Posts Tagged ‘Pittsburgh Pirates’

Hawaii’s Aloha Stadium

March 17th, 2015

Aloha Stadium is located  at 99-500 Salt Lake Boulevard in Halawa, Hawaii (a suburb of Honolulu), just north of the Honolulu International Airport and northeast of Pearl Harbor.

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Aloha Stadium opened in 1976 as a multi-purpose stadium, replacing Honolulu Stadium as the island’s main outdoor sports arena. Honolulu Stadium was located 10 miles southeast of Aloha Stadium and was demolished in 1976. Then Governor John Burns spearheaded the drive to construct Aloha Stadium and replace outdated Honolulu Stadium.

Bust and Plaque in Honor of Hawaii John A. Burns , Governor of Hawaii from 1962- to 1974, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Bust and Plaque in Honor of Hawaii John A. Burns , Governor of Hawaii from 1962- to 1974, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Aloha Stadium was designed so that the seating area could be moved to accommodate various configurations.Four 7,000 seat grandstand sections moved with the use of pressurized air to create a diamond configuration for baseball.

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii, Postcard (Tour 1545, photo by Gustavo Ramirez)

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii, Postcard (Tour 1545, photo by Gustavo Ramirez)

Because of problems with the system that moves the grandstand seating, in 2006, Aloha Stadium’s seating was permanently locked in a rectangular configuration for football.

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii, with Grandstand Seating Aligned for Football

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii, with Grandstand Seating Aligned for Football

The Stadium Authority added sky walks between the four different grandstand sections.

Sky Walks Link The Grandstand Sections at Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Sky Walks Link The Grandstand Sections at Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

When Aloha Stadium opened in 1976, it was home to the Pacific Coast League Hawaii Islanders.

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

During the Islanders’ stay at Aloha Stadium, the team was affiliated with the San Diego Padres from 1976 to 1982, the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1983 to 1986, and the Chicago White Sox in 1987.

Gate %, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Gate 5, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

In 1986 and 1987, the Islanders also played some of their home games at Rainbow Stadium (currently Les Murakami Stadium), the home of the University of Hawaii baseball team.

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

After the 1987 season, the Islanders franchise was relocated to Colorado Springs, Colorado. Professional baseball has made brief returns to Aloha Stadium, first with the arrival of the Major League Baseball affiliated minor league Hawaii Winter Baseball League, which played at Aloha Stadium from 1993 to 1997. On April 19 and 20, 1997, the San Diego Padres hosted the St. Louis Cardinals for a three game regular season series at Aloha Stadium, thus making the stadium a Major League ballpark, if only for three games. The Padres also played additional exhibition games at Aloha Stadium up until 2001.

Ticket Windows, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Ticket Windows, Main Gate, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

With the grandstand seating now permanently locked in a football configuration, it is highly unlikely professional baseball ever will return to Aloha Stadium.

Shade Trees Line the Perimeter of Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Shade Trees and Other Native Vegetation Line the Perimeter of Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Home plate was located in the center of what is now the stadium’s southern most end zone.

Looking Toward End Zone Located at the Southern End (and Former Location of Home Plate) Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Looking Toward End Zone Located at the Southern End (and Former Location of Home Plate) Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Aloha current tenants include the University of Hawaii Warriors football team, who have played at the stadium since its opening in 1975. It also hosts annually the NCAA Hawaii Bowl and the National Football League Pro Bowl.

Section U (Near the Northern Most End Zone), Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Section U (Near the Northern Most End Zone), Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

The parking lot that surrounds Aloha Stadium hosts a giant Swap Meet every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. Ironically, none of the vendors at the swap meet had any baseball or Aloha Stadium related merchandise on the day I visited.

Swap Meet, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Swap Meet, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

With talk underway to upgrade the Aloha Stadium, the venue is not currently in any danger of becoming yet another lost ballpark. However, it’s days of hosting baseball games are behind it.

Entrance Gate From Second Level Concourse, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Entrance Gate From Second Level Concourse, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Still, if you are in the habit of collecting ballparks – or former professional baseball parks – Aloha Stadium should be added to your list as a former Major League Park (if only for three days). It is a short drive from Pearl Harbor, if you are in the area, and if you are there on a Wednesday, Saturday, or Sunday, you can walk around the perimeter of the stadium through the rows of vendors at the swap meet.

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Fort Myer’s Terry Park – Over 100 Years of Baseball History

February 24th, 2015

Terry Park is located at 3410 Palm Beach Boulevard in Fort Myers, Florida. The ballpark hosted major league spring training for over 50 years, from the early 1920s to the late 1980s. The earliest professional baseball activity at the site was in 1914 when the American Association Louisville Colonels held spring training on the grounds of the Fort Myers Yacht and Country Club, owned by Dr. Marshall Terry and his wife Tootie MacGregor Terry. The Colonels also played exhibition games against the Philadelphia Athletics and the St. Louis Browns that year (although the baseball field used by the Colonels was not the same field that would become Terry Park).

Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

In 1918, Lee County began holding its annual fair on the country club property and, in 1921, Dr Terry donated to the county the land on which the country club was built. That same year the county officially named the property “Terry Park.” See Terry Park 100 Year Anniversary Book, Lee County Parks for a detailed history of the property and Terry Park. In 1923, Lee County convinced Connie Mack to bring his Philadelphia Athletics to Fort Myers for spring training. The county utilized plans provided by Mack in designing the ballpark and field, which opened in 1925. The Athletics departed Terry Park after the 1936 season. The Cleveland Indians subsequently trained at Terry Park in 1941 and 1942.

Ty Cobb, Thomas Edison, and Connie Mack at Terry Park (Photo From Collection of Edison and Ford Winter Estates)

Ty Cobb, Thomas Edison, and Connie Mack at Terry Park (Photo From the Edison and Ford Winter Estates Collection)

A fire started during an amateur baseball game destroyed Terry Park’s grandstand in 1943. In hopes of bringing Major league spring training back to Terry Park, the county and the City of Fort Myers in 1954 constructed a new 2,500 concrete and steel grandstand. In 1955 the Pittsburgh, Pirates moved their spring training to Terry Park. The Pirates departed after 1968, and the following year the Kansas City Royals made Terry Park their home. The Royals trained at Terry Park until 1987. In March 1990, the Minnesota Twins used Terry Park as the spring training grounds for its minor league players while Lee County Stadium was being built.

Terry Park Postcard "Pittsburgh Pirates WInter Home" (Lustercrome, Tichnor Bros. Boston)

Terry Park Postcard “Pittsburgh Pirates Winter Home” (Lustercrome, Tichnor Bros. Boston)

Although the baseball complex is still known today as Terry Park, the stadium itself was renamed Park T. Pigott Memorial Stadium in 1972, after a local baseball enthusiast and government administrator.

Terry Park Sign, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Terry Park Sign, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

During his long career of service to the City of Fort Myers, Pigott was Director of both City of Fort Myers Parks and Recreation and Lee County Parks and Recreation, as well as the Superintendent of Terry Park.

Park T. Pigott Historical Plaque, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Park T. Pigott Historical Plaque, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Pigott also was instrumental in bringing both the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Kansas City Royals to Terry Park for spring training.

Park T. Pigott Historical Sign, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Park T. Pigott Historical Sign, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Terry Park also was home to the Florida State League Fort Myers Palms from 1926 to 1927, and the Fort Myers Royals from 1978 to 1987. In 1989 and 1990 it was the home to the Fort Myers Sun Sox of the Senior Professional Baseball Association.

Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Terry Park includes three practice fields named after Hall of Famers who played at Terry Park for three of the teams that trained there: Connie Mack, Roberto Clemente, and George Brett.

Connie Mack Field at Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Connie Mack Field at Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Practice Field Bleachers Behind Main Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Practice Field Bleachers Behind Main Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Once professional baseball departed, Terry Park was used primarily for youth, American Legion, and high school baseball.

Outfield Wall, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Concrete Block Outfield Wall, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

In 1965, Terry Park was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. However, in 2004 the grandstand was demolished after Hurricane Charley damaged the structure.

Left Field Line Looking Toward Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Left Field Line Looking Toward Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Although some of the girders installed in 1955 remain, the structure bears little resemblance to the historic grandstand it replaced.

Grandstand Interior, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Grandstand Interior, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

During the 2004 renovation, the dugouts also were replaced, as well as some, if not all, of the outfield wall.

View of Grandstand from Behind First Base Dugout, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

View of Grandstand from Behind First Base Dugout, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

The good news is that baseball is still played at Terry Park. The stadium is used year round for amateur and college baseball.

Sign Welcoming Players to Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Sign Welcoming Players to Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

In February and March each year, over 100 teams travel to Terry Park for the The Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic.

First Base Dugout, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

First Base Dugout, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Fort Myers boasts a proud history of major league spring training. Three other facilities nearby once held or currently hold spring training in Fort Myers. From 1993 to 2011, the Boston Red Sox held their spring training at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers.

City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida, Former Spring Training Home of the Boston Red Sox

Since 2012, the Red Sox have trained at Jet Blue Stadium, located in Fort Myers 14 miles southeast from City of Palms Park.

Jet Blue Stadium, Spring Training Home of the Boston Red Sox, Fort Myers, Florida

Jet Blue Stadium, Current Spring Training Home of the Boston Red Sox, Fort Myers, Florida

The Minnesota Twins also train in Fort Myers, at Hammons Stadium, located just seven miles west of Jet Blue Stadium.

Hammond Stadium, Fort Myers, Florida, Spring Training Home of the Minnesota Twins

Hammons Stadium, Fort Myers, Florida, Spring Training Home of the Minnesota Twins

If you are attending spring training at either of these stadiums in Fort Myers, take a moment to visit Terry Park as well. It is a beautiful park full of baseball history. And chances are you might catch an amateur or college game while you are there. For additional photos of Terry Park (including many vintage photos), see naplesnews.com.

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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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J.P. Small Memorial Park – Jacksonville’s Oldest Ballfield

September 13th, 2013

Baseball has been played at 1701 Myrtle Avenue in Jacksonville, Florida, since 1912. Currently known as J.P. Small Memorial Park, the ball field has been the site of major league spring training, minor league games, Negro League games, and countless high school and college contests, as well as high school and college football.

J.P. Small Park, Jacksonville, Florida

From 1912 until 1926 it was known as Barrs Field, named in honor of local businessman Amander Barrs who spearheaded construction of the field. The first professional game played on that field was held on April 18, 1912, with the Jacksonville Tarpons defeating the Savannah Indians 4-1. To put that in perspective, the RMS Titanic sank just three days earlier on April 14-15 1912, and the Boston Redsox played their first professional game at Fenway Park just five days later, defeating the New York Highlanders 7-6 on April 20, 1912.

J.P. Small Park – Baseball Has Been Played On This Field Since 1911

In 1915 and 1916 it was the spring training home for Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics. The Pittsburgh Pirates trained at Barrs Field in 1918 and the Brooklyn Dodgers trained there in 1919, 1920, and 1922.

Philadelphia Athletics Train at Barrs Field in 1916 (J.P. Smalls Park Negro League Museum)

In 1926 the field came under the ownership of the City of Jacksonville and the name of the ballpark was changed to Joseph H. Durkee Athletic Field.The original grandstand was constructed of wood, which was destroyed by a fire in 1934.

Grandstand at J.P. Smalls Parkk

The current grandstand was constructed in 1935. An exhibition celebrating the remodeled stadium was played in March 1935 between the Philadelphia Athletics and the New York Giants.

J.P. Small Park Grandstand Constructed in 1935

In 1937 the city added an additional section to the grandstand along the third base side.

1937 Addition to Grandstand at J.P. Small Park

The minor league Jacksonville Tarpons played at Barrs Field, from the ballpark’s inaugural game in April 1912, through the 1917 season. The Jacksonville Scouts (later called the Indians) of the Florida State League played at Barrs Field in the early 1920s. Football also was played at Barrs Field, which for a time hosted University of Florida football games, including the very first game ever between the University of Florida and the University of Georgia, on November 6, 1915.

Original 1935 Grandstand As Seen From 7th Street

In 1926 the Southern League Jacksonville Tars began play at newly renamed Durkee Field with future Hall of Famer Rube Marquard as their manager. The 1927 New York Yankees, featuring rs Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig also played at Durkee Field. On April 1st of that year the Yankees played a spring exhibition game against the St. Louis Cardinals, in which Ruth hit a ball into the overflow crowd in right field, for a ground rule double.

Field Entrance to 1937 Grandstand Addition

The Southern Negro League Jacksonville Red Caps (owned by the Jacksonville Terminal Station, hence the name) also played their home games at Barr Field, later Durkee Field. In 1938 the Red Caps attained major league status joining Negro American League and played at Durkee Field for one season before relocating to Cleveland. The Red Caps returned to Jacksonville for the 1941 and 1942 seasons.

Historic 1937 Dugout With Entrance to Clubhouse

In 1938 the Jacksonville Tars were a farm team for the New York Giants. In 1952 they became a farm team for the Milwaukee Braves, changing their name to the Jacksonville Braves.

Entrance to the Third Base Side Dugout (now boarded up)

In 1953 the Braves added Hank Aaron to their roster, becoming one of two teams to break the color line in the South Atlantic League.

Stairway From Third Base Dugout To Locker Room

The last year of professional play at Durkee Field was 1954. In 1955, the Jacksonville Braves moved to a newly constructed ballpark later renamed in honor of their owner Samuel Wolfson. Jacksonville’s minor league team played at Wolfson Park through the 2002 season. In 2003 they moved to the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, constructed on the former site of Wolfson Park.

Bragan Field, the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville

In 1980 the City of Jacksonville renovated the ballpark and renamed it in honor of James P. Small, a longtime baseball coach at Stanton High School in Jacksonville.

Ticket Booths With Plaque Commemorating J.P. Small Memorial Park

J.P. Small Park also includes a Negro League Museum with information about the ballpark and the teams that played there.

Negro League Museum Display, J.P. Small Park

The museum also honors J.P. Small and his many years working with the youth of Jacksonville.

Museum Display Honoring J.P. Small

Installed in 2006, outside the ballpark is a statue of Buck O’Neil, honoring the historical significance of J.P. Small Park to the history of Negro League baseball.

Buck O’Neil Statute Outside J.P. Small Park

J.P. Small Park is currently the home of the Stanton College Preparatory School baseball team. The caretaker of the park, a wonderful man named Russell, was kind enough to give us a tour of the entire ballpark on our visit.

Locker Room, J.P. Small Park, With Russell, the Caretaker Of The Ballpark

J.P. Small Park is a baseball time capsule. Its rich history and its beautiful preservation make it a must-see for anyone who appreciates old ballparks. For more information about the history of the park be sure to read the National Register of Historic Places Application issued by the National Park Service, placing J.P. Smalls Stadium on the Historic Register.

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Forbes Field – Game Over

March 11th, 2012

My earlier post, Forbes Field and the University of Pittsburgh, focuses on the portion of the original outfield wall that remains at the former site of Forbes Field, now part of the University of Pittsburgh.

Forbes Field Postcard (Published by Minsky Bros. & Co. Pittsburgh) 

The original outfield wall is not the only artifact of Forbes Field remaining at the site.

Pennsylvania Historical Plaque for Forbes Field

The former location of home plate is inside Wesley Posvar Hall, a six-story building constructed by the University of Pittsburgh in the mid 1970’s.

University of Pittsburgh’s Wesley Posvar Hall

A plaque outside Posvar Hall recognizes Barney Dreyfus, owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1900 to 1932.

Pennsylvania Historical Plaque Honoring Barney Dreyfuss

The actual home plate from Forbes Field is encased in glass and set into the floor in its “approximate” former location.

Forbes Field Home Plate

Hung on a wall next to home plate  is a photograph of Forbes Field taken from the Cathedral of Learning, which is located several blocks beyond what was once left field.

Former and Present Location of Forbes Field Home Plate

About 90 feet from the home plate marker inside Posvar Hall is an oil portrait of Wesley W. Posvar, the University’s 15th chancellor.

Oil Painting of Chancellor Posvar

Outside Posvar Hall is a line of of bricks that lead across Roberto Clemente Drive to where the remnants of the outfield wall begin. About 15 feet tall, and perhaps 180 feet long, the wall is constructed of red brick and divided by concrete columns spaced 12 feet apart.  The columns are covered in green paint and the wall is capped with blocks of weathered grey granite. Next to the wall is the original center field flag pole.

Original Forbes Field Wall on Campus of University of Pittsburgh

The wall ends at what once was the right-field pavilion.  For additional pictures of the Forbes Field wall, check out my earlier post, Forbes Field and the University of Pittsburgh.

Backside of Forbes Field Wall with Posvar Hall Visible Beyond Wall

Behind the Forbes Field wall is a youth baseball diamond.

Youth Baseball Diamond Behind Forbes Field Wall (to the right)

Also behind the wall is a replica of the entrance to Forbes Field.

Replica Entrance to Forbes Field

Constructed of wood, the entrance way replicates the cream-colored, tiled facade of Forbes Field.

Sign Attached to Replica of Forbes Field’s Entrance

Behind what would have been the right field pavilion is the top landing of a concrete stairway with painted aqua green pipe hand rails.  The stairway once provided ballpark access for fans arriving from Joncaire Street in Panther Hollow.

Stairway Behind Forbes Field’s Right Field Pavilion

Next to PNC Park, the Pirates current home, is a statute of Bill Mazeroski crossing home plate, in honor of his 1960 World Series walk of home run. Part of the fence surrounding the plaza includes a portion of the Forbes Field brick wall – marked “306 FT” – which was removed during the demolition of the ballpark and resided for a while at Three River Stadium. It was this portion of the Forbes Field wall that Mazeroski’s famous home run cleared for the game winner.

Bill Mazeroski Statue Located Outside PNC Park Just West of Exposition Park's Former Site

Bill Mazeroski Statue Located Outside PNC Park Just West of Exposition Park’s Former Site

Although Forbes Field is now just another lost ballpark, what remains at the site is well worth a stop for any baseball fan passing through Pittsburgh.

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An Expedition to Pittsburgh’s Exposition Park(s)

December 15th, 2010

Long before PNC Park, Three Rivers Stadium, and Forbes Field, Pittsburgh’s professional baseball teams played at a place known as Exposition Park.  In truth, there actually were three different incarnations of Exposition Park located along the banks of the Allegheny River.  The third, and most well documented, being the last of the three.

Exposition Park Pittsburgh, August 1904 (Geo. R. Lawrence Co., Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

Exposition Park Circa 1905, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

Exposition Park August 5, 1905, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

In the above photograph, North Side’s Monument Hill is visible in the background (now Community College of Allegheny County).

Pittsburgh’s Exposition Park (postcard image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, postcard publisher unknown)

As is evident in the above postcard, Exposition Park once sat along the Allegheny River, across from downtown Pittsburgh, just west of the Pirates current home, PNC Park.  The picture below of the Bill Mazeroski Statute located outside the Right Field Gate, includes some of the same buildings across the Allegheny River that appear in the postcard above, most notably the Marriott Renaissance Hotel, with its distinctive upside down u-shaped breezeway, to the left in the photograph.

Bill Mazeroski Statue Located Outside PNC Park near the former Site of Exposition Park

Because the area along the Allegheny River where the ballpark once stood flooded several times, and has been dredged and widened, the exact location of Exposition Park is difficult to determine.

Former Site of Exposition Park as Seen From PNC Park

However, along the banks of the river, just east of Interstate 279 and the Fort Duquesne Bridge, a plaque constructed by the Pennsylvania State Historical and Museum Society honors Exposition Park.

Pennsylvania State Historical Plaque Honoring Exposition Park

The plaque also notes that in October 1903, the very first World Series – between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Boston Americans – was played there.

Pennsylvania State Historical Marker Honoring Exposition Park and the First World Series

The former site of two other Pittsburgh ballparks reside in the area near Exposition Park.  Three Rivers Stadium sat just to the north and west of Exposition Park.  The picture below, taken just north of Exposition Park’s former site facing in the direction Heinz Field, shows the approximate location of Three Rivers Stadium, which is now, largely, a parking lot.

Former Site of Three Rivers Stadium (Just Beyond Interstate 279) From Vantage Point of Exposition Park

Recreation Park, where Pittsburgh played its home games from 1887 to 1890, prior to moving into Exposition Park’s third incarnation in 1891, sat just north of Exposition Park.  A Pennsylvania State historical marker placed along North Shore Drive just east of Heinz Field pays homage to Recreation Park.  The plaque notes that the ballpark resided just “a few blocks NW of here.”

Plaque Honoring Recreation Park

The Pennsylvania State historical marker likewise notes that the first professional football game was played at Recreation Park in 1892, one year after the Pirates left for Exposition Park.

Pennsylvania State Historical Marker Noting Recreation Park's Significance to the History of Professional Football

Pennsylvania State Historical Marker Noting Recreation Park’s Significance to the History of Professional Football

The Pirates current home, PNC Park, resides just a long fly ball from the former site of Exposition Park. In addition to the Pirates, who played at Exposition Park from 1891 to 1909, before moving to Forbes Field mid season, the Players League Pittsburgh Burghers played at Exposition Park in 1890 and the Federal League Pittsburgh Stogies and Pittsburgh Rebels played at Exposition Park from 1913 to 1915.

Former Site of Exposition Park With PNC Park as a Backdrop

With so many lost ballparks located near the Pirates current home, anyone who cares at all about the history of the game should be sure to take a stroll just west of PNC Park and visit the former sites not only of Exposition Park, but Recreation Park and Three Rivers Stadium as well.

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The Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers Stadium

June 25th, 2010

Three Rivers Stadium, home to the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1970 through 2000, was located in the North Shore section of Pittsburgh.

Three Rivers Stadium Aerial View (Gold Star Photography/Norman W. Schumm)

The multipurpose stadium was nestled along the Allegheny River, adjacent to where that river converges with the Monongahela River to form the Ohio River, hence the stadium’s name.

Pittsburgh's Skyline Across the Allegheny River Looking South Beyond Three Rivers Stadium's Outfield Wall

It is hard to believe that the Pirates would have abandoned historic Forbes Field for the generic and sterile confines of Three Rivers, however, such was progress, 1970’s-style.

Three Rivers Stadium Playing Field

Tarp Covers Three Rivers Stadium's Infield During Rain Delay

The seating capacity and the lack of demand for tickets led Pirate officials to close off portions of the outfield upper deck seating area.

Closed Upper Deck Seating Area Included Tribute to Pittsburgh's Negro League Champions

Still, regardless of its architectural merits, Three Rivers Stadium hosted major league baseball for over 30 seasons and, with its demolition, a considerable amount of baseball history went with it.

Three Rivers Stadium Upper Deck

The site of two World Series, many great Pittsburgh players called Three Rivers Stadium their home.

The Three Rivers Third Base Side and Left Field Corner

Ultimately, progress made a dramatic U-turn and in 2001, the Pirates inaugurated PNC Park, constructed just four blocks east of Three Rivers Stadium.

Looking West From PNC Park toward Former Site of Three Rivers Stadium circa 2003

PNC Park With Heinz Field And Former Site of Three Rivers Stadium In Background

Today, the former site of Three Rivers Stadium is, like many other recently-lost ballparks, a parking lot.

Former Site of Three Rivers Stadium (Shown As A Parking Lot) Adjacent to Heinz Field Circa 2009

Construction of the North Shore Entertainment Complex currently is underway on the former site of Three Rivers Stadium.   The picture below shows the area formerly occupied by the right field corner/seating area of Three River Stadium.

Sign Announcing Construction of North Shore Entertainment Complex at Former Site of Three Rivers Stadium

Eventually, the area will house a two story,  22,000 square foot for both indoor and outdoor concerts.

Former Site of Three River Stadium Center Field

Former Site of Three River Stadium Center Field Looking Southeast

The seating area along left field/third base remains a parking lot, for the moment, at least.  The approximate location of left field sits on West Robinson Street, just east of Interstate 279.

Approximate Location of Three Rivers Stadium Left Field Corner Looking Toward Direction of Home Plate

Approximate Location of Three Rivers Stadium Left Field Corner Looking Toward Home Plate

A two-story, concrete marker for Gate D is the only portion of Three Rivers Stadium still standing.   It is located adjacent to Heinz Field and the statute of Steelers’ founder Arthur Rooney.

Gate D Marker from Three Rivers Stadium

In 2006, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission erected a plaque next to the Gate D marker commemorating Three Rivers Stadium.

Three Rivers Stadium Historical Plaque With Heinz Field in Background

The plaque states:

Three Rivers Stadium

Opened on July 16, 1970.  Home to the Pirates, who won two World Series, and the Steelers, who won four Super Bowl Championships, creating “Pittsburgh’s City of Champions” identity.  It was the site of Roberto Clemente’s 3,000th hit, September 30, 1972 and Franco Harris’s legendary “Immaculate Reception,” December 23, 1972.  A multi-use facility, it also hosted many concerts and special events prior to its demolition on February 11, 2001.

Three Rivers Stadium Pennsylvania State Historical Marker

A stop at Gate D to visit the site of yet another lost ballpark is certainly worth the trip next time you find yourself four blocks east at PNC park in Pittsburgh.

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Honus Wagner House

April 28th, 2010

Most people in the United States know John Peter “Honus” Wagner as the player whose name and image appeared on the legendary T-206 tobacco card, the most valuable baseball card ever printed.  Historians of the game also consider Wagner to be perhaps the best shortstop of all time.

John Peter "Honus" Wagner (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

Born in Carnegie, Pennsylvania, in 1874, Wagner lived almost his entire life in that town.  His former house at 605 Beechwood Avenue in Carnegie still stands as a private residence, looking much like it did when Wagner lived there.

Honus Wagner's House in Carnegie PA

The house was built for Wagner in 1917, his last year as a player, and he lived there until his death in 1955. The house is a two-and-a-half story, tan-brick foursquare, with a central dormer and a front porch with matching tan-brick columns.

Entrance to Second Floor

Four grey-painted concrete steps lead from the sidewalk to a clay-tiled front porch.

More Steps to the Past

An ornate wood front door with leaded glass panels on either side of the door and in the transom above.

Ornate Front Door

To the left of the entrance is the house number “605″ set inside a shield carved in granite, and to the right, a similar granite shield with the initials “JW” framing the doorbell.

605 Beechwood Avenue

You Too Can Ring Wagner's Bell

Just a ten mile drive from old Forbes Field and seven miles from PNC Park, the current home of the Pirates, Wagner’s house on Beechwood Avenue is a well-preseved time capsule and well worth the stop.

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Forbes Field and the University of Pittsburgh

April 8th, 2010

Forbes Field Wall and the Cathedral of Learning

Baseball fans owe a debt of gratitude to the University of Pittsburgh for having the foresight to keep portions of Forbes Field in place for future generations of fans to appreciate. The university purchased Forbes Field in the 1960’s with the understanding it would tear down the ballpark and develop the land once the Pirates relocated to a new stadium.

The Backside of the Wall

A line of bricks embedded in the sidewalk in front of Wesley Posvar Hall marks the left field portion of the outfield wall – an area once known as “Greenberg Gardens” and, after that, “Kiner’s Korner,” in honor of two of the team’s more prolific sluggers.

Plaque Embedded in Street Marking Outfield Wall

A bronze plaque in the sidewalk marks the exact spot where Bill Mazeroski’s ninth-inning home run cleared both former Yankee catcher-turned-outfielder Yogi Berra and the left field wall, clinching the 1960 World Series for the Pirates.

Game Over!

The line of bricks continue across a narrow street – appropriately named Roberto Clemente Drive – to where the actual remnants of the outfield wall began.

Bricks Embedded in Sidewalk Mark Outfield Wall

About 15 feet tall, and perhaps 180 feet long, the wall is constructed of red brick and divided by concrete columns spaced 12 feet apart. The columns are painted green and the wall is capped with blocks of weathered grey granite. The original center field flag pole and two distance markers, still painted in white on the side of the wall — 457 to left center, 436 to right center, remain as well.

457 to Left Center With Shadow of CF Flagpole

The wall ends at what once was the right-field pavilion.

Right Field Grandstand Started Here

For more pictures and information from Deadball Baseball about Forbes Field, CLICK: Forbes Field – Game Over .

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