.

Sun-Bleached and Weathered Bleachers at Greer Stadium

Greer Stadium’s days are now numbered. A new home for the Nashville Sounds is being built three miles north of Greer Stadium, less than a mile north of downtown Nashville.

Signs Advertising New Nashville Sounds Ballpark

Alas, 2014 will be the last season as First Tennessee Park is scheduled on Jackson Street, between Fourth and Fifth avenues,  is scheduled to open time for the 2015 season.

Location of Future Nashville Sounds Ballpark on Jackson Street between 4th and 5th Streets

Home Plate will sit just South of Jackson Street, with the ballpark facing towards downtown Nashville.

Sign Showing Design of New Nashville Sounds Ballpark

A portion of the land where the new ballpark is under construction was once the former site of Sulphur Dell, where baseball was played in Nashville from 1870 until 1963. From 1901 to 1963, Sulphur Dell was the home of the Nashville Vols and famous Vols players such as the eccentric Boots Poffenberger.

Sign Advertising New Nashville Ballpark At Sulphur Dell

Although the city of Nashville is still considering its options for repurposing the land upon which Greer Stadium sits, one thing does seem certain – that the ballpark itself will not remain and in the near future will become just another lost ballpark. When the 2014 season ends, baseball will have been played at Greer Stadium a total of 37 years, one year less than the number seasons that the American League Baltimore Orioles called Memorial Stadium home. Hopefully the City of Nashville will find some way to commemorate the former ballpark site. Perhaps the city should leave intact the guitar-shaped scoreboard since it seems there is little interest in moving the iconic structure to First Tennessee Park. The scoreboard is a part of Nashville history and would provide an excellent marker and reminder for where professional baseball was once played in the city.

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The Coop Has Flown – Cooper Stadium in Columbus, Ohio

May 15th, 2014

Cooper Stadium (“the Coop”) was a minor league baseball ballpark located at 1155 West Mound Street, in Columbus, Ohio.

Night View, Red Bird Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, Postcard C.T.Art Colortone, Curt Teeich & Co, W.E. Ayres, Columbus, Ohio

Christened Red Bird Stadium when it was opened on June 3, 1932, the ballpark originally was home to the American Association Columbus Red Birds. The Red Birds were the top minor league affiliate of Branch Rickey’s St. Louis Cardinals. 

Red Bird Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, Home of Columbus Base Ball Team, Postcard C.T.Art Colortone, Curt Teeich & Co, W.E. Ayres, Columbus, Ohio

Notable St. Louis Cardinal farm hands who played at Red Bird Stadium include Paul “Daffy” Dean, Joe Garagiola, Harvey Haddix, Max Lanier, Enos Slaughter, Harry Walker, and Sammy Baugh (Football Hall of Fame quarterback for the Washington Redskins).

Exterior, Cooper Stadium, Columbus, Ohio

When the Red Birds departed Columbus after the 1954 season, local businessman and former Red Bird clubhouse boy Harold Cooper brought an International League franchise to Columbus in 1955. 

Ticket Windows, Cooper Stadium, Columbus, Ohio

The new team was named the Columbus Jets and the ballpark was renamed Jets Stadium in honor of its new tenant. For the first two seasons, the Jets were an affiliate of the Kansas City Athletics. From 1957 to 1970 they were an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

Cooper Stadium Dedication Plaques

The name “Jets” was a nod to the city’s notable connections with aviation history, including the Wright Brothers and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Stadium Break Between First Base Grandstand and Souvenir Shop, Cooper Stadium

Professional baseball was not played in Columbus from 1971 to 1976. In 1977, Mr. Cooper, then a Franklin County Commissioner,  brought baseball back to Columbus and a newly-renovated Franklin County Stadium, which opened as the home of the Columbus Clippers. 

1930s Era Concession Stand, Cooper Stadium

The Clippers were an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates for the first two seasons at Franklin County Stadium and, from 1979 to 2006, were the AAA affiliate of the New York Yankees. In 2007 and 2008, the Clippers were an affiliate of the Washington Nationals. 

Entrance From Concourse to Sections 107-109, Cooper Stadium

Renovations to the stadium included the addition of sky boxes and a new press box above the grandstand roof.

Mesh Screening Behind Home Plate, With View of Sky Boxes Above Grandstand Roof, Cooper Stadium

The 1930s metal bracing for original grandstand roof was left intact and incorporated into the renovations.

1930's Metal Roof Crossbars, Cooper Stadium

The concourse behind the first and third base sides remained largely in tact as well.

Concourse, Cooper Stadium, Columbus, Ohio

The original wooden grandstand seats were replace with yellow-painted steel and aluminum seats.

Seats Behind Home Plate, Cooper Stadium

In 1984, the ballpark was renamed Cooper Stadium, in honor of Mr. Cooper, who also served as President of the International League from 1978 to 1990.

View of Infield, Cooper Stadium, From Behind Home Plate

The dugouts at Cooper Stadium were true dugouts, placing the players on the dugout bench at eye level with the playing surface.

Cooper Stadiums Truly Dug Out Dugout

Fans sitting in the box seats along the first and third base sides of the stadium were likewise close to the action.

Columbus Clipper Frank Menechino in the On Deck Circle, Cooper Stadium

Cooper Stadium was located along I-70 and I-71, sandwiched between a residential neighborhood to the north, and Greenlawn Cemetery to the south.

Columbus Clipper Will Nieves Lights Up the Scoreboard at Cooper Stadium

Once inside the stadium, however, the view was almost bucolic, with trees surrounding the outfield fence

Columbus Clippers Take On The Louisville Bats at Cooper Stadium

The final game at Cooper Stadium was played on September 1, 2008.

Cooper Stadium Post Game

The Columbus Clippers moved to a new ballpark located three miles northeast, closer to downtown Columbus.

View of Columbus Skyline Beyond Left Field, Cooper Stadium

The new ballpark, Huntington Park, opened on April 18, 2009.

Banner At Cooper Stadium Advertising Huntington Park Ballpark Opening 2008

After the Clippers departed, Cooper Stadium sat vacant for several years while a local development company negotiated with the city of Columbus to purchase the ballpark site. Arshot Investment Corporation currently is in the process of converting the Cooper Stadium site into a multi-use Sports Pavilion and Automotive Research Complex (SPARC). In April 2014, demolition of Cooper Stadium began, with the removal of the first base grandstand.

First Base Grand Stand, Cooper Stadium, Now Demolished

However, the third base grandstand of Cooper Stadium is being preserved and incorporated into a portion of the paved half-mile race track. Thus, Cooper Stadium will follow in the footsteps of Westport Stadium in Baltimore, the former home of the Baltimore Elite Giants, which in the 1950s was converted into Baltimore’s first NASCAR-sanctioned racetrack.

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

SPARC will also include a technology center, lodging, conference and exhibition space, and restaurants.

Cooper Stadium at Night

Although Cooper Stadium is now a lost ballpark, like Braves Field in Boston a portion of it remains, repurposed, allowing future generations the opportunity to experience at least a portion of what made Cooper Stadium a great place to watch a ballgame. Thanks to Arshot for having the vision to keep a part of Cooper Stadium, and baseball history, alive in Columbus, Ohio.

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Waterfront Park/Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Florida

January 17th, 2014

Professional baseball first came to St. Petersburg, Florida, as early as 1908 when the then- independent St. Paul Saints played an exhibition game against the National League Cincinnati Reds. In 1914, businessman and future mayor Al Lang convinced the St. Louis Browns to come to St. Petersburg and train at Sunshine Park – also known as Coffee Pot Park because of its location near Coffee Pot Bayou in St. Petersburg. The Browns stayed in St. Petersburg only one season. From 1915 through 1918, the Philadelphia Phillies trained at Coffee Pot Park.

Postcard of Waterfront Park, St., Petersburg,Florida (Pub. By Gulf Coast Card Co., St. Petersburg, FL, C.T. Art Colortone, Curt Teich, Chicago IL

In 1922, a new ballpark opened along the shoreline of Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg on a patch of land that was part of the city’s mile-long Waterfront Park. The ball field, also known as Waterfront Park, was located at the intersection of 1st Avenue S.E. and First Street S.E. It was the spring training grounds of the Boston Braves beginning in 1922.

Postcard of Waterfront Park, St. Petersburg, Florida (Pub. By Hartman Card Co, Pinella FL)

In 1925, the New York Yankees began training in St. Petersburg at nearby Crescent Lake Park, while playing some of their games at Waterfront Park. The Braves departed St. Petersburg after the 1937 season and the St. Louis Cardinals moved to Waterfront Park in 1938, sharing the facility with the Yankees for Spring Training games.

Al Lang Field Postcard, St. Petersburg, Florida (Pub. By Sun News Co. St. Petersburg FL, Cureich-Chicago C.T. Art-Colortone)

In 1947, Waterfront Park was demolished and replaced by Al  Lang Field, named in honor  of the man who helped establish St. Petersburg  as a spring training mecca. Al Lang Field was constructed on land one block south of  the northern most point of Waterfront Park.

Entrance to Al Lang Field (Detail of Postcard Pub. By Sun News Co., St. Petersburg FL, Curteich Chicago, C.T. Art Colortone)

Thus, the grandstand at Al Lang Field was built on top of Waterfront Park’s former infield.

Al Lang Field Postcard (Pub. By Sun News Co., St. Petersburg FL, Curteich Chicago, C.T. Art Colortone)

The exact location of Waterfront Park in relation to Al Lang Field is evident by comparing the two ballparks as they appear below in the two aerial postcards of Waterfront Park and Al Lang Field.

Waterfront Park:

Aerial Postcard of Waterfront Park, St. Petersburg, Florida circa 1932 (Pub. By Hartman Card Co., Tampa, FL)

Al Lang Field:

Aerial Postcard of Al Lang Field (Pub. By Hartman Litho Sales, Largo FL, Photo by St. Petersburg News Service)

As can be seen from the above two postcards and the postcard below, a parking lot for Al Lang Field was constructed where Waterfront Park’s grandstand once stood. In the city block just north of the parking lot is Pioneer Park, which honors St. Petersburg’s earliest settlers.

Al Lang Field Postcard (Pub. By Sun News Co. St. Petersburg FL, Cureich-Chicago C.T. Art-Colortone)

In 1977, Al Lang Field was demolished and replaced by Al Lang Stadium, a concrete structure with little of the charm offered baseball fans at Al Lang Field and Waterfront Park.

View of Progress Energy Park Taken from Former Site of Waterfront Park Third Base Grandstand

In 1998, the naming rights to Al Lang Stadium were sold and the stadium was renamed Florida Power Park. It later was renamed Progress Energy Park in 2003.  The stadium complex currently is known as Al Lang Field at Progress Energy Park.

Plaque Honoring Former St. Petersburg Mayor Al Lang

The Yankees departed Al Lang Field for Fort Lauderdale after the 1960 Spring Training season and the Cardinals departed for Palm Beach after the 1997 season.

Dedication Plaque Al Lang Stadium, 1977

Other professional teams that once called the ballpark home were the New York Giants (1951), the New York Mets (1962-1987), and the Baltimore Orioles (1992-1995).

Ramp to Concourse from Gate 2, Progress Energy Park

In 1998, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays took over the ballpark.

Tampa Bay Rays Souvenir Stand, Progress Energy Park

The Devil Rays, a 1998 MLB expansion team, played their regular season  games at  the Tropicana Dome, located less than two miles west  of Progress Energy Park.

Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida

Although the concrete structure of the stadium itself leaves much to be desired, the setting at Progress Energy Park was one of the most beautiful of all spring training venues, current or former.

Progress Energy Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The view of the playing field, with Tampa Bay as a back drop,wais breathtaking.

Al Lang Field at Progress Energy Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

Beginning in 2005, the Tampa Bay Rays began a campaign to build a new major league ballpark on the site of Progress Energy Field. However, those plans met public opposition and quietly were withdrawn in 2009.

Artist Rendering of Proposed Ballpark on the Grounds of Progress Energy Field, to Replace Tropicana Field

The Rays trained at Progress Energy Park through the 2008 season.

Al Lang Field at Progress Energy Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

In 2009 the Rays moved to a new ballpark in Port Charlotte, Florida, 80 miles south.

Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte, Florida

Charlotte Sports Park previously had been the home Spring Training home for the Texas Rangers. The park was renovated prior to the Rays arrival in 2009.

Tampa Bay Rays Manager Joe Maddon and Coaches at Progress Energy Park in 2008

The facade of Progress Energy Park includes a series of  plaques which in 1998 had been part of the “Jim Healey and Jack Lake Baseball Boulevard.” The 85 brass home plate plaques that made up the Baseball Boulevard told the story of Major League baseball St. Petersburg.

Facade of Progress Energy Park Circa 2012

One of the plaques honors the opening of Waterfront Park in 1922. However, the plaque states, incorrectly, that Waterfront Park was located on land that later became Bayfront Center, an indoor sports arena built in 1965 and demolished in 2004. The former site of Bayfront Center is now the Salvador Dali Museum, which is located south of Progress Energy Field on Bay Shore Drive.

Plaque at Progress Energy Park Honoring Waterfront Park

Progress Energy Park is still used to today, mainly for minor league soccer and music concerts. Although St. Petersburg residents appear to favor keeping the site a public park, it seems only a matter of time before the stadium itself is demolished. Hopefully, the historic field will be maintained, for it represents over 90 years of baseball spring training history.

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Crescent Lake Park/Huggins-Stengel Field in St. Petersburg, Florida

January 12th, 2014

Crecent Lake Park is located at 1320 5th Street N in St. Petersburg, Florida. In the southern most part of the park, tucked away in a residential neighborhood, is an important and relatively unspoiled historical baseball site.

Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

Beginning in 1925, the ball field at Crescent Lake Park was the spring training home of the American League New York Yankees.

Postcard Crescent Lake Field, St. Petersburg, Florida (Curteich-Chicago, published by Sun News Co., St. Petersburg

The park is dominated by a large, crescent-shaped lake (hence the name) located in the center of the park.

The Lake at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The former training grounds appear much as they did when the Yankees made the field their spring training home.

“Babe Ruth, King of Swat, at St. Petersburg, Florida” Stereo Card, Published by Keystone View Company, Meadville PA (Library of Congress Division of Prints and Photographs, Washington, D.C.)

Such greats as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and the rest of the 1927 World Champion Yankees played on this unassuming ball field.

Baseball Practice Field at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The Yankees trained at Crescent Lake Park until 1942.

Babe Ruth Training At Crescent Lake Park, Late 1920s

In 1943, when World War II restricted travel for things such as spring training, the Yankees stayed closer to home, training in Atlantic City and Asbury Park, New Jersey. The Yankees returned to Crescent Lake Park in 1946.

Baseball Backstop, Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

In 1947, the Yankees moved their spring training home games less than two miles south to Al Lang Field, now known as Progress Energy Park.

Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

Joe DiMaggio At Crecsent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

They continued to hold practice sessions at Crescent Lake Park.

Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

Beginning in 1947, the Yankees shared Al Lang Field with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Progress Energy Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The Yankees continued to use Crescent Lake Park as a spring practice field until 1961, with the exception of 1951 when they trained in Phoenix, Arizona (the Yankees and the New York Giants swapped spring training sites for one season, with the Yankees training that year in Arizona). In 1962 the Yankees departed St. Petersburg and the west coast of Florida for a new stadium built for them on the east coast in Fort Lauderdale.

Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Former Spring Training Home of the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles

In 1962 the New York Mets took over the spring training at Crescent Lake Park. The Mets trained there through the 1987 season and played their home games at Al Lang Field (renamed Al Lang Stadium in 1977). From 1992 to 1995, the Baltimore Orioles trained at Crescent Lake Park, with their home games being played at Al Lang Stadium.

Practice Field, Crescent Lake Park Baseball Complex, St. Petersburg, Florida

In 1931, Crescent Lake Park was renamed Miller Huggins Field, after the manager of the Yankees who had died in 1929. In 1962, Casey Stengel returned to Crescent Lake as Manager of the New York Mets and, in 1963, the facility was renamed Huggins-Stengel Field. Today it is known as Huggins-Stengel Baseball Complex.

Huggins-Stengel Baseball Complex Sign, St. Petersburg, Florida

The grandstand at Huggins-Stengel Field was never particularly large, holding only a few thousand fans. Today, seating at the stadium consists only of a few rows of metal bleachers.

Bleachers at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

A water tower that dominates the skyline at the southern end of the park remains from the time when the field was used for major league spring training.

Water Tower at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The base of that same water tower is is clearly visible in this postcard photograph of Huggins Field.

Postcard “Huggins Field, On Crescent Lake , Spring Training Camp Of Major League Baseball, St. Petersburg, Florida, ‘The Sunshine City.'” Natural Color Reproduction – Cureichcolor Art Creation, Sun News Co.. St. Petersburg

Several other structures dating back to the Yankees’ days at Crescent Lake remain as well.

Practice Field with Original Club House in Backgrouind, Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

Most notably, one of the original clubhouses remains. Inside the building is one wooden locker purportedly dating back to the time when the Yankees trained there.

Club House, Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

Outside the former club house (Building #4) are two plaques commemorating Miller Huggins and Casey Stengel.

Plaques Honoring Miller Huggins and Casey Stengel, St. Petersburg, Florida

The plaque honoring Miller J. Huggins states: “As a memorial and tribute to an outstanding sportsman and splendid character, who as Manager of the New York Yankees and resident of this city contributed to its fame and the betterment of baseball, the citizens of St. Petersburg dedicate this ground, which forever shall be known as Miller Huggins Field.”

Plaque Honoring Miller Huggins at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The plaque honoring Charles Dillon “Casey” Stengel states: “One of baseball’s most popular and widely known figures who as Manager of the New York Yankees won ten American League Pennants in 12 years helping to make the Sunshine City the spring training capital of the world and who now has returned as Manager of the New York Mets this plaque is gratefully and affectionately dedicated.”

Plaque Honoring Casey Stengel at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The original flag pole remain as well.

Flag Pole at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The neighborhood surrounding the park appears much the way it did when the Yankees and Mets practiced at the facility.

Houses Located on 5th Street, Across from Crescent Lake Park’s Baseball Complex

On the facade of Progress Energy Park in downtown St. Petersburg are a series of  plaques, some of which mention the history of Crescent Lake Park and Huggins-Stengel Field. Previously, those plaques had been part of the “Jim Healey and Jack Lake Baseball Boulevard,” which included 85 brass home plate plaques that told the story of Major League baseball St. Petersburg. The Boulevard plaques originally were located from First Street S in front of Al Lang Stadium to Central Avenue south along the sidewalk, to 13th Street west, stopping at Tropicana Field.

Progress Energy Park, With Historic Plaques Lining the Facade, St. Petersburg, Florida

One of the plaques commemorates the Yankees’s first year at Crescent Lake Park.

Progress Energy Field Plaque Honoring 1925 Arrival of the Yankees in St. Petersburg, Florida

Another plaque commemorates the renaming of Crescent Lake Park Miller Huggins Field in 1931.

Plaque at Progress Energy Field Honoring Former Yankees Manager Miller Huggins

A similar plaque honors the return of Casey Stengel to Crescent Lake in 1962 as manager of the New York Mets.

Progress Energy Stadium Plaque Honoring Former New York Yankee and Mets Manger Casey Stengel

Another plaque commemorates the renaming of the practice field Huggins-Stengel Field in 1963.

Progress Energy Stadium Plaque Commemorating Renaming of Huggins-Stengel Field

Huggins-Stengel Baseball Complex is used today by high school and college teams for both practice and games. The City of St. Petersburg recognizes the historical significance of the park and seems intent on maintaining it as a baseball facility. This is good news for fans of the game who want to appreciate first hand the national pastime’s rich history.

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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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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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I Still Can’t Believe They Tore Down Old Yankee Stadium

October 18th, 2011

Old Yankee Stadium was the home of the New York Yankees (formerly the Baltimore Orioles) from 1923 to 2008.

Old Yankee Stadium

It was located at 161st Street and River Avenue in the Bronx, across 161st Street from the new Yankee Stadium.

Old Yankee Stadium Gate 4 Waiting to Enter

The stadium was renovated extensively during the late 1970s.  Gate 2, however, was one of the few sections to retain much of its original appearance.  In 2010 an effort was underway to save Gate 2 from demolition.  Unfortunately, that effort failed and Gate 2, along with the rest of the stadium, met the wrecking ball.

Old Yankee Stadium Gate 2

Arriving at old Yankee Stadium via the 161st Street Subway station provided fans a terrific panoramic view of the back of the stadium.

Old Yankee Stadium as seen from the Outbound 161st Subway Station

The inside of old Yankee Stadium seemed cavernous, especially the view from the upper deck.

Batting Practice at Old Yankee Stadium as seen from Right Field Upper Deck

The color scheme of old Yankee  Stadium was blue, blue, and more blue.

Yankee Blue at Old Yankee Stadium

Monument Park, located on what once  was the expansive back portion of old Yankee Stadium’s center field, was moved to new Yankee Stadium.

Monument Park and Yankees Bullpen at Old Yankee Stadium

The Yankees bullpen was located in left-center field to the left of a portion of the old center-field bleachers known as “the black.”  The bleachers had been painted black to facilitate the “batter’s eye,” helping batters at home plate pick up the pitch being thrown at them.

Old Yankee Stadium Home Team Bullpen

The visiting team bullpen was located beyond left field, to the left of monument park.

Old Yankee Stadium Visitor's Bullpen - Orioles' Steve Trachsel Pitching Under Watchful Eye of Pitching Coach Leo Mazzone

The foul poles were covered in layers of yellow paint.

Old Yankee Stadium Right Field and Left Field Foul Poles

Passengers riding the train past the 161st Street station had a quick view  inside  the stadium – at no charge other than the cost of a subway token.

A Second's Worth of Free Baseball from the Train at Old Yankee Stadium

The seating  bowl rose high above the playing field, requiring that those sitting at the top of the stadium have both good eyesight and a strong stomach.

A Sense of Vertigo Old Yankee Stadium Style

The light stanchions of old Yankee Stadium were located flush along the top of the roof.

Old Yankee Stadium Lights Above Left Field

The white plastic tarp placed during rain delays at old Yankee Stadium sat in contrast to the blue, blue seats of the upper and lower seating bowl.

Rain Delay at Old Yankee Stadium

As proof that nothing is sacred and nothing lasts forever, in 2006, the Yankees broke ground on a new Yankee Stadium to be located across the street from old Yankee Stadium.

New Yankee Stadium Under Construction as seen from Behind Left Field Grandstand Circa 2007

During the 2008 season, new Yankee Stadium could be seen from inside old Yankee Stadium by fans sitting in right field.

Old Yankee Stadium with New Yankee Stadium Under Construction Circa April 2008

Old Yankee Stadium Center Field with New Yankee Stadium in Background Circa July 2008

The original frieze of old Yankee Stadium was replicated in new Yankee Stadium.

Post-1978 old Yankee Stadium Frieze with New Yankee Stadium Frieze in Background

The site  of old Yankee Stadium is now a public park known as “Heritage Field.”

Old Yankee Stadium Site at Heritage Field

For baseball fans  accustomed to watching Yankees games either in person or on television, the Bronx County Courthouse is a familiar site, having once loomed over right center field at old Yankee Stadium.

Old Yankee Stadium Site with Bronx County Courthouse in Background

The Giant 138 foot Louisville Slugger Bat (which serves as an exhaust pipe for the subway) remains in its original location outside the former site of old Yankee Stadium.

The Giant Louisville Slugger Bat from Old Yankee Stadium Remains

The playing field at old Yankee Stadium has been recreated with the infield in its original spot.   Heritage Field includes a total of three ball fields.  In what was once center field is a section of the frieze from old Yankee Stadium.

View of Old Yankee Stadium Site from Behind Home Plate with Section of Frieze in Background

The sidewalk surrounding Heritage Field includes markers recognizing significant moments in the history of old Yankee Stadium.

Marker Honoring One of the Significant Moments at Old Yankee Stadium

The old Yankee Stadium site is visible from within new Yankee Stadium from the escalator above the Hall of Legends.

Old Yankee Stadium Site as seen from New Yankee Stadium Hall of Legends

The site of home plate is visible  between the Hall of Legends columns.

Site of Old Yankee Stadium Home Plate as seen from Hall of Legends

The giant Louisville Slugger bat is visible  as well.

Old Yankee Stadium Bat as seen from Hall of Legends

At the top of the stadium along the first base line, the old Yankee Stadium site and Heritage Field are visible behind the last row of seats.

Old Yankee Stadium Site as seen through New Yankee Stadium Upper Deck

Having now visited the old Yankee Stadium site and seen a game in the new stadium, I still can’t believe they tore down old Yankee Stadium.  Sure, future generations of fans will be able to stand where the stadium once stood and perhaps throw around a baseball.  This certainly is better than having turned the site  into a parking lot.  But, it is little solace for those of us who wished the city and the team  had found a way to build new Yankee Stadium in place of the old, keeping the playing field the same.  In the end, old Yankee Stadium is now just another lost ballpark and the “House that Ruth Built” is now nothing more than a memory.

Old Yankee Stadium Site as seen from Top of New Yankee Stadium First Base Side

 

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Hilltop Park And the Church of Baseball

December 17th, 2010

Perched on a hill overlooking the Hudson River at the southwest corner of Broadway and 168th Street in Washington Heights was Hilltop Park, the original home ball field of the New York Yankees (known then as the Highlanders).

Entrance to Hilltop Park (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

The third base grandstand, which once ran parallel to Fort Washington Avenue, is shown in the picture below.

The first base grandstand, depicted in the photograph below, ran parallel to 165th Street.

Kid Gleason of the Chicago White Sox at Hilltop Park (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

The New York Presbyterian/Columbia Medical Center, erected in the 1920’s, now engulfs the entire site.

American League Park Circa 1910 (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

Nothing remains of the old ballpark.

New York Presbyterian/Columbia Medical Center, Former Site of Hilltop Park

In a courtyard just off Fort Washington Avenue, between 165th and 168th Streets, is a bronze plaque marking the former location of home plate.

Former Site of Hilltop Park’s Home Plate

The New York Yankees donated the plaque to the hospital and unveiled it in 1993 during a dedication attended by former Highlanders pitcher Chet Hoff, who was then 102 years old.  Mr. Hoff went on to become the oldest living ex-major-leaguer ever, before his death five years later.

Bronze Plaque Honoring Former Location of Hilltop Park

This famous picture (below) of Ty Cobb sliding into third base, and third baseman Jimmy Austin, was taken at Hilltop Park.

Ty Cobb Sliding Into Third Base at Hilltop Park (photo image courtesy of Mike’s Chicago White Sox website at  www.freewebs.com/karamaxjoe/jimmyaustinjersey.htm  

The location of third base, where this picture was taken, is inside the Presbyterian Building shown in the photo below, just 90 feet beyond where the home plate marker resides.

The Presbyterian Building, Former Site of Third Base at Hilltop Park

The medical center’s chapel – the Pauline A. Hartford Memorial Chapel – is  constructed on what once was Hilltop Park’s right field.  It is, literally, a true “church of baseball.”

Pauline A Hartford Memorial Chapel (With Rose Window Seen Through Trees), Located in Former Site of Hilltop Park Right Field

UPDATE – AUGUST 2011

The courtyard off Fort Washington Street currently is under construction and the bronze plaque honoring the former location of home plate has been removed.

Sign On Fort Washington Street Announcing Construction In Courtyard

As such, the courtyard is closed off to visitors.

Courtyard as seen through chain link fence

 

Although the actual ballpark is long gone, the distinctive, attached apartment buildings at the corner of 168th and Broadway remain from the time of Hilltop Park.  Those buildings appear in the photograph below.

Players Practicing at Hilltop Park (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

The photograph below depicts those same buildings, along with a Victorian style stone building, long gone, that sat along Broadway, just south of 168th Street.

New York Highlander Curt Coleman at Hilltop Park (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

The buildings  as they appear today facing 168th Street, at the intersection of 168th and Broadway.

Apartments Facing 168th Street

The apartment buildings house offices, a restaurant, and Melbran Pharmacy.

Melbran Pharmacy at the Corner of 168th and Broadway

The former ballpark site is easily accessible via the 168th Street Subway Station.

Subway Stop at 168th and Broadway

The lost ballpark located up Broadway, 120 blocks north on Times Square, is worth a visit for any true New York Yankees fan and is only a two mile drive from the Yankees current home at 161st  Street in the Bronx.  Just take the Macombs Dam Bridge across the Harlem River to west 155th Street to Broadway, and head north to 165th  Street. Or, take the subway to 168th Street Station.

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