Posts Tagged ‘Babe Ruth’

West Palm Beach Spring Training History – Connie Mack Field and Municipal Stadium

March 2nd, 2018

West Palm Beach boasts a proud Spring Training history. Both the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals now call West Palm Beach their Spring Training home. Opened in 2017, The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches is located at 5444 Haverhill Road in West Palm Beach.

The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach, Florida (Photo Courtesy of Pete Kerzel)

Since 1998, the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals have play their Spring Training home games at Roger Dean Stadium in nearby Jupiter Florida. Located at 4751 Main Street, Roger Dean Stadium is just 12 miles north of The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter Florida,

Spring Training in West Palm Beach dates back to at least 1928. The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches and Roger Dean Stadium both were preceded by two other now-lost ballparks, Connie Mack Field and West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium.

Connie Mack Field (Photo – The Remembering Connie Mack Field Committee)

West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium Complex (Postcard Holley Studio, Palm Beach Florida)

Connie Mack Field (formerly Municipal Athletic Field (1924 to 1926) and Wright Field 1927 to 1952)) was located approximately seven miles southeast of The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches at the intersection of Tamarind Avenue and Okeechobee Boulevard.

Intersection of Okeechobee Blvd. and Tamarind Avenue, Former Site of Connie Mack Field.

Connie Mack Field was the spring training home of the St. Louis Browns from 1928 to 1936, and the Philadelphia/Kansas City Athletics from 1946 to 1962. Previously, the Athletics had trained in Florida at Durkee Field (later renamed J. P. Small Memorial Park) in Jacksonville, Florida, from 1914 to 1918, and Terry Park in Fort Myers, Florida, from 1925 to 1936.

Bobby Shantz at Connie Mack Field circa 1950’s during Philadelphia Athletics Spring Training

Connie Mack Field also was home to the West Palm Beach Indians, who played in the Florida East Coast League from 1940 to 1942, the Florida International League from 1946 to 1955, and the Florida State League in 1955. In 1956 the Florida State League West Palm Beach Sun Chiefs played at Connie Mack Field, and from 1965 to 1968 the Florida State League West Palm Beach Braves played their home games at the ballpark.

Connie Mack Field Grandstand (Photo – The Remembering Connie Mack Field Committee)

Demolished in 1992, the former grandstand site is now a parking garage for the Kravitz Center for the Performing Arts.

Entrance to Kravis Center Parking Garage, Iris Street, Former Site of Connie Mack Field

The Remembering Connie Mack Field Committee has memorialized the ballpark with a display located near the elevators on the first floor of the Kravis Center Parking Garage.

Display About Connie Mack Field Located on Level 1 of the Kravis Center Garage – The Remembering Connie Mack Field Committee

The display includes photographs of the ballpark, two of which are reproduced above (with attribution to The Remembering Connie Mack Field Committee).

Photos of Connie Mack Field – The Remembering Connie Mack Field Committee)

Home plate is marked with a plaque just to the south the Kravitz Center Parking Garage.

Home Plate Looking Toward Pitchers Mound, Former Site of Connie Mack Field, Located Adjacent To Kravis Center Parking Lot, West Palm Beach, Florida

A significant portion of the former infield is now a storm water retention pond.

Former Site of Connie Mack Field, Infield Near the Intersection of Okeechobee Blvd. and Tamarind Avenue,

The former left field line paralleled Okeechobee Boulevard.

Okeechobee Blvd. Looking East , Former Site of Connie Mack Field Left Field Line

Center field was located at the northeast corner of Okeechobee Boulevard and Tamarind Avenue.

Former Site of Connie Mack Field, Center Field Near the Intersection of Okeechobee Blvd. and Tamarind Avenue

The plaque honoring the location of home plate states “Connie Mack Field (Wright Field)  This monument marks the exact location of home plate. The concrete base that supports this plaque is the original base set in 1924. Some of the great players who batted here Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, & Ted Williams. Go ahead step up to the plate.”

Home Plate Marker, Former Site of Connie Mack Field, Located Adjacent To Kravis Center Parking Lot, West Palm Beach, Florida

West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium was located just five miles southeast of The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, at 715 Hank Aaron Drive.

Doyle Alelxander, Circa Early 1970s, West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium

Municipal Stadium was the spring training home of the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves from 1963 to 1997, and the Montreal Expos from 1969 to 1972 and 1981 to 1997. Previously, the Braves had trained in Florida at Waterfront Park in St. Petersburg, Florida, from 1922 to 1937, and McKechnie Field (now LECOM Park), in Bradenton, Florida, from 1938 to 1940, and 1948 to 1962.

Batting Tunnels, Municipal Stadium, West Palm Beach, Florida (Postcard Montreal Expos)

The stadium complex included four playing fields in addition to the stadium structure.

Aerial View of Municipal Stadium, West Palm Beach, Florida (Postcard Montreal Expos)

In addition to Spring Training, West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium was the home of the Florida State League West Palm Beach Expos from 1969 to 1997 and the Senior Professional Baseball Association West Palm Beach Tropics from 1989 to 1990.

West Palm Beach Expos 1987 Program

Demolished in 2002, the former ballpark site is now a Home Depot and Cameron Estates, a gated housing development.

Home Depot Parking Lot Entrance, Former Site of West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium Parking Lot Behind Grandstand

The entrance to the former stadium complex is on Hank Aaron Drive, where it intersects North Congress Avenue.

Intersection of Hank Aaron Drive and Congress Drive, Former Site of West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium

The grandstand was located near the entrance to the Home Depot off Hank Aaron Drive.

Entrance to Home Depot Off Hank Aaron Drive, Former Site of West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium Grandstand and Infield

Back Entrance To Home Depot From Hank Aaron Drive, Former Site of West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium First Base Grandstand

Home plate was located approximately in the back lot behind the Home Depot.

Home Depot Back Lot Looking West, Former Site of West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium Home Plate

 

Al Bumbry, Circa Early 1970s, West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium

The right field line paralleled Hank Aaron Drive.

Hank Aaron Drive Looking South Along former right field line of West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium

A portion of Cameron Estates, behind the Home Depot, now occupies the former right field.

Cameron Estates, Private Drive Off Hank Aaron Drive, Former Site of West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium Right Field

Center field was located in the northeast section of Cameron Estates, behind the Home Depot back lot.

Cameron Estates on Left and Home Depot Back Lot on Right, Looking East, Former Site of West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium Center Field

Cameron Estates also envelops portions of the former practice fields that sat to the south of the stadium structure.

Entrance to Cameron Estates, former site of Former Site of West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium Practice Fields

One distinctive landmark that remains just northeast of the former site of West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium is the former West Palm Beach Auditorium, now the West Palm Beach Christian Convention Center.

West Palm Beach Christian Convention Center

Although both Connie Mack Field and West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium are now lost ballparks, The Remembering Connie Mack Field Committee has done a wonderful job of memorializing the history and former site of Connie Mack Field. Perhaps a similar group will take it upon itself to memorialize West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium as well. These ballparks are significant to the history of baseball in Florida, for both their Spring Training games and the minor league teams that played at those ballparks.

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Posted in Connie Mack Field and Municipal Stadium, Florida ballparks | Comments (0)

Dutch Damaschke Field In Oneonta NY

August 6th, 2015

Damaschke Field is located at 15 James Georgeson Avenue in Oneonta, New York, just 24 miles south of Cooperstown, New York.

Entrance to Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Entrance to Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

The ball field dates back to 1905 when it was known as Elm Park. Located in Neahwa Park, for a time the ball field also was known as Neahwa Park.

Aerial of Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York (Postcard McGrew Color Graphics, Kansas City MO, photo copyright 1987 Bruce Endries)

Aerial of Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York (Postcard McGrew Color Graphics, Kansas City MO, photo copyright 1987 Bruce Endries)

In 1968, the ballpark was renamed Dutch Damaschke Field in honor of Earnest C. “Dutch” Damaschke, the long-time Commissioner of Recreation for the City of Oneonta.

Ticket Booth, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Ticket Booth, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

The stadium structure has changed over the years, although the concrete and steel grandstand dates back to 1939. Like many other ballparks of that era, it was constructed with funds from the Works Projects Administration. Funds also were donated by William F. Eggleston, owner of the Oneonta Grocery Company.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Plaque Honoring William F. Eggleston, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

in 2007, the city renovated the ballpark, adding new bleacher seating down the first and third base lines, as well as new player clubhouses and concession stands.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

The view from the grandstand down the first and third base lines is an interesting juxtaposition of the old and the new, with the 1930s WPA grandstand seating along side the modern bleacher seating behind first and third base.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

In 2008, with the addition of a new clubhouse for the players, the former locker room located under the grandstand was turned into storage space.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Locker Room Turned Storage Room, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

A Oneonta Yankees Time Capsule, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

During the first two decades of its existence, the ballpark hosted mostly amateur, college, and semi professional teams. The Brooklyn Royal Giants played an exhibition game at Neahwa Park on August 19, 1920,  defeating the Oneonta Cubs 13-3. Two months later, on October 16, 1920, the Babe Ruth All Stars played an exhibition game against the local Endicott-Johnson team. Babe Ruth hit a home run over the right field fence during the eighth inning of the barnstorming game. In the fifth inning of that game, Ruth reportedly fractured a small bone in his left wrist while attempting  slide into first base, although the following day in Jersey City he hit another of his exhibition home runs, suggesting that his wrist was fine.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

The first professional team to call the ballpark home was the Oneonta Indians, who played in the New York-Pennsylvania League for one season in 1924.

Grandstand Roof, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Grandstand Roof, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Professional baseball returned to Oneonta in 1940 with the arrival from Ottawa of the Canadian-American Baseball League (Can-Am) Oneonta Indians. In 1941 the Indians became an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. Baseball in Oneonta was suspended after the 1942 season, but the team returned in 1946 following the end of World War II as the Oneonta Red Sox. The Red Sox played in Oneonta through the 1951 season, and professional baseball once again was on hiatus in Oneonta.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York, Situated in the Foothills of the Catskill Mountains.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York, Situated in the Foothills of the Catskill Mountains.

Professional baseball returned in 1966, with the arrival of the New York-Penn League Oneonta Red Sox. In 1967, Oneonta became a farm team of the New York Yankees, thus beginning the city’s longest affiliation with a single major league team. Over the years, MLB players such as Don Mattingly, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte, Al Leiter, Jorge Posada, Curtis Granderson, and Willie McGee began their careers at Damaschke field.

Wall of Fame, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Wall of Fame, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Future National Football Hall of Famer John Elway also began his professional baseball career at Damaschke Field in 1981. The following year he was drafted by the Denver Broncos. In 1985, Buck Showalter started his professional managerial career as skipper of the Oneonta Yankees.

Former Locker Room, Painted Yankee Blue Located Under Grandstand, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Former Locker Room, Painted Yankee Blue, Located Under Grandstand, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

The Oneonta Yankees departed Damaschke Field after the 1998 season. The Oneonta Tigers arrived the following season, and played at Damaschke Field through the 2009 season.

Oneonta Tigers Sign, In Storage in Former Players Lockerroom Underneath Grandstand at Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Oneonta Tigers Sign, In Storage in Former Players Lockerroom Underneath Grandstand at Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Although professional baseball no longer is played at Damaschke Field, it still is possible to take in a baseball game at the ballpark during the summer. Damaschke Field currently is the home of the New York Collegiate Baseball League Oneonta Outlaws, who play during the months of June and July. The city of Oneonta still uses the ballpark for civic events such as graduations, holiday celebrations, and concerts.

Grandstand Seating, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Grandstand Seating, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

The ballpark most certainly is worth a visit. Given its proximity to Cooperstown, there should be a steady stream of visitors each summer, looking for a wonderful baseball experience in what is known as one of the coziest ballparks in the country.

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Henninger Field And 120 Years of Baseball in Chambersburg PA

August 3rd, 2015

Henninger Field is located at the intersection of Vine Street and Riddle Alley in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

Herringer Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The ball field dates back to 1895 and originally was known as Wolf Park, part of the Wolf Lake Park development named after Chambersburg businessman Augustus Wolf.

Herringer Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Located at the Intersection of Vine and Poplar Street

Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Located at the Intersection of Vine and Poplar Street

In 1895, Clay Henninger, a Chambersburg businessman and local baseball promoter, founded the Chambersburg Maroons. The team began play at Wolf Park that same season.

Herringer Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Herringer Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Originally an amateur team, over the years the Maroons played both semi-professional and a minor league baseball. In 1896, the Maroons joined the independent Cumberland Valley League and won the the championship that season. The following year, the Maroons joined the Industrial League.

The 1914 Chambersburg Maroons With Manager Clay Henninger (wearing suit) (photograph from display at Herringer Field, Franklin County Historical Society)

The 1914 Chambersburg Maroons With Manager Clay Henninger (wearing suit) (photograph from display at Herringer Field, Franklin County Historical Society)

In 1915, the Maroons joined the Class D Blue Ridge League, where they played through the 1917 season. With baseball operations suspended during World War I, the Maroons returned to Chambersburg and the Blue Ridge League in 1920, after the end of the war. That same year the ballpark was renamed Henninger Field in honor of Clay Henninger.

Scoreboard, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Scoreboard, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

In 1929 and 1930 the team was owned by the New York Yankees and its name was changed to the Chambersburg Young Yanks. The Young Yanks were the New York Yankees first farm team.

Backstop, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Backstop, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

May 31, 1929, the World Champion New York Yankees played an exhibition game at Henninger Field. The Yankees arrived in Chambersburg earlier in the day and, after a brief rest at the Hotel Washington, traveled to Henninger Field for a 3:30 game against the Chambersburg Young Yanks.

Hotel Washington, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania (Postcard Curt Teich & Co., Published by Louis Kaufmann & Sons)

Hotel Washington, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania (Postcard Curt Teich & Co., Published by Louis Kaufmann & Sons)

Babe Ruth played first base and hit a home run in the fifth inning over the center field fence, with Lou Gehrig and one other player aboard.

Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The Yankees won the exhibition 8-1. After the game, Ruth reportedly visited a Waters Street speakeasy while Gehrig signed autographs at a local drug store.

First Base, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

First Base, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

First Base Bleachers, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

First Base Bleachers, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Reportedly the Negro American League Pittsburgh Crawfords played some exhibition games at Henninger Field as well.

Third Base Foul Line, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Third Base Foul Line, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Several Major League players have called Henninger Field home, including third baseman Mike Mowery, a 15 year veteran who played for the Cincinnati Reds, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Third Base, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Third Base, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Presumably future Hall of Famer Nellie Fox, who was born and raised just one town over from Chambersburg in St. Thomas, Pennsylvania, played baseball at Henninger Field, perhaps the year he played in the Chambersburg Twilight League.

First Base Dugout, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

First Base Dugout, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The bowling alley Fox once owned, which still bears his name, is located in Chambersburg, just four and a half miles south of Henninger Field on Molly Pitcher Highway.

Nelly Fox Bowl in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Nelly Fox Bowl in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The Chambersburg Maroons ceased playing at Henninger Field after the 2010 season. The Chambersburg High School Trojans football, baseball, and soccer teams also played their games at Henninger Field, although in the last decade the school has played elsewhere.

A Left Field Backdrop of Warehouses, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

A Left Field Backdrop of Warehouses, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Henninger Field is a little-known, historic ballpark that represents a part of baseball’s bygone era of town baseball. The Borough of Chambersburg has owned and operated the property since the early 1930s, once professional baseball departed the borough. Chambersburg is rightly proud of its historic ballpark and should be commended for maintaining the field for the last 80-plus years.

Historical Display at Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Historical Display at Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The ballpark is just two miles west of I-81 at the interchange for Stoufferstown, Pennsylvania, should you find yourself traveling that highway. Take a moment to soak in the history of this modest ballpark. And while you are at it, stand on the same spot where Babe Ruth once hit one of his famous exhibition game home runs.

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Savannah’s Historic Grayson Stadium and the Extermination of the Sand Gnats

July 29th, 2015

Grayson Stadium is located at 1401 East Victory Drive in Savannah, Georgia. Opened in 1926, the ballpark originally was known as Municipal Stadium.

Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Located in Daffin Park, Grayson Stadium is part of the Daffin Park-Parkside historic district and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

The ballpark is one of the most picturesque in the country. Sadly, it appears professional baseball will be departing Savannah at the end of the 2015 season.

Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

The Savannah Indians of the South Atlantic League played at Municipal Stadium beginning in 1926, through the 1928 season, and returned in 1936.

Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

On August 11, 1940, a  Category 2 hurricane struck Savannah, destroying a substantial portion of the ballpark. Only two sections of concrete bleachers were left standing.

Exteterior of Original Concrete Bleachers, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Exterior of Original Concrete Bleachers, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

One of those sections, which once sat beyond left field, was demolished during a renovation of the ballpark in 1995.

Blue Prints Detailing Original Municipal Stadium Layout (armstrongdigitalhistory.org)

Blue Prints Detailing Original Municipal Stadium Layout (armstrongdigitalhistory.org)

The other concrete bleachers section remaining from the original 1926 ballpark sits along the first base line.

Exterior of Original Concrte Bleachers, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Exterior of Original Concrete Bleachers, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

View from Grandstand of Original Concrete Bleachers, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

View from Grandstand of Original Concrete Bleachers, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Interior View of Original Concrete Bleachers, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Interior View of Original Concrete Bleachers, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

After the hurricane, Municipal Stadium was rebuilt in 1940-1941, under the leadership of Spanish-American War veteran General William L. Grayson, and with funds from the Work Progress Administration.

1941 Grandstand, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

1941 Grandstand, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Wood and Steel Grandstand Ceiling, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Wood and Steel Grandstand Ceiling, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

To see additional blueprints of the 1940 renovation, visit armstrongdigitalhistory.org – Grayson Stadium Project.

Grandstand, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

View from Grandstand, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

With the ballpark substantially complete in 1941, construction was a halted during World War II.

First Base Side Grandstand, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

First Base Side Grandstand, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

A portion of the third base grandstand remained uncompleted for seven decades, and was finished only recently.

Third Base Grandstand With Brick Work Completed Some 70 Seasons Later

Third Base Grandstand With Brick Work Completed Some 70 Seasons Later

In 1941, the City of Savannah renamed the ballpark in honor of General Grayson, who died that same year.

Plaque Honoring 1941 Renovation of Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Plaque Honoring William H. Grayson and 1941 Renovation of Grayson Stadium Grandstand, Savannah, Georgia

In 1943, the South Atlantic League suspended operations because of the war and the Indians departed Grayson Stadium. The Indians returned in 1946, playing at Grayson Stadium through the 1953 season.

Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Concession Stand Underneath First Base Grandstand, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

In 1954, Savannah’s South Atlantic League team became an affiliate of the Kansas City Athletics. The team switched its name to the Savannah A’s in 1954. Savannah’s South Atlantic League team switched affiliates several more times, beginning in 1956 with Cincinnati Reds (through 1959), Pittsburgh Pirates (1960, also from 1936 to 1938), and the Chicago White Sox (1962).

Grayson Stadium Grandstand, Circa 1941, Savannah, Georgia

Grayson Stadium Grandstand, Circa 1941, Savannah, Georgia

Savannah did not field a team in 1961, and from 1963 to 1967. In 1968 Savannah joined the Southern League as an affiliate of the Washington Senators. The team remained in the Southern League through 1983, with the exception of 1971, when Savannah played in the Dixie Association. In 1969 the Senators and the Houston Astros shared the Savannah affiliate, and, in 1970, Savannah became an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. From 1971 to 1983, Savannah was an affiliate of the Atlanta Braves.

Ticket Booth, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Ticket Booth, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

In 1984, Savannah rejoined the South Atlantic League, as an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, with whom they remained affiliated through the 1994 season. The team changed its name to the Sand Gnats in 1995, and was an affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1995 to 1997, the Texas Rangers from 1998 to 2002, the Montreal Expos from 2003 to 2005, the Washington Nationals from 2005 to 2006, and the New York Mets from 2007 to 2015.

Tonight's South Alantic League Standings and Lineup, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Tonight’s South Alantic League Standings and Lineup, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

In addition to the Indians and the Sand Gnats, since 1926, Savannah’s minor league team has been known as the A’s, the Redlegs, the Reds, the Pirates, the White Sox, the Senators, the Braves, and the Cardinals.

Plaque Honoring John Henry Moss, President SAL, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Plaque Honoring John Henry Moss, President SAL, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

According to Armstrong State University History Department, no Negro League baseball ever was played at Municipal or Grayson Stadium.

Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

As for Babe Ruth, he appeared at least two times at Municipal Stadium: first, in 1927, during a spring exhibition game between the 1926 World Series champions St. Louis Cardinals and the American League champions New York Yankees, which the Cardinals won 20-10; and second in 1935, as a member of the Boston Braves when his team played an exhibition game against South Georgia Teacher’s College, which is now Georgia Southern University. The Braves won that contest 15 – 1, during which Ruth hit a third-inning home run over the fence in right field.

Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

A 1995 renovation to Grayson Stadium was renovated, brought the addition of a press box above the grandstand roof and the demolition of the left field bleachers.

Press Box Above Home Plate and Third Base, Home Team Dugout, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Press Box Above Home Plate and Third Base, Home Team Dugout, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

In 2007, another renovation added a new scoreboard in center field.

"New" Scoreboard, Installed 2007, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

“New” Scoreboard, Installed 2007, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Original Hand Operated  Scoreboard, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Original Hand Operated
Scoreboard, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

For the past several seasons, Savannah’s current minor league affiliate has encouraged the city to construct a new ballpark.

Concession Stand, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Concession Stand, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Concession Stand, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Concession Stand, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Apparently, the older the ballpark, the louder the drum beat is to replace it. Unfortunately, what fans find quaint about old ballparks, the teams actually playing there find challenging at best.

Years of Paint and Changing Colors, Reflected in Bench Seating at Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Years of Paint and Changing Colors, Reflected in Bench Seating at Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

In 2015, the Sand Gnats announced they would be departing Grayson Stadium at the end of the season and relocating to a new ballpark being constructed in Columbia, South Carolina.

Main Concourse, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Main Concourse, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

The departure of the Sand Gnats most likely spells the end of professional baseball at Grayson Stadium.

Entrance to Grandstand from Concourse, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Entrance to Grandstand from Concourse, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

The good news is it appears that a collegiate wooden bat team will be playing at Grayson Stadium beginning in 2016.

Bullpen, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Bullpen, Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

If you want to catch a professional game at Grayson Stadium, the Sand Gnat’s season runs through September 2, 2015.

Carolina Pines Left Field at Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

Carolina Pines Left Field at Grayson Stadium, Savannah, Georgia

The ballpark most definitely is worth a visit. If you are anywhere near Savannah, and are a fan of the game (which presumably you are or you would not be reading this) be sure to take in a game at Historic Grayson Stadium before professional baseball departs its friendly confines.

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Honolulu Stadium – Hawaii’s Sheltered Harbor Of Professional Baseball

March 17th, 2015

Honolulu Stadium was located at the southwest corner of King Street and Isenberg Street in Honolulu, Hawaii. The ballpark was constructed in 1925 by local businessman J. Ashman Beaven, who served as general manager of the stadium from 1925 until 1939.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of King Street and Isenberg Street

Honolulu Stadium was caddy-corner to Moiliili Field, which was located at the northeast corner of King and Isenberg Streets. Moliili Field was one of the primary locations for amateur and semi-pro baseball in Honolulu prior to the construction of Honolulu Stadium.

Moiliili Field, Southwest Corner of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

Moiliili Field, Northeast Corner of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

In 1925, Beaven formed the Hawaii Baseball League, and a new semi-pro baseball league, and in 1927 the league began playing games at Honolulu Stadium.

Honolulu Stadium Aerial Photograph, Honolulu, Hawaii (1963 Star-Bulletin Photo By Warren Roll)

Honolulu Stadium Aerial Photograph, Honolulu, Hawaii (1963 Star-Bulletin Photo By Warren Roll)

In addition to amateur and semi-pro baseball, Honolulu Stadium quickly became the main venue in Honolulu for outdoor sport activities such as football and boxing. In the 1930s, Beaven brought baseball teams from other countries such as Japan and Korea to play at Honolulu Stadium. In 1933, Babe Ruth played an exhibition game at the stadium. Honolulu Stadium also hosted college football’s Poi Bowl from 1936 to 1939 and and Pineapple Bowl from 19389 to 1941 and 1947 to 1952. In 1957, Elvis Presley brought the precursor to his Aloha From Hawaii Concert to Honolulu Stadium.

Babe Ruth at Honolulu Stadium with Promoter Herb Hunter and Hawaii Territorial Governor Lawrence Judd in 1933 (Photo by Fritz Kraft)

Babe Ruth at Honolulu Stadium with Promoter Herb Hunter and Hawaii Territorial Governor Lawrence Judd in 1933 (Photo by Fritz Kraft)

During World War II, many major league stars played at the ballpark as part of their military teams, and in 1944, the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants played an exhibition game at the stadium. Major League teams and stars continued to play exhibition games at Honolulu Stadium after World War II, including the New York Giants in 1953, the Eddie Lopat All-Stars in 1954, the New York Yankees in 1955, and the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956. In addition to Babe Ruth, other future Hall of Famers who appeared at Honolulu Stadium include Lou Gehrig, Jimmy Foxx, Joe DiMaggio, Pee Wee Reese, Eddie Mathews, Roy Campanella, Casey Stengel, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Jackie Robinson.

Plaque Honoring Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

Plaque Honoring Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

In 1961, Honolulu Stadium became the home field of the Pacific Coast League Hawaii Islanders. Over the course of their history in Hawaii, the Islanders were affiliated with the Kansas City Athletics in 1961, the Los Angeles Angels from 1962 to 1964, the Washington Senators from 1965 to 1967, the Chicago White Sox in 1968, the California Angels from 1969 to 1970, the San Diego Padres from 1971 to 1982.The Islanders departed Honolulu Stadium after the 1975 season.

Detail of Plaque Honoring Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

Detail of Plaque Honoring Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

The ballpark was demolished in 1976. A plaque at the former site states: “Old Stadium Park. A lasting memorial to the many great athletes who have played here. This park was the site of the Honolulu Stadium (1926 – 1976), affectionately known as “The Termite Palace” in its later years. The 26,000 seat stadium was often filled to capacity for activities that included: barefoot football, pro and semi-pro baseball, high school athletic events, stock car races, UH football, polo, carnivals, boxing, Boy Scout Makahiki, aquacades, concerts, and track and field meets.”

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Left Field Corner Toward Home Plate, Parallel King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Left Field Corner Toward Home Plate, Paralleling King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

The plaque honoring Honolulu Stadium is located near what was once the ballpark’s left field corner, as well as its main box office, at the intersection of King and Isenberg Streets. Center field was once located along Isenberg Street, south of Citron Street.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Center Corner Toward Left Field Corner, Parallelling Isenberg Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Center Corner Toward Left Field Corner, Paralleling Isenberg Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

The main grandstand and home plate were located on King Street, just west of Makahiki Way.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Home Plate Toward Left Field Corner, Parallelling King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Home Plate Toward Left Field Corner, Paralleling King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

A row of buildings paralleling Makahiki Way sat between the street and the ballpark. Many of those buildings remain at the site today.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Back of Buildings Located Along Makahiki Way, Next to Former First Base and Right Field Foul Line, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Back of Buildings Located Along Makahiki Way, Next to Former First Base and Right Field Foul Line, Honolulu, Hawaii

An outer wall on the stadium property that separated those buildings from the stadium grounds also remains at the site.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Outer Stadium Wall Behind What would Have Been FIrst Base Grandstand, Still Standing on Site

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Outer Stadium Wall Behind What would Have Been First Base Grandstand, Still Standing on Site

Old Stadium Park is 14 acres of parkland and mature shade trees located in urban Honolulu.

Former Location of Honolulu Stadium Infield Looking Toward Home Plate

Former Location of Honolulu Stadium Infield Looking Toward Home Plate

A playground in the park is located in what was once left field.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Playground Located in What Was Once Left Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Playground Located in What Was Once Left Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

A concrete patio and picnic area is located in what was once center field.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Picnic Area  Located in What Was Once Center Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Picnic Area Located in What Was Once Center Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

A covered picnic area is located in what was once right field.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Covered Picnic Area, Located in What Was Once Right Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Covered Picnic Area, Located in What Was Once Right Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

There are many buildings that surround the ballpark site that date back to the time of Honolulu Stadium, including the distinctive Bowl-O-Drome which opened in the 1950s and currently sits vacant.

Bowl-O-Drome, Located Just Beyond What Was Once Center Field, Honolulu Stadium, Hawaii

Bowl-O-Drome, Located Just Beyond What Was Once Center Field, Honolulu Stadium, Hawaii

Many of the buildings along King Street also date back to the time of Honolulu Stadium.

Builidngs Located on King Street Across From Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Hawaii

Builidngs Located on King Street Across From Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Hawaii

In 1976 the Pacific Coast Hawaii Islanders moved to brand new Aloha Stadium, where they played up through the 1987. The Islanders also played some of their home games in 1986 and 1987 at the University of Hawaii’s Les Murakami Stadium. The 1987 season was the last year of professional baseball in Hawaii.

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii, Home of the Hawaii Islanders from 1976 to 1987

It seems a shame that professional baseball no longer is played in Hawaii, given the year round picture perfect weather offered there. If you find yourself on vacation, and in need of a baseball fix, you can take a trip to Old Stadium Park and the former site of Honolulu Stadium. If the timing is right, you might also be able to catch a college game at the University of Hawaii’s Rainbow Stadium (currently Les Murakami Stadium). For more information about Honolulu Stadium, see Arthur Suehiro’s extremely informative book Honolulu Stadium: Where Hawaii Played which provided much of the historical information contained herein.

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Erie’s Ainsworth Field – Baseball Archaeology In A Minor League Time Capsule

March 6th, 2015

Ainsworth Field is located at the intersection of Washington Place and West 24th Street in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

The ballpark was constructed in 1923 and given the direct and to the point name, “Athletic Field.”

Exterior, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Exterior, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

In 1947 the ballpark was rechristened Ainsworth Athletic Field. According to the dedication plaque, the ballpark was named in honor of J.C. Ainsworth, “In appreciation of his outstanding accomplishments as civic leader, physical director friend and counselor of the youth of this community.”

Dedicatoin Plaque 1947, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Dedicatoin Plaque 1947, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

After a renovation in 1980, the School District of Erie, Pennsylvania, rededicated the ballpark as, simply, Ainsworth Field.

Memorial Plaque, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Rededication Plaque 1980, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Minor league baseball was played at Ainsworth Field beginning in 1928, with arrival of the Central League Erie Sailors, who, as sailors are want to do, left after a brief stay, playing only one season at the ballpark.

Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

The Sailors reappeared on Erie’s horizon in 1938, this time as a Middle Atlantic League franchise. After two seasons, the call of the sea proved too strong once again and the Sailors shipped off after the 1939 season. The Sailors returned to the shores of Lake Erie twice thereafter, making Ainsworth Field their home once again from 1941 to 1942, and from 1946 to 1951.

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

A number of New York-Penn League franchise also called Ainsworth Field home, beginning in 1954 with the arrival of the Erie Senators. The Senators departed after the 1963 season. The Erie Tigers then played one season at the ballpark in 1967.

Gated Entrance to Field, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Gated Entrance to Field, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

From 1981 to 1987, Ainsworth Field was home to the Erie Cardinals, and from 1988 to 1989, the Erie Orioles played at the ballpark.

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Ainsworth Field’s last year hosting a professional baseball club was in 1994, when the Erie Sailors drifted back to Erie for one final season, this time as a Frontier League affiliate.

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

In  1995, Erie inaugurated Jerry Uht Park, a new ballpark located two and a half miles northeast of Ainsworth Field. The Eastern League Seawolves, who relocated to Erie from Welland, Ontario, that year, have played at Jerry Uht Park ever since.

Jerry Uht Park, Erie, Pennsylvania, Home of the Erie Seawolves, Circa 2003

Jerry Uht Park, Erie, Pennsylvania, Home of the Erie Seawolves, Circa 2003

According to Philip Lowry’s Green Cathedrals, Ainsworth Field’s baseball history includes its use during the 1940s as a neutral site by the Negro American League Kansas City Monarchs.

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Other Negro League teams played at Ainsworth Field including the Homestead Grays in 1926, and the Negro American League Cleveland Buckeyes and the Negro National League Newark Eagles for one game in 1946.

First Base Dugout, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

First Base Dugout, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

The press box includes a tribute to Sam Jethroe, who lived in Erie and played at Ainsworth Field in 1946 as a member of the Cleveland Buckeyes, as well as Babe Ruth, who played an exhibition game at Ainsworth Field soon after it opened in 1923.

Press Box, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Press Box, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

In 2007, Signs of the Time, a documentary on umpiring and the origin of hand signals, was filmed at Ainsworth Field.

Third Base Dugout,  Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Third Base Dugout, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

The original entrance to Ainsworth Field used to be through through a concourse that ran underneath the grandstand. That entrance has been closed off and the ticket booths that were attached to the entrance removed.

Former Entrance to Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Former Entrance to Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

The entrances to the grandstand from the lower concourse have been cordoned off as well.

Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania, Showing Entrance from Grandstand to Lower Concourse Closed Off

Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania, Showing Entrance from Grandstand to Lower Concourse Closed Off

Entry to the ballpark now is through a gate just beyond the third base side of the grandstand.

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Today, the grandstand concourse is used for storage.

Entrance to Concourse Underneath Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Entrance to Concourse Underneath Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Baseball Archaeology in Erie, Pennsylvania: a stroll through Ainsworth Field’s unlit concourse is like walking through a time capsule full of discarded pieces of ballpark history.

Stadium Office Located on Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Stadium Office Located on Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

The concourse under the grandstand wraps around the entire length of the structure.

Concourse Walkway Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Concourse Walkway Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Stadium player lockers are stored on the concourse, having been removed from the team locker rooms some indeterminable time long ago.

Team Lockers Stored on Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Team Lockers Stored on Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

A concession stand who’s best days are behind it waits patiently for someone to place an order.

Concessions Stand on Concourse, Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Concessions Stand on Concourse, Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania I

Ice Cream Anyone? Concessions Stand on Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Ice Cream Anyone? Concessions Stand on Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Just past the concession stand are steel bleacher risers, removed during an earlier renovation of the ballpark.

Bleacher Risers Stored in Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Bleacher Risers Stored in Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

A tangle of stadium seats, presumably installed in 1980 and replaced in 2004, lie in ruin just beyond what was once a restroom.

Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Stadium Seats Stored on Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Stadium Seats Stored on Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

The electrical room is located underneath the grandstand, presumably still providing some amount of power for the stadium.

Electrical Room Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Electrical Room Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

The entrance to the former equipment room includes a relic from the vagabond Erie Sailors.

Erie Sailors Bumper Sticker on Door To Equipment Room, Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Erie Sailors Bumper Sticker on Door To Equipment Room, Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Equipment Room Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Equipment Room Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

One stadium relic that really ought to be on display somewhere, perhaps Jerry Uht Park, is a New York-Penn League Standings sign that dates back to the 1980s or early 1990s.

New York Penn Leqgue Standings Sign, Stored in  Concourse Walkway Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

New York Penn Leqgue Standings Sign, Stored in Concourse Walkway Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

The good news is that baseball is still played regularly at Ainsworth Field. Three local high schools, the Central Tech High School Falcons, the East High School Warriors, and the Strong Vincent High School Colonels all have played their games at Ainsworth Field since 1995.

Storage Building, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Storage Building, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Since 1995, the Erie Glenwood League Baseball, an amateur league formed in the 1920s, has also played at Ainsworth Field.

Concessions Stand Located Beyond Third Base Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Concessions Stand Located Beyond Third Base Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Ainsworth Field is an important part of Erie’s history, and the city does an admirable job of maintaining the field. In less than a decade, the ballpark will celebrate its 100th anniversary and it looks as if Ainsworth Field will still be standing when it reaches its centennial.

This blog about Ainsworth Field is dedicated to the memory of Stephen Quinn, a long-time Erie resident and fan of the game.

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Plant Field and the Roots of Spring Training in Tampa, Florida

February 21st, 2015

Plant Field was located near the northeast intersection of North Boulevard and West North B Street in Tampa, Florida. Constructed in the 1890s, the athletic facility was on the grounds of the Tampa Bay Hotel and included a variety of athletic fields, including horse racing, for guests of the hotel. Plant Field was named after Henry Plant, the owner of the hotel. After his death in 1899, the hotel and accompanying grounds, including Plant Field, were purchased by the City of Tampa. In 1933, the city leased the Tampa Bay Hotel to what is now the University of Tampa. The University also was allowed to use Plant Field for school athletic events.

Florida State Fair in Full Swing at Tampa, Florida - Postcard (Curteich C.T. Art-Colortone)

Florida State Fair in Full Swing at Tampa, Florida – Postcard (Curteich C.T. Art-Colortone)

Plant Field was one of the first sites to host Spring Training in Florida (Jacksonville, Florida, lays claim to the first major league spring training site in Florida, first in 1888 and then in 1903, while St. Augustine  hosted spring training in 1890 at Flagler Grounds). In 1913, Tampa Mayor D.B. McKay convinced the Chicago Cubs to train at Plant Field by actually paying the team to play in Tampa. The following season, St. Petersburg businessman Al Lang likewise convinced the St. Louis Browns to train nearby at Sunshine Park (also known as Coffee Pot Park), and the Grapefruit League was born. The Cubs trained at Plant Field through the 1916 season.

In 1919 the Boston Red Sox trained for one season at Plant Field. That spring season was memorable if for no other reason thanon April 4, 1919, then-Boston Red Sox player Babe Ruth hit what is considered to be his longest home run – a 587 feet blast (albeit in an exhibition game).

Tampa Historical Society Plaque Honoring Babe Ruth's 587 Foot Home Run on April 4, 1919

Tampa Historical Society Plaque Honoring Babe Ruth’s 587 Foot Home Run on April 4, 1919

The ball cleared Plant Field and came to rest in an open space near what is now the John Skyes College of Business, which formerly was the City of Tampa Municipal  Auditorium, constructed six years after Babe Ruth hit his mammoth shot. A historic plaque on the University of Tampa campus marks the approximate spot where the ball was found.

John Skyes College of Business (Formerly the City of Tampa Municipal Auditorium Erected in 1925)

John Skyes College of Business (Formerly the City of Tampa Municipal Auditorium Erected in 1925)

According to local newspaper accounts, the ball rolled a considerable distance once it landed. New York Giants Manager John McGraw (his team was playing the Red Sox) is said to have chased down the ball, calling the home run the longest he had ever seen. McGraw presented the ball to the Reverend Billy Sunday, a former ballplayer who was in town for a Christian revival and had thrown out the first pitch that afternoon.

Aerial Photo Courtesy of University of Tampa, Special Collections, With Direction of Babe Ruth's 587 Foot Home Run

Aerial Photo Courtesy of University of Tampa, Special Collections, With Direction of Babe Ruth’s 587 Foot Home Run

From 1920 to 1929, the Washington Senators trained at Plant Field. The Detroit Tigers trained at Plant Field for one season, in 1930, and the Cincinnati Reds trained at Plant Field from 1931 to 1942 and 1946 to 1954. Beginning in 1955, the Reds continued to train at Plant Field, but played home exhibition games at Al Lopez Field.  The Chicago White Sox also trained at Plant Field for just one season in 1954, before relocating their spring training four miles northeast to Al Lopez Field in 1955. The Reds took over sole occupancy of Al Lopez Field in 1960 when the White Sox moved to a refurbished Payne Park in Sarasota, Florida.

Tampa Florida From The Air Overlooking Hillsborough River and Florida State Fair Grounds, Postcard (Curtechcolor Art Creation, Hillsboro News Co.) (Courtesy of University of Tampa, Special Collections

“Tampa Florida From The Air Overlooking Hillsborough River and Florida State Fair Grounds,” Postcard (Curtechcolor Art Creation, Hillsboro News Co.) (Courtesy of University of Tampa, Special Collections

For much of its existence, Plant Field was co-located on the Florida State Fairgrounds, surrounded by a horse and automobile race track. Plant Field encompassed a significant portion of the southern half of the fairgrounds.

The Florida State League Tampa Smokers played their home games at Plant Field from 1919-1927. In 1928, the Smokers changed their name to the Tampa Krewes, still playing their home games at Plant Field. The Smokers changed their league affiliation to the Southeastern League in 1929, and played at Plant Field until the end of the 1930 season. In 1946, the Smokers returned to Plant Field as an affiliate of the Florida International League, playing their home games at Plant Field through the 1954 season.

Aerial Photo Courtesy of University of Tampa, Special Collections (Sandy Gandy Photographer)

Aerial Photo of Plant Field and the Tampa Bay Hotel, Courtesy of University of Tampa, Special Collections (Sandy Gandy Photographer)

By 1960, professional baseball had departed Plant Field. Over the years Plant Field was reconfigured for soccer and baseball for use by the University of Tampa. In 1971, the University of Tampa acquired ownership of Plant Field and the facility was renamed Pepin/Rood Stadium. In 2002 the grandstand constructed in the early 1920s was raised.

Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa, Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

A new grandstand was installed in approximately the same spot as the original grandstand (the new grandstand is not as close to North Boulevard and is centered a few yards south of the original grandstand). Straz Hall, a residence hall for the University, is located on the site of the uncovered bleachers which were once attached just to the north of the covered grandstand.

Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

Pepin Stadium and Straz Hall, University of Tampa, Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

The actual infield may be long gone, but the field is still used for athletic events.

Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

Home plate was located just a few feet east of the current running track that parallels the grandstand. The current running track also cuts through center field on the opposite end of the track. A row of one-story buildings remain at the site today. The deepest part of center field once edged close to those buildings, separated by the original fair grounds race track.

Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field Home Plate and Infield

Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa, Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field Home Plate, Infield, and Center Field

The first and third base foul lines ran at 45 degree angles away from home plate, as seen in the photograph below.

Aerial Photo Courtesy of University of Tampa, Special Collections (Tampa News Bureau Photo)

Aerial Photo of Plant Field and Downtown Tampa, Courtesy of University of Tampa, Special Collections (Tampa News Bureau Photo)

Today the left and right field lines are part of the soccer field. Out beyond the former site of left field is Frank and Carol Morsani Hall

Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field Third Base Foul Line

Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa, Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field Third Base Foul Line, with Morsani Hall in Background

Sykes Chapel sits beyond the former site of right field.

Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field First Base Foul Line

Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa, Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field First Base Foul Line, with Sykes Chapel in Background

A Hillsborough County historical plaque marks the former location of Plant Field.

Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field with Tampa Historical Marker Honoring Plant FIeld

Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa, Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field with Tampa Historical Marker Honoring Plant FIeld

The plaque summarizes the many athletic events that took place at Plant Field, including football and auto racing.

It states, in part: “The area encompassing the University of Tampa’s baseball, track, and soccer facilities was known as Plant Field from early in the 20th century until the mid-1970s. Plant Field, named for railroad and hotel magnate Henry B. Plant, served as the site for significant sporting events and other community activies. The one-half mile horse racing track that Plant built in the late 1890s was altered to accommodate dirt-track auto racing. From February 1921 until the mid-1970s, races were held each year during the South Florida Fair, later designated as the Florida State Fair. Along with talented local racers, the country’s most famous drivers, including Jimmy Wilburn, Emory Collins, Gus Schrader, Ted Horn, Frank Luptow, Tommy Hinnershitz, and Bobby Grimm raced here during the winter months. Pete Folse, a local driver, became a national champion. Their cars were powered by engines made by Miller, Offenhauser, and Riley, among others. Tampa became known as “The winter auto racing capital of the nation.” Sadly, several drivers lost their lives at Plant Field. Plant Field was also the site for football games. On New Year’s Day 1926, the Chicago Bears, starring Red Grange, defeated a team featuring Jim Thorpe. The University of Tampa played its home games on Plant Field from 1933 to 1936. Tampa high school teams also competed on Plant Field. Plant Field served as the home for several major league baseball teams during spring training. The Chicago Cubs arrived in 1913 and returned each year through 1916. The Boston Red Sox played their home games at Plant Field in 1919, and Babe Ruth, playing for teh Red Sox, hit the longest home run of his career during a game on this field. Plant Field was home for the Washington Senators during the 1920s, for the Detroit Tigers in 1930 and for the Chicago White Sox in 1954. The Cincinnati Reds played here for most seasons starting in the 1930s through 1954. In November 1950, an African American all-star team, led by Jackie Robinson, played an exhibition game against the Tampa Rockets, a semi-professional African-American team. In the minor leagues. the Tampa Smokers played their home games at Plant Field.”

Tampa Historical Marker Honoring Plant Field, University of Tampa

Hillsborough County Historical Marker Honoring Plant Field, University of Tampa

Tampa Historical Marker Honoring Plant Field, University of Tampa

Hillsborough County Historical Marker Honoring Plant Field, University of Tampa

The front entrance to Pepin Stadium is accessible from North Boulevard, just south of Straz Hall on the University of Tampa campus.

Front Entrance, Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

Front Entrance, Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

Pepin Stadium includes a modest concession stand built where once sat team administrative offices.

Concession Stand, Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

Concession Stand, Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

University of Tampa Spartans Logo, Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

University of Tampa Spartans Logo, Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

A curious remnant of Plant Field remains inside Pepin Stadium, namely two antiquated turnstiles, one stored under a stairway and one near the grandstand entrance, although it does not appear that either are currently in use.

Plant Field Turnstile at  Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

Plant Field Turnstile at Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa , Tampa Florida, Former Site of Plant Field

Just north of Pepin Stadium and the former site of Plant Field, is the University of Tampa Baseball Field, also known as Sam Bailey Field.

University of Tampa Baseball Field, Tampa, Florida

University of Tampa Baseball Field, Tampa, Florida

The light stanchions of Pepin Stadium are visible from the university’s baseball field.

University of Tampa Baseball Field, Tampa, Florida, Looking Toward Former Site of Plant Field

University of Tampa Baseball Field, Tampa, Florida, Looking Toward Former Site of Plant Field

The baseball field sits within the northern end of the old Florida Fair Grounds. Just north of the baseball field, across West Cass Street, is the former location of Phillips Field (now the site of Tampa Preparatory School). Phillips Field was the long-time home of the University of Tampa football team, as well as the location for several NFL preseason games.

University of Tampa Baseball Field, Tampa, Florida

University of Tampa Baseball Field, Tampa, Florida

It is fitting that baseball is still played on a portion of the old Florida Fair Grounds, in close proximity to the former site of Plant Field. The University of Tampa has an excellent baseball program, having won the NCAA Division II championship six times in the past 25 years.

University of Tampa Baseball Field Championships Banner

University of Tampa Baseball Field Championships Banner

Former University of Tampa standout (and former New York Yankee, Tampa Bay Ray, and St. Louis Cardinal) Tino Martinez is honored with a retired number plaque located above the grandstand.

Tino Martinez Retired Number Plaque at University of Tampa Baseball Field, Tampa, Florida

Tino Martinez Retired Number Plaque at University of Tampa Baseball Field, Tampa, Florida

Although Plant Field is now a lost ballpark, the field where major league baseball spring training  in Tampa was born, and was held for over 40 years, remains an athletic field. With the  placement of the current grandstand at Pepin Stadium on the University of Tampa campus, it is not hard to imagine how Plant Field must have looked during its heyday. For more information about the history of Plant Field (including vintage photographs) see Tampapix.com. If you find yourself in Tampa for spring training, take a detour to the University of Tampa (located just five miles southeast of George Steinbrenner Field) and see for yourself where spring training was first played in Tampa.

Many thanks to the University of Tampa, Special Collections, for their assistance in sharing the history and photographs of Plant Field.

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Buffalo Base Ball Park and Offermann Stadium

January 28th, 2015

Professional baseball was played at the corner of East Ferry and Michigan Avenue in Buffalo, New York, for 72 years beginning in 1889, through the end of the 1960 season.

Postcard, Buffalo Base Ball Park, Buffalo, New York (David Ellis Publisher)

Postcard, Buffalo Base Ball Park, Buffalo, New York (David Ellis Publisher)

Originally known as new Olympic Park (old Olympic Park housed Buffalo baseball teams from 1884 to 1888 at the intersection of Richmond Avenue and Summer Street), in 1907 the ballpark was renamed Buffalo Base Ball Park. The original wooden ballpark structure was raised in 1924 and replaced with a concrete and steel structure, and renamed Bison Stadium. In 1935 the ballpark was renamed Offermann Stadium, in honor of Frank J. Offermann, the recently-deceased former owner of the Buffalo Bison.

Entrance to Offerman Stadium (photo courtesy of the Buffalo Sports Museum)

Entrance to Offermann Stadium (photo courtesy of the Buffalo Sports Museum)

The site’s primary tenant was the International League Buffalo Bison, who played there from 1889 to 1960. According to Philip Lowry’s Green Cathedrals, Major league baseball also was played at this site for one year in 1890 when the Buffalo Bison of the Players League played their home games at new Olympic Park. The Negro National League New York Black Yankees played games at Offermann Park as a neutral site in the 1940s. The Negro American League Indianapolis Clowns played some games at Offermann (neutral site) from 1951 to 1955. Professional football also was played at the site, including National Football League Buffalo franchises (the All-Americans from 1920 to 1923, the Buffalo Bisons from 1924 to 1925, and 1927 to 1929, and the Buffalo Rangers in 1926).

Bethel AME Church, intersection of East Ferry Street and Michigan Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Bethel AME Church, intersection of East Ferry Street and Michigan Avenue, Buffalo, New York

The ballpark was located directly behind what is now the Bethel AME Church (formerly Covenant Presbyterian Church), with home plate near the back of the church at the intersection of East Ferry Street and Michigan Avenue.

Intersection of Masten Avenue and Woodlawn Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Intersection of Masten Avenue and Woodlawn Avenue, Buffalo, New York

The ballpark faced Southeast towards the intersection of Masten Avenue and Woodlawn Avenue. Center field was located on the northwest corner of that intersection. After the ballpark was demolished in 1962, Woodlawn Junior High School was constructed on the site. To see an aerial photograph of Offermann Stadium from 1956 click here (fixbuffalo.blogspot.com).

Corner Stone for Woodlawn Jr. High, Buffalo, New York

Corner Stone for Woodlawn Jr. High, Buffalo, New York

The Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts now occupies the site.

The Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, Located on the Former Site of Offerman Stadium.

The Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, Located on the Former Site of Offermann Stadium.

In 2012, John Boutet of the Buffalo Sports Museum spearheaded a drive to place a historical plaque at the site. The plaque notes that Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, and Hank Aaron all played baseball at Offermann Stadium. Babe Ruth played one of his first professional games at what was then Buffalo Base Ball Park, pitching in 1914 for the International League Baltimore Orioles.

Historical Plaque at the Former Site of Offerman Stadium

Historical Plaque at the Former Site of Offermann Stadium

The former site of right field was located at the northeast corner of Woodlawn Avenue and Michigan Avenue.

Intersection of Woodlawn Avenue and Michigan Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Intersection of Woodlawn Avenue and Michigan Avenue, Buffalo, New York, Former Site of Offermann Stadium’s Right Field

The former site of left field was located at the southwest corner of Masten Avenue and Ferry Street.

Intersection of Masten Avenue and Ferry Street, Buffalo, New York

Intersection of Masten Avenue and Ferry Street, Buffalo, New York, Former Site of Offermann Stadium’s Left Field

The area behind what was once the ballpark’s home plate is now a parking lot for the school.

Former Site of Offerman Stadium Infield

Former Site of Offermann Stadium Infield

In addition to Bethel AME Church, many other structures surrounding the ballpark date to the time of Buffalo Base Ball Park and Offermann Stadium. The houses in the photograph below sat just beyond the ballpark’s center field fence.

Houses at the Intersection of Woodlawn Avenue and Masten Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Houses at the Intersection of Woodlawn Avenue and Masten Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Houses at the intersection Masten Avenue and Ferry Street sat beyond the ballpark’s left field corner.

Houses at the Intersection of Masten Avenue and Ferry Street

Houses at the Intersection of Masten Avenue and Ferry Street

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Building at 78 East Ferry Street ran parallel to third base.

Brick Building Located on Ferry Street, Near Former Site of Third Base Line

NFTA Metro Building Located on Ferry Street, Sat Parallel to Former Site of Third Base Line

In 1961, the Buffalo Bison moved ten blocks south from Offermann Stadium to Buffalo’s War Memorial Stadium.

Aerial View, Buffalo War Memorial, Buffalo, New York

Aerial View, War Memorial Stadium, Buffalo, New York

In 1988, the Bison (American Association) moved two miles southwest to Pilot Stadium, later renamed Coca-Cola Field

Coca-Cola Field, Buffalo, New York, Home of the Buffalo Bison

Coca-Cola Field, Buffalo, New York, Home of the Buffalo Bison

Coca-Cola Field includes a wonderful museum – The Buffalo Sports Museum – featuring memorabilia from and information about Offermann Stadium, as well as Buffalo’s other ballparks. It certainly is worth a visit if you haven’t been there already.

Buffalo Sports Museum Display Featuring Offerman Stadium, as well as Former Buffalo Bison Luke Easter

Buffalo Sports Museum Display Featuring Offermann Stadium, as well as Former Buffalo Bison Luke Easter

The City of Buffalo boasts a rich baseball history, much of it taking place years ago at the intersection of  East Ferry and Michigan Avenue. Although the ballpark is long gone, enough of the neighborhood that existed at the time of Buffalo Base Ball Park and Offermann Stadium remains to give anyone with an interest in the National Pastime with a sense of where the ballpark once stood. The former ballpark site is located just three miles north of Coca-Cola Field and for fans of the game it certainly is worth the trip.

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Posted in New York ballparks, Offermann Stadium | Comments (0)

Crescent Lake Park/Huggins-Stengel Field in St. Petersburg, Florida

January 12th, 2014

Crecent Lake Park is located at 1320 5th Street N in St. Petersburg, Florida. In the southern most part of the park, tucked away in a residential neighborhood, is an important and relatively unspoiled historical baseball site.

Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

Beginning in 1925, the ball field at Crescent Lake Park was the spring training home of the American League New York Yankees.

Postcard Crescent Lake Field, St. Petersburg, Florida (Curteich-Chicago, published by Sun News Co., St. Petersburg

The park is dominated by a large, crescent-shaped lake (hence the name) located in the center of the park.

The Lake at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The former training grounds appear much as they did when the Yankees made the field their spring training home.

“Babe Ruth, King of Swat, at St. Petersburg, Florida” Stereo Card, Published by Keystone View Company, Meadville PA (Library of Congress Division of Prints and Photographs, Washington, D.C.)

Such greats as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and the rest of the 1927 World Champion Yankees played on this unassuming ball field.

Baseball Practice Field at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The Yankees trained at Crescent Lake Park until 1942.

Babe Ruth Training At Crescent Lake Park, Late 1920s

In 1943, when World War II restricted travel for things such as spring training, the Yankees stayed closer to home, training in Atlantic City and Asbury Park, New Jersey. The Yankees returned to Crescent Lake Park in 1946.

Baseball Backstop, Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

In 1947, the Yankees moved their spring training home games less than two miles south to Al Lang Field, now known as Progress Energy Park.

Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

Joe DiMaggio At Crecsent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

They continued to hold practice sessions at Crescent Lake Park.

Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

Beginning in 1947, the Yankees shared Al Lang Field with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Progress Energy Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The Yankees continued to use Crescent Lake Park as a spring practice field until 1961, with the exception of 1951 when they trained in Phoenix, Arizona (the Yankees and the New York Giants swapped spring training sites for one season, with the Yankees training that year in Arizona). In 1962 the Yankees departed St. Petersburg and the west coast of Florida for a new stadium built for them on the east coast in Fort Lauderdale.

Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Former Spring Training Home of the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles

In 1962 the New York Mets took over the spring training at Crescent Lake Park. The Mets trained there through the 1987 season and played their home games at Al Lang Field (renamed Al Lang Stadium in 1977). From 1992 to 1995, the Baltimore Orioles trained at Crescent Lake Park, with their home games being played at Al Lang Stadium.

Practice Field, Crescent Lake Park Baseball Complex, St. Petersburg, Florida

In 1931, Crescent Lake Park was renamed Miller Huggins Field, after the manager of the Yankees who had died in 1929. In 1962, Casey Stengel returned to Crescent Lake as Manager of the New York Mets and, in 1963, the facility was renamed Huggins-Stengel Field. Today it is known as Huggins-Stengel Baseball Complex.

Huggins-Stengel Baseball Complex Sign, St. Petersburg, Florida

The grandstand at Huggins-Stengel Field was never particularly large, holding only a few thousand fans. Today, seating at the stadium consists only of a few rows of metal bleachers.

Bleachers at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

A water tower that dominates the skyline at the southern end of the park remains from the time when the field was used for major league spring training.

Water Tower at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The base of that same water tower is is clearly visible in this postcard photograph of Huggins Field.

Postcard “Huggins Field, On Crescent Lake , Spring Training Camp Of Major League Baseball, St. Petersburg, Florida, ‘The Sunshine City.'” Natural Color Reproduction – Cureichcolor Art Creation, Sun News Co.. St. Petersburg

Several other structures dating back to the Yankees’ days at Crescent Lake remain as well.

Practice Field with Original Club House in Backgrouind, Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

Most notably, one of the original clubhouses remains. Inside the building is one wooden locker purportedly dating back to the time when the Yankees trained there.

Club House, Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

Outside the former club house (Building #4) are two plaques commemorating Miller Huggins and Casey Stengel.

Plaques Honoring Miller Huggins and Casey Stengel, St. Petersburg, Florida

The plaque honoring Miller J. Huggins states: “As a memorial and tribute to an outstanding sportsman and splendid character, who as Manager of the New York Yankees and resident of this city contributed to its fame and the betterment of baseball, the citizens of St. Petersburg dedicate this ground, which forever shall be known as Miller Huggins Field.”

Plaque Honoring Miller Huggins at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The plaque honoring Charles Dillon “Casey” Stengel states: “One of baseball’s most popular and widely known figures who as Manager of the New York Yankees won ten American League Pennants in 12 years helping to make the Sunshine City the spring training capital of the world and who now has returned as Manager of the New York Mets this plaque is gratefully and affectionately dedicated.”

Plaque Honoring Casey Stengel at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The original flag pole remain as well.

Flag Pole at Crescent Lake Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

The neighborhood surrounding the park appears much the way it did when the Yankees and Mets practiced at the facility.

Houses Located on 5th Street, Across from Crescent Lake Park’s Baseball Complex

On the facade of Progress Energy Park in downtown St. Petersburg are a series of  plaques, some of which mention the history of Crescent Lake Park and Huggins-Stengel Field. Previously, those plaques had been part of the “Jim Healey and Jack Lake Baseball Boulevard,” which included 85 brass home plate plaques that told the story of Major League baseball St. Petersburg. The Boulevard plaques originally were located from First Street S in front of Al Lang Stadium to Central Avenue south along the sidewalk, to 13th Street west, stopping at Tropicana Field.

Progress Energy Park, With Historic Plaques Lining the Facade, St. Petersburg, Florida

One of the plaques commemorates the Yankees’s first year at Crescent Lake Park.

Progress Energy Field Plaque Honoring 1925 Arrival of the Yankees in St. Petersburg, Florida

Another plaque commemorates the renaming of Crescent Lake Park Miller Huggins Field in 1931.

Plaque at Progress Energy Field Honoring Former Yankees Manager Miller Huggins

A similar plaque honors the return of Casey Stengel to Crescent Lake in 1962 as manager of the New York Mets.

Progress Energy Stadium Plaque Honoring Former New York Yankee and Mets Manger Casey Stengel

Another plaque commemorates the renaming of the practice field Huggins-Stengel Field in 1963.

Progress Energy Stadium Plaque Commemorating Renaming of Huggins-Stengel Field

Huggins-Stengel Baseball Complex is used today by high school and college teams for both practice and games. The City of St. Petersburg recognizes the historical significance of the park and seems intent on maintaining it as a baseball facility. This is good news for fans of the game who want to appreciate first hand the national pastime’s rich history.

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The Six Different Ballparks Known As Oriole Park

December 30th, 2013

Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland, is considered by some to be one of the most beautiful ballparks in the country. Now over 20 years old, it helped usher in the era of “retro ballparks” that swept both major league and minor league ballparks over the past two decades.

Oriole Park (VI) at Camden Yards, Home of the Baltimore Orioles

Oriole Park at Camden Yards is actually the sixth Baltimore baseball park known as Oriole Park. The first five were located about three miles north of Camden Yards in the Harwood and Abell neighborhoods of Baltimore (for a more detailed view, click on the map below). Here is a rundown of Oriole Park I through V.

Locations of Oriole Park I through V, In The Harwood and Abell Sections of Baltimore – Atlas of the City of Baltimore, Maryland Topographical Survey Commission 1914 (mdhistory.net)

The first Oriole Park was the home of the American Association Baltimore Orioles from 1883 to 1889. Also known as Huntington Avenue Grounds and American Association Park, it was located at the southeast corner of what is now East 25th Street and Barclay Street. First base paralleled Greenmount Avenue, right field paralleled East 25th Street, left field paralleled Barclay Street, and third base paralleled East 24th Street. An apartment building and row houses now mark the site.

Site of Oriole Park I, Left Field Corner, East 24th Street and Barclay Street, Baltimore

Oriole Park II was the home of the American Association Baltimore Orioles from 1890 to 1891, and was located at the southwest corner of what is now Greenmount Avenue and East 29th Street. First base paralleled Barclay Street, right field paralleled East 28th Street, left field paralleled Greenmount Avenue, and third base paralleled East 29th Street. A McDonald’s Restaurant and row houses now mark the site.

Southwest Corner of East 29th Street and Barclay Street in Baltimore, Former Site of Oriole Park II and IV

Oriole Park III, also known as Union Park and the Baltimore Baseball and Exhibition Grounds, was the home of the American Association Baltimore Orioles in 1891 and the National League Baltimore Orioles from 1892 to 1899. It was located at the southeast corner of what is now Guilford Avenue and East 25th Street. First base paralleled Guilford Avenue, right field paralleled East 24th Street, left field paralleled Barclay Street, and third base paralleled East 25th Street.

Union Park, Baltimore, Home of the National League Orioles, circa 1897 (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

The site is now occupied by row houses and a parking lot. The distinctive pitched-roof house just to the right of the third base grand stand remains at the site.

Back Side of 321 East 25th Street, Former Site of Union Park, Baltimore

Oriole Park IV, also known as American League Park, was the home of the American League Baltimore Orioles from 1901 to 1902, and the Eastern League and the International League Orioles from 1903 to 1915. It was located at the southwest corner of Greenmount Avenue and East 29th Street on the same site as Oriole Park II. The ballpark was the home field for Babe Ruth during his one season playing professional baseball in Baltimore for the Eastern League Orioles.

American League Park (Photo – Babe Ruth Museum)

A McDonald’s Restaurant and row houses now mark the site.

Former Site of American League Park, Baltimore

Oriole Park V, also known as Terrapin Park, was the home of the Federal League Baltimore Terrapins from 1914 to 1915, and the International League Orioles from 1916 to 1944. It was located at the northwest corner of what is now Greenmount Avenue and 29th Street, across the street from the site of Oriole Park II and IV. First base paralleled East 29th Street, right field paralleled Greenmount Avenue, left field paralleled East 30th Street, and third base paralleled Vineyard Lane.

Terrapin Park (Later Known As Oriole Park)

The site now is occupied by row houses, the Barclay Elementary School, and Peabody Heights Brewery.

Former E.I. Dupont Finishes Division Building, East 29th Street, Baltimore, Site of Oriole Park V

All five original Oriole Parks are located less than a mile west of the Baltimore Orioles previous home, Memorial Stadium, which was located at the northeast corner of East 33rd Street and Ellerslie Avenue.

Memorial Plaque of Memorial Stadium, Baltimore

Prior to the construction of Memorial stadium, it was the site of Municipal Stadium, which was constructed in 1922. The site is now occupied by a youth baseball field, a retirement village, and a YMCA.

Memorial Field at Former Site of Memorial Stadium

Baltimore has made it easy for baseball fans to visit these former sites by putting them so close together. The rest is up to you.

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Posted in Maryland ballparks, Oriole Park, Oriole Park I, Oriole Park II, Oriole Park III, Oriole Park IV, Oriole Park V, Oriole Park VI/Camden Yards, Terrapin Park/Oriole Park V, Union Park/Oriole Park III | Comments (3)

Louisville’s Parkway Field and Cardinal Stadium

October 31st, 2013

Parkway Field was located at the intersection of Eastern Parkway and South Brook Street in Louisville, Kentucky.

Parkway Field, Louisville, Kentucky (Postcard Publisher Kyle Co., Louisville KY)

Constructed in 1923 on land purchased from the University of Louisville, Parkway Field was the home ballpark of the Minor League American Association Louisville Colonels from 1923 until 1956. An earlier incarnation of the American Association Louisville Colonels played major league baseball in that city from 1885 to 1891 (they were the Louisville Eclipse from 1882-1884), when the American Association was considered a major league. Hall of Famer Honus Wagner was one notable Louisville player from that era.

View From Behind Home Plate Toward Right Field

The Colonel’s played for over three decades at Parkway Field, its final season being 1956. In 1952 the University of Louisville had begun playing its home games at Parkway Field and, in 1953, the University repurchased the land and ballpark. The University continued to play baseball there up through the 1997 season.

The University’s football team likewise played at Parkway Field. Notable alumni, Hall of Famer, Johnny Unitas, played all four years of his college career at Parkway Field, from 1951 to 1954.

Parkway Field Looking Down First Base Line Toward Home Plate

Parkway Field’s grandstand was torn down in 1961 and replaced by wooden dugouts and a chain link backstop. The original brick left and right field walls remained on site for another 40 years, until they were demolished in 2004.

Third Base Side Dugout, Parkway Field

The ballpark hosted several Negro League teams including the National Negro League Louisville White Sox in 1931, the Negro Southern League  Louisville Black Caps in 1932, the Negro American League Louisville Buckeyes in 1949, and the Negro American League Louisville Black Colonels in 1954.

Parkway Field, Left Field Wall

Famous Colonels who played at Parkway Field include Hall of Famers Billy Herman, Earle Combs, and Pee Wee Reese. In 1946, Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson played his first professional playoff game at Parkway Field, when the Louisville Colonels hosted the Montreal Royals in the first three games of the Junior World Series.

Detail of Left Field Wall, Parkway Field (With Parkway Behind Fence)

Other Hall of Famers who played at Parkway Field include Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig,  who barnstormed there in 1928, and Satchel Paige.

Parkway Field, Right Field Wall

Although nothing from the original stadium remains at the site, the field itself is still used as an athletic field, home to University’s intramural soccer and football programs.

Detail of Right Field Wall, Parkway Field

Some of the green-painted bricks that were once a part of Parkway Field’s outfield wall were reused in construction of the University’s new baseball stadium, Jim Patterson Stadium. Located a mile south of Parkway Field, at the intersection of 3rd Street and Central Avenue, the stadium includes a plaque noting the historical significance of those bricks.

Bricks From Parkway Field Reused at Jim Patterson Stadium (photo: Bkell from en.wikipedia commons)

In 1957 the American Association Louisville Colonels moved to Fairgrounds Stadium. The ballpark is located on the Kentucky State Fairgrounds, one and a half miles southeast of Parkway Field at the intersection of KFEC Gate 4 Drive and Circle of Champions.

Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, Kentucky Looking Toward Felt Field

Fairgrounds Stadium – Later Renamed Cardinal Stadium

After the American Association folded in 1962, professional baseball departed Louisville. In 1969 professional baseball returned to Fairground Stadium when the Colonels joined the International League, playing there through the 1972 season. Notable Colonels who played at Fairgrounds Stadium include Hall of Famers Phil Niekro and Carlton Fisk, as well as Dwight Evans, Luis Tiant, and Cecil Cooper.

Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, Kentucky

Fairgrounds Stadium almost became a major league venue in 1964 when Charlie Finley, owner of the Kansas City Athletics, staged an unsuccessful campaign with Major League Baseball to move his team to Louisville.

Entrance To Cardinal Stadium

The University of Louisville’s football team played at the stadium since its opening in 1957 and at the end of the 1972 season, with the departure again of professional baseball, Fairgrounds Stadium underwent a major renovation to accommodate primarily football.

View From the Left Field Stands Towards Home Plate, Cardinal Field

In 1982 professional baseball returned to Louisville. Fairground Stadium was renamed Cardinal Stadium with the arrival of the St. Louis Cardinal’s affiliate, the Louisville Redbirds, who played in the newly reformed American Association. That same year the Louisville became the first minor league team to draw 800,000 fans in one season (aided no doubt by the ballpark’s 30,000 seats). The following year, the Redbirds broke the minor league home attendance record by bringing in over one million fans.

View From the Third Base Stands, Cardinal Stadium

In 1999, the team changed its name to the Riverbats when it became an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. That season would be the last for professional baseball at Cardinal Stadium.

Right Field Pavilion, Cardinal Stadium

The University of Louisville baseball team continued to play at Cardinal Stadium through the 2004 season.

Left Field Scoreboard, Cardinal Stadium

The Louisville Bats now play their home games at Louisville Slugger Field, a 14,000 seat stadium located in downtown Louisville, three and one half miles north of Parkway Field.

Louisville Slugger Field – Current Home of the Louisville Bats

Although Cardinal Stadium remains standing, its days are clearly numbered. In 2013 the grandstand seating areas were deemed unsafe and condemned. The city currently is debating  the stadium’s fate, which looks to be eventual demolition of the facility.

Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum

Louisville has a long, rich history of professional baseball. For people interested in seeing for themselves where the game once was played, Louisville is certainly worth a visit, When searching out the locations of Parkway Field and Cardinal Stadium, be sure also to stop by the Louisville Slugger Factory and have your picture taken next to the “world’s largest bat.” The history of that company, and its ties to Louisville and major league baseball, warrants a post all unto itself.

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Nicollet Park – Home Of the Minneapolis Millers

October 16th, 2013

Nicollet Park was a minor league ballpark in Minneapolis, Minnesota, located approximately two and one half  miles south of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.

Entrance to Nicollet Park (Hennepin County Library – The Minneapolis Collection)

The distinctive Tutor building that was the main entrance to Nicollet Park (shown in the photograph above) was located behind the former right field corner at the intersection of 31st Street and Nicollet Avenue.

Wells Fargo Bank at the Intersection of Nicollet Avenue and 31st Street, Looking Toward Former Right Field Corner

Home plate was located at the corner of Blaisdell Avenue and 31st Street. The ballpark faced northeast.

Aerial View of Nicollet Park (Courtesy of Baseball Bugs)

A Wells Fargo Bank is located in the area that was once right and center field. The former infield is now the bank’s parking lot.

Wells Fargo Nicollet-Lake Office, 3030 Nicollet Avenue, Former Location of Infield Looking Toward Right Field Corner

Located near the former infield is a Minnesota Historical Marker celebrating the 60 years, from 1896 to 1955, that baseball was played at the site.

Historical Marker, Nicollet Park

The historical marker notes that Nicolett Park enjoyed one of the longest running ground leases for a sports venue, running from 1896 until 1951, when the property was purchased by Northwestern National Bank of Minneapolis. The bank building that now occupies the site was originally constructed in 1957.

Historical Marker, Nicollet Park

Beyond the left field fence that ran parallel to Lake Street were several one story brick commercial buildings, since demolished and replaced by a four story apartment building constructed in 1981.

Blaisdell Avenue and West Lake Street Looking Toward Former Left Field Corner

Nicolett Park was home to the Minneapolis Millers of the Western League (1896 -1899), the American League (1900 – in 1900 the American League was a minor league), and the American Association (1902 – 1955). The American Association Millers won nine pennants, including one in its last season of play in 1955. From 1908 to 1911, Nicollet Park was also home to the Minneapolis Keystones, an independent, barnstorming black ball club. The Keystones were not a formal negro league team, having played over a decade before the formation of the Negro National League.

Nicollet Avenue and West Lake Street, Looking Toward Former Location of Center Field

Notable Minneapolis Millers who played at Nicollet Park include future Hall of Famers Ray Dandridge, Willie Mays, and Ted Williams. Dandridge, a standout Negro League  player for the Newark Eagles, played for the Millers at the end of his career, from 1949 to 1952. Mays played for the Millers at the beginning of his career, in 1951, for only 35 games (in which he batted .477, hit height home runs, scored 38 runs, and drove in 30). Williams played for Minneapolis as a 19 year old in 1938. That season he led the American Association in home runs, batting average, and RBI. Other future Hall  of Famers who played for the Millers include Roger Bresnahan (1898-1899), Jimmy Collins (1909), Rube Waddell (1911-1913), Orlando Cepeda (1957), and Carl Yastrzemski (1959-1960). Babe Ruth played in at least two exhibition games (1924 and 1935) at Nicollet Park as well.

Minneapolis Miller Ted Williams in 1938

According to Lawrence Ritter’s Lost Ballparks, it was at Nicolett Park that General Mills (a Minneapolis company) first used the slogan “Breakfast of Champions” in a sign on the outfield fence. The advertising billboard was installed at the park in 1933 following the Miller’s pennant winning season of 1932. Nicollet Park is also the setting for what is perhaps just baseball folklore, when Minneapolis Miller Andy Oyler (a former Baltimore Oriole) purportedly hit the shortest home run in professional baseball. The story goes that a ball off the bat of Oyler got stuck in the mud in front of home plate and before the opposing team could retrieve the ball, Oyler had scored on an inside  the park home run.

Across from the former left field corner, at the intersection of Lake Street and Blaisdell Avenue, is Champions Bar and Grill which dates back to the last few years of Nicollet Park’s existence.

Champions Bar and Grill Dates to the 1950’s And the Time of Nicollet Park

Champions appears to be the only building located next to the ballpark site that remains from the time of Nicollet Park. The historical marker placed in the Wells Fargo parking lot is the only clue that there once was a ballpark located in this nondescript city block south of downtown Minneapolis.

Postscript: Thanks to Rubin Latz for sharing his picture of  a foul ball caught by his father at Nicollet Park on April 28, 1946. The baseball was manufactured by Wilson and is stamped “Affiliate of the American Association.”

Foul Ball Caught at Nicollet Field on April 28, 1946

On that April day, the Minneapolis Millers played a double header against their cross town rivals, the St. Paul Saints. According to Stew Thornley’s  “Baseball in Minnesota: The Definitive History,” a record crowd of 15,761 fans attended the game, with some 5000 fans standing on the field. Twenty-four doubles were hit during those two games, with the Saints victorious in both games.

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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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Atlanta’s Other Lost Ballpark – Ponce De Leon Park

August 5th, 2013

Long before Turner Field, before Fulton County Stadium, there was a wonderful minor league  ballpark in Atlanta known as Ponce De Leon Park.

Ponce De Leon Park, Atlanta, Georgia

Ponce De Leon was the home to the Atlanta Crackers and Atlanta Black Crackers. The Atlanta Crackers played in the Southern Association from 1901 until 1965, and played at Ponce De Leon in an earlier incarnation of the stadium starting in 1907. Destroyed by fire in 1923, the stadium was rebuilt for the 1924 season.  The Atlanta Black Crackers played in the Negro Southern League and played at Ponce De Leon Park from 1920 to 1937, and 1940 until 1952.

Aerial View of Ponce De Leon Park

Located  at  the intersection of Ponce De Leon Avenue and Lakeview Avenue, less than four miles south of  the Braves current home, Turner Field, the former site of Ponce De Leon Park is a shopping center known as Midtown Place.

Midtown Place, Former Site of Ponce De Leon Park

The ballpark was demolished in 1966, the same year that the Atlanta Braves, having just relocated from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, began play at Fulton County Stadum.

Shopping Center Sign At The Former Site of Ponce De Leon Park

The stores at the site today, such as Home Depot and Whole Foods, intersect what was once third base and left field.

Whole Food and T. J. Max Built On Hallowed Ground

The most notable landmark at the former site of Ponce De Leon Park is the old Sears and Roebuck Warehouse at 675 Ponce De Leon Avenue.

Sears and Roebuck Warehouse Looming Beyond Ponce De Leon park (Image courtesy of Georgia State University Library (LBCB114-072b, Lane Brothers Commercial Photographers Photographic)) Collection)

The Sears warehouse remains at the site today.

Former Site of Center Field Looking Toward First Base, With Former Sears Warehouse In Background

Built in 1926, the former warehouse now houses offices of the city of Atlanta and is known informally as City Hall East.

Sears and Roebuck Warehouse

In addition to the former Sears warehouse, another notable landmark at the former Ponce De Leon site is a magnolia street that sits beyond what was once center field.

Magnolia Tree, a Landmark of Ponce De Leon Park

The magnolia tree remains from the days of Ponce De Leon Park. Two ballplayers are known to have hit home runs into the tree  during exhibition games, Hall of Famers Eddie Mathews and Babe Ruth.

Stone and Concrete Wall At Former Site of Ponce De Leon Park

Another landmark is a stone and concrete wall that ran along the parking lot, paralleling the third base side.

The Atlanta Crackers and the Atlanta Black Crackers may be long gone from Atlanta, but they are not forgotten. Located on the northwest side of Turner Field at Aisle 134 is the Ivan Allen Jr. Braves Museum& Hall of Fame which includes over 600 Braves artifacts and photographs, including some items relevant to Ponce De Leon Park.

Jersey of Former Atlanta Black Cracker James “Red” Moore.

Ponce De Leon Park was named after the avenue along which it sat.

Postcard “Ponce De Leon Base Ball Park, Atlanta, GA, ‘Watching The Game.'” (Published By I.F. Co., Inc., Atlanta, GA, C.T. American Art)

Of course, Ponce De Leon was a Spanish explorer associated with the legend of the fountain of youth. Ponce De Leon died in 1521. The ballpark that bears his name was demolished in 1966. Neither apparently were able to benefit from that legend. However, the several landmarks that remain at the site make a trip to the corner of Lakeview and Ponce De Leon well worth the journey.

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