Wahconah Park

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Wahconah Park
Pitts09a.jpg
Location Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Coordinates 42°27′44″N 73°15′09″W / 42.462319°N 73.252582°W / 42.462319; -73.252582Coordinates: 42°27′44″N 73°15′09″W / 42.462319°N 73.252582°W / 42.462319; -73.252582
Owner City of Pittsfield
Capacity 3,500
Construction
Built 1919
Tenants

Pittsfield Electrics (Eastern Association) (1913-14)
Pittsfield Hillies (Eastern League) (1919-30)
Pittsfield Electrics (Canadian-American League) (1941-48)
Pittsfield Indians (Canadian-American League) (1949-50)
Pittsfield Phillies (Canadian-American League) (1951)
Pittsfield Red Sox (Eastern League) (1965-69)
Pittsfield Senators (Eastern League) (1970-71)
Pittsfield Rangers (Eastern League) (1972-75)
Berkshire Brewers (Eastern League) (1976)
Pittsfield Cubs (Eastern League) (1985-88)
Pittsfield Mets (New York–Penn League) (1989-2000)
Pittsfield Astros (New York–Penn League) (2001)
Berkshire Black Bears (Northeast League) (2002-2003)
Pittsfield Dukes (New England Collegiate Baseball League) (2005-2008)
Pittsfield American Defenders (New England Collegiate Baseball League) (2008-2009)
Pittsfield Colonials (Can-Am League) (2010-2011)
Pittsfield Suns (Futures Collegiate Baseball League) (2012–present)

Wahconah Park
Location 143 Wahconah St., Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Area 18.2 acres (7.4 ha)
Built 1892
Architectural style Other, shed-roof grandstand w/ wing
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference # 05000878[1]
Added to NRHP August 12, 2005

Wahconah Park is a city-owned baseball park located in Pittsfield, Massachusetts and nestled in a working-class neighborhood. One of the last remaining ballparks in the United States with a wooden grandstand, it was constructed in 1919 and seats 4,500. Through the park's history, 201 different Pittsfield players went on to the Major Leagues, and 100 different Pittsfield players already had some Major League experience.

In the July 23, 1990 issue of Sports Illustrated, author Daniel Okrent raved about the park in his column entitled Just A Little Bit of Heaven - Pittsfield's Wahconah Park is Baseball as it Oughta Be.[2]

In 2012, the stadium became the home field of the Pittsfield Suns, an expansion franchise of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League.

History[edit]

The Pittsfield Mets were a minor-league baseball team who were moved to Pittsfield, Massachusetts from Little Falls, New York, by an investment group organized by Michael T. Casey. The team played in the New York - Penn League, and were affiliated with the New York Mets from 1989 to 2000 and the Houston Astros in 2001. The Pittsfield Mets developed many future Major League players.[3]

At the end of the 2003 season, the Berkshire Black Bears did not renew their lease and moved to New Haven, Connecticut. Jim Bouton proposed to renovate the park without any public dollars and bring professional baseball back.

On July 3, 2004, a record crowd of 5,000 attended a vintage baseball game that he organized at Wahconah Park between Pittsfield and Hartford, a game telecast live for over four hours on ESPN Classic as America's Pastime: Vintage Baseball, Live. Commentators included Bouton, Bill Lee, actor Tim Robbins, and baseball historians John Thorn and David Pietrusza.

Pittsfield politics intervened and Bouton was forced out, a saga which was described in Bouton's new book, "Foul Ball plus Part II", published in paperback by Lyons Press in 2005.

In 2005, Pittsfield city officials reached an agreement with Dan Duquette for the Pittsfield Dukes, a New England Collegiate Baseball League summer team, to play at Wahconah Park. During the 2007 season, the Dukes attracted a season attendance of 28,955 through 21 home games, averaging 1,378 fans per game.

The agreement between the Dukes and the city of Pittsfield was jeopardized prior to the 2008 season when it was reported that the Dukes owed thousands of dollars in back maintenance fees, however Duquette and city officials reached a consensus that permitted the Dukes to continue play.

Field dimensions are 334' to left field, 374' to center field, and 333' to right field. Because the field was constructed before the advent of field lighting, no harm was seen in orienting the diamond due west. One of only two professionally used parks in the U.S. today facing west (the other being Sam Lynn Ballpark in Bakersfield, California built in 1941), games are sometimes temporarily suspended while the sun sets. Lights were not installed until 1946. In 1989 a mesh screen was placed in center field to help shield batters’ eyes.

In 1927, a dike was installed on the Housatonic River in an attempt to prevent recurrent flooding.

In the summer, concerts are held in Wahconah Park. Most recently, Bob Dylan performed there.

It is also home to Varsity Football games for Pittsfield area high schools.

In the fall of 2008 Dan Duqette partnered with the Nokona glove company and the U.S. Army USA team to create the Pittsfield American Defenders. Also, Wahconah Park was renamed to Nokona Stadium at Wahconah Park. Nokona is the only glove maker to produce in the United States. With the newly received money Wahconah Stadium is getting a much needed makeover. A brand new infield was constructed this fall. The stadium is getting all new bathrooms, stadium offices and press box.

On May 3, 2009, Williams College and Amherst College alumni played a game of vintage baseball at Wahconah Park according to 1859-rules to commemorate the 150th-anniversary of the first college baseball game played on July 2, 1859 between the two schools. Amherst-almnus Dan Duquette was instrumental in organizing the event.[4]

Futures Collegiate Baseball League[edit]

On November 22, 2011 the Pittsfield Parks and Commissioner Board unanimously approved the Futures Collegiate Baseball League to operate an expansion franchise at Wahconah Park. Marvin Goldklang is the majority owner, with the Goldklang Group taking up much of the remainder of the ownership.[5] Goldklang formerly owned and operated the Pittsfield Mets; he currently owns four other minor league baseball teams: the Charleston RiverDogs, Fort Myers Miracle, Hudson Valley Renegades, and St. Paul Saints.

Professional Teams at Wahconah Park[edit]

League Team(s) Year(s)
Eastern Association (Class B) Pittsfield Electrics 1913–1914
Eastern League (Class A) Pittsfield Hillies 1919–1930
Canadian-American League (Class C) Pittsfield Electrics 1941–1948
Pittsfield Indians 1949–1950
Pittsfield Phillies 1951
Eastern League (Class AA) Pittsfield Red Sox 1965-69
Pittsfield Senators 1970–1971
Pittsfield Rangers 1972–1975
Berkshire Brewers 1976
Pittsfield Cubs 1985–1988
New York–Penn League (Class A) Pittsfield Mets 1989–2000
Pittsfield Astros 2001
Northeast League (Independent) Berkshire Black Bears 2002–2003
New England Collegiate Baseball League (Collegiate) Pittsfield Dukes 2005–2008
Pittsfield American Defenders 2009
Canadian-American League (Independent) Pittsfield Colonials 2010–2011
Futures Collegiate Baseball League (Collegiate) Pittsfield Suns 2012–present

Future Major League Pittsfield players[edit]

Pittsfield players with previous Major League experience[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  2. ^ "Just A Little Bit Of Heaven". CNN. Retrieved 2011-11-27. 
  3. ^ Pittsfield Mets
  4. ^ Edes, Gordon (2009-05-04). "Amherst and Williams re-enact first college game". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  5. ^ Lindsay, Dick, Baseball coming back to Pittsfield, The Berkshire Eagle 

External links[edit]