Clearwater Athletic Field
|Clearwater Athletic Field|
|Former names||Brooklyn Field|
|Broke ground||December 1922|
|Opened||March 15, 1923|
|Owner||City of Clearwater|
Left – 340 ft.
|Brooklyn Dodgers (MLB) (spring training) (1923–1932; 1936–1941)
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) (1947–1954)
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. The North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex now stands on the site of ballpark.
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. 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. More than 4,000 fans saw the Dodgers defeat the Braves 12 to 7.
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 and the Amateur Softball Association national-champion Clearwater Bombers played their home games at Athletic Field. The Florida State Negro Baseball League Clearwater Black Sox played at the park in 1952. 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.
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, who was instrumental in upgrading the facility during his tenure as mayor. 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. Indeed, a 1939 news article recounts the Clearwater Senior Softball League playing at "Brooklyn field".
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.
It was replaced by Jack Russell Stadium in 1955 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. 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.
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. Ray Green Field was also used for parking for games at Jack Russell Stadium.
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- Al Hackett (1956-04-12). "Wind-Whipped Blaze Levels Stands, Home". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2011-03-14.
- Kennedy Wynne, Sharon (2003-04-13). "Metro Week in Review: Coming up this week". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2009-03-19.
- Henry, Kaylois (1989-09-17). "Clearwater gets go-ahead on parking spaces, stadium". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2009-03-19.