Jack Russell Stadium – The Phillies’ Second Clearwater Home

February 25th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

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Russell helped spearhead the construction of a new ballpark in Clearwater to replace the outdated Clearwater Athletic Park.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