Eclipse Park

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For the Milwaukee Grays ballpark, see Eclipse Park (Milwaukee).

Eclipse Park was the name of three successive baseball grounds in Louisville, Kentucky in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They were the home of the Louisville baseball team first known as the Louisville Eclipse and later as the Louisville Colonels.

Semi-pro baseball had been played at the first Eclipse Park as early as 1874. The Louisville Eclipse played there from 1882 to 1884. The team was then renamed the Louisville Colonels and continued to play under that name from 1885 to 1893. The team was a member of the American Association until 1891 when it joined the National League when the American Association folded.

The original park was located at 28th and Elliott streets in west Louisville. The second Eclipse Park was built across the street from the original at 28th and Broadway. The Louisville Colonels played there from 1893 to 1899. This is the ground at which Hall of Famer Honus Wagner made his Major League debut on July 19, 1897.

The unusual name for these ballparks derived from the original name of the Association club, the Eclipse. The more local name Colonels eventually won out. Nonetheless, Eclipse was among the early team names to be a singular word, despite sounding like a plural.

A destructive fire in 1899 contributed significantly to the once-strong Louisville club being contracted after the end of the season. Team owner Barney Dreyfuss moved on to acquire the Pittsburgh Pirates. Instead of being scattered to the wind, the best players from the Louisville team roster were brought onto the Pittsburgh payroll, including Wagner, third baseman Tommy Leach, outfielder-manager Fred Clarke, and ace right-hander Deacon Phillippe.

This "hybrid vigor" effect soon turned the perennial cellar-dwelling Pirates into a three-peat pennant winner, and a participant in the first modern World Series.

The third and last Eclipse Park was located at the corner of 7th and Kentucky streets in the Limerick neighborhood of Louisville. This ballpark was built by George "White Wings" Tebeau as the home for the American Association minor league Louisville Colonels who played there from 1902 thru 1922.

In a strange twist of fate, all three Eclipse Ballparks were destroyed by fire.

Some sources:

  • Green Cathedrals, by Phil Lowry
  • Ballparks of North America, by Michael Benson.