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Minor League Baseball Stadium Namesakes, Part 2

By Zac Richardson -- June 23, 2012 4:52 PM EDT


Revisiting affiliated Minor League Baseball ballpark names from our previous article on the subject, there remain a handful more that reference people. These namesakes mostly eschew corporate sponsorship, though some admittedly walk a fine line. In this final batch, the stadium name inspirations are generally less famous or tied to baseball history, instead largely drawing their inspiration from more regional personages, benefactors, or political sources.

The list does include some baseball royalty, however. The Lynchburg Hillcats' Calvin Falwell Field is named for a man known as "The King of Baseball"-- in reference to his role in keeping Hill City minor league baseball alive by forming the Lynchburg Baseball Corporation, and also due to Falwell's receiving an award of the same name bestowed by the umbrella organization MiLB. Others to receive the annual honor include Hall of Famer Lefty Gomez, Ford C. Frick Award-winner Milo Hamilton, and Clown Prince of Baseball Max Patkin. Falwell received his recognition in 2005, after helping run the LBC since 1966, which he continued to do until his death in 2011 at the age of 90.

Of a similar ilk, the Frederick Keys' Harry Grove Stadium honors a man who helped bring professional baseball to the area in the early twentieth century, in the form of the Frederick Hustlers. The Nashville Sounds' Herschel Greer Stadium is named for a former businessman and the inaugural president of the Vols Inc.-- a group designed (successfully) to keep the now-defunct Nashville Volunteers minor league team in town.

And the Las Vegas 51s' Cashman Field honors a local family of sports fans and entrepreneurs (in particular, jovial patriarch "Big Jim") that built up Southern Nevada well before the casino boom, and whose efforts helped bring minor league baseball to Las Vegas.

One of the most unique and ironic recognitions goes to the Asheville Tourists' McCormick Field, which honors bacteriologist Dr. Lewis McCormick. What is his significance? Dr. McCormick moved to Asheville in 1904, made a connection between local typhoid epidemics and excessive houseflies, and within a year began the process of reducing cases by over 95% with his "Swat That Fly" campaign.

The Bakersfield Blaze's Sam Lynn Ballpark is named after a 1930s-era Coke bottling plant-owner who sponsored a semi-pro team called the Bakersfield Coca-Colas that helped root the popularity of baseball in the San Joaquin Valley. And, in the interest of equal time, the Hickory Crawdads' L.P. Frans Stadium draws its name from a Pepsi-Cola bottler who helped finance the stadium in the 1990s.

Other benefactor namesakes include the Tacoma Rainiers' Cheney Stadium, honoring lumber magnate Ben Cheney (one boost to his success was innovating the now-standard two-by-four cut of wood and wall-stud measurement). Cheney aided in bringing Pacific Coast League baseball to Tacoma, helped build the eponymous stadium, and was also a stockholder and board of directors member for the San Francisco Giants.

The Springfield Cardinals' Hammons Field is named for hotelier (and stadium builder) John Q. Hammons, and the Erie SeaWolves' Jerry Uht Park honors the man who established a perpetual endowment to support the downtown facility.

Rounding out the list are a trio of salutes to politicians. The Modesto Nuts' John Thurman Field honors a former California State Assemblyman and WWII veteran; the Pensacola Blue Wahoos' Vince J. Whibbs Sr. Community Maritime Park recognizes a seven-time former Mayor from the late 1970s to the early 1990s (followed by being formally recognized as Mayor Emeritus); and the San Antonio Missions' Nelson W. Wolff Municipal Stadium is named for a current County Judge and former state of Texas legislator and River City Mayor.

This completes our rundown of affiliated MiLB stadiums named after individuals-- a welcome discovery that it would take two installments to finish off, given the ever-dwindling bastions of non-corporate-sponsorship.

Stay tuned to Stadium Journey's Featured Stadium News section for more looks to come at the inspirations and meanings behind the additional few arenas and ballparks that remain as naming-rights holdouts.


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