Jack Russell Memorial Stadium
|Former names||Jack Russell Stadium (1955–1990)|
|Location||800 Phillies Drive, Clearwater, Florida 33755, United States|
|Owner||City of Clearwater|
|Field size||Left – 340 ft.
Center – 400 ft.
Right – 340 ft.
|Opened||March 10, 1955|
|Renovated||July 21, 2007|
|Architect||Marr and Holliman (Nashville, Tennessee)|
|General contractor||Clearwater Construction Company|
Philadelphia Phillies (MLB) (spring training) (1955–2003)
Clearwater Bombers (ASA) (1955–1984)
Jack Russell Memorial Stadium is a stadium in Clearwater, Florida. It opened as Jack Russell Stadium in 1955. It had a capacity of 4,744 when it opened; in 2003 seating capacity was 6,942 people. It was the spring training home of the Philadelphia Phillies MLB team from 1955 through 2003.
The Clearwater Bombers, a softball team that won 10 National Amateur Softball Association titles between 1950 and 1973, played their home games there from 1955 through 1984. The name of the stadium was changed to Jack Russell Memorial Stadium following Jack Russell's death in November 1990.
In 2004, the Philadelphia Phillies moved to Bright House Networks Field, 4 miles to the east. Most of the ballpark was demolished on July 21, 2007. The dugouts, offices, and other elements were retained as the field continues to be used today for amateur instruction and tournaments. The field is now leased from the City of Clearwater by The Winning Inning. In 2007, the Winning Inning pays for stadium rent, utilities, and a full-time groundskeeper. The Winning Inning is responsible for maintenance of the grounds, and the City of Clearwater for plumbing and electrical repairs.
Jack Russell played in the Major Leagues from 1926 through 1940. He was introduced to Pinellas County while training in the area as a member of the Cleveland American League club. Russell settled in Clearwater after his career where he became a Union Oil Co. distributor and Clearwater Chamber of Commerce president. The Phillies moved their training to Clearwater for the 1947 season and played at Clearwater Athletic Field. Russell became a Clearwater city commissioner, a position he held from 1951 to 1955, and was a vocal advocate for a new ballpark for Clearwater. In 1954, the Clearwater city council approved the building of the park which would serve as the spring home of the Phillies. In 1955, Clearwater Mayor Herbert M. Brown surprised Russell when he announced that the stadium would be named in his honor.
Jack Russell was instrumental in the conception of the ballpark. Russell had the blueprints and plans drawn up himself in 1954 and then approached the Clearwater mayor and city commission with the plans in July 1954. The mayor and commissioners approved of the idea and then Russell obtained legal rights from the Florida state supreme court in Tallahassee to raise the money to build the stadium through revenue bonds. Work began in fall 1954.
The stadium was dedicated on March 10, 1955. Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick, National League president Warren Giles, American League president Will Harridge, Clearwater mayor Herbert M. Brown, and other city dignitaries were in attendance. The Phillies played their first game at the stadium on the day of the dedication. Robin Roberts started for the Phillies against the Detroit Tigers. The Phillies won 4-2 on a two-run double by Willie Jones before 4,209 attendees. Roberts returned to the ballpark and threw out the ceremonial first-pitch for the Phillies' final spring training game there in 2003.
The City of Clearwater added additional seating during the 1989–1990 off-season raising capacity from 5,300 to close to 7,000.
In its final spring training in 2003, parking cost $3 and game tickets cost $8, $6, and $5.
The Florida Winter Instructional Rookie League played in October and November. The Baltimore Orioles team played their home games at Jack Russell in 1959 and the Kansas City A's played at the ballpark in 1960. The Orioles and Yankees shared the ballpark in 1970 and 1971.
Clearwater city officials approached the Philadelphia Phillies as early as 1981 about locating a Phillies minor league affiliate at Jack Russell Stadium in Clearwater. In July 1982, in a visit to Philadelphia, Clearwater city officials and the president of the Florida State League again asked the Philadelphia Phillies about affiliating with a team to be based in Clearwater. The Amateur Softball Association Clearwater Bombers had long used Jack Russell Stadium during the summer months when the field would be reconfigured for softball. The placement of a minor league baseball team would mean the relocation of the Bombers. The Florida State League granted the city of Clearwater a franchise on September 26, 1984, generating protests from the Bombers and their local supporters. A new home was built for the Bombers adjacent to the Phillies' Carpenter Complex.
In 1985, for the Clearwater Phillies' first-season in the Florida State League, a new home clubhouse and additional seating were added to the ballpark. The Clearwater Phillies played their first game against the Tampa Tarpons at home on April 12, 1985.
On August 23, 1992, the Clearwater Phillies defeated the Winter Haven Red Sox 1-0 in the first double no-hitter in 40 years. Andy Carter pitched for Clearwater and Scott Bakkum pitched for Winter Haven. The Phillies won on two walked batters and two sacrifice bunts in the seventh inning. In a spring training game on April 2, 1993, Frank Viola and Cory Bailey combined on a no-hitter as the Red Sox defeated the Phillies 10-0 at Jack Russell.
The Clearwater Phillies played their last game at Jack Russell on Saturday night, August 23, 2003. The attendance of 6,472 was the second-largest crowd ever to watch the Clearwater Phillies at the ballpark. Robin Roberts threw out the first-pitch of the game and Clearwater lost 6-2 to the Sarasota Red Sox.
Wilbur Snapp served as Stadium organist from 1982 through 1996. Snapp had run a music store in Springfield, Ohio and retired to Florida in 1978. He played organ for both spring training and Florida State League games. Snapp received national attention following his ejection from an FSL ballgame in 1985. On June 25, 1985 during a Clearwater Phillies game against the Osceola Astros, an umpire called a close-out against Clearwater. Snapp agreed with the boos of the crowd and began playing "Three Blind Mice." The umpire ejected Snapp, the first time an organist was ejected by an umpire during a game. Willard Scott mentioned it on NBC's Today show, and Paul Harvey talked about it on his syndicated radio program. Clearwater replaced Snapp with recorded music in 1997 but it was reported that Snapp continued to attend home games at the Stadium.
The Rolling Stones played Jack Russell Stadium on May 6, 1965 during their 22-show 3rd American Tour. That night, Keith Richards found the guitar riff for (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction in his sleep, when he briefly woke up in his room at the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, recorded the riff and the phrase "I can't get no satisfaction", and went back to sleep.
On January 14, 2000, Tampa's Michael "Gold" Rush claimed the vacant National Boxing Association's cruiserweight belt with a technical knockout of Pedro Riveron at 1 minute, 34 seconds into the seventh round in front of 1,500 spectators.
The Clearwater City Council voted on June 7, 2007 to partially raze the stadium. That summer, JVS Contracting Inc. of Tamp – MapQuest demolished much of the stadium for $104,280. The field, dugouts, bleachers, batting cages and the two-story office in the right field corner remain from the original structure. High school and college baseball games and tournaments, and other amateur baseball games have been held at the stadium, along with other events. Clearwater High School plays its home baseball games at the field.
The Winning Inning and the City of Clearwater hosted the Clearwater College Invitational in March 2008 at Jack Russell Memorial Stadium. Two of the twelve participating institutions included NCCAA Division II National Champions Southeastern University and NAIA Region III Champions Northwestern College.
The St. Petersburg/Clearwater Sports Commission hosted the inaugural Big East/Big Ten Baseball Challenge in February 2009. The Challenge featured all ten Big Ten baseball teams and eight of the Big East teams. Jack Russell Stadium was one of five local ballparks hosting Challenge games. Jack Russell hosted nine games over the weekend of February 20–22, 2009.
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