Monday, August 09, 2004

Vintage Stadiums for Vintage Baseball

This weekend's Hartford Courant describes attempts by ex-Yankee Jim Bouton and others to build a baseball stadium where vintage baseball games can be played.
Bouton is trying to raise $3 million to restore historic Waconah Park to its century-old glory, to house both the Hillies and a modern minor league team ...

Greg Martin, the father of vintage baseball in Hartford and founder of both the Senators and the Fourth of July tournament held for the past five years in Bushnell Park, has an idea to turn Dillon Stadium into a vintage ballpark that would hold 4,000 to 5,000 people. It would pick up some of the design of old Bulkeley Stadium of happy memory in the South End. The Senators would play there, and the ballpark could, through the magic of a portable mound, also be used for college baseball as well as scholastic soccer and football.
Baseball has been largely absent from the Connecticut River Valley since the Great Depression. The Mayors of Hartford, CT and Springfield, MA have tried to attract minor league teams for years with poorly conceived schemes that have been underfunded and that would cause major disruptions within urban neighborhoods. The closest minor league baseball is always more than one hour away: it is almost as easy to see the Red Sox play in Boston, thus less attractive to see A-ball.

Vintage baseball could be more successful in the valley. The teams are composed of former professionals and college players. They have a certain allure for playing with old rules and in old-style uniforms. They draw crowds whenever they play (see my description of a vintage baseball tournament). What they lack is a permanent place where they can play. Moreover, these plans try to draw on existing spaces rather than create new ones.

Sunday's Courant also has an article about baseball in Hartford in the 19th and early 20th centuries and an article about the evolution of vintage baseball.

More on baseball: Architect and Classicist John Massengale of Veritas et Venustas has an entries about rebuilding Yankee Stadium and its effects on the Bronx community. Here is an article on baseball in Japan.


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