Posts Tagged ‘Montreal Expos’

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)

Stade Du Parc Jarry, Also Known As Jarry Park Stadium

October 22nd, 2013

Jarry Park Stadium was located at 285 Rue Faillon (later renamed Rue Gary-Carter) in Montreal, approximately six miles southwest of downtown. From 1969 until 1976, it was the home of the National League Montreal Expos.

Uniprix Stadium in Background, Formerly Du Maurier Stadium, Formerly Jarry Park

The stadium was located in a public park known as Jarry Park (Parc Jarry in French) and started out as an uncovered, 3,000 seat ballpark that quickly was turned into a 28,000 seat stadium in the months just prior to the Expos’ arrival in 1969.

Jarry Park in Montreal - A Public Park That Once Included Jarry Park Stadium

In 1977, the Expos moved to Olympic Stadium where the team played until the franchise moved after the 2004 season to RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

Aerial View of Jarry Park (from http://www.petenersesian.com/whathappenedhere)

A portion of Jarry Park Stadium, like Braves Field in Boston, exists today as a reconfigured sports venue.

Jarry Park Postcard Showing Home Plate Grandstand and Enclosed Press Box

The grandstands along the first and third base foul lines, and the bleachers in center field, are long gone. However, the grandstand behind home plate, with its distinctive top row of enclosed seating and press box, remains.

Remaining Section of Jarry Park - Behind Home Plate - Uniprix Stadium

In the late 1980’s the stadium was renamed in honor of Pope John Paul II to commemorate his 1984 trip to Canada and Montreal (the first time a Pope had visited the country). A major renovation to the stadium was completed in 1996. Renamed Du Maurier Stadium, the facility was used primarily for tennis and included a center court and seating for 11,700 spectators. In 2004, the stadium was renamed Uniprix Stadium (Stade Uniprix in French).

Center Court At Uniprix Stadium With Jarry Park Stadium's Original Grandstand Visible at Right

Center court inside the box-shaped stadium covers what was once the infield.

Entrance To Coupe Rogers AT&T Tennis Tournament (circa 2002), Uniprix Stadium, Looking Toward Former Right Field Corner and Center Field

The front entrance to Uniprix Stadium is located in what was once Jarry Park Stadium’s center field.

Former Center Field Looking From Left Field

Front Entrance to Uniprix Stadium, Section 1, Former Center Field of Jarry Park Stadium (Looking From Former Right Field)

The northwest corner of the  stadium is located near what was once left field.

Site of Former Left Field Corner, Jarry Park Stadium

Section 7, located along the western-facing side of Uniprix Stadium, is in the approximate location of third base.

Entrance to Uniprix Stadium Section 7, Approximate Location of Third Base

Jarry Park was the last major league baseball stadium with only a single deck. It likewise was the last (and first in many years) with no covered grandstands.

Entrance To Uniprix Stadium Above Section 7 At Top of Concourse

Although baseball no is longer played at Jarry Park Stadium, you still can see professional sports played at that venue on a fairly regular basis. The Rogers Cup (formerly the Canadian Open), a major tennis tournament held every other year at Uniprix Stadium, is one such event.

Leader Board Coupe Rogers AT&T Tennis Tournament

If you walk around the back of Uniprix Stadium to the section facing the railroad tracks you can still see the curved outer wall of the grandstand behind what was once home plate, the lower section of the building appearing much the way it did when the Expos played there. Although Jarry Park Stadium may have been nothing more than a stop gap ballpark for the Montreal Expos, it nonetheless qualifies as a place where the game once was played. And fortunately for fans of baseball who care about such things, Jarry Park Stadium, like Braves Field, is not quite a lost ballpark.

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D.C. Stadium – RFK Stadium

October 12th, 2013

RFK Stadium is located at 2400 East Capitol Street in southeast Washington, D.C. The stadium was home to the American League Washington Senators starting in 1962. Known then as D.C. Stadium, in 1969 the ballpark was renamed in memory of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. The Senators played at RFK through the 1971 season, when the franchise moved to Arlington, Texas, and was renamed the Texas Rangers. Prior to RFK, the Senators played their home games at Griffith Stadium.

RFK Stadium/Armory Complex Postcard (L.B. Prince Co. and Dexter Press)

RFK is a multi-purpose stadium which also hosted the National Football League Washington Redskins beginning in 1961, through the 1996 season. Likewise, Major League Soccer’s D.C. United has called RFK its home since 1996. The stadium has hosted other professional sports teams such as the Washington Freedom and the Washington Diplomats.

Seats Removed During RFK Stadium's Renovation Prior to Baseball's Return in 2005

In Septemer 2004, Major League Baseball announced that the Montreal Expos franchise was moving to Washington.

RFK Stadium Winter 2004 Preparing for Return of Baseball to D.C.

After a 33 year hiatus, baseball returned to Washington and RFK Stadium commencing in 2005.

Nationals Team Store Located in RFK Parking Lot

Major League Baseball owned the team when it moved the franchise to Washington. As a nod to baseball history, MLB christened the team the Washington Nationals.

RFK Stadium Opening Day 2005

The name was a homage to the city’s earliest professional baseball teams, the 1884 Union Association Washington Nationals, and the 1891 American Association Washington Nationals. The name also was a nod to the American League Senators which sometimes was referred to as Nationals or Nats, and from 1905 to 1906 had the word NATIONALS” emblazoned on its uniform (thanks RUken!).

Medal Detectors Outside Gate A RFK Stadium Opening Day 2005

On Opening Day 2005, President George W. Bush was on hand to throw out the first pitch.

Opening Ceremonies 2005

RFK was the fourth multi-purpose stadium built in the country, Municipal Stadium in Cleveland being the first. Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium was the second such stadium and Metropolitan Stadium in Minneapolis was the third. Thus, RFK is the oldest multi-purpose stadium still standing in the United States.

Batting Practice at RFK Stadium

Home plate was positioned facing east, toward the Whitney Young Memorial Bridge. The stadium’s distinctive, wavy roof line curved upward, optimizing its seating capacity along first and third base.

RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.

The upper reaches of the stadium along first and third base offered quite a sense of vertigo.

It Was A Long Way to the Infield From the Last Row at RFK

The press box for Redskin games was located in the upper deck on the first base side. When the Nationals arrived in 2005, the press box was covered over with signage.

Supports for Roof Over RFK 's Upper Deck With Football Press Box in Background

All the yellow seats in the upper deck are wooden and date back to when the ballpark opened in 1961.

A Sea of Yellow, Wooden Seats at RFK Stadium

To accommodate the dimensions and seating for football and soccer, the lower bowl seating along third base and up to the left field corner were mounted on rollers and moved along a track into the outfield behind left field. Those seats, lacking a rigid foundation underneath, bounced when fans jumped up and down on them.

Third Base Side Dugout Exposed to Accomodate D.C. United's Field

Because space was needed in the outfield to accommodate the movable seats, fans situated in the lower reaches of the outfield seats sat high above the action.

Night Game View of RFK Stadium's Cavernous Outfield

RFK Stadium was the last major league baseball park in the country where fans could walk around the entire perimeter of the upper deck seating bowl and see the game.

View From Center Field Upper Deck, RFK Stadium

The Presidents Race originated at RFK Stadium in 2005, growing out of the PNC Dollar Derby – a cartoon shown on the video board pitting George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Alexander Hamilton (note, he was not a president) in a car race. The Presidents Race, featuring live mascots, began during the 2006 season.

The Nationals's Presidents Race Started at RFK Stadium

The main entrance to RFK Stadium is the eastern most entrance at Gate D. Above that entrance is a mezzanine which includes a restaurant typically reserved for use by season ticket holders.

Champions Club, RFK Stadiu

Hall of Famer Frank Robinson was the Nationals first manager, having managed the Montreal Expos prior to their arrival in Washington. He often stood along the dugout fence (the National’s home dugout at RFK was along third base) and was easy to spot, even from the stands behind the third base dugout.

Frank Robinson's Last Day As Manager at RFK Stadium in 2006

The 2007 baseball season was to be the last one played at RFK.

RFK Opening Day 2007

During the 2007 season the Nationals placed a countdown banner in left field noting the number of home games left at RFK.

RFK's Count Down Banner

On September 23, 2007, the Nationals played their final game at RFK, a 5–3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. The announced attendance for that game was 40,519.

RFK Video Board Announces That the End is Nigh For Baseball

Thirty-six years earlier, on September 30, 1971, the Senators played their last game in front of 14,460 fans. However, the game was declared a forfeit when, with two outs in the top of the ninth inning and the Senators leading the Yankees 7-5, fans rushed the field. The final home game of the Washington Nationals was a much more civil affair.

The Last Day of Professional Baseball at RFK Stadium

The Washington Nationals now play their home games in Nationals Park, located two and a half miles southwest of RFK Stadium.

Nationals Park, Home of the Washington Nationals

RFK Stadium is not yet a lost ballpark. Its main tenant currently is D.C. United, which has a lease to play its home games at RFK through the 2015 season.

Major League Soccer Is Still Played at RFK, For Now

Once D.C. United leaves RFK, however, it will be only a matter of time before RFK is consigned to history. Having lasted over 50 years, it remains one of the oldest ballparks still standing in the United States. If you haven’t been there yet, be sure to take the time to stop for a picture when you are in D.C., or perhaps take in a soccer game.

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Le Stade Olympique

May 16th, 2010

Built to host the 1976 Summer Olympics, Le Stade Olympique, or Olympic Stadium, was the home of the Montreal Expos from 1977 to 2003.

Le Stade Olympique (Les Messageries de Presse Benjamin Montreal Enr., photo byMalak)

Slated to be the first major league stadium with a retractable roof, problems with construction delayed completion of the roof such that a fully-functioning retractable roof was not operational until 1988.   Continued problems with the building resulted in the installation of a new roof that did not retract. The cables that once lifted the fabric roof into the stadium’s tower are visible in the picture below.

The Roof and Cabling of Olympic Stadium

Le Plaque of Stade Olympique

With French being Montreal’s official language, a visit to Olympic Stadium was as much a trip to the ballgame as it was a lesson in French.

Ticket Stub En Francais

Because the stadium was attached to one of Montreal’s subway stations, it was possible to travel to and from the game without ever seeing the outdoors.  With the roof closed, the stadium’s cavernous seating bowl was exceptionally dark in spots, with shadows throughout much of the seating area under the upperdeck.

Batting Practice at Stade Olympique

The neon-green plastic grass seemed almost to glow against the dark, shadowy background.

The Game Was Still the Same

Low attendance was almost always an issue in Montreal and the day these pictures were taken there were perhaps 3,000 fans in the seats, even less during batting practice.

Third Base Lower Bowl and Upper Deck

With the closed roof and its lights arranged along the perimeter of the roof opening, the stadium had a bit of a Close-Encounters-Of-The-Third-Kind vibe.  Perhaps this was intentional, as the movie opened the same year the Expos began play there.

Richard Dreyfuss Taking A Few Swings in the Batting Cage

Unlike the tag line for the movie, however, fans attending Expos games felt very much alone.

We Are Not Alone, But Just Barely

In addition to the great Canadian Beer, Molson, Stade Olympique offered uniquely Canadian fare such as Moozoo – a “frappe” drink made of fruit and yogurt.

Moozoo Anyone?

The seats at Olympic Stadium were distinctive to say the least.   Their modern design gave the stadium even more of a close-encounters feel.  When cheering for the home team, fans would flip the seat bottoms into the seat tops, creating a truly deafening noise.

Funky Chairs - Very Loud When Slammed

The stadium’s concrete concourse had the feel of a large parking garage – without the cars.

Fans Fight Their Way Up the Ramp To The Upperdeck

Souvenir stands offered very little in the way of baseball memorabilia, presumably because the Expos, uncertain just how long they were going to last in Montreal, did not want to keep too much stock on hand.

Youppi Here, Get Your Youppi Here

Refreshment stands included menus in both French and English.  The French word for hot dog? –  hot dog.   The French word for hamburger? – hamburger.

Bon Appetit et Bon Match

Fans sitting in right field corner had whole sections all to themselves.

Right Field Foul Poll

Olympic Stadium still stands today.  Although it has no major, full-time tenant, it does not appear to be in any danger of becoming another lost ballpark.   The Government of Montreal actively markets its use for events throughout the year, including such events as soccer and motocross.

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