Jack Russell Stadium Update
June 5, 2007
CLEARWATER—Another era in Phillies history is about to disappear.
City Council last night said they are ready to demolish Jack Russell Memorial Stadium, the Phillies spring training home from 1955-2003. The final vote will be taken at Thursday’s meeting.
The park was also the home of the Clearwater Bombers, a professional softball team, and concerts, including the Rolling Stones in 1965.
According to an article in the St. Petersburg Times today, restoring the facility would be too costly. Somewhere in the next 60 days, the main, original grandstand will be demolished.
Aluminum bleachers beyond third and first bases, the playing field, the half-field beyond the right field wall as well as the Phillies former clubhouse will remain. The Winning Inning Academy baseball program will continue to operate camps and tournaments for youngsters and the Boys and Girls club will continue to use a building on the site.
Kids that appeared to be between the ages of 4 and 6 were on the field this afternoon during one of the camps. A solitary mother occupied a seat in the first base aluminum stands, in a section once known as “Whale Beach.” Why Whale Beach? It was the area where a bunch of chunky, portly, beefy writers used to honker down for the games. Shirtless, the writers could get a tan, something that couldn’t be accomplished in the Press Box.
The outfield walls, once full of painted advertising signs, are solid green. The building behind home plate that housed the ticket office remains cream colored but there were no signs listing the schedule and ticket prices. Those signs, including a 1980 World Champion Phillies sign, were removed a couple years ago. Dark lettering still exists above the ticket windows, “Jack Russell Memorial Stadium.”
All the seats on the third base side of the grandstand are gone. The seat removal process is sweeping from third base to first base. Yellow tape seals off the entire grandstand. Big trash containers are stationed on the ground-level concourse. Eventually, the concrete and steel structure will be reduced to a pile of rubble that will be carted away.
The cost of building the ballpark was $317,653. The demolition estimate is $104,280.
Robin Roberts pitched the first game there, March 10, 1955.
Three Phillies homes, Connie Mack Stadium, Veterans Stadium and Jack Russell Memorial Stadium, will be extinct. Fortunately, memories are eternal.