Posts Tagged ‘National Football League’

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)

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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Posted in Ohio ballparks, Swayne Field | Comments (1)

Bosse Field – The Third Oldest Professional Ballpark In Continuous Use

March 30th, 2015

Bosse Field is located at 23 Don Mattingly Way in Evansville, Indiana (Don Mattingly was born in Evansville, Indiana, and attended Reitz Memorial High School). The ballpark is owned and maintained by the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation, a public school corporation serving Evansville, Indiana, and Vanderburgh County.

Front Entrance to Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Front Entrance to Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

The ballpark was constructed in 1915 with the backing of Evansville’s then-Mayor Benjamin Bosse.

Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana, Under Construction, 1915

Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana, Under Construction, 1915

The City of Evansville rewarded the mayor’s efforts by naming the field after him.

Plaque Honoring Construction of Bosse Field, in 1915, Evansville, Indiana

Plaque Honoring Construction of Bosse Field, in 1915, Evansville, Indiana

That same season, Bosse Field began hosting professional baseball. In 1915 the ballpark was the home of the Central League Evansville River Rats.

Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana, Exterior of First Base Grandstand

Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana, Exterior of First Base Grandstand

Bosse Field was renovated in 1930 and again in 1958. Both renovations are marked with historical plaques located just inside the front gates.

Plaque Honoring 1930 Renovation of Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Plaque Honoring 1930 Renovation of Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Plaque Honoring 1958 Renovation of Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Plaque Honoring 1958 Renovation of Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

On June 17, 2015, Bosse Field will celebrate its 100th anniversary.

Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana, Exterior of Center Field Wall and Parking Lot

Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana, Exterior of Center Field Wall and Parking Lot

In the 100 years since Bosse Field first opened, professional baseball has been played at the ballpark for 70 of the 100 seasons.

Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana, Exterior of Left Field Wall and Third Base Grandstand

Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana, Exterior of Left Field Wall and Third Base Grandstand

Bosse Field is the third oldest professional baseball stadium in continuous use in the United States. The two older professional ballparks in continuous use are Boston’s Fenway Park (opened 1912) and Chicago’s Wrigley Field (opened 1914 as Weeghman Park, home field of the Federal League Chicago Federals).  

Exterior Third Base Grand Stand, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Exterior Third Base Grand Stand, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama, which opened in 1910, is recognized by the Historic American Building Survey as the country’s oldest surviving ballpark. However, professional baseball departed Rickwood after the 1987 season, with the exception of one day a year when the Birmingham Barons (beginning in 1996) return to Rickwood Field to play an official Southern League contest in what is known as the Rickwood Classic.

Exterior of First Base Grand Stand, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Exterior of First Base Grand Stand, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

The Evansville River Rats departed Bosse Field after the 1915 season and were replaced in 1916 by the Central League Evansville Evas, who played at Bosse Field through 1917. From 1919 to 1942, seven different Three-I League teams played at Bosse Field: the Evansville Black Sox in 1919, the Evansville Evas from 1920 to 1923, the Evansville Little Evas in 1924, the Evansville Pocketeers in 1925, the Evansville Hubs from 1926 to 1931, the Evansville Bees from 1938 to 1942, and the Evansville Braves from 1946 to 1957. In 1921 and 1922, Bosse Field was also home to the National Football League Evansville Crimson Giants.

Main Entrance to Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Main Entrance to Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

With the arrival of the Evansville Bees in 1938, Boston’s National League franchise (then known as the Boston Bees) began an affiliation with Bosse Field that ran for the next  two decades. After a three year absence during World War II, the Evansville Braves arrived at Bosse Field in 1946. When the Boston franchise moved to Milwaukee in 1953, the Braves continued to play in Evansville through the 1957 season.

Plaque Honoring Robert Coleman, Manager of the Evansville Braves, Circa 1954, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Plaque Honoring Robert Coleman, Manager of the Evansville Braves, Circa 1954, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Because of World War II travel restrictions, from 1943 to 1945, the Detroit Tigers relocated their spring training home from Henley Field in Lakeland, Florida, to Bosse Field.

Ticket Window , Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Ticket Window Turned Beer Concession Stand, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

When the Evansville Braves departed after the 1957 season, Bosse Field was without a professional team until 1966 with the arrival of the Southern League Evansville White Sox, who played at Bosse Field through the 1968 season. The American Association Evansville Triplets called Bosse Field home from 1970 to 1984. The Triplets were affiliates of the Minnesota Twins in 1970, the Milwaukee Brewers from 1971 to 1973, and the Detroit Tigers from 1974 to 1984. At least three future Hall of Famers played minor league baseball for Evansville at Bosse Field, including Chuck Klein (Evansville Hubs in 1927), Hank Greenburg (Evansville Hubs in 1931), and Warren Spahn (Evansville Braves in 1941) .

Plaques Honoring History of Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Plaques Honoring History of Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Since 1995, the Evansville Otters of the Frontier League (Independent League, not affiliated with Major League Baseball) have played their home games at Bosse Field.

Concession Stand, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Concession Stand, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

In addtiion to being one of the oldest ballparks in the country, it is also one of the most photogenic.

Panoramic Photo of Bosse Field Taken From Third Base Grandstand, Evansville, Indiana

Panoramic Photo of Bosse Field Taken From Third Base Grandstand, Evansville, Indiana

The renovations the ballpark over the years have not destroyed in any way the 100 year old charm of Bosse Field.

Entrance to Grandstand Behind Third Base,  Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Entrance to Grandstand Behind Third Base, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

It is a wonderful park to visit, both as a piece of American history, and as a place to watch a ballgame. The ballpark has been wonderfully maintained by the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation, as well as the Evansville Otters.

Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

The shape of the park is reminiscent of New York’s Polo Grounds and Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium.

Panoramic View of Bosse Field Taken from Third Base Grandstand, Evansville, Indiana

View of Bosse Field Taken from First Base Grandstand, Evansville, Indiana

View of Bosse Field  From Third Base Grandstand, Evansville, Indiana

View of Bosse Field From Third Base Grandstand, Evansville, Indiana

The seats located underneath the circular grandstand are made of wood. There is no plastic seating to be found anywhere within the grandstand.

View of First Base Grand Stand, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

View of First Base Grand Stand, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

The ballpark’s foul territory is expansive, a product of the age of its design. Prior to 1938, the foul area behind home plate was even larger. That year home plate was moved closer to the grandstand.

Third Base Dugout, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Third Base Dugout, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Third Base Dugout, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Third Base Dugout, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

The bullpens are located in expansive foul territory near the left field and right field corners.

Bullpen, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Bullpen, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

The outfield dimensions are currently 315 feet down the left and right field corners and 415 feet to dead away center field, as set by an outfield fence that was installed in the early 1950s.

View of Bosse Field From Center Field, Evansville, Indiana

View of Bosse Field From Center Field, Evansville, Indiana

The outfield was once considerably larger, based upon the distance to original outfield wall, which is located some 30 to 40 beyond the current outfield fence.

Original Center Field Brick Wall, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Original Center Field Brick Wall, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

In 1991, Hollywood came to Bosse Field. The ballpark was used as the home field for the fictional Racine Belles in the movie A League of Their Own, which was released in 1992.

Press Box, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Press Box, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Remnants of that movie are scattered throughout Bosse Field in the form of painted advertising signs.

Racine Belles Signage, A League of Their Own, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Racine Belles Signage, A League of Their Own, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

A League of Their Own Signage, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

A League of Their Own Signage, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Additional remnants of the movie of include painted sectional and direction signage.

Section Directional SIgnage, A League of Their Own, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Section Directional SIgnage, A League of Their Own, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Bosse Field is a national treasurer. Although the ballpark is considerably less famous than its ballpark peers Fenway Park and Wrigley Field, it should be considered on equal footing for anyone interested in the history of ballparks in the United States.

Light Stanchion, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Light Stanchion, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

For anyone who collects ballparks, Bosse Field is a must. Here’s hoping it will be around in 2115 to celebrate its 200th anniversary.

Exit from Right Field, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

Exit from Right Field, Bosse Field, Evansville, Indiana

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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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The Rockpile – Buffalo’s War Memorial Stadium

January 30th, 2015

War Memorial Stadium was a multi-use sports facility located at 285 Dodge Street in Buffalo, New York. The name of the venue changed over time, from Roesch Memorial Stadium (named after former Buffalo Mayor Charles Roesch) in 1937, to Grover Cleveland Stadium (in honor of the former President, Chief Justice, and Buffalo Mayor) from 1937-38, to Civic Stadium from 1938 to 1960, and finally to War Memorial Stadium from 1960 to 1987. Although it was a stadium of many names, Buffalo residents often referred to the ballpark as “The Old Rockpile.”

Buffalo Civic Stadium (Photocrome postcard, Metrocraft, Everett MA)

Buffalo Civic Stadium (Photocrome postcard, Metrocraft, Everett MA)

The derivation of the nickname Rockpile is not readily ascertained (believe me, I looked), but  perhaps it is a reference either to the condition of the stadium in its later years or the impressive wall constructed of large stones that once surrounded portions of the stadium as well as Masten Park (located directly west of the stadium). The stone wall was once part of the boundary for Prospect Reservoir. The stadium was built on top of the former reservoir site.

Stone Wall along Masten Avenue, western boundary of Masten Park, Buffalo, New York

Stone Wall along Masten Avenue, western boundary of Masten Park, Buffalo, New York. A Similar Wall Once Surrounded Portions of War Memorial Stadium

Although the stadium was completed as a Works Project Administration initiative in 1937, it did not have a professional sports tenant until 1940 with the arrival of the American Football League Indians, who played at Civic Stadium through the 1941 season. Football returned to the stadium in 1946 with the arrival of the Buffalo Bills of the All-American Football Conference, who played at Civic Stadium through the 1949 season. The Bills returned to War Memorial Stadium in 1960 as an American Football League franchise, after the stadium underwent a major renovation. In 1970 the Bills switched to the National Football League and played through the 1972 season at War Memorial.

War Memorial Stadium (Linen Postcard, Photo by Fitzgerald)

Civic Stadium, Buffalo, New York (Linen Postcard, Photo by Fitzgerald)

Professional baseball arrived at War Memorial Stadium about the same time professional football returned to venue at the beginning of the 1960s. With the closing and demolition of Offermann Stadium after the in 1960 season, the International League Buffalo Bisons moved to War Memorial Stadium the following year. The Bisons departed War Memorial during the 1970 season when the franchise was transferred to Winnipeg. The Bisons returned to War Memorial in 1979 as an AA Eastern League franchise. In 1985, the Bisons returned to AAA status as an American Association franchise, playing three full seasons at War Memorial Stadium before departing for a new ballpark, Pilot Field, after the end of the 1987 season.

Aerial View, Buffalo War Memorial, Buffalo, New York

Aerial View, War Memorial Stadium, Buffalo, New York

In 1983 baseball Hollywood style arrived at War Memorial Stadium. The ballpark used as a primary location for filming of the movie The Natural.

Movie Lobby Card Depicting Robert Redford at War Memorial Stadium (photo copyright Tri-Star Pictures)

Movie Lobby Card Depicting Robert Redford at War Memorial Stadium (photo copyright Tri-Star Pictures)

War Memorial Stadium’s distinctive vintage features provided an almost eerie back drop for the movie.

War Memorial Stadium (photo courtesy of Buffalo Baseball Museum)

War Memorial Stadium (photo courtesy of Buffalo Baseball Museum)

For additional information about the filming of The Natural at War Memorial Stadium, and at other locations in and around Buffalo, New York, see forgottenbuffalo.com.

Robert Redford at War Memorial Stadium (photographer unknown)

Robert Redford at War Memorial Stadium (photographer unknown)

War Memorial was demolished in 1988 and the City of Buffalo constructed in its place a youth sports complex. In 1997 the site was renamed the Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion in honor of a former Buffalo resident.

Football Scoreboard at Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion, Buffalo, New York

Football Scoreboard at Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion, Buffalo, New York

Although the stadium structure is long gone, fortunately for fans of the game, the City of Buffalo preserved two of the four distinctive entrance gates, both located on the eastern side of the former ballpark site.

Former Entrance  to War Memorial Stadium at the Intersection of Best Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Former Entrance to War Memorial Stadium at the Intersection of Best Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

The entrance at the northwest corner of Best Street and Jefferson Avenue was considered War Memorial Stadium’s main gate. During the years that the stadium was configured for baseball, the Best and Jefferson entrance was located just beyond center field.

Steel Gates, Former Entrance  to War Memorial Stadium at the Intersection of Best Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Steel Gates at the Former Entrance to War Memorial Stadium, Intersection of Best Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

A similar entrance at the southwest corner of Dodge Street and Jefferson Avenue also remains at the site. The gate was located behind what was once the left field corner. The left field grandstand was located just to the right of the entrance.

Former Entrance  to War Memorial Stadium at the Intersection of Dodge Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Former Entrance to War Memorial Stadium at the Intersection of Dodge Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

An entrance gate (now demolished) behind the right field corner of War Memorial Memorial was located near the intersection of Best Street and Peach Street.

War Memorial Stadium Exterior Best Street Near Peach Street (photo courtesy of Buffalo Baseball Museum)

War Memorial Stadium Exterior, Best Street Near Peach Street (photo courtesy of Buffalo Baseball Museum)

The City of Buffalo constructed on Best Street a new gated entrance with ticket windows near the location of the original gate.

Entrance to Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion at  Best Street Near Peach Street

Entrance to Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion at Best Street Near Peach Street

A new gated entrance on Dodge Street sits behind what would have been War Memorial Stadium’s home plate.

Entrance to Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion (looking Toward Dodge Street).

Entrance to Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion (looking Toward Dodge Street).

Home plate itself was located in what is now the turf football field, at approximately the 15 yard line on the field’s north end. It is unfortunate that the city did not place a marker where home plate once sat, or where the original goal posts once sat, for that matter.

War Memorial Stadium Former Infield, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavillion, Looking Toward Left Field

War Memorial Stadium Former Infield, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavilion, Looking Toward Left Field

Much of the former infield is now part of the running track that surrounds the northeast end of the turf football field.

War Memorial Stadium Former Infield, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavillion, Looking Toward  Home Plate

War Memorial Stadium Former Infield, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavilion, Looking Toward Home Plate

Metal bleachers placed along side the football field sit near what was once the western most portion of the stadium structure.

Bleachers, Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion, Former Site of First Base Grand Stand

Bleachers, Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion, Former Site of First Base Grand Stand

Concession stands and storage facilities sit in the approximate location of a facilities building that sat just to the west of War Memorial Stadium.

Concession Stands and Storage Areas, Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion, Buffalo, New York

Concession Stands and Storage Areas, Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion, Buffalo, New York

The right field foul line ran parallel to what is now the running track.

War Memorial Stadium Former Right Field Foul Line Corner, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavillion, Looking Toward Right Field Corner (New York' State Division of Military and Naval Affairs Armory in Background).

War Memorial Stadium Former Right Field Foul Line Corner, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavilion, Looking Toward Right Field Corner (New York’ State Division of Military and Naval Affairs Armory in Background).

The youth baseball infield  at the Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion sits in what was once War Memorial Stadium’s right field.

Baseball Field, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavillion, Former War Memorial Stadium Outfield

Baseball Field, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavilion, Former War Memorial Stadium Outfield

The current left field of the youth baseball diamond was once War Memorial Stadium’s left field.

War Memorial Stadium Former Center Field, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavillion, Looking Toward Home Plate

War Memorial Stadium Former Left/Center Field, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavilion, Looking Toward Home Plate

The two preserved entrances to War Memorial Stadium loom large over the current youth baseball outfield.

Backside of Former Entrance  to War Memorial Stadium at the Intersection of Best Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Backside of Former Entrance to War Memorial Stadium at the Intersection of Best Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Backside of Former Entrance  to War Memorial Stadium at the Intersection of Dodge Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Backside of Former Entrance to War Memorial Stadium at the Intersection of Dodge Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Directly to the west of the former site of War Memorial Stadium is Masten Park. The park, like the stadium, was built on top of Prospect Reservoir.

Masten Park, Buffalo, New York

Masten Park, Buffalo, New York

A swimming pool dating to the time of War Memorial Stadium sits just beyond the eastern boundary of Masten Park.

Masten Park Swimming Pool, Buffalo, New York

Masten Park Swimming Pool, Buffalo, New York

The stone wall that once surrounded Prospect Reservoir terminates just prior to the Dodge Street entrance near the turf football field.

Entrance to Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion From Dodge Street

Entrance to Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion From Dodge Street

In addition to the stone wall, Masten park boasts several distinctive concrete stairways into the park which date back to the time of War Memorial Stadium.

Masten Park, Steps to Dodge Street, Buffalo, New York

Masten Park, Steps to Dodge Street, Buffalo, New York

In 1988, the Buffalo Bisons moved to a new downtown ballpark on Washington Street, built just two miles southwest of War Memorial Stadium.

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

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

Coca-Cola Field (originally known as Pilot Field) includes a wonderful museum with many displays dedicated to the history of War Memorial Stadium.

War Memorial Stadium Display at the Buffalo Baseball Museum

War Memorial Stadium Display at the Buffalo Baseball Museum, Coca-Cola Field

The museum’s curator, John Boutet, has spent the last 25 plus years acquiring mementos and pieces of War Memorial Stadium, as well as Offermann Stadium, to help educate fans about Buffalo’s rich baseball history.

Buffalo Baseball Historian John Boutet With War Memorial Stadium Sign at Buffalo Baseball Museum

Buffalo Baseball Historian John Boutet With War Memorial Stadium Sign at Buffalo Baseball Museum

The museum includes a wooden stadium chair from War Memorial Stadium, painted grey, which resembles the seats once used at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland.

War Memorial Stadium Seat on Display at Buffalo Baseball Museum

War Memorial Stadium Seat on Display at Buffalo Baseball Museum

An authentic War Memorial Stadium turnstile sits at the entrance to the museum.

War Memorial Stadium Turnstile on display at Buffalo Baseball Museum

War Memorial Stadium Turnstile on display at Buffalo Baseball Museum

The museum includes memorabilia of famous Buffalo Bisons, including the uniform once worn by Hall of Famer Johnny Bench.

Johnny Bench's Buffalo Bison Locker at Buffalo Baseball Museum

Johnny Bench’s Buffalo Bisons Locker at Buffalo Baseball Museum

The City of Buffalo has done an admirable job paying homage to memory of historic War Memorial Stadium. A visit to the former site is worth the trip if only to stand in front and take a pictures of the once-grand War Memorial Stadium entrances preserved by the city. For an excellent site devoted to the memory of War Memorial Stadium, with many vintage photographs of the ballpark, visit Rockpile Buffalo. And if you haven’t already, be sure to visit the Buffalo Baseball Museum on the concourse at Coca-Cola Field.

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Buffalo Base Ball Park and Offermann Stadium

January 28th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Historical Plaque at the Former Site of Offerman Stadium

Historical Plaque at the Former Site of Offermann Stadium

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Former Site of Offerman Stadium Infield

Former Site of Offermann Stadium Infield

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

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

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

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

Houses at the Intersection of Masten Avenue and Ferry Street

Houses at the Intersection of Masten Avenue and Ferry Street

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

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

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

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

Aerial View, Buffalo War Memorial, Buffalo, New York

Aerial View, War Memorial Stadium, Buffalo, New York

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Baseballs and Superbowls – Tampa’s Al Lopez Field

January 24th, 2015

Al Lopez Field was located at the intersection of North Himes Avenue and West Woodlawn Avenue in Tampa, Florida.

Al Lopez Field, Tampa, Florida, Circa 1975

From 1955 to 1959 it was the Spring Training home of the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox relocated to Payne Park in Sarasota, Florida, in 1960.

Al Lopez Field, Tampa FL Postcard (Curtechcolor Art Creation, Hillsboro News Co.)

Al Lopez Field, Tampa FL Postcard (Curtechcolor Art Creation, Hillsboro News Co.)

From 1960 until 1987 Al Lopez Field was the Spring Training home of the Cincinnati Reds.

Ron Oester, Al Lopez Field, July 1985, Tampa, Florida

The Reds relocated their spring training home to Plant City, Florida, in 1988.

Jose Pegan, Al Lopez Field, Tampa, Florida

The minor league Tampa Tarpons of the Florida State League called Al Lopez Field home from 1957 to 1988.

Bob Robertson, Al Lopez Field, Tampa, Florida

In 1966, the City of Tampa constructed Tampa Stadium just north of Al Lopez Field on West Ohio Avenue.

Pre-Game Cerermony, Pittsburgh Pirates, 1975, Al Lopez Field, Tampa, Florida, With Tampa Stadium Visible In Background

Tampa Stadium was primarily a soccer and football venue, with notable tenants including the North American Soccer League Tampa Bay Rowdies  and the National Football League Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa Stadium hosted Super Bowl XVIII on January 22, 1984 (Los Angeles Raiders 38, Washington Redskins 9), and Super Bowl XXV on January 27, 1991 (New York Giants 20, Buffalo Bills 19).

Al Lopez Field Postcard (T-10-C Ward Beckett & Co., Clearwater FL)

Tampa Stadium and Al Lopez Field Postcard (T-10-C Ward Beckett & Co., Clearwater FL)

Al Lopez Field was demolished in 1989. In 1996 the City of Tampa began construction of Raymond James Stadium on the former site of Al Lopez Field. Al Lopez Field was located in what is now the Northeast quadrant Raymond James Stadium.

Raymond James Stadium, Former Site of Al Lopez FIeld, Tampa, Florida

Raymond James Stadium, Former Site of Al Lopez FIeld, Tampa, Florida

In the aerial photograph of Raymond James Stadium below (facing West), the site of Al Lopez Field is located in the bottom right quadrant of the stadium. The former site of Tampa Stadium, which was demolished in 1999, appears in the photograph below as the open grass field just to the right of Raymond James Stadium.

Aerial View of Raymond James Stadium, Former Site of Al Lopez Field, Tampa FL

Aerial View of Raymond James Stadium, Former Site of Al Lopez Field, Tampa, Florida (photo is facing West)

The right field corner of Al Lopez Field was located near the intersection of North Himes Avenue and West Woodlawn Avenue. Raymond James Stadium East Gate now marks the spot.

Al Lopez Field, Former Right Field Corner at W Woodlawn Avenue and N Himes Avenue

Al Lopez Field, Former Right Field Corner at W Woodlawn Avenue and N Himes Avenue

The former site of right field is now a parking area that parallels North Himes Avenue and Raymond James Stadium.

Raymond James Stadium, Former Site of Al Lopez Stadium Center Field Looking Toward Right Field

Raymond James Stadium, Former Site of Al Lopez Stadium Center Field Looking Toward Right Field

Center field was located near the intersection of North Himes Avenue and West Ohio Avenue.

Intersection of Himes Avenue and Ohio Avenue, Former Entrance to Al Lopez Field (Near Center Field)

Intersection of Himes Avenue and Ohio Avenue, Former Entrance to Al Lopez Field (Near Center Field)

A significant portion of the former site of center field is now an asphalt parking area just north of Raymond James Stadium.

Raymond James Stadium, Former Site of Al Lopez Stadium Center Field

Raymond James Stadium, Former Site of Al Lopez Stadium Center Field

A patch of grass that sits in the shadow of the Raymond James Stadium sign at the northern end of the stadium marks the former site of left field.

Raymond James Stadium, Former Site of Al Lopez Stadium Left Field Corner

Raymond James Stadium, Former Site of Al Lopez Stadium Left Field Corner

The former site of Al Lopez Field’s home plate sits in the north east corner of Raymond James Stadiums’ northern most end zone (the end zone near the pirate ship replica). Two Superbowls have been played at the former site of Al Lopez Field, Super Bowl XXXV on January 28, 2001 (Baltimore Ravens 34, New York Giants 7), and Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 (Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Arizona Cardinals 23).

Former Site of Al Lopez Field Home Plate - Northern End Zone of Raymond James Stadium (Looking South)

Former Site of Al Lopez Field Home Plate – Northern End Zone of Raymond James Stadium (Looking South)

Spring Training baseball, as well as minor league baseball, is still played just a long fly ball from the former site of Al Lopez Field. George Steinbrenner Field, Spring Training Home of the New York Yankees, is located just one block to the northwest of the former ballpark site.

George Steinbrenner Field, Spring Training Home of the N.Y. Yankees, Located One Block Northwest of Site of Al Lopez Field

George Steinbrenner Field, Spring Training Home of the N.Y. Yankees, Located One Block Northwest of Site of Al Lopez Field

The Florida State League Tampa Yankees play their home games at Steinbrenner Field.

View of Raymond James Stadium from Steinbrenner Field, Home of the Tampa Yankees

View of Raymond James Stadium from Steinbrenner Field, Home of the Tampa Yankees

In 1992, the City of Tampa honored Tampa resident Al Lopez with a statute located at the intersection of North Himes Avenue and West Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd, just a very long fly ball from the former site of Al Lopez Field.

Al Lopez Statue, Al Lopez Park

Al Lopez Statue, Al Lopez Park

A plaque at the base of the statue notes that Al Lopez was born in nearby Ybor City on August 20, 1908, and provides an overview of his accomplishments in baseball: “Distinguished himself as a professional baseball player with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Boston Braves, and Pittsburgh Pirates as a catcher, setting the original all-time record for most games caught in the Major Leagues. He further distinguished himself in Major League history as manager of the pennant-wining Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox. For his admirable accomplishments in the Major Leagues as a player and Manager, he was Tampa’s first inductee into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1977.”

Plaque Honoring Former Tampa Resident Al Lopez

Plaque Honoring Former Tampa Resident Al Lopez

The statute of Al Lopez is appropriately positioned, with the long-time catcher facing toward the former site of the ballpark named in his honor.

Al Lopez Statue Looking South Toward Raymond James Stadium and Former Site of Al Lopez Field

Al Lopez Statue Looking South Toward Raymond James Stadium and Former Site of Al Lopez Field

The statute is located in the southwest corner of Al Lopez Park, also dedicated to the memory of the Tampa native.

Entrance to Al Lopez Park, Tampa, Florida

Entrance to Al Lopez Park, Tampa, Florida

The sign at the park entrance (4810 North Himes Avenue) recognizes Al Lopez as “one of Tampa’s favorite sons.”

Detail of Al Lopez Park Sign

Detail of Al Lopez Park Sign

Al Lopez Park includes a lake, picnic areas, walking trails, and a certified 5K running course.

East Gate, Raymond James Stadium at Woodlawn Avenue and Himes Avenue looking toward Former Right Field Corner of Al Lopez Field

East Gate, Raymond James Stadium at Woodlawn Avenue and Himes Avenue looking toward Former Right Field Corner of Al Lopez Field

Al Lopez lived much of his life in Tampa and nearby Ybor City. His former house in Ybor City was moved in 2013 from its original location at 1210 E 12th Avenue to 2003 N. 19th Street in Ybor City.

Al Lopez House, Ybor City, Florida

Al Lopez House, Ybor City, Florida

Located across the street from the Ybor City State Museum, Al Lopez’s former home now houses the Tampa Baseball Museum.

Al Lopez House, Ybor City, Florida

Al Lopez House, Ybor City, Florida

Tampa, Florida boast a rich baseball history. Should you find yourself in Tampa during Spring Training, be sure to take a moment to visit Al Lopez Park, with its statutory tribute to Al Lopez, as well as the Tampa Baseball Museum. And should you happen to find yourself attending a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game or a baseball game at nearby Steinbrenner Field, take a moment to appreciate the baseball history that once took place in the northern most end zone of Raymond James Stadium.

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Bloomington’s Metropolitan Stadium – MIA At The MOA

October 18th, 2013

Metropolitan Stadium was located in Bloomington, Minnesota, 15 miles south of Minneapolis and just south of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport off I-494.

Metropolitan Stadium "Home of the Minnesota Twins and the Minnesota Vikings" (Post Card Dexter Press, copyright Northern Minnesota Novelties)

The ballpark was home to the American Association Minneapolis Millers from 1956 until 1960, the American League Minnesota Twins from 1961 to 1981, and the National Football League Minnesota Vikings from 1961 to 1981. Prior to construction of Metropolitan Stadium, the Minneapolis Millers played their home games at Nicollet Park and the Minnesota Twins played at Griffith Stadium as the Washington Senators, prior to the franchise relocating to Minnesota after the 1960 season.

Metropolitan Stadium Circa 1957 (Plastichrome Post Card by Colour Picture Publishers and St. Marie's Gopher News Co.)

Once construction was completed on the Hubert H. Humphre Metrodome in 1982, the Twins and the Vikings both relocated to the new stadium for their respective 1982 seasons.

Looking Toward Right Field from Killebrew Drive (Prior To Construction of Raddison Blu Hotel)

Metropolitan Stadium was demolished in 1985 and is now the site of the Mall of America, a megamall built on the footprint of the  old stadium, covering over 96 acres.

Metropolitan Stadium After Its Expansion to 42,000 Seats (Plastichrome Post Card by Colour Picture Publishers and St. Marie's Gopher News Co.)

Home plate was located near the intersection of Cedar Avenue and Lindau Lane.

Mall of America, Looking Toward Former Third Base Foul Line From Lindau Lane

Within the Mall of America, Metropolitan Stadium’s  former field is now subsumed by an enclosed amusement park known as Nickelodeon Universe. A marker for home plate is located near the entrance to the Sponge Bob Square Pants Rock Bottom Plunge (which for roller coaster enthusiasts is the shortest Gerstlauera Euro-Fighter roller coaster in the world).

Home Plate Marker, Metropolitan Stadium - Located Next To Sponge Bob Square Pants Rock Bottom Plunge

Prior to Nickelodeon Universe, the Mall of America amusement park was known as Camp Snoopy, a homage to former St. Paul resident and Peanuts creator Charles Schultz.

Home Plate Looking Down Former Third Base Line (Former Camp Snoopy Configuration)

As part of the change over from Camp Snoopy to Nickelodeon Universe, the amusement park was completely redone and all references to Peanuts characters were removed.

View of Home Plate Looking Towards Pitchers Mound (Camp Snoopy Configuration)

With the change from Camp Snoopy to Nickelodeon Universe, “Blockhead Stadium” – like Metropolitan Stadium – is now just another lost ballpark.

Mall of America's Camp Snoopy Blockhead Stadium - Now Just Another Lost Ballpark

One of the most popular attractions at the Mall of America, next to Nickelodeon Universe, is the Lego Imagination Center, which resides in what was once right field.

Mall of America Lego Imagination Center, Former Location of Right Field

Former Minnesota Twins first baseman, third baseman, and outfielder Harmon Killebrew is twice honored at the former site of Metropolitan stadium. Killebrew Drive, named in his honor, is an east-west road south of the mall that runs parallel to the former third base foul line.

Looking Toward Right Center Field from Killebrew Drive

In addition, Killebrew’s 522 foot home run off California Angels pitcher Lew Burdette is commemorated in Nickelodeon Universe near the Log Chute.

Harmon Killebrew's Historic Home Run Marker at Mall of America - Located Near The Log Chute

A red stadium seat that once marked the spot where the home run landed in Metropolitan Stadium’s left field upper deck on June 3, 1967,  hangs on the wall above the ride.

All By Myself - The Harmon Killebrew Home Run Red Stadium Seat

With an estimated 40 million annual visitors to the Mall of America, the former site of Metropolitan Stadium is perhaps the most visited lost ballpark site in the country. Located just 11 miles south of the Twins current ballpark, Target Field, Metropolitan Stadium’s former site certainly is worth a visit. Of course, if you live in Minneapolis, or if you are just passing through, chances are you’ve already been. So on your next visit, be sure to look for the home plate marker at the feet of Sponge Bob Square Pants and the lone red chair perched above the Log Chute.

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