Posts Tagged ‘Senior Professional Baseball Association’

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

March 2nd, 2018

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

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

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

Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter Florida,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The former left field line paralleled Okeechobee Boulevard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

West Palm Beach Expos 1987 Program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

The right field line paralleled Hank Aaron Drive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

West Palm Beach Christian Convention Center

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

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

Fort Myer’s Terry Park – Over 100 Years of Baseball History

February 24th, 2015

Terry Park is located at 3410 Palm Beach Boulevard in Fort Myers, Florida. The ballpark hosted major league spring training for over 50 years, from the early 1920s to the late 1980s. The earliest professional baseball activity at the site was in 1914 when the American Association Louisville Colonels held spring training on the grounds of the Fort Myers Yacht and Country Club, owned by Dr. Marshall Terry and his wife Tootie MacGregor Terry. The Colonels also played exhibition games against the Philadelphia Athletics and the St. Louis Browns that year (although the baseball field used by the Colonels was not the same field that would become Terry Park).

Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

In 1918, Lee County began holding its annual fair on the country club property and, in 1921, Dr Terry donated to the county the land on which the country club was built. That same year the county officially named the property “Terry Park.” See Terry Park 100 Year Anniversary Book, Lee County Parks for a detailed history of the property and Terry Park. In 1923, Lee County convinced Connie Mack to bring his Philadelphia Athletics to Fort Myers for spring training. The county utilized plans provided by Mack in designing the ballpark and field, which opened in 1925. The Athletics departed Terry Park after the 1936 season. The Cleveland Indians subsequently trained at Terry Park in 1941 and 1942.

Ty Cobb, Thomas Edison, and Connie Mack at Terry Park (Photo From Collection of Edison and Ford Winter Estates)

Ty Cobb, Thomas Edison, and Connie Mack at Terry Park (Photo From the Edison and Ford Winter Estates Collection)

A fire started during an amateur baseball game destroyed Terry Park’s grandstand in 1943. In hopes of bringing Major league spring training back to Terry Park, the county and the City of Fort Myers in 1954 constructed a new 2,500 concrete and steel grandstand. In 1955 the Pittsburgh, Pirates moved their spring training to Terry Park. The Pirates departed after 1968, and the following year the Kansas City Royals made Terry Park their home. The Royals trained at Terry Park until 1987. In March 1990, the Minnesota Twins used Terry Park as the spring training grounds for its minor league players while Lee County Stadium was being built.

Terry Park Postcard "Pittsburgh Pirates WInter Home" (Lustercrome, Tichnor Bros. Boston)

Terry Park Postcard “Pittsburgh Pirates Winter Home” (Lustercrome, Tichnor Bros. Boston)

Although the baseball complex is still known today as Terry Park, the stadium itself was renamed Park T. Pigott Memorial Stadium in 1972, after a local baseball enthusiast and government administrator.

Terry Park Sign, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Terry Park Sign, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

During his long career of service to the City of Fort Myers, Pigott was Director of both City of Fort Myers Parks and Recreation and Lee County Parks and Recreation, as well as the Superintendent of Terry Park.

Park T. Pigott Historical Plaque, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Park T. Pigott Historical Plaque, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Pigott also was instrumental in bringing both the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Kansas City Royals to Terry Park for spring training.

Park T. Pigott Historical Sign, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Park T. Pigott Historical Sign, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Terry Park also was home to the Florida State League Fort Myers Palms from 1926 to 1927, and the Fort Myers Royals from 1978 to 1987. In 1989 and 1990 it was the home to the Fort Myers Sun Sox of the Senior Professional Baseball Association.

Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Terry Park includes three practice fields named after Hall of Famers who played at Terry Park for three of the teams that trained there: Connie Mack, Roberto Clemente, and George Brett.

Connie Mack Field at Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Connie Mack Field at Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Practice Field Bleachers Behind Main Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Practice Field Bleachers Behind Main Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Once professional baseball departed, Terry Park was used primarily for youth, American Legion, and high school baseball.

Outfield Wall, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Concrete Block Outfield Wall, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

In 1965, Terry Park was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. However, in 2004 the grandstand was demolished after Hurricane Charley damaged the structure.

Left Field Line Looking Toward Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Left Field Line Looking Toward Grandstand, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Although some of the girders installed in 1955 remain, the structure bears little resemblance to the historic grandstand it replaced.

Grandstand Interior, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Grandstand Interior, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

During the 2004 renovation, the dugouts also were replaced, as well as some, if not all, of the outfield wall.

View of Grandstand from Behind First Base Dugout, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

View of Grandstand from Behind First Base Dugout, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

The good news is that baseball is still played at Terry Park. The stadium is used year round for amateur and college baseball.

Sign Welcoming Players to Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Sign Welcoming Players to Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

In February and March each year, over 100 teams travel to Terry Park for the The Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic.

First Base Dugout, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

First Base Dugout, Terry Park, Fort Myers, Florida

Fort Myers boasts a proud history of major league spring training. Three other facilities nearby once held or currently hold spring training in Fort Myers. From 1993 to 2011, the Boston Red Sox held their spring training at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers.

City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida

City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Florida, Former Spring Training Home of the Boston Red Sox

Since 2012, the Red Sox have trained at Jet Blue Stadium, located in Fort Myers 14 miles southeast from City of Palms Park.

Jet Blue Stadium, Spring Training Home of the Boston Red Sox, Fort Myers, Florida

Jet Blue Stadium, Current Spring Training Home of the Boston Red Sox, Fort Myers, Florida

The Minnesota Twins also train in Fort Myers, at Hammons Stadium, located just seven miles west of Jet Blue Stadium.

Hammond Stadium, Fort Myers, Florida, Spring Training Home of the Minnesota Twins

Hammons Stadium, Fort Myers, Florida, Spring Training Home of the Minnesota Twins

If you are attending spring training at either of these stadiums in Fort Myers, take a moment to visit Terry Park as well. It is a beautiful park full of baseball history. And chances are you might catch an amateur or college game while you are there. For additional photos of Terry Park (including many vintage photos), see naplesnews.com.

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Posted in Florida ballparks, Terry Park/Park T. Pigott Memorial Stadium | Comments (2)