Posts Tagged ‘Orlando Cepeda’

Salem Municipal Stadium/Kiwanis Field – Still A Fine Old Ballpark

April 22nd, 2015

Salem Kiwanis Field is located at 731 Indiana Street in Salem, Virginia. Opened in 1932, the ballpark was constructed by the City of Salem for use as a local town and high school baseball and football field. Originally known as Salem Municipal Stadium, the ballpark’s name was changed to Salem Kiwanis Field at some point subsequent to 1995.

Salem Municipal Stadium, Kiwanis Field, Salem, Virginia

Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

From 1939 to 1942, the Virginia League Salem-Roanoke Friends played their home games at Salem Municipal Stadium. In 1943, the team moved to Maher Field in Roanoke. Professional baseball returned briefly to Salem in 1946, when the Blue Ridge League Salem Friends played at Salem Municipal Stadium for part of that season.

Exterior of Outfield Wall, Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Exterior of Outfield Wall, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

In 1955, the unaffiliated Appalachian League Salem Rebels began playing at Salem Municipal Stadium. The team included future Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda, who signed with the New York Giants as an amateur free agent that same year. Salem’s professional team affiliated with several different Major League franchises over the years, beginning with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1957. The Pirates organization departed after the 1959 season, but returned from 1964 to 1980, and from 1987 to 1994. From 1960 to 1963 Salem was an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. From 1981 to 1983, Salem was affiliate of the San Diego Padres, and from 1984 to 1986, Salem was an affiliate of the Texas Rangers.

Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

The Rebels joined the Carolina League in 1968. In 1972, the team changed its name to the Salem Pirates. From 1981 to 1986, the team was known as the Salem Redbirds. From 1987 to 1994, the team was known as the Salem Buccaneers. In 1995, the team switched affiliations to the Colorado Rockies and became the Salem Avalanche.

Scoreboard, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Scoreboard, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

On August 22, 1974, a tragic accident occurred at Salem Municipal Stadium when 17 year old right fielder Alfredo Edmead died after colliding with second baseman Pablo Cruz. A plaque in memory of Emead was placed at the ballpark but subsequently was moved to the Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame.

View of Field and First Base Dugout From First Base Bleachers, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

View From First Base Bleachers, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Situated in the Roanoke Valley between the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains, the ballpark offers commanding views of the surrounding mountain.

Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Salem Kiwanis Field is an earthen ballpark, with grandstand and concrete bleacher seating set into the side of a hill that runs along the back of the ballpark.

Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

As such, there is no traditional stadium structure located behind the ballpark seating bowl.

Grandstand Roof, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Grandstand Roof, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Grandstand Roof, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Grandstand Roof, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

A later addition to the ballpark was the construction of a press box behind the back of the home plate grandstand.

Press Box, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Press Box, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

The covered grandstand includes wooden seats dating back to at least the 1950s.

Wood Seats, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Wood Seats, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Wood Seats, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Wood Seats, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Concrete bleachers are located on either side of the covered grandstand. Because the ballpark was designed and used for both baseball and football, the concrete bleachers do not curve around the infield as they would in a baseball-only ballpark.

First Base Concrete Bleachers, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

First Base Concrete Bleachers, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

The dugouts, like the surrounding seating area, are set into the side of the hill.

View of Field and First Base Dugout From First Base Bleachers, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

View of Field and First Base Dugout From First Base Bleachers, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

The bullpens are located along the first and third base foul lines, out of play.

Bullpen, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Bullpen, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

The concrete block concession stand located behind the first base bleachers harkens back to an earlier era when the game itself was the main attraction.

Concession Stand, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Concession Stand, Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Salem Kiwanis Field currently is the home of the University of Roanoke Maroons baseball team and the Salem High School Spartans. The local American Legion team, as well as the Roanoke Rails of the Carolina-Virginia Collegiate League, play their home games at Salem Kiwanis Field.

Salem Kiwanis Field, Home of the Salem Spartans, Salem, Virginia

Salem Kiwanis Field, Home of the Salem High School Spartans, Salem, Virginia

The Salem Avalanche played a portion of the 1995 season at Salem Municipal Stadium while construction was being completed on a new ballpark located just a half mile east of Salem Municipal Stadium.

Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Salem Kiwanis Field, Formerly Salem Municipal Stadium, Salem, Virginia

On August 7, 1995, the Avalanche played their first game at Salem Memorial Baseball Stadium, and professional baseball at the old ballpark departed, presumably forever.

Salem Memorial Baseball Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Salem Memorial Baseball Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Salem Memorial Baseball Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Salem Memorial Baseball Stadium, Salem, Virginia

Fortunately for fans of old-time ballparks, Salem Kiwanis Field remains an important part of the Salem community, hosting both college, high school, and summer collegiate baseball. Hopefully Salem’s continued use of the ballpark will help insure that it does not any time soon become just another lost ballpark.

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Nicollet Park – Home Of the Minneapolis Millers

October 16th, 2013

Nicollet Park was a minor league ballpark in Minneapolis, Minnesota, located approximately two and one half  miles south of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.

Entrance to Nicollet Park (Hennepin County Library – The Minneapolis Collection)

The distinctive Tutor building that was the main entrance to Nicollet Park (shown in the photograph above) was located behind the former right field corner at the intersection of 31st Street and Nicollet Avenue.

Wells Fargo Bank at the Intersection of Nicollet Avenue and 31st Street, Looking Toward Former Right Field Corner

Home plate was located at the corner of Blaisdell Avenue and 31st Street. The ballpark faced northeast.

Aerial View of Nicollet Park (Courtesy of Baseball Bugs)

A Wells Fargo Bank is located in the area that was once right and center field. The former infield is now the bank’s parking lot.

Wells Fargo Nicollet-Lake Office, 3030 Nicollet Avenue, Former Location of Infield Looking Toward Right Field Corner

Located near the former infield is a Minnesota Historical Marker celebrating the 60 years, from 1896 to 1955, that baseball was played at the site.

Historical Marker, Nicollet Park

The historical marker notes that Nicolett Park enjoyed one of the longest running ground leases for a sports venue, running from 1896 until 1951, when the property was purchased by Northwestern National Bank of Minneapolis. The bank building that now occupies the site was originally constructed in 1957.

Historical Marker, Nicollet Park

Beyond the left field fence that ran parallel to Lake Street were several one story brick commercial buildings, since demolished and replaced by a four story apartment building constructed in 1981.

Blaisdell Avenue and West Lake Street Looking Toward Former Left Field Corner

Nicolett Park was home to the Minneapolis Millers of the Western League (1896 -1899), the American League (1900 – in 1900 the American League was a minor league), and the American Association (1902 – 1955). The American Association Millers won nine pennants, including one in its last season of play in 1955. From 1908 to 1911, Nicollet Park was also home to the Minneapolis Keystones, an independent, barnstorming black ball club. The Keystones were not a formal negro league team, having played over a decade before the formation of the Negro National League.

Nicollet Avenue and West Lake Street, Looking Toward Former Location of Center Field

Notable Minneapolis Millers who played at Nicollet Park include future Hall of Famers Ray Dandridge, Willie Mays, and Ted Williams. Dandridge, a standout Negro League  player for the Newark Eagles, played for the Millers at the end of his career, from 1949 to 1952. Mays played for the Millers at the beginning of his career, in 1951, for only 35 games (in which he batted .477, hit height home runs, scored 38 runs, and drove in 30). Williams played for Minneapolis as a 19 year old in 1938. That season he led the American Association in home runs, batting average, and RBI. Other future Hall  of Famers who played for the Millers include Roger Bresnahan (1898-1899), Jimmy Collins (1909), Rube Waddell (1911-1913), Orlando Cepeda (1957), and Carl Yastrzemski (1959-1960). Babe Ruth played in at least two exhibition games (1924 and 1935) at Nicollet Park as well.

Minneapolis Miller Ted Williams in 1938

According to Lawrence Ritter’s Lost Ballparks, it was at Nicolett Park that General Mills (a Minneapolis company) first used the slogan “Breakfast of Champions” in a sign on the outfield fence. The advertising billboard was installed at the park in 1933 following the Miller’s pennant winning season of 1932. Nicollet Park is also the setting for what is perhaps just baseball folklore, when Minneapolis Miller Andy Oyler (a former Baltimore Oriole) purportedly hit the shortest home run in professional baseball. The story goes that a ball off the bat of Oyler got stuck in the mud in front of home plate and before the opposing team could retrieve the ball, Oyler had scored on an inside  the park home run.

Across from the former left field corner, at the intersection of Lake Street and Blaisdell Avenue, is Champions Bar and Grill which dates back to the last few years of Nicollet Park’s existence.

Champions Bar and Grill Dates to the 1950’s And the Time of Nicollet Park

Champions appears to be the only building located next to the ballpark site that remains from the time of Nicollet Park. The historical marker placed in the Wells Fargo parking lot is the only clue that there once was a ballpark located in this nondescript city block south of downtown Minneapolis.

Postscript: Thanks to Rubin Latz for sharing his picture of  a foul ball caught by his father at Nicollet Park on April 28, 1946. The baseball was manufactured by Wilson and is stamped “Affiliate of the American Association.”

Foul Ball Caught at Nicollet Field on April 28, 1946

On that April day, the Minneapolis Millers played a double header against their cross town rivals, the St. Paul Saints. According to Stew Thornley’s  “Baseball in Minnesota: The Definitive History,” a record crowd of 15,761 fans attended the game, with some 5000 fans standing on the field. Twenty-four doubles were hit during those two games, with the Saints victorious in both games.

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