Tag Archives: Other Minor League Ballparks

Recommended Reading: Waterloo Diamonds

WaterlooDiamondsBook— Matt Nelson

At the age of ten in 1990 my dad took me to my first Midwest League baseball game. It was the Kenosha Twins against the Waterloo Diamonds at Municipal Stadium in Waterloo, Iowa (I grew up in Grundy Center, Iowa). After my first exposure to the minors I went back, and back, and back again in ’91, ’92 and ’93 to Municipal Stadium. After that, it was many years before I again saw a Midwest League game.

In 1994 the Waterloo Diamonds moved to Springfield, Illinois. After two years there, they moved to Lansing and have been the Lugnuts since 1996. Waterloo has never again had professional baseball, although the Waterloo Bucks of the Northwoods League (Summer Collegiate) have a good following and play to this day at Municipal Stadium.

WaterlooDiamonds2“Waterloo Diamonds” by Richard Panek profiles the 1992 Waterloo Diamonds season and finishes with a few pages on the 1993 season. The book came out in 1995, but I just read it for the first time. It’s currently out of print, but you can find it in used condition all over the internet.

I assume that the initial plan for Panek was just to follow a minor league team for a season, profiling what life was like in a small town, and that sort of usual stuff. What this book really encompases is, the death of the Waterloo Diamonds. The book paints the picture of a struggling community, struggling franchise, and struggling ballpark. The perfect storm for losing a team. The fact is, the city of Waterloo never made any real attempt to keep the team in town.

WaterlooDiamonds1In the city’s defense, they had all sorts of problems at the city level, and the 1990 Professional Baseball Agreement significantly raised the ballpark standards for the start of the 1994 season (this was later pushed back a year to 1995). This agreement is why there was so much franchise movement and so many new ballparks built from the mid-1990’s through today. It basically became an “arms race.”

Panek sums it up best when he notes that the most “succinct summary of what cost Waterloo pro ball: ‘Playing facilities and market. Pro ball in Waterloo was a ruin, and the stadium a relic.”

Those who remember the old Waterloo Diamonds will certainly enjoy remembering those days through this book. “Waterloo Diamonds” is a very interesting look at minor league baseball in the early 1990’s and how one city lost professional baseball. Look around and it usually makes lists of “best minor league baseball books.”

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Principal Park and State Baseball

Principal Park 1— Matt Nelson

Wednesday I made the trip over to Des Moines to cover the Iowa State Baseball Tournament for KCRG-TV9. A triple-header of 3A games involving area teams no less!!

Check out my report on Norwalk’s win over Decorah here.

View highlights of Vinton-Shellsburg’s game, and Benton Community’s game here.

Principal Park 4The state tournament moved to Principal Park (formerly Sec Taylor Stadium II) in 2005. Previously it’d been held in Marshalltown and Carroll. Principal Park is the home of the AAA Iowa Cubs.

The ballpark opened in 1992 and hasn’t changed a great deal since then. In right field they have added bleacher seating as well as a newer scoreboard and a nice fountain the right field corner as well.

Principal Park 5The ballpark offers a spectacular view of the Iowa State Capitol from behind home plate. From the first base line fans have a nice view of the downtown Des Moines skyline as well.

Marshalltown and Carroll were great hosts to the state baseball tournament. But with a central loacation the state tournament seems to be doing well in Principal Park. The crowds don’t fill the stadium, but it has to be a thrill for those high schoolers who get to play in a AAA stadium.

Principal Park 6Maybe sometime in the future after I visit all of the ballparks in the Midwest League, the “Ballparks of the Midwest” project for TV9 will have to expand to include other parks in the Midwest like Principal Park or the new Omaha Royals ballpark set to open in 2011. Hmmm… 🙂

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Fifth Third Field (Well, One of Them Anyway)

100_8923— Matt Nelson

In 2010 I will travel to Dayton to profile Fifth Third Field as part of KCRG-TV9’s Ballparks of the Midwest League. Of course there’s also Fifth Third Ballpark in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. We’ll visit that later this summer. And then there’s the other Fifth Third Field in Toledo. Confusing, huh?

100_8937Fifth Third Field in Toledo is home to the AAA Toledo Mud Hens of the International League. Built in 2002 it is crammed into a downtown Toledo block. In fact two of the corners of the block are filled by new businesses that moved into the old buildings that were left in place. It really gives the ballpark a sense of history when you walk around the outside.

100_8918The outside includes what might be the best statue I’ve seen at a ballpark. Check out the kids peering through the Knothole to watch the game. What’s interesting is that anybody can stroll by the exterior of Fifth Third Park and watch the game. It’s easily visible from Right, Center and Left Fields from the surrounding streets through a black iron fence.

100_8932Inside the park the seats provide a nice view of downtown Toledo. The seats in the Right Field corner look cool, but don’t provide much of a view for evening games. “The Roost” is a triangular section of seats built into the corner of an old building. It looks great, but for night games people in those seats stare directly into the sun for a couple of hours.

100_8938I’ve been to several AAA ballparks and Toledo’s Fifth Third Field is right at the top of the list. I absolutely love Louisville Slugger Field in Louisville, Kentucky, but Toledo’s yard is just a little more unique. It is well worth a visit if you find yourself on Interstate 80 in Western Ohio.

100_8950

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