Ballparks

Ballparks around the world: Historic Stan Galle Field, the cradle of Cuban baseball

This time in Ballparks Around the World Historic Stan Galle Field (also called the Pit), home of the Spring Hill College Badgers, a NCAA Division II baseball team. Historic Stan Galle Field is the oldest continuous used diamond in the United States.

 

Stan Galle Field in all of its glory (photo: courtesy of Spring Hill College Archive)

 

The very first game at Historic Stan Galle Field was played in 1889 and it has hosted games every season since. Spring Hill College is located in Mobile Alabama and was founded in 1830 by the bishop of Mobile,  Most Rev. Michael Portier. It was the first Roman Catholic college in the South and it is the fifth-oldest Roman Catholic college in the United States. Another first for Spring Hill was that in 1954, it was the first college in the South to allow black students to attend.

The stadium is named after Stan Galle, born Stanley Joseph Galaszewski, a former baseball player, who had a cup of coffee with the Washington Senators in 1942. In 13 games he just hit .111.  After his active career, Galle became the coach of the Spring Hill College Badgers baseball team in 1956. He led the college team for a long time. In 2001, then still alive, Galle was honored when Spring Hill College named the Pit after him.

In 1910, the Chicago Cubs visited Mobile for two days during their spring training. A special day with a parade was organized to honor the team. The Cubs took on the Spring Hill Badgers in a five-inning game and won  4-1. Joe Tinker, yes the one of the famous baseball poem “Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance”, umpired the game. But this would not be the last visit by MLB players. In 1913, the Cincinnati Reds paid Spring Hill College a visit during Spring Training. Of course, a game was played but this time the MLB delegation was way too strong as the Reds beat the Badgers 11-3. Eleven years later, Babe Ruth and several Yankees paid the college a visit. Ruth and his team mates took batting practice with the college team and showed their hitting techniques.

The fist official Badgers team took the field in 1891. The team played vs local semi-pro teams like the Mobiles, the Crescents and the Dixies, because of a lack of collegiate teams in the area. But Spring Hill College students played baseball on the Pit, well before 1864.

view-of-college-from-the-campus-cropped-1
The Pit around 1890-1900 (photo: courtesy of Spring Hill College Archive)

Spring Hill College is the cradle of baseball in Cuba. Two alumni, Ernesto and Nemesio Guilló returned to Havana in 1864 and introduced the game of baseball to the island after they had learned it at the Pit. Eventually, the two brothers established the Habana Baseball Club which later became the Cuban National Baseball Team. They are recognized as the fathers of Cuban Baseball.

The location of the baseball field is unique as it is situated right next to one of the administration buildings. In right field, there is a pavilion that offers a nice view on the field. This pavilion is called the Stonisch Baseball Fieldhouse.  The Stonisch Baseball Fieldhouse contains locker rooms, equipment area and storage, coach’s office, and bathroom/shower facilities on the first floor. The upper deck is used for batting practice and entertainment purposes. The arches on the second floor have roll up walls so that groups can watch baseball games, cook out or have events catered through the school. The field house was completed in 2003 as part of the campus’ renovation plan.

 

A nice view from the right field pavillion (photo: courtesy of Spring Hill College Archive)

 

This ball field has a few rare features. It lacks a real backstop. A wall of approximately six feet tall serves as the field’s backstop with a high net on top of it. With no netting along the stands next to the administration building, you may wonder how many windows are broken by foul balls already. Stands may be a big word as people bring folding chairs to sit along the concourse that runs next to the right field line. Another major feature of this ball field are the light towers, which are in play as they stand in foul territory.

Perhaps the field itself is not really special, but the location makes it one of a kind. Of course, the history of this ball field is unparalleled.

Here are a few other pics that show the beauty of this baseball field. (all photos and information: courtesy of Spring Hill College Archive)

The right field pavilion in the background.

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