Posts Tagged ‘Sportsman Park/Busch I’

Meet the Old Busch

May 12th, 2010

Opened in 1966, the former home of the St. Louis Cardinals originally was known as Civic Center Busch Memorial Stadium.

Civic Center and Gateway Arch (St. Louis Color Postcard Co./photo Art Grossman)

The Cardinals left their previous home, Sportsman Park, in June 1970, and inaugurated the new, multi-purpose stadium later that month.

Busch Stadium's Plaza of Champions, Covered in Snow

The stadium’s original playing surface was grass, which proved difficult to maintain in a multi-purpose setting.  Replaced with Astroturf in the 1970’s, grass returned to the stadium during mid-1990’s renovations.

Busch Stadium's Natural Playing Surface

The stadium’s architecture paid homage to the St. Louis Arch.

Busch Stadium Concrete Arches Inspired by St. Louis Arch

The St. Louis arch loomed over the stadium, however, the stadium’s circular, enclosed shape did not allow for any sweeping vistas of the arch.

Busch Stadium Arches and the St. Louis Arch

Additional changes made during the mid-1990’s renovations were removal of seats above center field and addition of a hand-operated scoreboard.

Busch Centerfield Scoreboard with Construction Crane in Background

The mid-1990’s renovations improved significantly the stadium’s baseball ambiance.

Busch Stadium Manual Scoreboard and Retired Numbers

Nothing says baseball like a stadium named after a beer company.

Busch Neon Light Above Centerfield Scoreboard

Although considered a “cookie-cutter” stadium, Busch Stadium had its share of majestic sight lines.

Busch At Twilight

With its large expanse of seating and playing field, the glow of night baseball at Busch Stadium was especially striking.

Busch Night Game

One benefit of the cookie cutter stadiums was they allowed fans the opportunity to view the playing field from every vantage point simply by walking the entire circumference of the upper deck – something that is no longer possible in any major league ballpark still in use.

Busch Stadium Upperdeck Walkway

The upper and lower seating bowl was a sea of red plastic, riser-mount seats.

Rows of Red Upperdeck Seats

In 2004, the Cardinals began construction of new ballpark to be partially located in a parking lot just south of Busch Stadium.

Parking Lot Southwest of Stadium - Now Site of New Busch Stadium

During the summer of 2005, the new stadium could be seen rising along side old Busch Stadium.

Old and New Busch Stadium as Seen From St. Louis Arch

Construction of the new stadium dominated the view from the outer concourse located behind right field.

Busch Stadium Upperdeck Pillars and New Stadium

A walk along that concourse during the summer of 2005 was bittersweet as it foretold the end of an era and the coming of another lost ballpark.

Where Have You Gone Mark McGwire?

Fans purchasing souvenirs had a view of the shape of things to come.

Busch Stadium Souvenir Stand With New Stadium in Background

The entrance to the New Busch Stadium under construction at the intersection of Clark Avenue and  Stadium Plaza provided a striking example of the architectural differences between the two ballparks.

Old Busch Meets New Busch

The new ballpark’s left field sits in place of old Busch Stadium’s right field/first base seating section.  An outline of a portion of Busch Stadium’s outer wall is still visible across Clark Avenue (which was added after the demolition of old Busch Stadium) which runs alongside the new stadium.  The following two photographs show the former site along Walnut Street prior to asphalt pavement for parking.

Former Site of Busch Stadium Left/Center Field

The Cardinals plan to turn this portion of the site into a “ballpark village” with retail and residential development.

Former Site of Busch Stadium

Old Busch Stadium is now just another lost ballpark.  Hopefully, the Cardinals, in developing their ballpark village, will find a way to pay homage to the former ballpark and demarcate precisely where the ballpark used to sit.

New Busch Stadium with Former Site of Old Busch Stadium Visible Beyond Centerfield

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Sportsman Park and Herbert Hoover

April 11th, 2010

Baseball was first played at the intersection of Grand Boulevard and Dodier Street in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1867. Originally was called Grand Avenue Ball Grounds, the ballpark name was changed to Sportsman Park in 1876.

Sportsman Park in St. Louis (Curteich-Chicago)

Several different variants of Sportsman Park existed over the years. Originally the home of the National League St. Louis Cardinals, the ballpark also was the home of the American League St. Louis Browns from 1920 until 1953.

Busch Stadium "Home of the Cardinals" (Plastichrome Postcard, published by St. Louis Greeding Card Co.)

Anheuser-Busch purchased the Cardinals and Sportsman Park in 1953 and that same year renamed the ballpark Busch Stadium. The Cardinals departed Sportsman Park in June 1970 and inaugurated the new, multi-purpose Busch Stadium later that month.

Busch Stadium Postcard (Plastichrome Postcard Published by CharmCraft, St. Louis)

Located northwest of downtown, the Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club now sits on the site.

Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club at Dodier St. and Grand Blvd.

The Boys and Girls Club is located along the former first base side of the ballpark to the right field pavilion.

Sign at Corner of Dodier St. and Grand Blvd.

Although all vestiges of the ballpark are long gone, the former left field remains an athletic field at the Boys and Girls Club.

Former Left Field from Right Field Line

The site of center field is now occupied by tennis courts.

Center Field Tennis Courts at Corner of Sullivan and Grand

Several building surrounding the site remain from the time of Sportsman Park.  Across Sullivan Avenue opposite center field is the former Speedwa School building with a billboard on its roof that was once visible out past center field.

Center Field Billboard Still Visible atop Chinese Restaurant

The Speedwa School building also is visible in the postcard reproduced above.

Former Speedwa School now a Chinese Restaurant

Across the street from the former Speedwa School, at 3108 North Grand Street, is a five-story brick building, currently the headquarters of World Impact of St. Louis.  That building, which used to house a YMCA, looms beyond the center field wall in vintage photographs of Sportsman Park.

Distinctive Brick Building Visible Just Beyond Center Field in Plastichrome Postcard of Busch Stadium (see postcard above)

Another building that remains at the site today (and is visible in the postcard above) is the Carter Carburetor Corporation factory, located on Dodier Street opposite the first base line.

Carter Carburetor Corporation

Although the ballpark itself may be gone, enough remains of the neighborhood surrounding the park, as well as the former left field, to make a trip to the corner of Dodier and Grand worthwhile for anyone interested in lost ballparks and baseball’s past.

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Posted in Missouri ballparks, Sportsman Park/Busch I | Comments (1)