Estadio Latinoamericano


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Estadio Latinoamericano in Havana, Cuba

Three weeks ago, I fulfilled a lifelong dream of visiting Cuba. We took a cruise to Havana and, playing by the rules, took a guided “people-to-people” tour of the city. Sadly, this tour did not include baseball… at first.

The tour we took was on the “Art and Culture” of Cuba. Naturally, as the Baseball Sociologist, I consider baseball to be both art and culture, but our tour guide stated that we would not be seeing the stadium on that particular tour. However, as we drove around the city, I began to get hopeful. I saw what seemed to be stadium lights peeking out above the buildings. Then, all of a sudden, the big beautiful blue stadium arose out of the landscape as we turned into an intersection.

I’m sure my gasp of awe and excitement was audible. The tour guide must have noticed because he immediately looked out the window and proclaimed to the tourists on the bus that we were passing the stadium after all. He noted that it was the location of the game President Obama attended between the National team and the Tampa Bay Rays in 2016. He also mentioned the deal between MLB and the Cuban Baseball Federation that had been announced the day before. Our tour guide, who is employed by the Cuban government, stated he thought the agreement would be good for the players, giving them a safer – and legal – way to sign with major league teams.

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Terrible picture of the stadium through the tour bus windows.

Estadio Latinoamericano opened in October 1946. The first baseball game there was played on October 26. The Almendares baseball club beat Cienfuegos by a score of 9 to 1. The Industriales replaced Alemendares as the main team playing in Estadio Latinoamericano in 1961 when professional baseball was banned in Cuba.

I craned my neck to see as much as I could see of the stadium through the windows of the bus. We quickly passed right by it, with no opportunity to hop off the bus and look around. Unlike most U.S. stadiums, we drove right by it – there were no parking lots or other barriers between it and us, just the sidewalk. I found it interesting that it really did seem to appear out of nowhere – seemingly right in the midst of a neighborhood.

Unfortunately, that brief glimpse of the stadium is pretty much all we got to experience of baseball in Cuba during our inaugural trip to the island. But now that I’ve spent a few hours in Havana, I know I want to go back. I’m already saving up for our next trip, during which we will see more baseball!

~ baseballrebecca

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The Swampoodle Grounds


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Earlier this week I was reading through “This Day in All Teams History” at Nationalpastime.com, when I stumbled upon this entry for September 11, 1886:

“At Washington’s Swampoodle Grounds, backstop Connie Mack makes his major league debut when the Nationals, in a rare victory, edge the Philadelphia Quakers, 4-3. The journeyman catcher will post the most big league wins and losses as a manager, compiling a 3731-3948 (.486) record with the Pirates and A’s during his 53-year managerial career.”

Having lived and worked in the Washington, DC, area for years, I was surprised I’d never heard of the Swampoodle Grounds. After all, “Swampoodle” is not a name one easily forgets (note: see my disclaimer below). So, I did my research.

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Swampoodle (See larger map of the area below)

Swampoodle was a neighborhood in northeast Washington, DC (now part of the so-called NoMa District). The term is actually a contraction of the words “swamp” and “puddle” and is a reference to the fact that the nearby Tiber Creek often overflowed in that area. The neighborhood was originally settled by Irish immigrants escaping the potato famine in the mid-1800s.

Located in the neighborhood was the Swampoodle Grounds, more officially known as Capitol Park. Home of the Washington Nationals baseball team from 1886 to 1889, the ballpark was bounded by Delaware Avenue (first base side), G Street (right field), North Capitol Street (left field), and F Street (third base side). Today, Union Station stands near the site of the former ballpark. The name will once again be used for a new playground and dog park to be located 3rd and L Streets.

~ baseballrebecca

 

Postscript: Naturally, as I did my research, I also discovered that the Swampoodle Grounds was featured in the blog Archived Innings earlier this year and I had, in fact, read the post and liked it. Obviously, I have a terrible memory. (Next year at this time I probably rediscover the Swampoodle Grounds all over again!)

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Swampoodle area of Washington, DC, in 1893 (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Hank Aaron Stadium


dscn7572.jpgA little over week ago, I began writing about my recent trip to Alabama, where I visited the Negro Southern League Museum and the Mobile BayBears. But that was before the trade deadline, before they traded Jonathan Schoop, another of my favorite Orioles and the other half of the Machado-Schoop bromance. (Obviously, I’m still not over it.)

Today and tomorrow, I’ll finally finish my tale of baseball in Alabama and my visit to the Mobile BayBears, who will be relocating to Madison, AL, in 2020. They’ve done a phenomenal job of preserving baseball history at Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile. Not only did they move Hank Aaron’s childhood home from Toulminville, AL, to the stadium grounds, but they have several historical exhibits around the stadium.

For starters, check out the pictures of Hank Aaron’s childhood home:

Throughout the stadium concourse, there are actual stadium seats from current and former baseball stadiums around the country. First, there’s Fulton County Stadium, where Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run to break Babe Ruth’s record:

Next, we stumbled upon seats from Wrigley Field, although it’s unclear exactly why they were there:

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Finally, there are seats from Milwaukee County Stadium, where Hank Aaron started his career with the Milwaukee Braves and ended it with the Milwaukee Brewers:

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Stay tuned for more about the Mobile BayBears tomorrow!

~ baseballrebecca

NASA and the All-Star Game


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Astronaut Terry Virts, April 15, 2015 (photo courtesy of NASA.gov)

Even NASA got in on the fun at the All-Star Game yesterday. Check out NASA’s tweet below and the video from the NASA Administrator.

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

Stat-urday, 7/14/2018


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Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL, current home of the Tampa Bay Rays

On Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Rays unveiled their plans for a new stadium in Tampa. While the team has settled on a proposed site in Ybor City, there are still several decisions to be made, including who will pay for it all. In the meantime, here are some stats, based on what was revealed on Tuesday:

  • Seating capacity: 28,216
  • Total capacity: 30,842
  • Stadium size: 900,000 feet
  • Parking spaces: 10,000 within a 10-minute walk; 23,000 within one mile
  • Time to build: four to five ears
  • Total cost: $892,429,823
  • Current capacity of Tropicana Field: 31,042
  • Current attendance, per game: 14,745
  • Population of the surrounding area: 350,000 in the city of Tampa; 4.3 million in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Metropolitan statistical area.

Check out the ballpark renderings, posted by Ballpark Digest.

Happy Stat-urday!

~ baseballrebecca

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img_2039The first time I ever went to San Diego I had to find Qualcomm Stadium. The Padres were still playing there at the time, but, unfortunately, it was the off-season. That was over 15 years ago. So, when I recently found myself in San Diego again, I decided it was time to see how the stadium was doing and how it looked several years later. After all, I was in San Diego and the Padres were out of town. I had to find something baseball-related to do.

Now called San Diego County Credit Union Stadium, or SDCCU Stadium for short, the stadium is still alive and well. Like other stadiums from its time, SDCCU Stadium is easily accessible from major highways. It is bordered by interstate highways on three sides (I-805, I-8, and I-15) and surrounded by a huge parking lot. It even has its own San Diego Trolley stop. The road bordering it to the north is still called Friars Road, an obvious reference to the former tenants. It’s located about 10 miles north of the Padres’ new downtown home, Petco Park.

img_2037The stadium opened in August 1967 as San Diego Stadium. It was home to the San Diego Chargers. The following year, the Pacific Coast League San Diego Padres played their final season there before giving way to San Diego’s MLB expansion team in 1969.

In 1981, the stadium’s name was changed to San Diego-Jack Murphy Stadium after Jack Murphy’s death in 1980. (Murphy was a local sportswriter who had advocated for the construction of a multi-purpose stadium in San Diego in the early 1960s.) In 1997, naming rights to the stadium were sold for $18 million to the local Qualcomm Corporation and the stadium was renamed Qualcomm Stadium. The naming rights expired on June 14, 2017, and were subsequently purchased by San Diego County Credit Union for $500,000. They hold the rights through the end of this year.

img_2042The stadium remains the home of the San Diego State University Aztecs football team; they have played there since it opened in 1967. Starting next year, it will once again host professional football when the Alliance of American Football begins play in February 2019.

It makes me happy to see a stadium continue to be used after its baseball team moves to a newer stadium. Indeed, very few multi-purpose stadiums remain and even fewer host MLB teams. As much as brand new, fancy stadiums are nice to watch a game in, I still miss stadiums like Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium or Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium. I only wish I’d seen a game at the former Qualcomm Stadium.

May you continue to live a long and happy life, SDCCU Stadium (or whatever your next name is)!

~ baseballrebecca