Estadio Francisco Montaner
Parque Paquito Montaner
Main entrance to the Francisco Montaner Stadium
|Location||Ponce, Puerto Rico|
|Owner||Municipality of Ponce|
|Operator||Municipality of Ponce|
|Surface||Modular artificial turf|
|Opened||15 October 1949|
|FC Leones (PRSL) (current)|
Leones de Ponce (LBPPR) (current)
River Plate Ponce (former)
Leones de Ponce (basketball)) (1950-1971)
The Estadio Francisco ("Paquito") Montaner (English: Francisco ("Paquito") Montaner Stadium) is a multi-use stadium in Ponce, Puerto Rico. It is home to the Leones de Ponce team of the Puerto Rico Baseball League (LBPPR) and FC Leones of the Puerto Rico Soccer League (PRSL). The stadium has a capacity of 16,000 seats. Construction of the stadium began in 1947 and it opened on 15 October 1949. Montaner has the distinction of being the first stadium in Puerto Rico that installed an artificial surface field. The stadium lies next to the Juan Pachín Vicéns Auditorium, where the Ponce Lions (basketball) hold their games. The Stadium was named to honor Francisco "Paquito" Montaner, one of the greatest Puerto Rican pitchers of all times.
While baseball had been practiced in the city prior to this, baseball in Ponce started in earnest upon the arrival of the Americans to the island after the Spanish–American War of 1898. The first non-professional baseball leagues played at Campo Atlético Charles H. Terry. However, after the formation of the Liga de Béisbol Semiprofesional de Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico Semiprofessional Baseball League) in 1938, the sport had mature enough that it became necessary to plan on building a new stadium. This need was further exacerbated on 14 September 1941 when the League became a professional-level league. Construction of the stadium began in 1947 and it opened two years later on October 15, 1949. In addition to baseball, the stadium had other uses. In particular, it was also used for basketball games. These were played on a convertible basketball court that was stowed away when the basket games were over.
The PRPBL's regular playing season runs from November through January. From February to August, the venue is transformed into a track and field stadium, and also serves as a venue for other activities such as a host of the Mustang Auto Daredevils. It has also been used for intramural competitions and other academic sporting events. The track is completely covered during baseball season and then it is elevated via a hydraulic system for the track and field events.
The stadium is also used for winter training by many United States Major Baseball League players. In its early days, in particular, the stadium was used as the winter training stadium by the New York Yankees. In 1947, the game at the opening day of training was won 12 to 8 by the Leones de Ponce[a] v. New York Yankees. News of the event first broke at the New York Daily News, followed by the New York Herald and the New York Times.
Montaner has seen a total of 12 championships: four in BSN basketball (1952, 1961, 1964 y 1965), one in Double A (AA) baseball in 1957, six in Professional Baseball (68-69, 69-70, 71-72, 81-82, 03-04 and 08-09), and one in football in 2007.
Montaner has also seen some great events in athletics. The Primeros Juegos Ponceños, the Frankie Colón Memorial, the Justas Intercolegiales (intercollegiate games), the Central American and Caribbean Games (“Ponce 93”), and the Iberoamerican Games, all took place here. There have also been athletics competitions at the Masters category and, more recently, the famed Ponce Grand Prix.
For many years Montaner was the venue of the finals of the Guantes Dorados de Boxeo Aficionado (Amateur Boxing's Golden Gloves), national as well as U.S.-based Professional Wrestling billboards, bull runs, concerts by internationally renowned artists, as well as the site of various major religious conventions. In February 1958, evangelist Billy Graham hosted a religious event at this stadium.
Prominent Sportsmen at Montaner
Through Montaner, Ponce has been able to see prominent figures in the world of sports such as Francisco ‘Pancho’ Coímbre, Felo Guilbe, Tomás ‘Planchardón’ Quiñones, Luis Rodríguez Olmo, ‘Canena’ Márquez, Carlos Bernier, José Guillermo ‘Pantalones’ Santiago, Luis ‘Tite’ Arroyo, Víctor Pellot, Roberto Clemente, Orlando ‘Peruchín’ Cepeda, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, José Rafael ‘Palillo’ Santiago, Steve Carlton, John Boozer, Otoniel Vélez Franceschi, Roberto Alomar, Santos Alomar, Sr., José ‘Cheo’ Cruz, Rickey Henderson, José ‘Pepe’ Mangual, Luis ‘Mambo’ De León, Joey Cora, Juan ‘Igor’ González, José Vidro, Iván Rodríguez, José Molina, Raúl Casanova, Javier López, and Javier Vázquez. Various “No Hit No Run” were played in this stadium, in particular the ones by ‘Pantalones’ Santiago, Hank Behrman, José Luis ‘Witito’ Martínez, and the rare “no hitter”, by Giancarlo Alvarado against the fearful Indios de Mayagüez.
When basketball games were also played here (since 1972 they have been played at the Juan Pachín Vicéns Auditorium). Fans still remember the very first championship of the Leones de Ponce (baseball) in 1952, and the electrifying plays by Tomás ‘Guabina’ Gutiérrez, Antonio ‘Toño’ Morales, “El Barco” Salvador Dijols, Ángel ‘Conejo’ García, César Bocachica, and Joe Hatton, and the maneuvers by the best Puerto Rican basketball player of all times Juan ‘Pachín’ Vicens, in particular, the night when he became the first player to reach the 5,000 points in Puerto Rican basketball.
Montaner also witnessed the speed of Juan "Papo" Franceschi, and the techniques of Arnaldo Bristol, Cuban Javier Sotomayor, Reinaldo ‘Pochy’ Oliver, Edgardo Guilbe, Emilio Navarro Jr., Félix Martínez, and Javier Culson.
- Francisco Montaner Stadium – Tribute to a Sporting Legend. Puerto Rico.com: Puerto Rico Channel. Accessed 6 February 2018.
- ¿Qué pasó hoy? Nace el Estadio Paquito Montaner. Noticel. ("La Calle" section) 15 October 2011. Accessed 31 July 2017.
- Sporting Connections. Retrieved 19 December 2009.
- Cumple 60 años el "Paquito" Montaner. Junior Lugo Marrero. La Perla del Sur. Ponce, Puerto Rico. Vol. 27, No. 1353. 4 November 2009. Page 59. (In Spanish) Retrieved 7 November 2011. Weblink updated 29 March 2018.
- Baseball without borders: the international pastime. By George Gmelch. Page 164.
- Modular turf system evolves in Puerto Rico. (In & On the Ground). Mark Leslie. SportsTURF. 1 June 2003.
- Biographic sheet on Montaner, Francisco "Paquito". Baseball. Museo Francisco Pancho Coimbre. 10 August 2010.
- Thomas E. Van Hyning. Puerto Rico's Winter League: A History of Major League Baseball's Launching Pad. Page 7. (Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., 1995) ISBN 0786401281. ISBN 9780786401284.
- Thomas E. Van Hyning. Puerto Rico's Winter League: A History of Major League Baseball's Launching Pad. Page 9. (Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., 1995) ISBN 0786401281. ISBN 9780786401284.
- Vuelve el baloncesto al Paquito Montaner. Junior Lugo Marrero. La Perla del Sur. Ponce, Puerto Rico. 3 October 2012. Year 30. Issue 1505. Page 62. (Title in printed edition: "De vuleta el baloncesto al Paquito Montaner.") Retrieved 3 October 2012.
- Europipes UK - Going Way Beyond Europe. Land Drainage Contractors Association. Archived 3 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- Armando Torres Leon. Los Municipios de Puerto Rico y Su Historia y Su Cultura: PONCE, La Perla del Sur. Santurce, Puerto Rico: Departamento de Educación de Puerto Rico. Programa Regular de Educación. Programa Editorial. Celeste Benitez, Secretaria de Educación. 1992. pp. 86-87.
- Rafael Pont Flores. "El Deporte en broma y en serio." El Mundo. 28 February 1947.
- Luis Fortuno Janeiro. "Album Historico de Ponce (1692–1963)." 1963. Page 197. Imprenta Fortuno. Ponce, Puerto Rico.
- At the time the professional baseball team in Ponce was called Los Teloteros de Ponce (The Ponce Sluggers).