Terry Park BallfieldEdit profile
The Terry Park Ballfield (also known as the Park T. Pigott Memorial Stadium) is a historic site in Fort Myers, Florida, United States. The park is named after the family that donated the land in the 1920s. For years the stadium has hosted Major League Baseball spring training as well as a dozen years of Florida State League baseball. The stadium has hosted the Philadelphia Athletics, Cleveland, Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals spring training needs throughout the years. Terry Park was also home to some early minor league baseball most notable being the Fort Myers Palms and Fort Myers Royals, both belonging to the Florida State League. Hall of Famers Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Roberto Clemente, Jimmy Foxx, Bob Feller, Tris Speaker and George Brett are some of the notable players that have played at Terry Park Field.
In 1921 the Terry Family, a local Fort Myers family, donated approximately 25 acres (100,000 m 2) of cow pasture to Lee County. Amidst nothing but bulls and heifers, a small wooden grandstand, seating no more than 600 fans, was erected on the site about a mile east of downtown Fort Myers. The stadium was built as a spring training ballpark for Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics in 1925. The park was the spring training home of the Philadelphia Athletics from 1925 until 1936 and the Cleveland Indians from 1941 until 1942. It was also the home of the minor league Fort Myers Palms that operated there from 1926 until 1927. The stadium remained in its 1925 condition, until 1943 when it was destroyed in a fire. However in 1955 the park was rebuilt. This time, instead of wood, the stadium was made from steel and concrete.
Pittsburgh Pirates era
The rebuilt Terry Park created an alliance between Fort Myers and the Pittsburgh Pirates. For years the Pirates wandered all over the country for a spring training location and were looking for a permanent spring training home. During a 12 year period the Pirates spent spring training in 7 different locations: McCulloch Park in Muncie, Indiana; Flamingo Park in Miami Beach, Gilmore Field in Hollywood, California; Perris Hill Park in San Bernardino; Gran Stadium in Havana, Cuba; and Jaycee Park in Fort Pierce, Florida. Terry Park became their spring training home for the next 14 years, before moving to Bradenton's McKechnie Field in 1969.
Kansas City Royals era
In 1969 the Kansas City Athletics moved from Kansas City, Missouri to Oakland, California. This allowed for Kansas City to receive a Major League expansion team. The received their team which was called the Kansas City Royals. Terry Field became the new spring training home for the team. The team's historic first expedition game was played at Terry Field. The Royals would remain in Fort Myers until 1987. During the Kansas City Royals years, the field featured artificial turf, similar to that of Royals Stadium. However several years after the Royals left for Baseball City, the turf left as well. In 1988 the Royals left Fort Myers for Haines City, Florida. The City opened offered the team a new stadium and opened up a theme park called Boardwalk and Baseball that was centered around a baseball theme. The main attraction was going to be the Kansas City Royals spring training home. However the deal later proved to be a bust and by 2002 the park was abandoned and later demolished.
Fort Myers Royals
In 1978 the Kansas City Royals brought a minor league affiliate to Fort Myers, the team was called the Fort Myers Royals and they were a Single A Florida State League franchise. The team played at Terry Field from 1978 until 1987. In 1985 the Royals won the Florida League Championship. Kevin Seitzer and Bret Saberhagen were members of the Fort Myers team and began their professional careers at Terry Park.
End of professional baseball
After the Royals left Fort Myers, a new spring training team was never fielded at the stadium. Two new stadiums were built in Fort Myers, Hammond Stadium was built for the Minnesota Twins and City of Palms Park was built for the Boston Red Sox. The last professional baseball team to call Terry Park home was the Fort Myers Sun Sox of the short lived Senior Professional Baseball Association in 1989 and 1990. The league featured former MLB stars and was played during the winter months. The league folded in 1990. All SPBA playoff games were held at Terry Park, since the league's playoffs occurred during spring training.
The park pretty much still remained in its 1955 condition. On May 11, 1995 the ball field was placed on the National Register of Historical Places by the United States Department of the Interior. The memorial stadium was dedicated to area resident, Park T. Pigott (1914”“1972), in recognition of his lifetime of service, through sports, to the youth of this community. For the 2003 season Terry Park was used by the Golden Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast University while their new ballpark is being built at their Fort Myers campus.
In 2004, the stadium was hit by Hurricane Charley. The damage from the storm caused the grandstand to be labeled "unsafe". Later in the year, The Board of Lee County Commissioners approved a guaranteed maximum price of $701,697 for Compass Construction to tear down the old grandstand and build a new one. But instead of rebuilding the historic 5,000 seat grandstand, the city replaced it with a small 700 seat structure. This was despite the fact that the park was given an official historic marker in 1995. Technically once a grandstand is demolished, the basepark loses all of its historic significance, regardless of whether it is the same field. Only the old girders have been retained as the outline for a new grandstand that opened in 2005. So what stands at Terry Park now bears little resemblance to the Spring Training location it once was. While the new grandstand is covered, it is much smaller and made of metal. Many residents feel that it was unfortunate that the county decided not to try to save the classic grandstand. 2006 marked the centennial anniversary of Terry Park - at least the playing field portion of it. The new stadium currently seats about 900 people, as the additional bleachers down the foul lines have been removed. A spring training museum is also being considered for the park.
Today, over 160 college baseball teams from around the country use Terry Park in the month of March to begin their college season. The park is currently part of a multi-diamond facility serving various amateur levels of baseball. The facility now sees year-round amateur baseball use. This property is part of the Lee County Multiple Property Submission, a Multiple Property Submission to the National Register. Terry Park is used year round for baseball leagues, tournaments and special events. The facility has four lighted fields with spectator seating including a covered grandstand on the main field. The park is also equipped with batting cages near each field. Terry Park is currently being remodeled with new restrooms, concession area, press box and seating areas. The work will be done in phases to allow the park to operate as close to normal as possible.
Preceded by New Orleans, Louisiana 1928-1939 Cleveland Indians Spring Training Location Fort Myers 1940 ”“ 1941 Succeeded by Clearwater, Florida 1942 Preceded by None Kansas City Royals Spring Training Location Fort Myers 1969 ”“ 1987 Succeeded by Haines City, Florida 1988-2002 Preceded by None Kansas City Royals Spring Training Stadium Terry Field 1969 ”“ 1987 Succeeded by Baseball City Stadium 1988-2002 Preceded by Montgomery, Alabama 1923-1924 Philadelphia Athletics Spring Training Location Fort Myers 1925 ”“ 1936 Succeeded by Mexico City, Mexico 1937 Preceded by Fort Pierce, Florida 1954 Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training Location Fort Myers 1955 ”“ 1968 Succeeded by Bradenton, Florida 1969-Present Preceded by Jaycee Park 1954 Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training Stadium Terry Field 1955 ”“ 1968 Succeeded by McKechnie Field 1969-Present