Sick's Stadium

Sick's Stadium, also known as Sick's Seattle Stadium and later as Sicks' Stadium, was a baseball stadium located in Seattle, Washington's Rainier Valley at the corner of S. McClellan Street and Rainier Avenue S. The site was previously the location of Dugdale Park, a 1913 ballpark that was the home of the minor league Seattle Indians. That park burned down in an Independence Day arson fire in 1932, and until a new stadium could be built on the Dugdale site, the team played at Civic Field, a converted football stadium at the current location of Seattle Center's Memorial Stadium. Sick's Stadium served as the home of the Seattle Pilots during their only Major League Baseball season in 1969.

Baseball at Sick's Stadium
The minor league years

Sick's Stadium first opened on June 15, 1938 as the home field of the Pacific Coast League's Seattle Rainiers (the renamed Seattle Indians). It was named after Emil Sick, owner of the team and of the Rainier Brewing Company. The Rainiers played at the stadium through 1964, after which they were renamed the Seattle Angels, but continued to play at Sick's through 1968. In 1946, the stadium was briefly the home of the Seattle Steelheads of the short-lived West Coast Baseball Association Negro League, who played at the stadium while the Rainiers were on the road.

After Emil Sick died in 1964, and various members of his family shared ownership, the name of the park was changed to reflect that fact, from the singular possessive form "Sick's Stadium" to the plural possessive form "Sicks' Stadium".

The Seattle Pilots

On April 11, 1969, Major League Baseball came to Seattle with the American League expansion Seattle Pilots debuting at Sick's Stadium. Seattle had been mentioned several times as a prospective major league city. The Cleveland Indians almost moved there in the early 1960s, but owner William Daley decided against it because he did not think that Sick's Stadium was suitable for a major league team. Charlie Finley considered moving the Kansas City Athletics to Seattle in 1967, but when he visited Seattle he quipped that the stadium was aptly named. He advised Seattle officials to get a new stadium if it wanted a major league team.

It soon became obvious why Daley (who bought a stake in the Pilots) and Finley were wary about Sick's. A condition of the American League's agreement to grant Seattle a team was to expand Sick's Stadium to 30,000 seats by the start of the 1969 season. However, due to cost overruns, poor weather and other delays, only 17,000 seats were ready by opening day. Several of the 17,150 people who showed up had to wait three innings to take their seats because workers were still putting them together by the time of the first pitch.

The stadium expanded to 25,000 seats by June. However, many of those seats had obstructed views. There were no field-level camera pits, so photographers had to set up their equipment atop the grandstand roof. The clubhouse facilities were second-class. Also, no upgrades were made to the stadium's piping, resulting in almost nonexistent water pressure after the seventh inning, especially when crowds exceeded 10,000. This forced players to shower in their hotel rooms or at home after the game. The visiting team's announcers couldn't see any plays along third base or left field. The Pilots had to place a mirror in the press box, and the visiting announcers had to look into it and "refract" plays in those areas.

Under the circumstances, only 678,000 fans came to see the Pilots—a major reason why the team was forced into bankruptcy after only one season. The team moved to Milwaukee for the 1970 season and became the Milwaukee Brewers.

Concerts and other events

Though Sick's Stadium was primarily a baseball venue, it also occasionally held other events, including rock concerts — most famously, an Elvis Presley concert on September 1, 1957 (one of the first concerts to be held at a major outdoor stadium), which was attended by a young Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix himself later performed at the stadium, as did Janis Joplin. Floyd Patterson knocked out Olympic gold medalist Pete Rademacher in six rounds at Sick's Stadium in Seattle on August 22, 1957.

After the Pilots

From 1972 to 1976, a Class A Seattle Rainiers team played at Sicks' to sparse audiences. In 1977, Major League Baseball returned to Seattle with the expansion Seattle Mariners, but not to Sick's Stadium; rather, to the Kingdome (which, ironically, was approved by area voters as a condition of Seattle getting the Pilots). In 1979 Sicks' Stadium was demolished, and it is now the site of a Lowe's home improvement store. The stadium site is currently marked by a sign (on the corner of Rainier and McClellan) and a replica of home plate (near the Lowe's exit) as well as markings in the store where the bases would have been. Home plate is next to the exit doors of the store and behind the wall 60 feet 6 inches away near the cash registers is a circle where the mound and pitching rubber would have been, the store also contains a glass display case containing some Pilots, Rainiers, and Angels mementos. Several dozen box seats from Sicks' Stadium were transported to Fairbanks, Alaska and installed in that city's Growden Memorial Park, which hosts college league teams in the summertime (most notably the Alaska Goldpanners).