8 Historic Ballparks Across America: Forgotten, Abandoned, Demolished

Baseball, MLB article at Knup Sports

We have put together some of the most historic ballparks across America — many of these fields have been forgotten, abandoned or demolished. Baseball was the backbone of America in the simpler days.

Kids were gone all day playing baseball on any diamond they could find. Much of those fields are now part of a lost Americana. This is the first of several that I will present to you.

59th Street Bridge

The 59th Street Bridge area in New York (Manhattan) for playing baseball was known as “The Sandlot” and the New York Cubans of the Negro National League played their home games there. The ballpark was built under the 59th Street Bridge. The under part of the bridge actually made this the first covered diamond.

The New York Cubans were part of the Negro National League and played in the 1930’s until they had a losing season in 1936.  They went out of business for two season and returned to play  from 1939-1950, winning the World Series in 1945 with such stars as Luis Tiant, Sr., Minnie Miñoso and Martín Dihigo. The Negro League National League folded after the 1948 season due to black players had begun to be accepted into major league baseball.

The New York Cubans allowed light skinned Hispanics to play on their team for the most part. In 1941, Perucho Cepeda was a member of this team he was the first Puerto Rican to plays for the Cuban team. Perucho is the father of Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda.

The physical description for this ballpark is:

between E 59th Street and 69th Street; between first venue and rhe East River in New York, New York.

23rd Street Grounds in Chicago

Land owned by Charles Follansbee was purchased and a new ballpark called  23rd street Grounds was built. Some referred to it as State Street Grounds and had its beginning as the Chicago White Stockings played baseball from 1874-1877 on it. These were the first two seasons of the National Association and latter two of their participation in the National League. Historically this was the beginnings of the first Chicago Cubs franchise.

The original White Stockings went out of business due to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and their best players scattered to other teams. They began playing a scattering of games and in 1874 began garnering interest and finances to produce a full team.

The first game was  played on May 29th as Baltimore defeated Cleveland 5-2. Between 1872-1874 they had eight National Association games played there. Teams from Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Troy all enjoyed the atmosphere of playing on the diamond.

The field opened in 1972 and closed in 1877. The final game was played on October 6,1877 as Chicago beat Louisville 4-0. Laurie Reis was the winning pitcher and four days prior, Lip Pike of Cincinnati hit the last home run.

Physical location:

The grounds occupied a city block well south and east of the 1871 fire’s origin on DeKoven Street. It was bounded by 23rd Street, State Street, 22nd Street (now Cermak Road) and what is now Federal Street.

Hilltop Park

Ballparks Across America will feature Hilltop Park  which opened in 1903. It was originally named American League Park but sine it sat on high ground it was renamed Hilltop Park.In 1902 the Orioles were sold for $18,000  and they moved to New York. The stadium was to be built on a rocky area and $20,000 was used to excavate the site. On April 30. 1903, The New York Highlanders played the Washington Senator in the first game.

The it of the park was a poor choie from the beginning as the was a swamp in right field, the outfield had no grass and the grandstand was made of a single level wooden variety that wrapped around from third base to first base dugout. The grandstand was uncovered  to both foul poles.

If you sat behind home plate, you had view of the Hudson River.  The home of the New York Giants, Polo Grounds, burnt  down and they moved into the Hilltop Park even though it was poorly built. The Giants changed their name to the Yankees and this was the first home of the might New York Yankees.

On October 5. 1912, the final game at Hilltop Park was played and in 1914 the place was demolished. Since 1928, the site has the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center sitting on it

The New York Highlanders and New York Giants played there and finally it was the first home of the New York Yankees. The stadium held 16,000 fans with a grass surface and it was built at the cost of $75.000.It opened in 1903 and closed in 1912 and was torn down in 1914. Left field was 365 feet, Center was 542 ft with right being 400 feet.

Rickwood Park

Rickwood Park is located in Birmingham, Alabama. This one is still being used but the significance is this is the oldest professional ballpark in the United States. It opened on August 18, 1910 and was built by Rick Woodward with guidance from the legendary Connie Mack.

The stadium goes back to the Birmingham Barons of 1775 and professional baseball called it home from 1910 to 1987. The next year they left for Hoover Metropolitan Field and the city had no baseball but once a year the Birmingham Barons play one game at Rickwood Field for Rickwood Classic.

 Rickwood Field is the oldest professional ballpark in the United States.

Compadre Stadium

In Chandler Arizona, they used to have a ballpark known as Compadre Stadium. It was located at 1425 W.Ocotillo Road with seating capacity of 5000 fans. It opened in 1986 and was the spring training home of the Milwaukee Brewers. It was built at a cost of just over $1.5million.

It was a lively and vibrant stadium and at one time in its life,then it became a mere shell of itself and the Brewers organization tends to move in and out very quickly. They moved out in 1998 and no other tenants could be found. In 2014, the wrecking ball was taken to it and demolished the once nice ballpark.Before it was torn down, the outfield was used for grazing sheep.

Scottsdale Stadium

Also in Arizona, Scottsdale Stadium has a history. In 1956, the original one was built and it was for Cactus League play and was home to the Boston Red Sox, Oakland A’s, Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles and now the San Francisco Giants. As it aged, the city began construction on another one which opened  on March 12, 1992.

Again, wanting to update, they began in 2005 to add treatment rooms. A new team store, a batting tunnel along with an expanded clubhouse and other amenities to make it top notch.

This stadium can be found at Old Town Scottsdale in the historic district where there are many restaurants and shopping opportunities. Camden Yard in Baltimore used the same creators for their field.

Sun City Stadium

This stadium was in Sun City, Arizona and was developed by Del Webb in 1971 as a spring training home for the Milwaukee Brewers. They left in 1985 and the area was used for various other projects such as women’s softball.The area was later sold by the Webb Corporation and was torn down in 1994 and it has a housing complex sitting on the property where the stadium once was located.

West End Park

West End Park in Little Rock opened in 1895 and was used by the Little Rock Travelers. They played in the Southern Association.Judge Wiliam M. Kavanaugh has been president of the Southern League and his hard work got the park built. it was renamed after  Kavanaugh’s death in 1915. .

The stadium was in disarray after 20 years and the city had it remodeled and it was better hen it re-opened in 1915. The new stadium was double in size and the field was larger.Occasionally, the prk wa used for spring training. The stadium closed in 1931 and is known as the scene of the first ever night baseball game. The field was demolished in the mid 1930’s.

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