Clearwater Athletic Field – The Phillies First Clearwater Home

February 25th, 2015
by Byron Bennett

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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Posted in Clearwater Athletic Field | Comments (2)

  • […] >> For the second consecutive year, United is spending the bulk of camp in Clearwater, west of Tampa Bay. And for the first time, it’s using the grass fields at Walter C. Campbell Park, which is part of a neighborhood drenched in baseball history. […]

  • […] Phillies Florida Spring Training cites include LECOM Park – McKechnie Field (1925 to 1927), Clearwater Athletic Field (1947 to 1954), and Jack Russell Stadium (1955 to 2003). Other Pittsburgh Pirates Florida Spring […]

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