Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86
Mirmow Field 1 Rowe St SE Orangeburg, SC 29115
Year Opened: 1948
The Historic Charm of Mirmow Field
The Claflin University baseball team plays its home games at Historic Mirmow Field. It’s an old-fashioned baseball stadium that was constructed in 1948 to house the popularity of the game in Orangeburg, South Carolina. It was said, at the time, that baseball was so popular that “the fans even liked the umpire.”
Mirmow would be home to the semi-pro Orangeburg Braves, American Legion Post 4, and high school, and served as the spring training home of the Binghamton Triplets of the Eastern League during its first few years. There have been a handful of young players who wound up in the major leagues that honed their skills here: Herm Winningham, Mookie Wilson, Nate Snell, Bill Spiers, and the late Mark Sharpeson–where a plaque is dedicated in his memory near the entrance.
However, it would be home to minor league baseball for only two years–a quarter of a century after its construction. The Orangeburg Cardinals–managed by Jimmy Piersall and featuring future WWE legend Randy “Macho Man Savage” Poffo—operated as a co-op team in the Western Carolinas League in 1973 before the Dodgers took over operations the following year.
The stadium was showing wear and tear even when the minor leagues were in town, but it received a major upgrade when the motion picture Major League: Back to the Minors was filmed for spring training scenes in 1996. A new roof, a fresh coat of paint, and plenty of lush palmetto trees were planted near the entrance to give the historic venue a much-needed update.
The Panthers took the field at Mirmow when the HCBU resurrected the sport in 1986 and is one of only a handful of programs that plays in an actual ballpark in its conference. Its location is about a mile and a half from campus and is used as a recruitment tool for student-athletes who want to play in a baseball stadium.
Food & Beverage 2
There is a small concession stand in the form of a wooden shelter on the first base side of the stadium, offering a small selection of items that include hot dogs, popcorn, soda pop, and nachos. The standout here might be the fried bologna sandwich for a mere three bucks. It makes for a nice change of pace while watching the game from the stands. If you are looking for a cold beer at the game, you are out of luck; alcohol is not permitted inside the facility.
They don’t build ballparks like Mirmow anymore, and it’s a relic of its time when semi-pro and professional baseball flourished in almost every nook and cranny of this nation. It covers all the bases of its era with a wooden grandstand, main entrance lobby, and wooden bleacher seating. There is a small press box on the top of the roof that looks as if it can squeeze in four people at the most.
There are a few oddities with the playing field in that its absence of a warning track in the outfield while this may not be a concern for the patron in their seat, it can be for a running outfield attempting to catch a ball near the think, cinder block wall-there is also no padding. There is a two-foot fence down the first and third baselines separating the playing field from the seating area.
A few of the seats feature back support, but few wood seats have warped through almost 80 years of service. The twisted, mangled seat adds a bizarre character to the old place, and a typical crowd falls anywhere around 100 people per game for Panthers games. In other words, there are plenty of more areas to grab a seat and watch a game.
The mood here for games is to sit back and relax; most fans in the seats are friends or family members, and you can hear the chatter from each dugout. Depending on the time of the day, you might get to see the passing train behind the outfield walls pass by for a bonus.
Orangeburg is located about halfway between Columbia and Charleston and offers a small, quaint downtown setting. There is a multitude of chain restaurants near the interstate exit, but the city offers a few local establishments.
If you are looking for a local spin on barbecue, stop by Duke’s for pulled pork and fried chicken. The Original House of Pizza offers its style of pizzas, plus salads and chicken wings. Biddie’s Banquet is known for its fried chicken, and Mama’s Kountry Kooking offers down-home style cuisine at affordable pricing,
There are a few areas to visit in town that include Edisto Memorial Gardens, I.P. Stanback Museum, and Planetarium, and a short drive away is Santee State Park. Orangeburg is about 40 miles away from Columbia and 75 miles from the always-popular Charleston.
Attendance for Claflin games is in the hundreds, but with this being the case, it is still a rare treat to watch college ball at this level inside an actual baseball stadium; many of the Panther’s opponents play on small college fields. Average crowds for games are around the low 100 mark but can reach 300 for certain games late in the season. One should expect a very laid-back contest with a college faithful rooting on the home team, not much different from many other smaller college programs.
Mirmow Field is located 6 miles south of the Orangeburg exit of I-20. The ballpark offers plenty of free parking in the lot that surrounds it. There is one main entrance into the field and plenty of seating underneath the roof of the grandstand. Some seats should be avoided, and one has the opportunity to pick the seat that fits them the best.
Return on Investment 3
There are no admission fees for baseball games, and concession prices are around $2 to $3. Making a stop for the Claflin University game might be for the most ardent ballpark traveler, but these types of facilities are a rare breed and, regardless of their condition, should be appreciated for their historic charm.
Palmetto trees surround the ballpark, adding a flavorful South Carolina charm to its exterior. Another star for the train that passes by a few yards in the back of the outfield wall, to the discerning eye, it looks as if it hovers slightly. A third and final star is for the ballpark still to be used for baseball (Claflin, American Legion Post 4, and Orangeburg High School).
Mirmow Field might be for the divine ballpark traveler or the history buff that enjoys older buildings. It is a fun place to explore and watch a game, even if its based days are behind when fans would fill up every seat. There could be a bit more done to improve the warped bleachers, and one could imagine what a summer collegiate league could do to promote the stadium. Collegiate and legion ball still prosper, and one can get a good 9-innings for most of the year if they desire. We should be thankful that a place like Mirmow Field is still in existence.