Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia Phillies’

Jack Russell Stadium – The Phillies’ Second Clearwater Home

February 25th, 2015

Jack Russell Stadium is located at 800 Phillies Drive in Clearwater, Florida.

Jack Russell Stadium, August 1956, Clearwater, Florida

For almost 50 years it was the spring training home of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

Constructed in 1954, the ballpark opened in 1955 when the Phillies moved their spring training home two blocks west from Clearwater Athletic Field.

View of Jack Russell Field From Former Site of Clearwater Ball Field

View of Jack Russell Field From Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater, Florida, 2015

The Phillies had held their spring training at Clearwater Athletic Field since 1947.

Aerial Photo of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater and Jack Russell Stadium, Florida (Photo St. Petersburg Times Photo Dept.)

Aerial Photo of Clearwater Athletic Field in Background and Jack Russell Stadium in Foreground, Clearwater, Florida (Photo St. Petersburg Times Photo Dept.)

Jack Russell Stadium was also home to the Florida State League Clearwater Phillies from 1985 to 2003.

Clearwater Stadium Postcard (Tichnor Quality Views, Tichnor Bros., Inc.)

Clearwater Stadium Postcard (Tichnor Quality Views, Tichnor Bros., Inc.)

The ballpark was named after Jack Russell, a former pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Washington Senators, Detroit Tigers, Chicago Cubs, and St. Louis Cardinals, who settled in Clearwater, Florida, after his 16 major league career ended  in 1940.

Jack Russell Stadium, 1971, Pregame Ceremony, Tokyo Giants v. The Philadelphia Phillies, Clearwater, Floriida

Russell helped spearhead the construction of a new ballpark in Clearwater to replace the outdated Clearwater Athletic Park.

Russell Field - Major League Baseball, Clearwater, Florida - Postcard (Curteichcolor Art Creation)

Russell Field – Major League Baseball, Clearwater, Florida – Postcard (Curteichcolor Art Creation)

Jack Russell Stadium’s grandstand was built in the same mold as other Florida spring training ballparks of that era such as Al Lopez Stadium in Tampa and Fort Lauderdale Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.

Exterior, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

Exterior, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

The grandstand was single deck, covered from first base around to third base.

First Base Grandstand, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

First Base Grandstand, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

The press box was located behind home plate under the overhang.

Press Box, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

Press Box, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

The grandstand included aluminum seats in the lower seating bowl and aluminum bleachers under the grandstand roof.

Aluminum Seating, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

Aluminum Seating, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

In 2004, the Phillies left Jack Russell Stadium and relocated four miles east to brand new Bright House Stadium.

Bright House Field, Clearwater, Florida, Spring Training Home of the Philadelphia Phillies

Bright House Field, Clearwater, Florida, Spring Training Home of the Philadelphia Phillies

In 2007, the grandstand and the ticket office was demolished.

Front Entrance, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

Front Entrance and Grandstand, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater Florida

Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater Florida

Metal bleachers along the first base line that had been installed at Jack Russell Stadium sometime after its original construction were preserved and still remain at the ballpark.

First Base Grandstand and Player Clubhouse, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

First Base Grandstand and Player Clubhouse, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

The dugouts were preserved and remain at the ballpark as well.

First Base Dugout, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2013

First Base Dugout, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2013

Metal bleachers located along the third base line were also preserved.

Home Plate, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

Home Plate, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

Third Base Grandstand, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2013

Third Base Grandstand, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2013

The scoreboard and batters eye remain at the site.

Outfield Wall, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

Outfield Wall, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

Back of Batter's Eye and Scoreboard, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater Florida, 2015

Back of Batter’s Eye and Scoreboard, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater Florida, 2015

The original concrete block wall still surrounds the stadium exterior.

Original Stadium Wall, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2013

Original Stadium Wall, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2013

Several administrative buildings also remain on site.

Administrative Building, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2013

Administrative Building, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2013

Third Base Grandstand and Concession Stand, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2013

Third Base Grandstand and Concession Stand, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2013

Ticket Booth, Third Base Grandstand, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater Florida, 2015

Ticket Booth, Third Base Grandstand, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater Florida, 2015

Looking Toward Third Base Bleachers From Beyond Left Field Corner, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater Florida, 2015

Looking Toward Third Base Bleachers From Beyond Left Field Corner, Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater Florida, 2015

Although the grandstand constructed in 1954 is now gone, much of the rest of the ballpark remains intact, allowing visitors the opportunity to appreciate Florida Spring Training from the 1950s and 1960s.

Extra Innings Youth Foundation currently leases and maintains the ballpark. Extra Innings has “developed programs which include the introduction of baseball activities while simultaneously fostering academic improvement, spiritual guidance, and assisting young adults to become self sufficient in making life choices.” (See Extra Innings Website).

Any Phillies fans who are interested in the history of their team and the game itself should take the four mile drive from Bright House Field west on Drew Street to the former site of Clearwater Athletic Field and the current site of Jack Russell Stadium. Over 55 seasons of Phillies spring training history occurred at those two locations and they certainly are worth a visit.

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Clearwater Athletic Field – The Phillies First Clearwater Home

February 25th, 2015

Clearwater Athletic Field was located near the northeast corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Seminole Street in Clearwater, Florida. It hosted major league spring training for over 30 years, from 1923 to 1954.

Clearwater Athletic Field/Green Field, Postcard (C.T. Art-Colortone, Curteich-Chicago, Sun News Co., St. Petersburgh, Florida)

Clearwater Athletic Field/Green Field, Postcard (C.T. Art-Colortone, Curteich-Chicago, Sun News Co., St. Petersburgh, Florida)

The Brooklyn Dodgers first occupied the ballpark from 1923 to 1932, having previously trained at J.P. Smalls Memorial Park in Jacksonville, Florida. The Dodgers departed Clearwater for the 1933 season and trained from 1934 to 1935 at Tinker Field in Orlando, Florida.  The Dodgers returned to Clearwater Athletic Field from 1936 to 1941. The International League Newark Bears held their spring training at Clearwater Athletic Field from 1933 to 1935 and the Cleveland Indians held their spring training at Clearwater in 1942 and 1946. The Philadelphia Phillies held their spring training at Clearwater Athletic Field from 1947 to 1954. Clearwater Athletic Field was also home to the Florida State League Clearwater Pelicans in 1924 and the Florida State Negro Baseball League Clearwater Black Sox in 1952. The ballpark was later renamed Ray Green Field  after the former mayor of Clearwater.

Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater, Florida (Photo St. Petersburg Times Photo Dept.) (image is portion of larger photo)

Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater, Florida (Photo St. Petersburg Times Photo Dept.) (image is portion of larger photo)

The North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex now stands on the site.

North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex, Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater Florida

North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex, Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater Florida

Home plate was located along Pennsylvania Avenue, about half a block up from Seminole Street at the intersection of Nicholson Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Near Northeast Corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Seminole Street, Clearwater, Florida

Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Near Northeast Corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Seminole Street, Clearwater, Florida

Nicholson Street once ran parallel to Seminole Street, running alongside the first base grandstand. Nicholson Street now dead ends at Pennsylvania Avenue.

Intersection of Nickolson Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, Former Site of Home Plate, Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater, Florida

Intersection of Nicholson Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, Former Site of Home Plate, Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater, Florida

The southwest portion of the recreation center sits in the approximate location of home plate and the first base grand stand.

Approximate Location of Home Plate, Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater, Florida

Approximate Location of Home Plate, Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater, Florida

Southwest Portion of Recreation Center,  Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater, Florida

Southwest Portion of Recreation Center, Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater, Florida

Center Field was located at the southwest corner of Palmetto Street and Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd.

Center Field Corner, Looking Toward North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex, Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater Florida

Center Field Corner, Looking Toward North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex, Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater Florida

Right Field paralleled Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard (formerly Greenwood Avenue).

Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd. Looking South From Clearwater Atheltic Field's Former Center Field Corner to Right  Field Corner, North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex,  Clearwater Florida

Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd. Looking South From Clearwater Atheltic Field’s Former Center Field Corner to Right Field Corner, North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex, Clearwater Florida

The left field corner sat at the intersection of Palmetto Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

Palmetto Street Looking West From Clearwater Atheltic Field's Former Center Field Corner to Left Field Corner, North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex, Clearwater Florida

Left Field Corner Looking South Down Pennsylvania Avenue, Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater, Florida. This is approximate view today of the scene depicted in the postcard above

Left Field paralleled Palmetto Street.

Palmetto Street Looking West From Clearwater Atheltic Field's Former Center Field Corner to Left Field Corner, North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex,  Clearwater Florida

Palmetto Street Looking West From Clearwater Atheltic Field’s Former Center Field Corner to Left Field Corner, North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex, Clearwater Florida

The front entrance to the North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex sits in what was once right field.

Front Entrance, North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex, Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater Florida

Front Entrance, North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex, Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater Florida

Dedication Plaque, North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex, Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater Florida

Dedication Plaque, North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex, Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater Florida

The aquatic center sits in what was once center field.

Pool and Waterpark Where Once There Was Right Field, North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex, Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater Florida

Pool and Waterpark Where Once There Was Right Field, North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex, Former Site of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater Florida

In 1954, the City of Clearwater constructed a new spring training stadium, Jack Russell Stadium just two blocks east of Clearwater Athletic Park, which the Phillies moved into in 1955.

Aerial Photo of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater and Jack Russell Stadium, Florida (Photo St. Petersburg Times Photo Dept.)

Aerial Photo of Clearwater Athletic Field, Clearwater and Jack Russell Stadium, Florida (Photo St. Petersburg Times Photo Dept.)

The Phillies continued to use Clearwater Athletic Field as a practice facility even after the grandstand burned down in 1956.

Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida, 2004

Sandwiched between Clearwater Athletic Field and Jack Russell Stadium is Walter C. Campbell Park, which was once practice fields and parking for Jack Russell Stadium.

Walter C. Campbell Park, Former Parking Lot and Training Fields for Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida

Walter C. Campbell Park, Former Parking Lot and Training Fields for Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Florida

The light stanchions of Jack Russell Stadium are visible from the North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex, two blocks away.

View of Jack Russell Field From Former Site of Clearwater Ball Field

View of Jack Russell Field From Former Site of Clearwater Ball Field

In 2003, the Phillies relocated four miles east to yet another new ballpark in Clearwater, Bright House Field.

Bright House Field, Clearwater, Florida, Spring Training Home of the Philadelphia Phillies

Bright House Field, Clearwater, Florida, Spring Training Home of the Philadelphia Phillies

Any Phillies fans who are interested in the history of their team and the game itself should take the four mile drive from Bright House Field west on Drew Street to the former site of Clearwater Athletic Field and the current site of Jack Russell Stadium (although the grandstand and seating bowl are long gone). Over 55 seasons of Phillies spring training history occurred at those two locations and they certainly are worth a visit.

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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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D.C. Stadium – RFK Stadium

October 12th, 2013

RFK Stadium is located at 2400 East Capitol Street in southeast Washington, D.C. The stadium was home to the American League Washington Senators starting in 1962. Known then as D.C. Stadium, in 1969 the ballpark was renamed in memory of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. The Senators played at RFK through the 1971 season, when the franchise moved to Arlington, Texas, and was renamed the Texas Rangers. Prior to RFK, the Senators played their home games at Griffith Stadium.

RFK Stadium/Armory Complex Postcard (L.B. Prince Co. and Dexter Press)

RFK is a multi-purpose stadium which also hosted the National Football League Washington Redskins beginning in 1961, through the 1996 season. Likewise, Major League Soccer’s D.C. United has called RFK its home since 1996. The stadium has hosted other professional sports teams such as the Washington Freedom and the Washington Diplomats.

Seats Removed During RFK Stadium's Renovation Prior to Baseball's Return in 2005

In Septemer 2004, Major League Baseball announced that the Montreal Expos franchise was moving to Washington.

RFK Stadium Winter 2004 Preparing for Return of Baseball to D.C.

After a 33 year hiatus, baseball returned to Washington and RFK Stadium commencing in 2005.

Nationals Team Store Located in RFK Parking Lot

Major League Baseball owned the team when it moved the franchise to Washington. As a nod to baseball history, MLB christened the team the Washington Nationals.

RFK Stadium Opening Day 2005

The name was a homage to the city’s earliest professional baseball teams, the 1884 Union Association Washington Nationals, and the 1891 American Association Washington Nationals. The name also was a nod to the American League Senators which sometimes was referred to as Nationals or Nats, and from 1905 to 1906 had the word NATIONALS” emblazoned on its uniform (thanks RUken!).

Medal Detectors Outside Gate A RFK Stadium Opening Day 2005

On Opening Day 2005, President George W. Bush was on hand to throw out the first pitch.

Opening Ceremonies 2005

RFK was the fourth multi-purpose stadium built in the country, Municipal Stadium in Cleveland being the first. Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium was the second such stadium and Metropolitan Stadium in Minneapolis was the third. Thus, RFK is the oldest multi-purpose stadium still standing in the United States.

Batting Practice at RFK Stadium

Home plate was positioned facing east, toward the Whitney Young Memorial Bridge. The stadium’s distinctive, wavy roof line curved upward, optimizing its seating capacity along first and third base.

RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.

The upper reaches of the stadium along first and third base offered quite a sense of vertigo.

It Was A Long Way to the Infield From the Last Row at RFK

The press box for Redskin games was located in the upper deck on the first base side. When the Nationals arrived in 2005, the press box was covered over with signage.

Supports for Roof Over RFK 's Upper Deck With Football Press Box in Background

All the yellow seats in the upper deck are wooden and date back to when the ballpark opened in 1961.

A Sea of Yellow, Wooden Seats at RFK Stadium

To accommodate the dimensions and seating for football and soccer, the lower bowl seating along third base and up to the left field corner were mounted on rollers and moved along a track into the outfield behind left field. Those seats, lacking a rigid foundation underneath, bounced when fans jumped up and down on them.

Third Base Side Dugout Exposed to Accomodate D.C. United's Field

Because space was needed in the outfield to accommodate the movable seats, fans situated in the lower reaches of the outfield seats sat high above the action.

Night Game View of RFK Stadium's Cavernous Outfield

RFK Stadium was the last major league baseball park in the country where fans could walk around the entire perimeter of the upper deck seating bowl and see the game.

View From Center Field Upper Deck, RFK Stadium

The Presidents Race originated at RFK Stadium in 2005, growing out of the PNC Dollar Derby – a cartoon shown on the video board pitting George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Alexander Hamilton (note, he was not a president) in a car race. The Presidents Race, featuring live mascots, began during the 2006 season.

The Nationals's Presidents Race Started at RFK Stadium

The main entrance to RFK Stadium is the eastern most entrance at Gate D. Above that entrance is a mezzanine which includes a restaurant typically reserved for use by season ticket holders.

Champions Club, RFK Stadiu

Hall of Famer Frank Robinson was the Nationals first manager, having managed the Montreal Expos prior to their arrival in Washington. He often stood along the dugout fence (the National’s home dugout at RFK was along third base) and was easy to spot, even from the stands behind the third base dugout.

Frank Robinson's Last Day As Manager at RFK Stadium in 2006

The 2007 baseball season was to be the last one played at RFK.

RFK Opening Day 2007

During the 2007 season the Nationals placed a countdown banner in left field noting the number of home games left at RFK.

RFK's Count Down Banner

On September 23, 2007, the Nationals played their final game at RFK, a 5–3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. The announced attendance for that game was 40,519.

RFK Video Board Announces That the End is Nigh For Baseball

Thirty-six years earlier, on September 30, 1971, the Senators played their last game in front of 14,460 fans. However, the game was declared a forfeit when, with two outs in the top of the ninth inning and the Senators leading the Yankees 7-5, fans rushed the field. The final home game of the Washington Nationals was a much more civil affair.

The Last Day of Professional Baseball at RFK Stadium

The Washington Nationals now play their home games in Nationals Park, located two and a half miles southwest of RFK Stadium.

Nationals Park, Home of the Washington Nationals

RFK Stadium is not yet a lost ballpark. Its main tenant currently is D.C. United, which has a lease to play its home games at RFK through the 2015 season.

Major League Soccer Is Still Played at RFK, For Now

Once D.C. United leaves RFK, however, it will be only a matter of time before RFK is consigned to history. Having lasted over 50 years, it remains one of the oldest ballparks still standing in the United States. If you haven’t been there yet, be sure to take the time to stop for a picture when you are in D.C., or perhaps take in a soccer game.

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Ballpark Found – Fort Pulaski And The First Known Photo Of Baseball

August 13th, 2012

This post concerns not a lost ballpark, but a ballpark found. Well, not actually a ballpark, but a place where the game was once played. Captured for posterity in a photograph from 1862 is a baseball game in progress in the courtyard of Fort Pulaski National Monument, Georgia. The players can be seen playing behind an Army formation of the 48th New York Volunteers during the Civil War.

Ballplaying At Fort Polaski, Civil War Style (National Park Service Photograph)

Fort Pulaski is named after Revolutionary War hero Casimir Pulaski. If you’re a civil war buff and a fan of the game, a stop at the National Monument is well worth the trip. Standing on top of the Fort, which is accessible from a variety of staircases located around the interior of the Fort, provides an incredible view of the courtyard and the location where the image of  baseball was captured 150 years ago.

Fort Pulaski Georgia, Site Of The First Known Photograph Of Baseball

It should be noted that the Fort itself is constructed in the shape of a home plate, and the game in the photograph was located in what would be the tip of home plate.

"FortPulaski02" by Edibobb - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FortPulaski02.jpg#/media/File:FortPulaski02.jpg

Fort Pulaski Aerial Photo Courtesy of “FortPulaski02” by Edibobb – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FortPulaski02.jpg#/media/File:FortPulaski02.jpg

And, not to stretch the baseball analogy too thin, but there exists in Virginia a baseball stadium in the town named in honor of Revolutionary War hero Casimir Pulaski. The Appalachian League ballpark, originally known as Pulaski Field and currently named Calfee Park, was built in 1935.

Entrance To Pulaski Field in Pulaski, Virginia

According to the Pulaski Mariners, the ballpark’s current occupant, the ballpark is  the 9th oldest minor league stadium in the country.

Pulaski Field, Pulaski, West Virginia

A quick review of my baseball encyclopedia reveals no ballplayer named Pulaski. There has been, however, at least one Casimir who played major league ball – Casimir James “Jim” Konstanty – who played for the Philadelphia Phillies, among other teams, and was the National League MVP for 1950. No word yet whether Mr. Konstanty ever visited Fort Pulaski or played any games at Pulaski Field.

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The Vet – Veterans Stadium

July 24th, 2010

Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia was home to the National League Phillies from 1971 until 2003.

Phillies at Veterans Stadium (Philadelphia Post Card Co./photo by Frank Burd)

The stadium was part of a larger sports complex located south of downtown Philadelphia adjacent to Interstate 95 at Broad Street.

Stadium Complex (Art Color Card Distributors)

The only sports venue still standing in the postcard pictured above is the Spectrum, which was once home to Philadelphia’s hockey and basketball teams.

Veterans Stadium Visible from I-95 Heading North

The “Vet,” as it also was known, dominated the landscape along Interstate 95 heading north into Philadelphia.

Veterans Stadium along Pattison Avenue with Broad Street Subway Stop in Forground

Veterans Stadium was dedicated on April 4, 1971, to the “brave men and women of Philadelphia who served in defense of their country.”

Philadelphia Veterans Stadium Bronze Plaque Posted on Pillar Outside Stadium

Like many of the so called “cookie-cutter” stadiums constructed in the 1960s and 1970s, Veterans Stadium’s playing field was mainly artificial turf.  During summer days like the one in the picture below, it was not uncommon for the field temperature to reach 120 degrees.

View of Veterans Stadium from Center Field

A flattened version of Philadelphia’s famed Liberty Bell stood high above the stadium’s the center field seats.

Veterans Stadium Liberty Bell

Veterans Stadium section signs continued the Liberty Bell theme.

Veterans Stadium Sections Signage

The Vet’s original yellow and red plastic seats were replaced during the 1990s with blue plastic seats, making the seating area more uniform, if less colorful.

Giants Players In Pre-game Stretch on Veterans Stadium's Light Green Turf

One advantage of the artificial turf, as opposed to natural grass,  was it allowed fans the opportunity to sit on the field during firework night without any fear of damaging the playing field.

Baseball Fans Cover Veterans Stadium Outfield in Anticipation of Fourth of July Fireworks Display

The Vet’s linoleum floor on the concourse behind the 200 level looked more like something out of a high school cafeteria than a professional baseball venue.

Veteran Stadium's Red and White Linoleum Tile

In an effort to attract more fans, the Phillies added several family-friendly activities in the concourse, including speed pitch.  Such additions, however, could not hide the fact that the Vet was not designed with such activities in mind – an approach the designers of the new ballpark were certain to change.

Veterans Stadium Speed Pitch

As with just about every other multi-purpose ballpark, the Vets days were numbered, both literally and figuratively.

Only 644 Days Left Until the Death of Veterans Stadium

During the final two seasons of Veterans Stadium, the new ballpark, later named Citizens Bank Park, could be seen rising in a parking lot east of the Vet.

New Scoreboard Under Construction as Seen from Veterans Stadium

Although not visible from inside the ballpark’s seating bowl, construction of Citizens Bank Park was easily monitored standing along the outer concourse.

New Light Stanchions as Seen from Veterans Stadium

In late winter 2003 and early spring 2004, the Phillies and the City of Philadelphia put finishing touches on the new ballpark, while the Vet stat silently by, awaiting demolition.

The New and the Old

The end came quickly for Veterans Stadium.  During the summer of 2004, fans were treated with live action views of the stadium’s demolition site as city workers carted away stadium debris.

Veterans Stadium Lies in Ruins, As seen From the Upper Deck of Citizens Bank park

Although the former site of Veterans Stadium is now a parking lot, the Phillies ballclub and City of Philadelphia have included several markers and monuments recognizing the lost ballpark.  The entrance to parking area, Lot T, is a good place to start.

Lot T - Former Site of Veterans Stadium

A state historical marker pay tribute to significant milestones of Veterans Stadium.

Veterans Stadium State Historical Marker

The Phillies also relocated the Veterans Stadium dedication plaque to a garden on Pattison Avenue.

Veterans Stadium Dedication Plaque Relocated Along Pattison Avenue

Recognizing that the City of Philadelphia had dedicated Veterans Stadium in honor of Philadelphia’s veterans, the Phillies erected a new monument at the former site of Veterans Stadium as an “everlasting memorial to veterans who have defended America’s freedom since its inception in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776. ”

Memorial to Philadelphia's Veterans

The Phillies also restored four sports-themed statutes that once stood outside the entrances to Veterans Stadium.  Designed and produced by Joe Brown, a Philadelphia native, the statues now ring the parking lot that sits atop the Vet’s former site.

Statutes of Ballplayers Produced in 1976 by Joe Brown

The statute of a player sliding into base sits along Pattison Avenue, while the statue of a batter sits across the parking lot on South 1oth Street.

Joe Brown's Batter Statute

The Phillies also relocated between Citizens Bank Park and the site of Veterans Stadium a statute of former Philadelphia Athletics manager and owner Connie Mack.  The statue dates to the 1950s and originally was located on Lehigh Avenue in a park across from Connie Mack Stadium.

Connie Mack Statute Sandwiched Alongside Porta-potties

Parking Lot U, Area 3, marks the spot of the Veterans Stadium infield.

Parking Area, Lot U

A granite marker sits in the former location of home plate .

No Place Like Home

The marker is located in a driving lane as opposed to a parking space.

Veterans Stadium Home Plate with Spectrum in Background

Veterans Stadium Home Plate with Citizens Bank Park in Background

The same is true for the pitchers mound, now flattened, which also resides in a Lot U driving lane.

Location of Veterans Stadium Pitching Rubber

The Phillies have marked the former location of each bases as well.

Location of Veterans Stadium First Base

The granite marker for third base provides baseball fans the unique opportunity of parking their cars atop the spot where Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt once roamed the hot corner.  Let me just say what a thrill it was to park my car there.  A tip for those who want to experience the same thrill – arrive early.

Third Base Parking Space

The one vestige of Veterans Stadium that remains, still in its original location, is an electronic Phillies sign visible from I-76 (the Schuylkill Expressway) that resides near the entrance to parking Lots W and X.

Veterans Stadium-Era Phillies Sign Still Standing

That sign likewise is visible from inside Citizens Bank Park, out beyond center field.

Citizens Bank Park with Veterans Stadium Sign Visible Beyond Center Field

The many tributes and monuments to Veterans Stadium are well worth a stop for baseball fans visiting Citizens Bank Park.  The Vet may be long gone, but, thanks to the Phillies and the City of Philadelphia, she clearly has not been forgotten.

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Shibe Park and the Church of Baseball

April 20th, 2010

Shibe Park (later known as Connie Mack Stadium) was home to both the Philadelphia Phillies and Philadelphia Athletics and was located three miles north of Center City Philadephia and only five blocks west of the Baker Bowl.

Entrance to Shibe Park at Lehigh and 21st Street (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

Although the ballpark was demolished decades ago, a state historical marker now marks the spot.

Pennsylvania State Historical Marker

The Deliverance Evangelistic Church now sits on the former site.

Deliverance Evangelistic Church

Although the ballpark itself no longer remains, buildings in the area help provide prospective for where the ballpark once stood. Surrounding the mega-church are many of the same row houses that once caused Connie Mack to build a spite fence in right field along North 20th Street to keep fans sitting on rooftops across the street from watching the games for free.

Row Houses Minus Connie Mack’s Spite Fence

Those same row houses can be seen in this photograph of the 1914 World Series.  Connie Mack’s spite fence atop the right field wall arrived in 1935.

Crowds Watching 1914 World Series from Houses Along 20th Street (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

Shibe Park , Game Two of 1910 World Series,  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Divsion)

Shibe Park , Game Two of 1910 World Series, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Divsion)

As with the Baker Bowl, a trip to the corner of Lehigh and 21st Street is well worth the stop for any baseball fan who appreciates the history of the game.  Looking at the houses along 20th Street, one can still imagine their rooftops packed with fans watching the proceedings of the 1914 World Series.

Game Action 1920(?), Connie Mack Stadium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (digital image deadballbaseball.com, copyright David B. Stinson)

Game Action 1920(?), Connie Mack Stadium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (digital image deadballbaseball.com, copyright David B. Stinson)

A statue of former Philadelphia A’s owner and manager Connie Mack stands adjacent to the parking lot outside Citizens Bank Park.  The statute originally was located in a park across the street from Connie Mack Stadium on Lehigh Avenue and was placed there as a tribute to Mr. Mack soon after his death in 1956.   When the Phillies moved to Veterans Stadium, the statute moved with them, where it sat outside the Vet until the stadium’s demolition in 2004.

Statue of “Mr. Baseball” Connie Mack

Shibe Park/Connie Mack Stadium closed during the 1970 season.  Fans leaving the final game grab souvenirs of the old ballpark.  The ballpark was demolished in 1974.

Seat Slats Removed by Fan After Final Game

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Baker Bowl

April 18th, 2010

The Philadelphia Phillies called the Baker Bowl their home from 1887 to 1938.

The Baker Bowl (postcard company unknown)

Demolished a decade later, nothing now remains of the ballpark, although a state historical marker notes its former location.

Pennsylvania State Historical Marker

Some of the buildings surrounding the site from that era do help provide perspective of how the ballpark once fit into the neighborhood. The warehouse (former Brooks Brothers warehouse?) that looms over the outfield in the postcard above remains.

The Former Brooks Brothers Warehouse

The warehouse also is visible in this vintage 1932 photograph of  former New York Giant third baseman Gil English.

Gil English at the Baker Bowl (photographer unknown)

The warehouse also is visible along Lehigh Avenue.

Lehigh Avenue at 15th Street Looking East

The Moore & White Company (which made machinery such as paper machinery) was located at northeast corner of 15th Street and Lehigh Avenue, just beyond the left field bleachers (as seen in the photograph below). That building is no longer at the site.

Phillies vs Dodgers (?) 1920s, Baker Bowl, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Former Home of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Phillies vs Dodgers (?) 1920s, Baker Bowl, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Former Home of the Philadelphia Phillies (Digital Image deadballbaseball.com, copyright David B. Stinson)

Also remaining at the site from the time of the Baker Bowl is a two-story brick building (now painted white) topped with billboards that is visible in  pictures of the stadium just beyond right-center field.

Two Story Building just north of North Broad Street train station

The Baker Bowl site now is occupied by a gas station and parking lot that sit in left and center field respectively.

You Can Buy Gas Where the Gashouse Gang Once Battled the Phillies

A two story International-style industrial building sits in the former location of the infield and right field.

Former Right Field Corner at Broad Street and Huntingdon Street Looking North on Broad Street

The buildings on the south side of Huntingdon remain from the time of the Baker Bowl as well.

Looking West down Huntingdon

Is the former site of the Baker Bowl worth a visit, even though nothing remains of the former ballpark?  If you are a fan of the Phillies and appreciate  the history of the game, it is worth a stop, especially since the distinctive v-shaped warehouse that once loomed over center field remains in place.   Another former ballpark worth visiting is the Phillies’ second home – Shibe Park – which was located just a few blocks west of the Baker Bowl at the corner of Lehigh Avenue and North 29th Street.  More on that lost ballpark later.

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