Posts Tagged ‘minor league baseball’

Jacksonville’s Wolfson Park Now the NFL Jaguars’ Practice Field

December 12th, 2016

Jacksonville Baseball Park was located at 1201 East Duval Street in Jacksonville, Florida, just northwest of the former Gator Bowl.

Gator Bowl Sports Complex, Jacksonville, Florida (Postcard Curteichcolor, Seminole Souvenirs, Inc.)

Constructed in 1954, the ballpark opened in March 1955, hosting a spring training game between the Washington Senators and the Cincinnati Reds. That same month, the ballpark hosted another spring training game between the soon-to-be World Champion Brooklyn Dodgers and the Milwaukee Braves.

Aerial view of Baseball Park, Gator Bowl, Matthews Bridge on the St. John’s River (Postcard Plastichrome by Colourpicture Publishers Boston MA, Charles Smith Studio, Jacksonville, Florida)

Jacksonville Baseball Park replaced Durkee Field (later renamed J. P. Small Memorial Park) which had hosted baseball in Jacksonville since 1911. J.P. Smalls Memorial Park remains to this day, located just 3.5 miles northwest of the former site of Jacksonville Baseball Park.

J.P. Smalls Park Memorial Park, Jacksonville, Florida, Where Baseball Has Been Played Since 1911

In April 1955, the Jacksonville Braves moved to Jacksonville Baseball Park. The owner of the team at the time was Samuel W. Wolfson. Wolfson sold the team in 1958 to Hall of Famer Bill Terry and became President of the South Atlantic League. After Wolfson died unexpectedly in 1963, the ballpark was renamed Samuel W. Wolfson Baseball Park in his honor.

Postcard of Wolfson Park, Jacksonville, Florida (Photo By Chris Nichol)

Wolfson Park was the home ballpark of the single-A South Atlantic League Jacksonville Braves from 1955 to 1960, and the Jacksonville Jets in 1961. In 1962 the triple-A International League Jacksonville Suns took up residence at Wolfson Park, playing there through the 1968 season. In 1970, the double-A Southern League Jacksonville Suns took up residence for one year, followed by the double-A Dixie Association Jacksonville Suns in 1971. In 1972, the Southern League Jacksonville Suns returned to Wolfson Park. In 1984, Suns’ owner Lou Eliopulos sold the team to Peter Bragan. Eliopulos purchased a South Atlantic League affiliate and moved it to Hagerstown, Maryland, keeping the Suns as the team name. Jacksonville changed its name to the Expos beginning in 1985, which it remained through the 1990 season. In 1991, Jacksonville changed its name back to the Suns, which is why there currently are two minor league teams, both with the name Suns.

Intersection Of Duval and Franklin Streets, Former Site Of Grandstand, Jacksonville Baseball Stadium, Now Florida Blue Practice Field (Jacksonville Jaguars)

The Jacksonville Suns played their last home game at Wolfson Park in September 2002. Wolfson Park was demolished that same year, soon after the Suns departed.

Duval Street, Looking East Toward Former Site Of First Base Grandstand, Now Florida Blue Practice Field (Jacksonville Jaguars)

Franklin Streets Looking North, Former Site Of Third Base Grandstand, Jacksonville Baseball Park, Now Florida Blue Practice Field (Jacksonville Jaguars)

In 2003, the Suns moved into a brand new stadium known now as Bragan Field at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, located at 301 A. Philip Randolph Boulevard, just two blocks southwest of Wolfson Park.

Bragan Field, Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville

The former site of Wolfson Park is now occupied by practice fields for the National Football League Jacksonville Jaguars.

Entrance to Florida Blue Practice Field (Jacksonville Jaguars), Former site of Jacksonville Baseball Park

The naming rights for the practice fields is owned by Florida Blue, a health insurance company.

Former Location of Home Plate, Jacksonville Baseball Stadium, Now Florida Blue Practice Field (Jacksonville Jaguars)

The practice fields are adjacent to EverBank Field, the home of the Jacksonville Jaguars. EverBank Field sits in the former location of the Gator Bowl.

EverBank Field, Home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Jacksonville, Florida

Wolfson Park’s grandstand is long gone, but the playing field remains, although covered now with plastic grass and hash marks.

Former First Base Line Of Jacksonville Baseball Stadium, Now Florida Blue Practice Field (Jacksonville Jaguars)

Over the years, Wolfson Park was affiliated with 10 different major league organizations: the Milwaukee Braves (1955 – 1960), the Houston Colf 45’s (1961), the Cleveland Indians (1962 -1963, 1971), the St. Louis Cardinals (1964 – 1965), the New York Mets (1966 – 1968), the Kansas City Royals (1972 – 1983), the Montreal Expos (1984 – 1990), the Seattle Mariners (1991 – 1994), the Detroit Tigers (1995 – 2001), and the Los Angeles Dodgers (2002). In 1970, the Suns were unaffiliated with any major league organization.

Former Third Base Line Of Jacksonville Baseball Stadium, Now Florida Blue Practice Field (Jacksonville Jaguars)

One aspect of Wolfson Park remains at the site – several of its light stanchions ring the practice fields, providing night time illumination for the Jaguars.

Light Stanchion, Florida Blue Practice Field (Jacksonville Jaguars), Former site of Jacksonville Stadium

Out past the former site of center field are bleachers, which were added after the demolition of Wolfson Park.

Beachers, Florida Blue Practice Field (Jacksonville Jaguars), Former site of Jacksonville Stadium, Located Beyond What Was Once Center Field

The Sun’s current home is visible from the practice field bleachers.

Looking Southwest Florida Blue Practice Field (Jacksonville Jaguars) toward Jacksonville Baseball Grounds

And by the same token, the former site of Wolfson Park is visible beyond the current center field fence, just to the left of EverBank Field.

Bragan Field, Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville

The former light stanchions of Wolfson Park also are readily visible, especially from the walkway behind center field, looking in the direction of EverBank Field.

Looking Northeast From Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville Toward Former Site of Jacksonville Stadium

Outside the south end zone of EverBank Field, the Jaguars are constructing Daily’s Place, a new amphitheater and indoor flex field, which is scheduled to open in May 2017. It is uncertain what impact the opening of Daily’s Place will have on the Jaguar’s current practice facility. However, paving the field and turning it into a parking lot, is a good guess.

Florida Blue Practice Field (Jacksonville Jaguars), Former site of Jacksonville Stadium

For now, however, there is still a playing field located on the former site of Wolfson Park, albeit for professional football. Time will tell whether professional sports or sports of any kind will continue to be played at that site.

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Posted in Florida ballparks, Wolfson Park/Jacksonville Baseball Park | Comments (0)

Bears And Mile High Stadium in Denver CO

August 18th, 2015

Bears Stadium was located at 2755 West 17th Avenue, in Denver, Colorado. Constructed in 1947, the ballpark was the home of the Western Association Denver Bears beginning in 1948. From 1949 to 1951, the Bears were an affiliate of the Boston Braves, and from 1952 to 1954, they were an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1955, the Bears joined the American Association, where the team remained through the 1992 season, with the exception of 1963 to 1968 when the team played in the Pacific League.

Bears Stadium, Denver, Colorado (Postcard Dexter Press Inc., Published by Sanborn Souvenir Co.)

Bears Stadium, Denver, Colorado (Postcard Dexter Press Inc., Published by Sanborn Souvenir Co.)

The team’s major league affiliation changed every few years, beginning with the New York Yankees from 1956 to 1958, the Detroit Tigers from 1960 to 1962, the Milwaukee Braves from 1963 to 1964, the Minnesota Twins from 1965 to 1969, the Washington Senators from 1970 to 1971, the Texas Rangers in 1972 and 1982, the Houston Astros from 1973 to 1974, the Chicago White Sox in 1975 and from 1983 to 1984, the Montreal Expos from 1976 to 1981, the Cincinnati Reds from 1986 to 1987, and the Milwaukee Brewers from 1988 to 1992. In 1984, the team changed its name to the Denver Zephyrs in honor of a passenger train of the same name that ran between Chicago, Illinois, and Denver, Colorado, beginning in the 1930s. In 1993, with the arrival of the Major League Colorado Rockies, the Zephyrs moved to New Orleans, Louisiana.

Aerial Photo of Mile High Stadium With Denver, Colorado in Background (Postcard Sanborn Souvenir Co., Made by Kina Italia, Photo by William P. Sanborn)

Aerial Photo of Mile High Stadium With Denver, Colorado in Background (Postcard Sanborn Souvenir Co., Made by Kina Italia, Photo by William P. Sanborn)

Beginning in 1960 the ballpark was expanded with additional bleacher seating to house fans of the American Football League Denver Broncos.

Mile High Stadium Configured for Baseball (Postcard Plastichrome, Distributed by G.R. Dickson)

Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado,  Configured for Baseball (Postcard Plastichrome, Distributed by G.R. Dickson)

In 1968, the City of Denver purchased the ballpark, added portions of an upper deck, and renamed the venue Mile High Stadium. In 1970, the Broncos joined the National Football League. Additional seats were added during the 1970s, including a section in left field that could be moved to accommodate either baseball or football.

Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado (Postcard by Plastichrome, Distributed by G.R. Dickson Co.)

Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado (Postcard by Plastichrome, Distributed by G.R. Dickson Co.)

In 1993, the MLB expansion Colorado Rockies began play at Mile High Stadium. That season the Rockies set the all-time MLB home attendance record of 4,483,350.

Coors Field, Denver, Colorado, Circa 1998

Coors Field, Denver, Colorado, Circa 1998

In 1996, the Rockies moved two miles northeast of Mile High Stadium to the newly constructed Coors Field, leaving the Broncos as the sole permanent tenant of Mile High Stadium.

Coors Field, Denver, Colorado, Circa 1998

Coors Field, Denver, Colorado, Circa 1998

The Broncos played at Mile High Stadium through the 2000 season. In 2001 the team moved to newly constructed Invesco Field at Mile High, which was built adjacent to Mile High Stadium, directly to the south.

Sports Authority Stadium at Mile High, Located South of Former Site of Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

Sports Authority Stadium at Mile High, Located South of Former Site of Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

In 2012, the football stadium was renamed Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

Former Site, Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

Colorado Sports Hall of Fame at Sports Authority Field, Former Site, Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

A plaque located in the north parking lot of Sports Authority Field commemorates the history of Bears Stadium and Mile High Stadium.

Plaque Honoring Former Site of Bears Stadium and Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

Plaque Honoring Former Site of Bears Stadium and Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

Former Site of Bears Stadium and Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

Former Site of Bears Stadium and Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

Placed there by the Society for American Baseball Research and the Colorado Rockies, the plaque reads:

“As you look to the north from this spot you are viewing the land upon which stood Bears Stadium. From 1948 to 1994, it was the home of professional baseball in Denver. The Denver Bears (later renamed the Zephyrs in 1985) played at Bears Stadium (later renamed Mile High Stadium) through 1992. When Major League Baseball arrived in Denver in 1993, Mile High Stadium housed the Colorado Rockies for two seasons until Coors Field was completed in 1995. The precise location of home plate is indicated by a commemorative landmark approximately 500 ft. to the north of this plaque.”

Former Site of Bears Stadium and Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

Former Site of Home Plate, Bears Stadium and Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

A grass berm sits along the north and west side of the parking lot. That area is where the first and third base grandstand of Bears Stadium once stood.

Former Site of Center Field, Looking Towards Home Plate, Bears Stadium and Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

Former Site of Center Field, Looking Towards Home Plate, Bears Stadium and Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

One additional landmark at the site is the former Hotel VQ, which is located at 1975 Mile High Stadium Circle just beyond the former site of left field. Built in 1982, the building is being converted to micro apartments.

Hotel VQ, Located Beyond Former Site of Left Field, Bears Stadium and Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

Hotel VQ, Located Beyond Former Site of Left Field, Bears Stadium and Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

For almost half a century, baseball was played in what is now the north parking lot of Stadium Authority Field. Thanks to SABR and the Colorado Rockies, the site is well marked and certainly worth a visit. Many thanks to Jason Papka for providing the recent pictures of the site.

Former Site of Bears Stadium and Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

Former Site of Bears Stadium and Mile High Stadium, Located Just South of Downtown Denver, Colorado

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Posted in Bears Stadium/Mile High Stadium, Colorado ballparks | Comments (0)

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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Mud Hens Former Roost – Ned Skeldon Stadium/Lucas County Stadium

May 10th, 2015

Ned Skeldon Stadium is located at 2901 Key Street in Maumee, Ohio. The ballpark was the home of the International League Toledo Mud Hens from 1965 to 2001.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

The ballpark is located in the Lucas County Recreation Center and originally was part of the Lucas County Fairgrounds.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

In 1955, when the Toledo Mud Hens departed Swayne Field and moved to Wichita, Kansas, Toledo was left without a minor league team. Ned Skeldon, who served as Toledo Vice Mayor and four terms as a Lucas County Commissioner, led the drive to bring minor league baseball back to area and to convert a former racetrack (Fort Miami Park) and football field on the Lucas County Fair Grounds into a minor league facility. The racetrack turned ballpark opened in 1965 as Lucas County Stadium.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

The former International League Richmond Virginians moved to Maumee in 1965, thanks in large part to the efforts of Skeldon, and in 1988 Lucas County Stadium was renamed in his honor, just three months prior to his death.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Several Major League franchises were affiliated with the Mud Hens during the team’s years in Maumee. Primarily, the Mud Hens were an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, for 22 seasons from 1967 to 1973 and from 1987 to 2001. Other Major League teams affiliated with the Mud Hens during the team’s years at Skeldon Field include the New York Yankees from 1965 to 1966, the Philadelphia Phillies from 1974 to 1975 (with future Hall of Famer Jim Bunning as manager), the Cleveland Indians from 1976 to 1977, and the Minnesota Twins from 1978 to 1986.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium’s grandstand is uniquely configured because of its past as a racetrack for harness racing.

Front Entrance to Former Fort Miami Park, Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Front Entrance to Former Fort Miami Park, Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Fort Miami Park opened in 1917. It’s grandstand is located along the third base foul line and dates back to at least the 1920’s. In the late 1920’s, Fort Miami Park became the first harness racetrack in the country to feature night racing under electric lights.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

When the ballpark was enclosed for baseball in the mid 1960’s Lucas County added a grandstand behind home plate that wrapped around to the first base.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

The break in the grandstand between home plate and third base is somewhat reminiscent of the third base grandstand at Washington’s Griffith Stadium.

Former Fort Miami Park Grandstand at Ned Skeldon Stadium, Maumee, Ohio

Former Fort Miami Park Grandstand at Ned Skeldon Stadium, Maumee, Ohio

Concourse Underneath Former Fort Miami Park Grandstand, Now Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Concourse Underneath Former Fort Miami Park Grandstand, Now Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

In 2002, the Mud Hens moved eight miles northeast to brand new Fifth Third Field, located at 406 Washington Street in Toledo, Ohio.  In case you were wondering, the name Fifth Third Field is a reference to Fifth Third Bank and the early 1900’s merger of two Cincinnati Banks, Third National Bank and Fifth National Bank.

Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

After the Mud Hens departed Ned Skeldon Stadium, the ballpark, as part of the Lucas County Recreation Center complex, has continued to host amateur baseball, as well special events such as Fourth of July Fireworks. Private companies such as Line Drive Sportz have leased the facility and helped provide funds for its upkeep.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium hosted Minor league baseball for 37 seasons. Prior to that, as Fort Miami Park, facility hosted harness racing for 40 years. The good news is Ned Skeldon Stadium does not appear to be in danger any time soon of becoming another lost ballpark.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

If you are a baseball fan in Toledo, be sure to visit not only Ned Skeldon Stadium but also the site of Swayne Field, where the Mud Hens played from 1909 to 1955. The site is now the Swayne Field Shopping Center. Behind the shopping center is one of the oldest ballpark relics still standing in its original spot – a concrete wall that was once the left field wall at Swayne Field. The wall was built in 1909, the year Swayne Field opened, and is located just 10 miles northeast of Ned Skeldon Stadium at the intersection of Detroit Street and Council Street. Swayne Field also is located just two miles northwest of Fifth Third Field.

Original Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Left Field Corner From Detroit Street, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Swayne Field’s Original Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Left Field Corner From Detroit Street, Toledo, Ohio

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Toledo’s Swayne Field And Its Century-Old Outfield Wall

May 8th, 2015

Swayne Field was located at the intersection of Monroe Street and Detroit Avenue in Toledo, Ohio. The ballpark opened on July 3, 1909, as the home of the American Association Toledo Mud Hens. The ballpark was named after Noah Swayne, Jr., who purchased the land for the ballpark and leased it to the team.

Postcard “Toledo Ball Park, Toledo, Ohio” (Published by Harry N. Hamm, Toledo, Ohio)

Toledo’s American Association franchise played at Swayne Field through the 1955 season, with the exception of 1914 and 1915 when the team relocated to Cleveland and played at League Park to keep the Federal League from establishing a team in that city. As a replacement for the city baseball fans, the Southern Michigan League Mud Hens played at Swayne Field in 1914.

Toledo’s team was known primarily as the Mud Hens, although the team changed names twice, beginning with the Toledo Iron Men from 1916 to 1918 and the Toledo Sox from 1952 to 1955. Many great ballplayers passed through  future Hall of Famer Casey Stengel who managed the team from 1926 to 1931.

Swayne Field Postcard (Publisher not stated)

Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio, Showing 12,000 Interested Baseball Fans (No Postcard Publisher Stated)

Negro League baseball was played at Swayne Field, including the Negro National League Toledo Tigers in 1923, the Negro American League Toledo Crawfords in 1939 (featuring future Hall of Famer Oscar Charleston), and the United States League Toledo Cubs in 1945 (featuring future Hall of Famer Norman “Turkey” Stearnes). Swayne Field also was the site of many Negro League exhibition games over the years.

Professional Football also was played at Swayne Field. The Ohio League Toledo Maroons played at Swayne Field from 1909 to 1921 and the National Football League Toledo Maroons played there in 1923.

"Wayne Field Base Ball Park Toledo Ohio" Postcard With Error in Name (Published by Boutelle, Toledo, Ohio)

“Wayne Field Base Ball Park Toledo Ohio” Postcard With Error in Name (Published by Boutelle, Toledo, Ohio)

The ballpark was demolished in 1956 to make way for Swayne Field Shopping Center and what was then the largest Kroger store store in the country.

Location of FIrst Base Grandstand, Infield, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Save-A-Lot Grocery Store, Former Koger Store and Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

A McDonald’s Restaurant sits in the former site of right field, just as a different McDonald’s sits in the former site of left field at Baltimore’s old American League Park. St. Ann’s Catholic Church is visible behind Swayne Field’s former right field corner, just as a different St. Ann’s Catholic Church is visible a few blocks from Baltimore’s old American League Park.

Former Site of Right Field, Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Former Site of Right Field, Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

The building that comprises the Swayne Field Shopping Center is located in what was once left and center field.

Location of Left Field Grandstand, Left Field, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Location of Left and Center, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Home plate and the grandstand behind home plate was located mid block on Monroe Street between Detroit Street and former Toledo Terminal Railroad tracks. A Sherwin-Williams store now marks the spot.

Location of Infield Looking Toward Home Plate, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Location of Infield Looking Toward Home Plate, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

First base ran parallel to Monroe Street. Some of the buildings dating to the time of Swayne Field remain near the site on Monroe Street.

Center Field Looking Toward First Base Foul Line, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Center Field Looking Toward First Base Foul Line, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Most remarkable, however, is that a portion of Swayne Field’s original concrete wall remains at the site.

Original Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Left Field Corner From Detroit Street, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Original Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Left Field Corner From Detroit Street, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

The concrete wall once enclosed the the ballpark along Detroit Street (the first base foul line) around to Council Street (left and center field).

Swayne Field Opening Day 1909 (Bryan Postcard Company, Bryan, Ohio)

Swayne Field Opening Day 1909 (Bryan Postcard Company, Bryan, Ohio)

The portion of the wall that remains today was once part of the left center field wall, and is located behind the shopping center, parallel to Council Street.

Original Outfield Wall, Center Field, Intersection of Detroit Street and Council Street, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Original Concrete Outfield Wall at Intersection of Detroit Street and Council Street, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

The structure is over one hundred years old and in desperate need of repair.

Hole In Original Left Field Wall (Looking Toward Council Street) Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Hole In Original Left Field Wall (Looking Toward Council Street) Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

How historically significant is the Swayne Field wall? As an actual ballpark relic, the Swayne Field wall is one year older than both Rickwood Field, the oldest former professional ballpark still standing, which opened in August 1910, and the 1910 renovation of League Park in Cleveland (League Park’s ticket house may date to 1909). The wall is three years older than Fenway Park, the oldest Major League ballpark still standing, which opened in 1912. The wall is five years older than the somewhat famous Washington Park Wall, a relic of Brooklyn’s Federal League Tip Tops ballpark, which was constructed in 1914, and Wrigley Field, which opened in 1914 as Weeghman Park, home for the Federal League Chicago Whales. The wall is six years older both Bosse Field, the third oldest professional ballpark still in continuous use, built in 1915, and the remnants of Braves Field, which opened in 1915. Athough Forbes Field was constructed in 1909, the same year as Swayne Field, the outfield wall that remains at the Forbes Field site was built in 1946.

Brooklyn's Washington Park Wall, A Relic of the Federal League Brooklyn Tip Tops, Built in 1914

Brooklyn’s Washington Park Wall, A Relic of the Federal League Brooklyn Tip Tops, Built in 1914 (photo circa 2006, note: a portion of the wall has since been demolished)

All that is left of the Swayne Field wall closest to the left field corner are some of the concrete pillars.

Concrete Pillars From Original Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Center Field, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Concrete Pillars From Original Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Center Field, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Original Concrete Pillars of Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Left Field Corner, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Original Concrete Pillars of Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Left Field Corner, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Out beyond what was once the left field corner is a brick building that dates back to the time of Swayne Field and is now Burkett Restaurant Supply.

Industrial Building (Currently Burkett Restaurant Supply), Beyond Left Field Corner, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Industrial Building (Currently Burkett Restaurant Supply), Beyond Left Field Corner, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

After Swayne Field was demolished, Toledo was without a minor league affiliate from 1956 to 1964. In 1965, the Mud Hens returned to the area, playing in what was then called Lucas County Stadium, a converted race track at the Lucas County Fairgrounds, ten miles southwest of Swayne Field in Maumee, Ohio. Lucas County Stadium was subsequently renamed Ned Skeldon Stadium after the person  who helped bring minor  league baseball back to the Toledo area.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

In 2003 the Toledo Mud Hens left Ned Skeldon Stadium and returned to downtown Toledo, playing in brand new Fifth Third Field located just two miles southeast of the Swayne Field site.

Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio, Home Of The Toledo Mud Hens

Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio, Home Of The Toledo Mud Hens

On the Fifth Third Field club level is a display dedicated to the memory of Swayne Field.

Swayne Field Display, Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

Swayne Field Display, Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

Included in the display is a piece of the original Swayne Field Wall.

Swayne Field Display, Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

Swayne Field Display With Piece of Original , Outfield Wall, Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

If you are a fan of the game and the history of baseball, a stop at Swayne Field Shopping Center is a must, if for no other reason than to see a ballpark relic that is over one hundred years old. There are not many professional baseball stadium structures in the United States older than the Swayne Field wall. The portion that remains is located at the corner of Detroit Street and Council Street.

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Knoxville’s Lost Ballparks – Caswell Field, Smithson Stadium, Bill Meyer Stadium

May 6th, 2015

Since at least 1917, baseball has been played at a ball field located at 633 Jessamine Street near the intersection of East 5th Street and Jessamine Street in Knoxville Tennessee. In 1916, William Caswell, a former confederate soldier, donated land to the city in East Knoxville for construction of a public park, including a ball field, which became known as Caswell Park. Caswell was one of the original longtime fans of the game, having participated in what may have been the first game of baseball played in Tennessee – an 1865 contest between the Holstons, Caswell’s team, composed of former Confederate soldiers, and the Knoxvilles, composed of former Union soldiers.

Home Plate, Formerly Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Ball Field at 633 Jessamine Street, Formerly Caswell Field, Smithson Stadium, and Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Professional baseball was first played at 633 Jessamine Street in 1921, when the Appalachian League Knoxville Pioneers called Caswell Field home. In 1925, Knoxville changed leagues and names, joining the South Atlantic League as the Knoxville Smokies, in honor of the nearby Great Smoky Mountains. Knoxville did not field a team in 1930, and shared a Southern Association team with Mobile in 1931 (playing their games in Mobile, Alabama).

Former Site of Caswell Field, Smithson Field, and Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Former Site of Caswell Field, Smithson Stadium, and Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

In 1932, Caswell Field was replaced with a new ballpark, Smithson Stadium, named in honor of the Knoxville City Councilman W.N. Smithson who spearheaded a drive to bring professional baseball back to the city.  The Southern Association Knoxville Smokies returned that same year, playing their home games at Smithson Park. In 1946, the Smokies joined the Tri State League and in 1953 played in the Mountain States League.

Memorial Garden, Former Site of Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Memorial Garden, Former Site of Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

In 1953 Smithson Stadium was demolished by a fire and the city constructed a new ballpark, Municipal Stadium, on the site. In 1954 the Smokies rejoined the Tri-State League for one season, playing at new Municipal Stadium. Knoxville did not have a professional team in 1955, but half way through the 1956 season the South Atlantic League Montgomery Rebels moved to Knoxville.

Bill Meyer Stadium Postcard

Bill Meyer Stadium Postcard

In 1957, Municipal Stadium was renamed Bill Meyer Stadium in honor of Knoxville native and former major league player and manager William Adam Meyer. In 1964, the Smokies joined the Southern League, where they have played ever since. In 1972 the team changed its name to the Knoxville Sox and in 1980, the Knoxville Blue Jays. In 1993, the team changed its name back to the Knoxville Smokies.

Plaque Honoring Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Plaque Honoring Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Professional baseball departed Bill Meyer Stadium after the 1999 season. In 2003 the stadium was demolished and in 2008 the ball field was renamed “Ridley-Helton Ballfield.” Neal Ridley was a former owner of the Knoxville Smokies and was largely responsible for keeping minor league baseball in Knoxville in the 1950s. Todd Helton is a Knoxville native and former Major League player who provided funds to renovate the ball field.

Plaque Honoring RIdley/Helton Ballfield at Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Plaque Honoring Neal Ridley and Todd Helton at Former Site of Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Although the Bill Meyer Stadium structure is long gone, the field remains, as well as modest bleachers and covered dugouts.

Fence Surrounding Infield, Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

First Base Foul Line and Dugout, Ridley-Helton Field, Knoxville, Tennessee

The stadium grandstand behind home plate once sat in what is now an extension of Jessamine Street, which runs behind home plate and a memorial park.

Former Location of Third Base Grandstand, Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Former Location of Third Base Grandstand, Bill Meyer Stadium, Now Ridley-Helton Field, Knoxville, Tennessee

A metal storage shed remains on the site from the time of Bill Meyer Stadium, still painted Knoxville Smokies blue.

Storage Shed Remaining At Site Next to Former Terminus of Third Base Grandstand

Storage Shed Remaining At Site Next to Former Terminus of Third Base Grandstand

Out beyond left field is the former Standard Knitting Mills Building. The building has loomed large over the outfield wall since its construction in the mid 1940’s.

Standard Knitting Mills Building Out Beyond Left Field, Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Standard Knitting Mills Building Out Beyond Left Field at Ridley-Helton Field, Formerly Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Detail of Standard Knitting Mills Building, Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Detail of Standard Knitting Mills Building, Knoxville, Tennessee

Several light stanchions original to Bill Meyer Stadium remain at the site as well.

Light Stanchion, Memorial Garden, Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Light Stanchion, Ridley-Helton Field, Formerly Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Today Ridley-Helton Field continues to host youth and high school baseball, helping insure that baseball will continue to be played into the field’s second century.

RIght Field Line, Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

Right Field Line, Ridley-Helton Field, Formerly Bill Meyer Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

In 2000, the Knoxville Smokies moved 20 miles east to a new ballpark, Smokies Park, located in Kodak, Tennessee. Having departed Knoxville, the team changed its name to the Tennessee Smokies.

Smokies Stadium, Kodak, Tennessee, Home of the Tennessee Smokies

Smokies Stadium, Kodak, Tennessee, Home of the Tennessee Smokies

Smokies Park also serves as a visitor center for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Smokies Park and Smoky Mountain Visitors Center, Kodak, Tennessee

Smokies Park and Smoky Mountain Visitors Center, Kodak, Tennessee

Out beyond right field are four wood stadium seats from Bill Meyer Stadium, painted Knoxville Smokies blue.

Seats from Bill Meyer Stadium, Located Beyond Left Field Wall, Smokies Stadium, Kodak, Tennessee

Seats from Bill Meyer Stadium, Located Beyond Left Field Wall, Smokies Stadium, Kodak, Tennessee

Smokies Park is a fine minor league facility and a great place to watch a game of baseball. However, it has another 85 years before it can match the nearly 100 years of baseball that has been played at the Smokies former home in Knoxville.

Chicago Cubs Prospect Kris Bryant at Smokies Stadium, Kodak, Tennessee

Chicago Cubs Prospect Kris Bryant at Smokies Stadium, Kodak, Tennessee

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Railroads and Lookouts – Chattanooga’s Historic Engel Stadium

April 29th, 2015

Engel Stadium is located at 1130 East Third Street in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The ballpark is the former home of the Chattanooga Lookouts.

Historic Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Historic Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Engel Stadium was built on the site of the Lookout’s prior home, Andrew Field. In 1910, the franchise moved from Little Rock Arkansas to Chattanooga and in 1911 began playing their home games at Andrews Field.

Center Field, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Center Field, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Center Field, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Center Field, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

In 1929, Clark Griffith purchased the Lookouts and Andrews Field from Sammy Strang, a former major league player and Chattanooga native. Griffith hired former major league pitcher and scout Joe Engel to run the franchise and oversee construction of the new ballpark.

Engel Stadium Home of the "Lookouits" Chattanooga, Tennessee

Engel Stadium Postcard, Home of the “Lookouts” Chattanooga, Tennessee

When the ballpark opened in 1930 it was named Engel Stadium in recognition of Engel’s efforts. As a player with the Washington Senators, Engel roomed with teammate Walter Johnson and as a scout was responsible for discovering future Hall of Famers Goose Goslin, Joe Cronin, and Bucky Harris. Engel remained with the Lookouts until the early 1960s, becoming in the process one of the most successful and colorful promoters in the game.

Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

When Engel Stadium opened in 1930, it was considered one of the finest minor league ballparks in the country.

Left Field Fence, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Left Field Fence, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

The ballpark is situated next to Southern Railway’s Citico Yard (now known as Norfolk Southern Railway Debutts Yard).

Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee, View from Train Tracks Looking Toward Lookout Mountain

View of Norfolk Southern Railway’s Debutts Yard, Engel Stadium (right), and Lookout Mountain (left), Chattanooga, Tennessee

View of Grandstand Roof From Highway

View of Grandstand Roof From East 3rd Street Bridge Over Norfolk Southern Railway Yard

Engel Stadium also is located adjacent to the University of Tennessee College of Medicine’s Erlanger Hospital and Chattanooga’s historic Fort Hood neighborhood.

Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee, View From Street

Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee, View From Erlanger Hospital at Central Avenue

Engel Stadium’s all brick construction is reminiscent of Bosse Field in Evansville, Indiana. Like Bosse Field, Engel Stadium was used as the backdrop for a major motion pictures. In 2012, the movie 42 was filmed at Engel Field. In 1991, A League Of Their Own was filed at Bosse Field.

Exterior, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Exterior, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

The Chattanooga Lookouts played their home games at Engel Field from 1930 through 1961 as member of the Southern Association. Chattanooga did not field a team in 1962, but the Lookouts returned in 1963 and played one season in the South Atlantic (“Sally”) League.

Exterior, Third Base Grandstand, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Exterior, Third Base Grandstand, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

From 1964 to 1965 the Lookouts were members of the Southern League. The team departed after the 1965 season and from 1966 to 1975 Chattanooga did not field a team. The Lookouts returned to Engel Stadium in 1976, once again as a member of the Southern League and continued to play at Engel Stadium through the 1999 season.

Exterior, First Base Grandstand, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Exterior, First Base Grandstand, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

In the 1940s the minor league Negro Southern Association Chattanooga Choo-Choos played their home games at Engel Stadium. A young Willie Mays, still in high school, reportedly played for the Choo-Choos in 1945 and 1946 as an unsigned player. In 1947, he officially started his professional career with the Birmingham Black Barrons who played their home games at Rickwood Field. In 1926 and 1927, when the ballpark was still known as Andrews Field, the Negro Southern League Chattanooga White Sox played their home games at Andrews Field. Satchel Paige made his professional minor league Negro League debut at Andrews Field in April 1926. In 1927 Paige’s contract was sold to the Black Barrons.

Gated Entrance Along Third Base, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Gated Entrance Along Third Base, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

The following Major League teams were affiliated with the Lookouts during the time that Engel Stadium fielded a professional, affiliated team: the Washington Senators from 1932 to 1959, the Philadelphia Phillies from 1960 to 1961, and 1963 to 1965, the Oakland Athletics from 1976 to 1977, the Cleveland Indians from 1978 to 1982, the Seattle Mariners from 1983 to 1986, and the Cincinnati Reds from 1987 to 1999.

Scoreboard, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Scoreboard, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

In 2000, the Chattanooga Lookouts moved to brand new AT&T Field located at 201 Power Alley in Chattanooga, just one and one half mile northwest of Engel Stadium.

AT&T Ballpark, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Home of the Chattanooga Lookouts

AT&T Ballpark, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Home of the Chattanooga Lookouts

AT&T Field, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Home of the Chattanooga Lookouts

AT&T Field, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Home of the Chattanooga Lookouts

In 2009 Engel Stadium was added to the National Register of Historic Places. That same year, the Engel Stadium Foundation was established to help renovate and restore Engel Stadium. If you are interested in making a donation to the Foundation, contact them here.

Right Field Looking Toward Center Field, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Right Field Looking Toward Center Field, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Although the stadium received some repairs in 2012 as part of its role in the movie 42, there is still much that needs to be done to restore Engel Stadium and help preserve it for future generations of baseball fans to use and appreciate.

View of Grandstand From Left Field Corner, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

View of Grandstand From Left Field Corner, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

In April 2015 the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, and the Engel Stadium Foundation, announced a partnership wherein Engel stadium will be renovated and converted to an Intramural Complex for students at the University. The details of the proposed renovation have yet to be determined.

Light Stanchion, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Light Stanchion, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Although the ballpark will undergo some changes to accommodate its new purpose, the good news is that Engel Stadium will not become just another lost ballpark.

Exterior of Right Field Fence, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Exterior of Right Field Fence, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

If you have never visited Engel Stadium and are interested in seeing the ballpark before its transformation, now is the time to do so.

Exterior of Right Field Fence, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Exterior of Right Field Fence, Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Old ballparks such as Engel Stadium have a certain, worn charm that often times is wiped away when the ballpark is renovated or repurposed. Although I could not gain access to the ballpark in 2014 when I took these pictures, there was plenty to see just walking around the exterior of Engel Stadium. It is definitely worth the trip for any true fan of the game and is only a mile and a half from the Lookouts current home.

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Rainbow Stadium/Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

April 28th, 2015

Les Murakami Stadium is located on the campus of the University of Hawaii, Manoa, at 1337 Lower Campus Road in Honolulu. Constructed in 1984 for use by the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors baseball team, the ballpark originally was known as Rainbow Stadium.

Les Murakami Stadium, University of Hawaii

Les Murakami Stadium, University of Hawaii

In 2002, Rainbow Stadium was renamed Les Murakami Stadium, in honor of the former University of Hawaii, Manoa, Head Coach Leslie S. Murakami. Murakami was the first baseball coach at UH Manoa, beginning in 1971 through 2000. Murakami also played for the University of Hawaii from 1955 to 1958.

Plaque

Plaque Honoring Rededication of Rainbow Stadium as Les Murakami Stadium

Although primarily a college stadium, Les Murakami Stadium has a connection to professional baseball, and thus it’s inclusion on this website.

Student Section Sign, Exterior of Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Student Section Sign, Exterior of Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

In 1986 and 1987, the Pacific League Hawaii Islanders played some of their home games at Rainbow Stadium.

30th Anniversary of Les Murakami Stadium, 1984 to 2014

30th Anniversary of Les Murakami Stadium, 1984 to 2014

The Hawaii Islanders played at Honolulu Stadium from 1961 to 1975. From 1976 to 1985, the Islanders played their home games at Aloha Stadium. The final two season the Islanders played their home games at both Aloha Stadium and Rainbow Stadium.

Exterior of Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Exterior of Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

The entrance to the stadium is at field level, behind the home plate grandstand. The grandstand seating area is accessed on the second level (and above) of the stadium.

Clubhouse Entrance, Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Clubhouse Entrance, Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Concourse, Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Concourse, Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Les Murakami Stadium is just two miles northeast of Waikiki Beach on the southern end of the University of Hawaii.

Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

The Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve provides a striking backdrop beyond the left field foul line.

Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

The vast majority of the over 4,000 seats are covered by a double deck grandstand that stretches from first base to third base.

View of First Base Grandstand, Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

View of First Base Grandstand, Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

View of Third Base Grandstand, Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

View of Third Base Grandstand, Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Although Les Murakami Stadium’s history in the annals of minor league baseball may be barely a footnote, it is a ballpark where the professional game once was played.

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Long Beach State Dirtbag Player at Les Muralami Stadium

Moreover, Les Murakami Stadium is the only remaining venue where professional baseball could be played in Honolulu. Although the Aloha Bowl still stands (Honolulu Stadium was demolished in 1976), because of changes made to the stadium seating in 2007, the Aloha Bowl no longer can be configured for baseball.

Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

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Rock Cats Celebrate 20th Anniversary at New Britain Stadium By Leaving

April 27th, 2015

New Britain Stadium is located in Willow Brook Park at 230 John Karbonic Way in New Britain, Connecticut.

New Britain Stadium, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

The City of New Britain constructed the ballpark in 1995 as a replacement for Beehive Field, which the city had built only 12 years earlier in 1982 to entice a professional minor league team (the Bristol Red Sox) to move to New Britain.

View of New Britain Stadium from Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

View of New Britain Stadium from Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium was built adjacent to Beehive Field, which remains at the site just a few hundred feet from New Britain Stadium and is used by the local high school and American Legion teams.

View of Beehive Stadium from New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

View of Beehive Field from New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium with Beehive Field in Backgrouind, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium with Beehive Field in Backgrouind, New Britain, Connecticut

In 1996, the Eastern League Hardware City Rock Cats played their home games at New Britain Stadium. The name Hardware City is a reference to New Britain’s nickname (Stanley Black & Decker’s headquarters is located in New Britain).

Concourse, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Concourse, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

In 1997, the team changed its name to the New Britain Rock Cats.

New Britain Rock Cats Warming Up Prior to 2014 Game, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Rock Cats Warming Up Prior to 2014 Game, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

From 1995 to 2014, New Britain was an affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. In 2015, the Rock Cats became an affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.

Concourse, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Concourse, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

In addition to holding approximately 2,000 more fans than its predecessor Beehive Field,  New Britain Stadium is enclosed by a brick and concrete facade and stadium structure that is more in line with minor league ballparks built in the 1990s. New Britain Stadium, unlike Beehive Field, also has a covered concourse behind the grandstand with many more concessions options.

Stairway to Grandstand Seating, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Stairway to Grandstand Seating, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium includes a small covered grandstand with a press box behind home plate.

Grandstand, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Grandstand, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Much of the ballpark seating is uncovered, metal bleachers.

Bleacher Seating New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Bleacher Seating New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Bleacher Seating, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Bleacher Seating, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

The seats in the grandstand behind home plate and close to the field between first and third base, are made of plastic and have distinctive formed plastic arm rests.

Box Seats, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Box Seats, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

With its placement in the middle of a public park, New Britain Stadium has a rural feel, especially looking out beyond the center field fence.

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium’s scoreboard includes a video board. Mounted next to the scoreboard is a one story tall plastic milk bottle advertising Guida’s Dairy.

Jumbo Tron and Scoreboard, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Jumbo Tron and Scoreboard, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

The milk advertisement is perhaps a nod to the famous Hood plastic milk bottle sign that once sat atop the right field roof at Fenway Park and later was moved to LeLacheur Park, home of the Lowell Spinners.

Giant Milk Bottle, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Giant Milk Bottle, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

With racing mascot mania reaching new heights in professional baseball, New Britain features a 7th inning fast food run of donuts and coffee sponsored by Dunkin’ Donuts.

Racing Donuts and Coffee! New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Racing Donuts and Coffee! Caution Contents May Be Hot. New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Although a tour of New Britain Stadium does not leave one with the impression that the ballpark needs replacement, the Rock Cats after only 20 seasons in the ballpark are leaving anyway, and 2015 will be the last season of professional, affiliated minor league baseball at New Britain Stadium

Beautiful Sunset, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Beautiful Sunset, New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

In 2016, the Rock Cats are moving 14 miles up Highway 9 to a new ballpark located at Main Street and Trumbull Street in the “Downtown North” section of Hartford, Connecticut.

Route 9, the Road Out of New Britain Stadium Which Leads to The Rock Cats New Home in Hartford, Connecticut

Route 9 Can Bee Seen Behind New Britain Stadium’s Right Field/First Base Foul Line. It Is the Road North Out of New Britain And Leads to The Rock Cats New Home in Hartford, Connecticut

The team’s move to Hartford is a bit of a homecoming for the city. From 1921 to 1952, Hartford hosted an Eastern League team at Bulkeley Stadium, once located on the southeast corner of Hanmer Street and George Street and currently the site of a nursing facility.

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Hopefully professional baseball will continue to be played at New Britain Stadium. The unaffiliated Atlantic League has expressed interest in placing a franchise in New Britain Stadium. Another option is the addition of a collegiate wooden bat league team at New Britain Stadium.

Thus, beginning in 2016, New Britain will have the distinction of having two former professional, affiliated ballparks standing in tact, side by side – presumably a claim that no other city in the United States can make.

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Beehive Field – Still Abuzz With Baseball In New Britain

April 26th, 2015

Beehive Field is located in Willow Brook Park on John Karbonic Way in New Britain, Connecticut.

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

The ballpark was constructed in 1982 by the City of New Britain in hopes of bringing a professional baseball franchise to the city. Joe Buzas, the legendary minor league baseball owner moved his team, the Bristol Red Sox, to New Britain in 1983.

Plaque Honoring Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Plaque Honoring Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Beehive Field’s name is a reference to the City of New Britain seal, which includes a depiction of bees swarming a beehive (thanks to alert reader Ed!). The city’s motto is “Industry fills the hive and enjoys the honey.”

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticutt

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticutt

Built on top of what once was a swamp, when it opened Beehive Field had one of the most expansive outfields in minor league baseball. The large outfield and thick air (because of the former swamp) tagged the ballpark as a pitcher’s park.

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Although perhaps considered “modern” when it was built in the early 1980s because it was new, the simplicity of the design more resembled a 1930’s era ballpark.

Under the Third Base Grandstand, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Under the Third Base Grandstand, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

The stadium seating is constructed of metal risers that wrap around from the infield, with no exterior wall to close in the structure.

Stairs to the Grandstand, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Stairs to the Grandstand, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

From 1983 to 1994, it was the home of the Eastern League New Britain Red Sox.

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

One of the most distinctive features of Beehive Field is that it is located just a few hundred feet from New Britain Stadium, the ballpark that replaced Beehive Field in 1996 as the home of professional baseball in New Britain.

Beehive Field, with New Britain Stadium in Background, New Britain, Connecticut

Beehive Field, with New Britain Stadium in Background, New Britain, Connecticut

By the early 1990s, with the Boston Red Sox threatening to leave New Britain unless the city built the franchise a new ballpark, New Britain began construction of a new ballpark next to Beehive Field. The Red Sox affiliate departed after the 1994 season anyway.

Grandstand, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Grandstand, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

In 1995, Buzas affiliated his New Britain team with the Minnesota Twins and the New Britain Rock Cats played their first season at Beehive Field (known then as the Hardware City Rock Cats).

First Base Dugout, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

First Base Dugout, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Third Base Dugout, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Third Base Dugout, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Beehive Field remains at the site today. The left field bleachers of New Britain’s current ballpark provide an excellent panoramic view of Beehive Field.

View of Beehive Stadium from New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

View of Beehive Stadium from New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Light Stanchion, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Light Stanchion, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Beehive Field is currently the home field of the New Britain High School Canes varsity baseball team.

Scoreboard, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Scoreboard, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Although the ballpark is in need of repair, it remains an important part of the New Britain community and, in 2015, additional funds were provided by the city to upgrade the facility to make it ADA compliant.

First Base Bleachers, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

First Base Bleachers, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

The New Britain Rock Cats currently are playing their 20th season at New Britain Stadium.

New Britain Stadium, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium, Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

The team has taken the unusual approach of celebrating their 20th anniversary by making it their last season in New Britain Stadium.

View of New Britain Stadium from Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

View of New Britain Stadium from Beehive Field, New Britain, Connecticut

Beginning in 2017, the Rock Cats will play their home games in Hartford, Connecticut, as the Hartford Yard Goats. Yes, the Yard Goats.

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain Stadium, New Britain, Connecticut

Hopefully professional baseball will continue to be played in New Britain Stadium, thereby allowing the high school to play its games at Beehive Field. The Atlantic League has expressed interest in placing a franchise in New Britain Stadium. Another option is the addition of a collegiate wooden bat league team at New Britain Stadium. Regardless, New Britain, beginning in 2016, will have the distinction of having two former professional, affiliated ballparks standing in tact, side by side – presumably a claim that no other city in the United States can make.

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Hawaii’s Aloha Stadium

March 17th, 2015

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

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

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

Gate %, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Gate 5, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

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

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

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

Ticket Windows, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Swap Meet, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Swap Meet, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

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

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

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

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

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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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There Once Was A Ballpark – Rochester’s Silver Stadium/Red Wing Stadium

September 24th, 2014

Silver Stadium was located at 500 Norton Street in Rochester, New York. The ballpark opened in 1929 as Red Wing Stadium, and was home to the International League Rochester Red Wings. The Red Wings were then an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, who also constructed and owned the ballpark.

Red Wing Stadium, Rochester NY (Postcard by Rochester News Co., Curteich Chicago C.T. Art Colortone)

Red Wing Stadium, Rochester NY (Postcard by Rochester News Co., Curteich Chicago C.T. Art Colortone)

The ballpark is notable also as the home field for the Negro National League New York Black Yankees in 1948, and the American Football League Rochester Braves in 1936, and the American League Rochester Tigers in 1936 and 1937.

The main entrance to the stadium was through a gate behind the first base grand stand. Next to that gate was a two story house that served as both a ticket booth and administrative offices for the team. The two-story building is somewhat reminiscent of similar buildings at League Park in Cleveland and Braves Field in Boston.

Entrance to Silver Stadium, Rochester NY (George Tinker Postcard), Now 500 Norton Street

Entrance to Silver Stadium, Rochester NY (George Tinker Postcard), at 500 Norton Street

The house at 500 Norton Street remains at the site today and now is occupied by one of the city’s four Neighborhood Service Centers.

500 Norton Street, Former Ticket and Administrative Offices, Silver Stadium, Rochester NY

500 Norton Street, Former Ticket and Administrative Offices, Silver Stadium, Rochester NY

Behind the building at 500 Norton Street is a one story structure that was added to the site after the ballpark’s demolition.

Back Side of 500 Norton Street, Former Ticket And Administrative Offices for Silver Stadium

Back Side of 500 Norton Street, Former Ticket And Administrative Offices for Silver Stadium

On the eastern side of the building at 500 Norton Street are three plaques honoring the history of the ballpark.

Historical Plaques Located at Site of Silver Stadium's Former Ticket And Administrative Offices

Historical Plaques Located at Site of Silver Stadium’s Former Ticket And Administrative Offices

The first plaque details what the land there was used for prior to construction of the ballpark, as well as significant milestones in the ballpark’s history.

Plaque Honoring History of Silver Stadium

Plaque Honoring History of the Site That Was Once Silver Stadium

In 1956, local Rochester businessman Morrie Silver helped purchase the team and it’s stadium from the St. Louis Cardinals, thus ensuring that the Red Wings would remain in Rochester should the Cardinals decide to relocate to another town. It is for this reason that Mr. Silver is credited with saving professional baseball for the City of Rochester.

Plaque Honoring Morrie Silver at Former Site of Silver Stadium, Rochester NY

Plaque Honoring Morrie Silver at Former Site of Silver Stadium, Rochester NY

In 1960 the St. Louis Cardinals departed Rochester and the Baltimore Orioles became affiliated with the International League Red Wings. In 1968 Red Wing Stadium was renamed Silver Stadium in honor of the team’s owner. After Mr. Silver’s death in 1974, his widow Anna Silver remained with the team as a Member of the Board of Directors from 1975 to 1990, and as Chairperson of Board from 1981-1990. The Silver’s daughter Naomi Silver currently serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Red Wings.

Silver Stadium Historic Plaque, Rochester NY

Silver Stadium Historic Plaque, Rochester NY

Silver Stadium’s home plate was located directly north of the two story house that served as the ballpark’s main entrance.

Aerial View of Red Wing Stadium, Rochester NY (Albert R. Stone Negative Collection, Rochester Museum & Science Center)

Aerial View of Red Wing Stadium, Rochester NY (Albert R. Stone Negative Collection, Rochester Museum & Science Center)

What appears to be the outline of Silver Stadium’s first and third base foul lines still can be seen in the Google Maps Satellite View of the former Silver Stadium Site (you will need to zoom in on the site).

A Piece of Silver Stadium Rises Like a Phoenix Near Former Location of Home Plate Grand Stand

A chunk of Silver Stadium Nestled in the Grass Near the Former Location of Home Plate Grand Stand

The ballpark faced east, with the first base foul line running diagonally toward Norton Street.

Looking Toward Former Location of First Base From Home Plate, Silver Stadium

Looking Toward Former Location of First Base From Home Plate, Silver Stadium

Silver Stadium was a single-deck ballpark with a roof covering the grandstand from first base around to third base. Uncovered bleachers extended along the foul lines toward right field with a smaller uncovered section near left field.

Silver Stadium, Rochester NY (Chrome Postcard)

Silver Stadium, Rochester NY (Chrome Postcard)

The third base foul line ran diagonally toward Bastion Street.

Looking Toward Former Location of Third Base From Home Plate, Silver Stadium

Looking Toward Former Location of Third Base From Home Plate, Silver Stadium

Silver Stadium closed after the 1996 season and the following year the ballpark was demolished. In its place the city constructed 14621 Industrial Park (the reference to 14621 is the area’s zip code).

Entrance at Intersection of Excel Drive and Norton Street to 14621 Industrial Park

Entrance at Intersection of Excel Drive and Norton Street to 14621 Industrial Park

Center field was located due east of home plate. Two single story warehouse buildings now sit just beyond what used to be the center field fence. The entire area that once encompassed center field remains an open field.

Looking Toward Former Location of Center Field From Home Plate, Silver Stadium

Looking Toward Former Location of Center Field From Home Plate, Silver Stadium

After the ballpark’s demolition, the city added a new street, Excel Drive, which runs north and south through the center of the former ballpark site.

Excel Drive, Rochester NY, Intersecting Silver Stadium Infield

Excel Drive, Rochester NY, Intersecting Silver Stadium Infield

Where once sat the third base grandstand is now a one-story industrial building at 85 Excel Drive, currently housing SPEX Precision Machine Technologies.

85 Excel Drive, SPEX Precision Machine Technologies

85 Excel Drive, SPEX Precision Machine Technologies

In what was once the right field corner and the right field bleachers sits a large warehouse at 10 Excel Drive. Just beyond the warehouse, across Norton Street, is Our Lady of Perpetual Help, whose steeple was readily visible beyond the right field bleachers back during the time of Silver Stadium.

Looking Toward Former Location of Right Field From Home Plate, Silver Stadium

Looking Toward Former Location of Right Field From Home Plate, Silver Stadium, with Our Lady of Perpetual Help’s Steeple Still Visible

The building at 10 Excel Drive currently houses Premier Sign Systems. Its parking lot sits atop the right field corner.

10 Excel Drive, Rochester NY, Premier Sign Systems

10 Excel Drive, Rochester NY, Premier Sign Systems

In what was once left field also sits a large one-story industrial building and parking lot.

Looking Toward Former Location of Left Field From Home Plate, Silver Stadium

Looking Toward Former Location of Left Field From Home Plate, Silver Stadium

That building, located at 80 Excel Drive, currently houses Macauto USA Corp.

80 Excel Drive, Rochester NY, Macauto USA Corp.

80 Excel Drive, Rochester NY, Macauto USA Corp.

Second base and beginning of the outfield is marked by Excel Drive.

Former Location of Second Base Looking Toward Home Plate, Silver Stadium

Former Location of Second Base Looking Toward Home Plate, Silver Stadium

Many of the houses that sat along the perimeter of Silver Stadium remain to this day.

Houses Fronting Norton Street Located Beyond Former Site of Silver Stadium Right Field

Houses Fronting Norton Street Located Beyond Former Site of Silver Stadium Right Field

In addition, several of the industrial buildings that sat beyond the home plate grandstand remain at the site.

Looking Toward Former Location of Home Plate Grand Stand (From Home Plate), Silver Stadium

Looking Toward Former Location of Home Plate Grand Stand (From Home Plate), Silver Stadium

The former school building at 1550 N Clinton Street, which sat behind the first base grandstand, remains as well, and now houses a ministry.

1550 N Clinton Avenue, Rochester NY, New Born Fellowship Ministries

1550 N Clinton Avenue, Rochester NY, New Born Fellowship Ministries

In 1997, the Red Wings moved three miles south of Silver Stadium to a new state-of-the-art minor league facility located at 333 N. Plymouth Avenue.

Exterior of Frontier Field, Rochester NY

Exterior of Frontier Field, Rochester NY

Frontier Field remains one of the finest ballparks in minor league baseball. When comparing Silver Stadium to Frontier Field it is easy to appreciate the team’s decision to construct a new ballpark in the heart of downtown Rochester.

Frontier Field, Home of the Rochester Red Wings

Frontier Field, Home of the Rochester Red Wings

Frontier Field pays homage to Morrie Silver with a statue outside the ballpark’s front gates.

Statue of Morrie Silver, Frontier Field, Rochester NY

Statue of Morrie Silver, Frontier Field, Rochester NY

The plaque at Mr. Silver’s feet states, in part: “The man who saved baseball for Rochester in 1957. Spearheading a stock drive, he and 8,221 others bought shares in the team in order to purchase the franchise and the stadium from the St. Louis Cardinals.”

Plaque Honoring Morrie Silver at Frontier Field

Plaque Honoring Morrie Silver at Frontier Field

Although Silver Stadium is now a lost ballpark, much of the outfield and many of the buildings surrounding the stadium site remain as they were were back when baseball was played at 500 Norton Avenue.

Frontier Field, Home of the Rochester Red Wings

Frontier Field, Home of the Rochester Red Wings

If you live in Rochester and attend Red Wing games, a pilgrimage just three miles south of Frontier Field to the former site of Silver Stadium is a must. The City of Rochester should place a marker indicating where home plate once sat. Given the information above, it should not be difficult to locate the exact spot.

Many great ballplayers and managers made the ballpark their home, including Rochester Hall of Famers and Baseball Hall of Famers Cal Ripken, Jr., Red Schoendienst, Earl Weaver, and Johnny Mize. Who knows? Given how much of the field remains unencumbered, a baseball game very well could break out on that field at any time, helping to bring back to that area a game that was played there for over 60 years.

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The Stars No Longer Shine At Huntsville’s Joe W. Davis Stadium

August 30th, 2014

Joe W. Davis Municipal Stadium is located at 3125 Leeman Ferry Road in Huntsville, Alabama.

Joe W. Davis Stadium Marquee at Memorial Parkway and Don Mincher Drive

The ballpark is named after a former Mayor of Huntsville who spearheaded the effort to bring professional baseball to Huntsville.

Entrance to Joe W. Davis Stadium, Huntsville, Alabama

Constructed in 1985, it has been the home of the Southern League Huntsville Stars for the team’s entire existence.

Entrance to Joe W. Davis Stadium Circa 2003

The team’s name and logo is a nod to the city’s connection to space exploration. Both NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the United States Army Aviation and Missile Command at the Redstone Arsenal are located in the Huntsville area.

View of Joe W. Davis Stadium From Behind Outfield Wall

The ballpark was designed and built prior to the rebirth movement that swept professional baseball parks with the introduction of Camden Yards in 1992.

View of Joe W. Davis Field From Behind Outfield Wall Circa 2003

Thus, both the exterior and interior of Joe Davis Stadium are plain and functional, with little in the way of architectural flourishes.

Turnstiles at Front Entrance to Joe W. Davis

Because the ballpark lacks any real je ne sais quoi, it truly harkens back to an earlier era when only the game on the field mattered.

Beer Stand and Beer Man, Joe W. Davis Stadium

The stadium’s dated structure also helps explain why the Stars wanted to relocate to a new facility.

Joe W. Davis Stadium Concourse Behind Third Base

Given the ballpark’s location in Rocket City, there certainly was ample inspiration for a space-themed baseball ballpark. Unfortunately, other than the Stars logo and Jet’s Pizza, there is very little in the way of space-themed concourse or ballpark offerings.

Jet’s Pizza – Gotta Love the Pun

When the stadium opened in 1985, the Stars were an affiliate of the Oakland Athletics.

Day’s Lineup Posted on Stadium Concourse

In 1999, their affiliation switched to the Milwaukee Brewers, who have remained with the Stars ever since.

Entrance to First Base Seating Bowl, Joe W. Davis Stadium

The ballpark faces northeast, providing an inspiring view of Monte Sano State Park.

The View Behind Home Plate, Joe W. Davis Stadium, Huntsville, Alabama
Joe W. Davis Stadium with Monte Sano State Park Visible Beyond Outfield

Although intended primarily for baseball, the City of Huntsville designed Joe Davis stadium as a multi-purpose venue.

Joe W. Davis Left Field Seating Bowl

This accounts for the exceptionally long grandstand that runs along the third base foul line and wraps around to left field, while the first base grandstand stops opposite first base.

View of Joe W. Davis from Behind Outfield Fence

The ballpark can hold over 10,000 spectators, a size much larger than necessary for those who come to watch the Stars come out.

Entrance to Section 201 Joe W. Davis Stadium

Built to include 15 sky suites long before such luxury boxes were the norm for minor league baseball, even that portion of the structure looks very much outdated.

Who On Earth Designed this Entrance to the Joe W. Davis Luxury Boxes?

The majority of the seats are uncovered, with shade provided only for those sitting in the grandstand running along first base.

Huntsville Stars Warm Up Pregame

Perhaps it is Joe Davis Stadium’s dated feel that makes me lament the departure of the Stars.

Wahoos Manager Delino DeShields and Stars Manager Carlos Subero Exchange Lineup Cards

It remains a good place to watch baseball, with plenty of room to spread out.

Huntsville Stars take on the Pensacola Blue Wahoos

For several years now the Stars have been looking for another venue in which to shine.

Scoreboard, Joe W. Davis Stadium, Huntsville

Perhaps knowing that the end was near, the City did not invest much in the stadium in the way of extras. Even the stadium scoreboard is perfunctory at best.

Joe W. Davis Entrance to Team Store

In January 2014, the Stars announced they were moving to a brand new ballpark being constructed in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Slim Pickings in the Huntsville Team Store’s Final Season

Alas, 2014 was to be the last season of the Stars in Huntsville. However, construction shortfalls at the Biloxi site have delayed the team’s move to that ballpark  for the start of the 2015 season.

Huntsville’s Parting Banner, Joe W. Davis Stadium

It is unclear where the team will play to start the season, but apparently it will not be in Huntsville.

Huntsville Stars Logo

There are no current plans to demolish Joe Davis Stadium. Presumably the City could still use the facility for high school football games and the occasional monster truck rally. There is also talk of perhaps a new Southern League franchise locating to Huntsville in the next few years, should the city agree to construct a new, downtown ballpark. What does seem certain, however, is that come September 1, 2014, the days of professional baseball at Joe Davis Stadium will come to an end. And after that, it will be just a matter of time before the stadium becomes yet another lost ballpark.

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The Coop Has Flown – Cooper Stadium in Columbus, Ohio

May 15th, 2014

Cooper Stadium (“the Coop”) was a minor league baseball ballpark located at 1155 West Mound Street, in Columbus, Ohio.

Night View, Red Bird Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, Postcard C.T.Art Colortone, Curt Teeich & Co, W.E. Ayres, Columbus, Ohio

Christened Red Bird Stadium when it was opened on June 3, 1932, the ballpark originally was home to the American Association Columbus Red Birds. The Red Birds were the top minor league affiliate of Branch Rickey’s St. Louis Cardinals. 

Red Bird Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, Home of Columbus Base Ball Team, Postcard C.T.Art Colortone, Curt Teeich & Co, W.E. Ayres, Columbus, Ohio

Notable St. Louis Cardinal farm hands who played at Red Bird Stadium include Paul “Daffy” Dean, Joe Garagiola, Harvey Haddix, Max Lanier, Enos Slaughter, Harry Walker, and Sammy Baugh (Football Hall of Fame quarterback for the Washington Redskins).

Exterior, Cooper Stadium, Columbus, Ohio

When the Red Birds departed Columbus after the 1954 season, local businessman and former Red Bird clubhouse boy Harold Cooper brought an International League franchise to Columbus in 1955. 

Ticket Windows, Cooper Stadium, Columbus, Ohio

The new team was named the Columbus Jets and the ballpark was renamed Jets Stadium in honor of its new tenant. For the first two seasons, the Jets were an affiliate of the Kansas City Athletics. From 1957 to 1970 they were an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

Cooper Stadium Dedication Plaques

The name “Jets” was a nod to the city’s notable connections with aviation history, including the Wright Brothers and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Stadium Break Between First Base Grandstand and Souvenir Shop, Cooper Stadium

Professional baseball was not played in Columbus from 1971 to 1976. In 1977, Mr. Cooper, then a Franklin County Commissioner,  brought baseball back to Columbus and a newly-renovated Franklin County Stadium, which opened as the home of the Columbus Clippers. 

1930s Era Concession Stand, Cooper Stadium

The Clippers were an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates for the first two seasons at Franklin County Stadium and, from 1979 to 2006, were the AAA affiliate of the New York Yankees. In 2007 and 2008, the Clippers were an affiliate of the Washington Nationals. 

Entrance From Concourse to Sections 107-109, Cooper Stadium

Renovations to the stadium included the addition of sky boxes and a new press box above the grandstand roof.

Mesh Screening Behind Home Plate, With View of Sky Boxes Above Grandstand Roof, Cooper Stadium

The 1930s metal bracing for original grandstand roof was left intact and incorporated into the renovations.

1930's Metal Roof Crossbars, Cooper Stadium

The concourse behind the first and third base sides remained largely in tact as well.

Concourse, Cooper Stadium, Columbus, Ohio

The original wooden grandstand seats were replace with yellow-painted steel and aluminum seats.

Seats Behind Home Plate, Cooper Stadium

In 1984, the ballpark was renamed Cooper Stadium, in honor of Mr. Cooper, who also served as President of the International League from 1978 to 1990.

View of Infield, Cooper Stadium, From Behind Home Plate

The dugouts at Cooper Stadium were true dugouts, placing the players on the dugout bench at eye level with the playing surface.

Cooper Stadiums Truly Dug Out Dugout

Fans sitting in the box seats along the first and third base sides of the stadium were likewise close to the action.

Columbus Clipper Frank Menechino in the On Deck Circle, Cooper Stadium

Cooper Stadium was located along I-70 and I-71, sandwiched between a residential neighborhood to the north, and Greenlawn Cemetery to the south.

Columbus Clipper Will Nieves Lights Up the Scoreboard at Cooper Stadium

Once inside the stadium, however, the view was almost bucolic, with trees surrounding the outfield fence

Columbus Clippers Take On The Louisville Bats at Cooper Stadium

The final game at Cooper Stadium was played on September 1, 2008.

Cooper Stadium Post Game

The Columbus Clippers moved to a new ballpark located three miles northeast, closer to downtown Columbus.

View of Columbus Skyline Beyond Left Field, Cooper Stadium

The new ballpark, Huntington Park, opened on April 18, 2009.

Banner At Cooper Stadium Advertising Huntington Park Ballpark Opening 2008

After the Clippers departed, Cooper Stadium sat vacant for several years while a local development company negotiated with the city of Columbus to purchase the ballpark site. Arshot Investment Corporation currently is in the process of converting the Cooper Stadium site into a multi-use Sports Pavilion and Automotive Research Complex (SPARC). In April 2014, demolition of Cooper Stadium began, with the removal of the first base grandstand.

First Base Grand Stand, Cooper Stadium, Now Demolished

However, the third base grandstand of Cooper Stadium is being preserved and incorporated into a portion of the paved half-mile race track. Thus, Cooper Stadium will follow in the footsteps of Westport Stadium in Baltimore, the former home of the Baltimore Elite Giants, which in the 1950s was converted into Baltimore’s first NASCAR-sanctioned racetrack.

Westport Stadium (Bob Williams photo from the Larry Jendras Jr. Collection)

SPARC will also include a technology center, lodging, conference and exhibition space, and restaurants.

Cooper Stadium at Night

Although Cooper Stadium is now a lost ballpark, like Braves Field in Boston a portion of it remains, repurposed, allowing future generations the opportunity to experience at least a portion of what made Cooper Stadium a great place to watch a ballgame. Thanks to Arshot for having the vision to keep a part of Cooper Stadium, and baseball history, alive in Columbus, Ohio.

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

September 13th, 2013

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

J.P. Small Park, Jacksonville, Florida

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

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

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

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

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

Grandstand at J.P. Smalls Parkk

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

J.P. Small Park Grandstand Constructed in 1935

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

1937 Addition to Grandstand at J.P. Small Park

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

Original 1935 Grandstand As Seen From 7th Street

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

Field Entrance to 1937 Grandstand Addition

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

Historic 1937 Dugout With Entrance to Clubhouse

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

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

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

Stairway From Third Base Dugout To Locker Room

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

Bragan Field, the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville

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

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

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

Negro League Museum Display, J.P. Small Park

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

Museum Display Honoring J.P. Small

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

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

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

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

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

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War Memorial Stadium – Greensboro, North Carolina

September 5th, 2013

War Memorial Stadium in Greensboro, North Carolina, was opened in 1926. From 1930 until 2004, the ballpark was the home to a Greensboro’s minor league baseball teams.

War Memorial Stadium, Greensboro, South Carolina

The ballpark’s first minor league tenants were the Greensboro Patriots, an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Over the years, the major league affiliated teams that made War Memorial their home included the Red Sox, the Pirates, and the Yankees, through 1968. The Greensboro Red Wings, a minor Negro Leagues team, also played at War Memorial in the late 1940’s. After a ten year absence, in 1979, professional baseball returned to War Memorial when the Greensboro Hornets of the South Atlantic League began play. That team had the longest uninterrupted stretch of professional baseball at War Memorial, with the Hornets, later named the Bats, playing at the ballpark through the 2004 season.

War Memorial Stadium Concrete and Stucco Exterior

In 2005, Greensboro’s minor league team moved to a new stadium located just one mile west of War Memorial Stadium. The team changed its name as well, to the Greensboro Grasshoppers.

NewBridge Bank Park, Current Home of the Greensboro Grasshopers

War Memorial Stadium is dedicated “In Memory Of All Those Of Guilford County Who Made The Supreme Sacrifice In The World War.”

War Memorial Stadium Plaque Honoring Military Members Who Lost Their Lives

On either side of the main entrance to the stadium are large bronze plaques listing the names of people from Guilford County who died in World War I. The plaques also state: “They Served That Liberty May Not Perish From The Earth.”

Detail of War Memorial Stadium

Although professional baseball has left, the game is still played at War Memorial Stadium. These pictures of the ballpark were taken in July 2010 during the Metropolitan Junior Baseball League Classic Tournament.

Greensboro Bats Ticket Booth

In addition, the ballpark still hosts college baseball. It is the home field of both North Carolina A&T University and Greensboro College.

Main Entrance Under Grandstand, War Memorial Stadium

In July 2014, the Greensboro Yankees held a reunion at War Memorial Stadium. Ike Futch, an infielder for the Greensboro Yankees in 1961, was kind enough to send me pictures of the reunion.

Greensboro Yankees Reunion, 2014, War Memorial Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina

Greensboro Yankees Reunion, 2014, War Memorial Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina (Photo Courtesy Ike Futch)

The Greensboro Yankees also gathered inside the clubhouse. Around the table (clock wise) Johnny Smith (bat boy in 1961), Rudy Serrett, Jeff and Laura Womack’s daughters (Dooley Womack’s grandchildren), Butch Cretara, Ike Futch, Dooley Womack, Chuck Boone, Art Lopez, Unknown Local Sports Writer, Brian Dunphy (Producer, Channel 8, Greensboro Community TV), Judie Paul, Attonia Lopez, and Ron Paul.

Greensboro Yankees Reunion, 2014, War Memorial Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina (Photo Courtesy  Ike

Greensboro Yankees Reunion, 2014, War Memorial Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina (Photo Courtesy Ike Futch)

The craftsmanship that went into building War Memorial is evident throughout the ballpark.

Concession Booths Under Grandstand, War Memorial Stadium

A covered grandstand constructed of steel and concrete anchors the ballpark.

Main Grandstand War Memorial Stadium

The view of the playing field from the grandstand harkens back to an earlier era.

Playing Field at War Memorial Stadium

War Memorial made a cameo appearance in the 1989 movie Bull Durham, which was filmed primarily at Durham Athletic Park. About midway through the movie the team bus pulls up to the front entrance of War Memorial.

Steel and Wood Construction of the Main Grandstand

In addition, the locker room scenes in Bull Durham supposedly were filmed inside War Memorial’s locker room, including the late Trey Wilson’s famous “lollygag” scene. Apparently the locker rooms at Durham Athletic Park, where much of the movie was filmed, were considerably smaller.

War Memorial Stadium Entrance to General Admission Seating

With it’s major tenant gone since 2005, War Memorial has fallen into disrepair

War Memorial Stadium General Admission

Although the field is still maintained, the stadium structure itself shows signs of neglect.

Entrance to Concourse, War Memorial Stadium

In recent years there has been talk about tearing down War Memorial Stadium. However, the City of Greensboro has decided to renovate the stadium as part of a revitalization plan for the area surrounding the ballpark.

Entrance From Concourse To Third Base Seating

Although some parts of the ballpark have been demolished, such as some of the stands along third base and near left field, the future certainly seems brighter now for the ballpark. Perhaps now, with the help of the City of Greensboro, War Memorial Stadium will not become just another lost ballpark.

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