Cardines Field
Cardines Field is a baseball field located at 20 America’s Cup Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island and is believed to be one of the oldest ballparks in the United States. It serves as a buffer between the residential and commercial sections of that part of Newport. The oddly shaped outfield fence and dimensions are created by the close proximity of residential housing, while the spectator side of the park is contained by America's Cup Avenue and West Marlborough Street. Originally called Basin Field, references to the field can be found as early as 1893. At the time, the property was used by local railroads as a drainage and supply basin for steam engines. Complaints from neighbors about the stagnant water and mosquitos prompted the drainage of The Basin area, permitting baseball to be played. A heated historical debate continues as to whether baseball was played prior to 1900, making Cardines one of the oldest existing ballparks in the country, or if play didn't begin until 1908, the earliest documented proof of stadium construction. The Basin ballpark was later renamed for Bernardo Cardines, a native Newport baseball player who died in World War I. Today, the ballpark continues to be the home of the historic Sunset League, as well as the Newport Gulls of the New England Collegiate Baseball League.

History
Built for unofficial sandlot baseball games by railroad workers from the adjacent Old Colony Railroad Line, the field hosted many barnstorming all-stars, including Negro League teams like the Baltimore Elite Giants, Boston Royal Giants and the New York Black Yankees. Satchel Paige once played at Cardines. The original backstop dates back to as early as 1908, when the city organized its first six-team league at the park. Cardines Field is a smaller cousin of other notable ballparks of that era, such as Ebbets Field, Fenway Park and Wrigley Field, with a stone facade and wooden bleachers with unique outfield angles that made players famous for their ability to play the caroms. In 1936, the city of Newport took over ownership, and the current grandstand was built by the Works Progress Administration following the devastating hurricane of 1938. Stone and concrete bleachers were built along the third-base line. It is believed the plaque at the entrance that reads "1937" refers to this date. The distinctive curving grandstand section behind home plate was built in 1939. Over the coming decades, the park continued to grow through construction projects to increase capacity, eventually creating the patchwork, overlapping stadium seen today. During World War II, many former professional ball players were stationed at Naval Station Newport. Many of these players, including Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, and Bob Feller participated in Newport's George Donnelly Sunset League, an amateur league formed in 1919. Wednesday night all-star games drew thousands and required construction of temporary bleachers in the outfield. The Sunset League was named because games began at 5:30 p.m. and ended at dusk, prior to the addition of lights at the park. It is the oldest continuous amateur baseball league in the country. With black players such as Larry Doby and Luke Easter, the Sunset League was integrated several years before Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, and remains a key facet in Cardines' history.

Current Tenants
The Sunset League still plays a full schedule throughout the summer, though the park's lighting system now permits games to go well beyond dusk. The field is home to baseball games for Rogers High School, Newport's Babe Ruth League, the historic Sunset League, Newport's American Legion team, Salve Regina University, Naval Academy Preparatory School and the Newport Gulls of the New England Collegiate Baseball League. In the January 18, 2004 edition of Baseball America, Cardines Field was chosen as one of the top five locations in America to play college summer baseball, in response to the jump in reputation the Gulls brought to the park.

Newport Gulls era
While most teams playing at Cardines average attendance in the dozens or, at most, a few hundred per game, the Newport Gulls, since moving to Newport in 2001, have helped to bring the field back to its former glory days of the mid-twentieth century, attracting thousands of fans every night. During the 2004 season alone, the Gulls attracted over 50,000 fans through just 26 home games, with sellout crowds in excess of 3,000 people. Following the 2006 season, the Gulls set a team and 2006 league record for regular season home attendance, totaling 42,424 after 21 games. Newport Gulls games often feature fan participation activities between innings, along with concessions, low ticket prices, and a safe atmosphere. This reputation has only added to their popularity, not only among tourists passing through Newport, but with many Aquidneck Island children and families, as well. The active crowds, historic atmosphere, and competent club management have allowed the Gulls to recruit some of the best college baseball players in the nation, with talent rivaling the Cape Cod League. Since 2001, Cardines Field has hosted the Gulls through 6 regular season Division titles, 7 postseason Division titles, and 4 league championships, along with other notable awards, such as the RI Governor's Cup. The Gulls have also begun an annual tradition of playing Team USA in an exhibition around Independence Day every July, in what is often a sellout game. In July 2005, the Gulls hosted the NECBL All-Star Game and Home Run Derby at Cardines, which was a major event for the park, the league, and the City of Newport. The Gulls and the NECBL as a whole have received national attention recently with the addition of live Internet video webcasts to the normal audio webcast of games, effectively doing so at minimum cost in infrastructure. On opening night of the 2006 NECBL season, the Newport Gulls were the first to implement this new technology, bringing summer collegiate baseball, as well as Cardines Field, into a new era. These changes and improvements were implemented under the direction of team Director of Broadcast Operations Nicholas Lima from 2005 - 2010. This attention is more than welcome for Gulls players, who, as amateur college athletes, hope to be drafted by Major League Baseball teams. The recent surge in recognition and popularity of the Newport Gulls organization throughout the professional baseball world has provided for an increase in the number of Gulls players to be drafted every year.

Gulls Attendance
The following is a list of Gulls attendance figures at Cardines Field dating back to the 2001 season, when the team began using the facility.

Renovation
Renovation work began in 2000 with funds from a matching $500,000 grant from the state Department of Environmental Management and the formation of the Friends of Cardines Field Foundation. In recent years, the grandstands, concession operation, and bathrooms have been renovated as part of the project, along with the addition of a state-of-the-art field lighting system. The winter of 2005 - 2006 saw the entire outfield and infield replaced among other improvements, including the addition of a fully functional drainage system and new outfield fence, all at the cost of an additional half million dollars. The Newport Gulls also have necessitated the expansion of concession equipment, in addition to the renovation of a team office, storage rooms, souvenir stand, ticket booth, scoreboard, and public address system, much of which has been covered by the ongoing restoration project led by the city's Parks and Recreation Department, the Gulls former ownership, and Roger Williams University Professor Staats. The most recent improvements have been to upgrade the stadium's broadcasting abilities, with the addition of high speed Internet and phone lines, camera positions, and a control room below the pressbox for use by the Tigers TV Crew, the volunteer production crew who work with the Gulls to produce games. The park today has changed drastically in upkeep and appearance from that of the recent past. As early as a decade ago, some in the city of Newport had proposed for a then dilapidated Cardines Field to be demolished in order to expand parking in the cramped downtown area, a mere block in each direction from the waterfront to the West, commercial and tourist center to the South, and world famous historical district to the East. Future projects at Cardines include: concluding outfield fence replacement via a state grant, widening and lengthening of the hockey-style side-by-side dugouts, the additions of a locker room and an umpire's room, and further restoration of bleachers, framework, trim, and other facets. The removal of a large, rundown private warehouse which makes up the right field fouline has been discussed for some time, though no official plans have been announced.

Season Game Avg. Season Total Lge. Rk. 2001 676 11,491 4th 2002 792 16,640 5th 2003 1,200 21,604 4th 2004 1,798 35,963 2nd 2005 1,687 33,759 3rd 2006 2,020 42,424 1st 2007 2,010 42,225 1st 2008 2,101 44,123 1st 2009 2,277 45,547 1st 2010 2,284 45,683 1st

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