England: Locke Field and an Elvis sighting in Texas

From Dave England at Baseball Past and Present on November 28, 2012:

To my infant son everything is new: shapes, colors, sizes, the garden in the front yard with tomatoes growing on the vine, the ballpark seats flanked on either side of him as he takes in the sounds and smells.

I imagine this is what it was like when Elvis Presley stopped in Gainesville, Texas on April 14, 1955 and played in front of about 150 fans at Locke Field. The little town had not yet caught up to the phenomena that would be dubbed “The King of Rock and Roll.” But then again Elvis was not the King quite yet. He had just released his fourth single, “Baby let’s Play House/ I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s gone,” on April 10th. Rolling through Texas he was playing hayrides, high schools and ballparks. Later that summer things would explode for him.

Locke Field opened in 1946, was home to the Gainesville Owls and is one of the last baseball fields in Texas with wooden dugouts and covered wooden stands. It opened in a time when fans would dress up: female spectators decked out in hats, gloves and dresses; men in suits and top hats. It was an era of baseball that when a player homered, fans would put a dollar bill through the chicken wire fence for him. Locke Field operated as a Class D ballpark, a level of the Minor Leagues that no longer exists. Class D was the absolute bottom of the ladder and was wiped away in 1963 by television in an era before minor league baseball boomed again. The Society of American Baseball Research has identified Locke Field as one of the last Class D ballparks in existence.

Read the full article here: http://baseballpastandpresent.com/2012/11/28/locke-field-gainesville-owls-king/

Originally published: November 29, 2012. Last Updated: November 29, 2012.