Clearwater Athletic Field

Clearwater Athletic Field

Clearwater Athletic Field
Former names Brooklyn Field
Owner City of Clearwater
Capacity 3,000
Field size

Left – 340 ft.
Center – ft.

Right – 290 ft.
Surface grass
Construction
Broke ground December 1922
Opened March 15, 1923
Closed 1954
Demolished 1956
Construction cost $25,000
Tenants
Brooklyn Dodgers (MLB) (spring training) (19231932; 19361941)
Clearwater Pelicans (FSL) (1924)
Newark Bears (IL) (spring training) (1933–1935)
Cleveland Indians (MLB) (spring training) (1942 and 1946)
Clearwater Bombers (ASA) (1945–1954)
Philadelphia Phillies (MLB) (spring training) (19471954)
Clearwater Black Sox (FSNBL) (1952)

Clearwater Athletic Field was a stadium in Clearwater, Florida. It was first used by professional baseball teams for spring training in 1923. The grandstand sat approximately 2,000 and bleachers increased capacity to close to 3,000. Home plate was located on Pennsylvania Avenue, which ran south to north along the third base line, near Seminole Street. Left field ran parallel to Palmetto Street, and right field ran parallel to Greenwood Ave. The grandstand was destroyed by fire in April 1956.[1] The North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex now stands on the site of ballpark.

History

In October 1922, the Brooklyn Dodgers agreed to train in Clearwater in 1923 provided the city would clear a field and construct grandstands. The Clearwater city council voted to issue $25,000 in bonds for the purpose of construction. The Dodgers' move to Florida brought the number of major league clubs conducting spring training in the state to seven.[2] The first game was played on March 15, 1923 between the Dodgers, and the Boston Braves who trained in St. Petersburg. The game was preceded by a parade to the park and Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis threw out the first pitch to Clearwater mayor Frank J. Booth.[3] More than 4,000 fans saw the Dodgers defeat the Braves 12 to 7.[4]

Tenants

It was the spring training home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Newark Bears (when the top minor league baseball teams held their own spring training), Cleveland, and the Philadelphia Phillies. The Florida State League's Clearwater Pelicans[5] and the Amateur Softball Association national-champion Clearwater Bombers played their home games at Athletic Field.[6] The Florida State Negro Baseball League Clearwater Black Sox played at the park in 1952.[7] Fire destroyed the grandstand in 1956 but the field remained in use. The Baltimore Orioles team in the Winter Instructional League trained at Athletic Field in October 1959 and played their home games next door at Jack Russell Stadium.[8]

Name

The ballpark is often identified as "Clearwater Athletic Field" or "Clearwater's Athletic Field". It was renamed Ray Green Field in honor of Ray Green, mayor of Clearwater from 1935 to 1938,[9] who was instrumental in upgrading the facility during his tenure as mayor.[10] In a 1980 interview, Eddie Moore, director of Clearwater parks and recreation from 1938 to 1978, recalled that the ballpark was called "Brooklyn Field" during the Dodgers' tenure.[11] Indeed, a 1939 news article recounts the Clearwater Senior Softball League playing at "Brooklyn field".[12]

Other

One of the largest crowds for a spring training game was on March 24, 1951, when the Phillies drew 3,851 for a game against the Boston Red Sox.[13]

It was replaced in 1955 by Jack Russell Stadium, into which both the Phillies and Bombers moved after the 1954 season. Even after moving into Jack Russell in 1955, the Phillies continued to practice at the field.[14] At the time of the fire which destroyed the grandstands on April 12, 1956, it was reported that city managers planned to tear down the grandstands in 1957 and replace them with temporary bleachers.[15]

The North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex now stands on the site of ballpark. In 2003, the city opened the Ray E. Green Aquatic Center, named in honor of the mayor.[16] Ray Green Field was also used for parking for games at Jack Russell Stadium.[17]

References

  1. ^ "Clearwater Fire Destroys Grandstand". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. 1956-04-14. p. 13. Retrieved 2011-03-14. 
  2. ^ "Big Leaguers Seek Grounds". St. Petersburg Times. 1922-10-22. p. 7. Retrieved 2011-03-15. 
  3. ^ "Braves to Meet Dodgers in Clearwater Thursday". St. Petersburg Evening Independent. 1923-03-12. p. 14. Retrieved 2011-03-15. 
  4. ^ "Dodgers Win From Boston". St. Petersburg Times. 1923-03-16. p. 6. Retrieved 2011-03-15. 
  5. ^ De Quesada, Alejandro M.; Larry Shenk (2007). Spring Training in Clearwater: Fencebusters and Fastballs from the Philadelphia Philles and the Clearwater Threshers. The History Press. p. 24.  
  6. ^ Dailey, Lester R. (2008-02-20). "Bombers put Clearwater on the map: The home-grown softball team won 10 national championships". Clearwater Citizen. Retrieved 2009-03-19. 
  7. ^ McLin, E.H. (1952-04-29). "Pelicans face Ocala in League Opener Sunday".  
  8. ^ "Winter League Orioles Open Workouts Today". St. Petersburg Times. 1959-10-08. p. 5-C. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  9. ^ "Mayor & City Council: Frequently Asked Questions". My Clearwater.com: The Official Website of the City of Clearwater, Florida. Retrieved 2009-03-19. 
  10. ^ Arnold, Lois V. (1993-08-17). "A stadium conjures up memories".  
  11. ^ Kouzmanoff, Tommy (1980-03-16). "Jack Russell Stadium Has Continued To Be Of Benefit To Clearwater".  
  12. ^ "Senior Leaguers to Resume Play at County Seat". The Evening Independent. 1939-08-14. p. 11. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  13. ^ "Phillies Beat Red Sox; Goliat Clouts Homer". Reading Eagle. 1951-03-25. p. Section 4, page 27. 
  14. ^ "Boston Pitchers Wild, Ineffective". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. 1955-03-17. p. 13. 
  15. ^ Al Hackett (1956-04-12). "Wind-Whipped Blaze Levels Stands, Home". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2011-03-14. 
  16. ^ Kennedy Wynne, Sharon (2003-04-13). "Metro Week in Review: Coming up this week".  
  17. ^ Henry, Kaylois (1989-09-17). "Clearwater gets go-ahead on parking spaces, stadium".  

External links

  • Digital Ballparks: Green Field

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