Clearwater Athletic Field

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Coordinates: 27°57′25″N 82°47′29″W / 27.956994°N 82.791499°W / 27.956994; -82.791499

Clearwater Athletic Field
Clearwater Athletic Field.png
Former namesBrooklyn Field
LocationPennsylvania Ave and Seminole St, Clearwater, Florida
OwnerCity of Clearwater
Capacity3,000
Field sizeLeft – 340 ft.

Center – ft.

Right – 290 ft.
Surfacegrass
Construction
Broke groundDecember 1922
OpenedMarch 15, 1923
Closed1954
Demolished1956
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 and was the Phillies' first spring training ballpark in Clearwater. 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. On March 19, 2016, the site of the ballpark was recognized as a Florida Heritage Site and the location added to the state's heritage map.[2]

History[edit]

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 construction. The Dodgers' move to Florida brought the number of major league clubs conducting spring training in the state to seven.[3] 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.[4] More than 4,000 fans saw the Dodgers defeat the Braves 12-7.[5]

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[6] and the Amateur Softball Association national-champion Clearwater Bombers played their home games at Athletic Field.[7] The Florida State Negro Baseball League Clearwater Black Sox played at the park in 1952.[8]

Phillies in Clearwater[edit]

Cleveland was sold in June 1946 to Bill Veeck and a note soon appeared in the Sporting News that the team was considering a spring training move to Tucson, Arizona for 1947. Paul Ficht, secretary of the Clearwater Chamber of Commerce, along with Mayor J.C. House, and City Manager F.L. Hendrix spoke with the St. Louis Browns, Newark Bears, Kansas City Blues, and Phillies about training in Clearwater in 1947. On July 27, 1946, Hendrix announced that the Phillies had accepted Clearwater's invitation to train at Athletic Field in 1947 on a one-year agreement. On March 7, 1947, the Phillies and city signed a 10-year deal for the Phillies to train in Clearwater.

The Phillies lost their first spring training game in 1947 at Athletic Field to the Detroit Tigers by a score of 13-1. The Phillies' attendance that spring was 13,291 which was ninth out of the ten teams training in Florida.[9]

One of the largest crowds for a spring training game was on March 24, 1951, when the Phillies drew 3,851 against the Boston Red Sox.[10]

After 1955[edit]

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.[11]

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.[12]

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.[13] Ray Green Field was also used for parking for games at Jack Russell Stadium.[14]

The North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex now stands on the site of the ballpark. In 2003, the city opened the Ray E. Green Aquatic Center, named in honor of the mayor.[15]

In February 2018, football team D.C. United trained in Clearwater and used the grass fields at Walter C. Campbell Park between the recreation center and Jack Russell Memorial Stadium.[16]

Name[edit]

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,[17] who was instrumental in upgrading the facility during his tenure as mayor.[18] 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.[19] A 1939 news article recounts the Clearwater Senior Softball League playing at "Brooklyn field".[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Clearwater Fire Destroys Grandstand". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. 1956-04-14. p. 13. Retrieved 2011-03-14.
  2. ^ Landgon, Sherri (March 15, 2016). "Clearwater Athletic Field Earns Historic Designation". Clearwater Patch. Retrieved 2018-03-25.
  3. ^ "Big Leaguers Seek Grounds". St. Petersburg Times. 1922-10-22. p. 7. Retrieved 2011-03-15.
  4. ^ "Braves to Meet Dodgers in Clearwater Thursday". St. Petersburg Evening Independent. 1923-03-12. p. 14. Retrieved 2011-03-15.
  5. ^ "Dodgers Win From Boston". St. Petersburg Times. 1923-03-16. p. 6. Retrieved 2011-03-15.
  6. ^ 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. ISBN 1-59629-214-8.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ McLin, E. H. (1952-04-29). "Pelicans face Ocala in League Opener Sunday". St. Petersburg Times. p. 24. Retrieved 2009-03-22.
  9. ^ Lewis, Allen (March 1986). "Philadelphia '47 '86 Clearwater". 1986 Phillies: Spring Training 40th Year in Clearwater. Clearwater, Florida: Philadelphia Phillies. pp. 4–5.
  10. ^ "Phillies Beat Red Sox; Goliat Clouts Homer". Reading Eagle. 1951-03-25. p. Section 4, page 27.
  11. ^ "Boston Pitchers Wild, Ineffective". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. 1955-03-17. p. 13.
  12. ^ "Winter League Orioles Open Workouts Today". St. Petersburg Times. 1959-10-08. p. 5-C. Retrieved 2009-05-01.
  13. ^ Al Hackett (1956-04-12). "Wind-Whipped Blaze Levels Stands, Home". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2011-03-14.
  14. ^ Henry, Kaylois (1989-09-17). "Clearwater gets go-ahead on parking spaces, stadium". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2009-03-19.
  15. ^ Kennedy Wynne, Sharon (2003-04-13). "Metro Week in Review: Coming up this week". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2009-03-19.
  16. ^ Goff, Steven (February 5, 2018). "With Yamil Asad deal almost done, D.C. United sorts through midfield options". Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-03-25.
  17. ^ "Mayor & City Council: Frequently Asked Questions". My Clearwater.com: The Official Website of the City of Clearwater, Florida. Archived from the original on 2009-03-02. Retrieved 2009-03-19.
  18. ^ Arnold, Lois V. (1993-08-17). "A stadium conjures up memories". St. Petersburg Times. p. 2. Retrieved 2009-03-20.
  19. ^ Kouzmanoff, Tommy (1980-03-16). "Jack Russell Stadium Has Continued To Be Of Benefit To Clearwater". St. Petersburg Times. p. 4. Retrieved 2009-09-18.[dead link]
  20. ^ "Senior Leaguers to Resume Play at County Seat". The Evening Independent. 1939-08-14. p. 11. Archived from the original on 2012-07-23. Retrieved 2009-09-21.

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