There’s nothing sadder than an abandoned ballpark. Whenever I visit a new city, the first thing I do is check out its baseball scene – past and present. Unfortunately, I arrived in Huntsville, AL, three years too late to see the Huntsville Stars.
The Stars were a Southern League (AA) team from 1985 to 2014, affiliated first with the Oakland A’s (1985 to 1998), then with the Milwaukee Brewers. They won the league championship in 1985, 1994, and 2001, and division titles in five additional years. Unfortunately for Huntsville, the team moved to Biloxi, MS, after the 2014 season. They are currently known as the Biloxi Shuckers.
The first thing I did once I arrived in Huntsville was type in “Huntsville Stars” in Google. Despite telling me they were “permanently closed,” Google still gave me directions to Joe W. Davis Stadium. I missed my turn and ended up in the parking lot of a movie theater, but that’s when I noticed a large, hulking structure through the fence. It looked eerily abandoned. I stopped the car and took a closer look. It was a concrete building – shaped vaguely like a baseball stadium. I could almost make out the seating area and the stadium lights. That had to be it!
I turned around, found the correct road, and drove slowly toward the stadium. It was like something out of the past. Even though the stadium has only been closed for two seasons, it looked old and abandoned. Chain link fence surrounded it, though I could still see the back of the scoreboard in the outfield – and two large signs in the shape of a star on either side of it. I’d definitely reached my destination.
I circled the stadium, taking it all in. Several “No Trespassing” signs were posted along the chain link fence. The box office was sadly silent. I turned the corner and caught a glimpse of the field. I parked and walked closer, feeling as if I were disturbing a sacred resting place. As I neared the fence, I could see the outfield scoreboard again. Directly in front of me on the concourse was a sign that said “Bat Boys.” I got back into the car and drove around to the other side of the outfield, parked again, and walked as close as I dared to the dear, departed stadium. From this vantage point I could see more of the field and the seating area.
Before ghosts appeared on the field à la “Field of Dreams,” I scampered back to the safety of my rental car. I may have been too late for the Huntsville Stars, yet, I felt like they were somehow still there.