SABR 41: Historic Ballparks Tour

The tour of Southern California historic ballparks is sure to be one of the highlights of the convention. (To see a full schedule of events for SABR 41, click here.)

The tour will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday, July 9 at the Long Beach Hilton.

Our first stop will be the Vernon ballpark site. The Vernon Tigers played there from the time they joined the Pacific Coast League in 1909 until mid-1920, when they moved all their games to Washington Park in Los Angeles. In 1925, the Vernon club sold out to San Francisco interests and become the San Francisco Missions. (The Vernon club did move to Venice in 1913 and played there until mid-1915. The Tigers also played some of their games at Washington Park until they moved there permanently in mid-1920.) Al Parnis will conduct this segment. He has taught courses in baseball history and baseball literature, done research particularly on the original Pacific Coast League (1903-1957), as well as being Vice President of SABR's Allan Roth Chapter in Los Angeles.

The next stop will be Wrigley Field; Chuck Carey will conduct this segment. He is a published author, a baseball researcher, as well as being a past President of the Allan Roth Chapter. The Angels played at Wrigley from its opening on September 29, 1925, through the 1957 season. Lights were installed in 1931. The park has the distinction of being known by many as the best minor league park and is famous for playing host to the 1950s TV show "Home Run Derby." In addition, the 1934 Angels have been rated by many experts as the best minor league team in history, when they won 137 games and lost just 50.

Our third site will be the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, home to the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1958 to 1961. From a disastrous 1958 season, the Dodgers reached the pinnacle in 1959, winning the World Series over the Chicago White Sox and setting World Series attendance records that likely will never be broken. Author and researcher Bob Timmermann will conduct this part of the tour.

Fourth on the list of sites will be Washington Park, home to the Los Angeles Angels (and the aforementioned Vernon Tigers) from 1911 until 1925, when the Angels moved to Wrigley Field and the Tigers moved to San Francisco. Both teams enjoyed much success there, with Los Angeles winning PCL pennants in 1916 and 1921 and finishing in the first division in ten other seasons. Vernon did nearly as well, winning pennants in the 1918, 1919, and 1920 seasons and finishing in the first division five other times. Rick Smith, former General Manager of the Bakersfield Blaze, published author and specialist in early 20th century baseball history, will conduct this part of the tour.

Our fifth and last stop will be the Gilmore Field site, home to the Hollywood Stars from 1939, when it opened, until the arrival of the Dodgers in 1957. The Stars struggled in the early years at Gilmore, but beginning in 1949, they were a real force in the Pacific Coast League, winning pennants in 1949, 1952, and 1953, while finishing in the first division the other six years. Gilmore Island is famous as it housed Gilmore Stadium, primarily used for college and professional football and auto racing; the Pan Pacific Auditorium, used for ice hockey, college basketball, as well other events; the Pan Pacific Theater; the Gilmore Drive-In Movie Theater; the Aviation Museum; and the world-famous Farmers Market. Jerry Mezerow, longtime SABR member, Pacific Coast League Historical Society member and baseball researcher, will conduct this part of the tour.

As time permits, we will conclude our visit to the Gilmore Island with a stop at the Farmers Market, which offers myriad shops, souvenir booths and eating places.

— Barry Mednick

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