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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. The park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.[1]

Wahconah Park
Pitts09a.jpg
LocationPittsfield, Massachusetts
Coordinates42°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
OwnerCity of Pittsfield
Capacity3,500
Construction
Built1919
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
Wahconah Park is located in Massachusetts
Wahconah Park
Wahconah Park is located in the United States
Wahconah Park
Location143 Wahconah St., Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Area18.2 acres (7.4 ha)
Built1892
ArchitectJoseph McArthur Vance and et al; Deans, David McNab
Architectural styleOther, shed-roof grandstand w/ wing
NRHP reference #05000878[1]
Added to NRHPAugust 12, 2005

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.

Contents

Field configurationEdit

Field dimensions are 334 feet to left field, 374 feet to center field, and 333 feet to right field.

Because the field was constructed before the advent of field lighting, no harm was seen in orienting the diamond due west. It is one of only two professional ballparks in the U.S. today that faces west (the other being Sam Lynn Ballpark in Bakersfield, California, built in 1941). Lights were not installed until 1946. In 1989 a mesh screen was placed in center field. Nevertheless, some umpires still briefly suspend games at sunset, so that the setting sun will not interfere with the batters' view of the pitch.

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

HistoryEdit

The Pittsfield Mets were a minor-league baseball team 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.

In 2002, the independent Berkshire Black Bears moved to Wahconah Park after three years of dormancy as the Massachusetts Mad Dogs. After the 2003 season, they did not renew their lease but 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 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. Eventually, Pittsfield politics intervened and Bouton was forced out.[3]

In 2005, former Boston Red Sox General Manager Dan Duquette brought the Pittsfield Dukes, a New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) team, to 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. His agreement with the City of Pittsfield was jeopardized prior to the 2008 season over back maintenance fees, but Duquette and city officials reached a settlement. For the 2009 season, Duquette restyled the team the Pittsfield American Defenders, with a military theme. The park was called Nokona Stadium at Wahconah Park pursuant to a sponsorship deal with the manufacturer of baseball gloves that funded all-new bathrooms, stadium offices, and press box. On May 3, 2009, Williams College and Amherst College alumni played a game under 1859 rules to commemorate the 150th-anniversary of the first college baseball game, played between the two schools. Duquette, an alumnus of Amherst, was instrumental in organizing the event.[4]

The Pittsfield American Defenders lasted only one season. In 2010, Duquette moved the NECBL franchise to his baseball camp in nearby Hinsdale, and moved his Can-Am League entry, the New Hampshire American Defenders, to Wahconah Park from Nashua, New Hampshire; they were known as the Pittsfield Colonials.

Current tenantEdit

In 2012, the Pittsfield Suns, an expansion franchise of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, began playing at Wahconah Park. Marvin Goldklang is the majority owner; the Goldklang Group also owns part of the club.[5] Goldklang owned and operated the Pittsfield Mets.

In the summer, concerts are held in Wahconah Park. It is also home to varsity football games for Pittsfield-area high schools.

Professional teams at Wahconah ParkEdit

Future Major League Pittsfield playersEdit

Pittsfield players with previous Major League experienceEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  2. ^ "Just A Little Bit Of Heaven". SI. Retrieved 2016-06-14.
  3. ^ Bouton, Jim (2005), "Foul Ball plus Part II", Lyons Press.
  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 linksEdit