Ray Winder Field

Ray Winder Field

Ray Winder Field is a baseball park in Little Rock, Arkansas. The ballpark was constructed during 1931, as a new home field for the Arkansas Travelers minor league baseball team. The Travelers vacated Kavanaugh Field, near Little Rock Central High School, and opened their 1932 season on April 13 at the newly completed ballpark, which was initially called Traveler Field for the team name.

The ballpark sits with home plate in roughly the north-northeast corner of the property. The current boundaries of the park are Interstate 630 (south, right field); Jonesboro Drive (west, right field corner); South Monroe Street (west, first base stands); buildings on driveway extended from Ray Winder Drive (north, third base stands); buildings bordering South Palm Street (east, right field).

On August 26, 1966, Traveler Field was renamed Ray Winder Field, after a man who had devoted most of his life to minor league baseball in Little Rock. Winder started as a ticket seller in 1915, was named as the Arkansas Traveler business manager in 1931, and became part owner in 1944. The Traveler franchise was moved to Shreveport following the 1958 season, leaving Little Rock without a baseball club for the first time since 1914. Traveler Field sat empty during the 1959 season while efforts continued to return minor league baseball to Little Rock. After a public stock drive raised funds to purchase a bankrupt New Orleans franchise, the Travelers were resurrected in Little Rock for the 1960 season. Ray Winder was again asked to manage the day to day details of rebuilding the club.

In 1976, Bill Valentine, a former American League umpire, was chosen as general manager for the Travelers. Faced with an aging ballpark and limited funds, Valentine began to promote the historic nature of Ray Winder Field. The ballpark gained recognition as one of the oldest still active parks in minor league baseball, and fans traveled to Little Rock to experience the nostalgia and sample the baseball history represented by Ray Winder Field. The home of the Arkansas Travelers was regarded as a great place to see old-time baseball, wholesome entertainment aimed squarely at the family market.

In 2005, construction began on a new ballpark in North Little Rock which would eventually become the home of the Arkansas Travelers. On September 3, 2006, the final game of the 2006 season, a capacity crowd filled Ray Winder Field as fans returned for the last Traveler game at Ray Winder Field. During this game, which concluded 74 years of minor league baseball at this ballpark, the Travelers beat the Springfield Cardinals by a score of 7 to 3. Beginning with the 2007 season, the Arkansas Travelers home ballpark is Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock.

After sitting vacant for a year, the future of Ray Winder Field is uncertain at best. The ballpark is recognized as a historic structure both for the City of Little Rock and for baseball, and it has been proposed that the park be restored as a functional baseball field for city and college teams. Others have proposed demolishing the historic ballpark in order to utilize the area as a parking lot for the adjacent Little Rock Zoo.



External links

* [http://mysite.verizon.net/charliesballparks/stadiums/winder.htm Photos of the park]
* [http://www.minorleagueballparks.com/rayw_ar.html Entry at MinorLEagueBallParks.com]
* [http://users.aristotle.net/~russjohn/history/raywin.html Exstensive history by Russell Johnson]
* [http://www.ballparkreviews.com/lr/lr.htm Entry at BallParkReviews.com]
* [http://www.littleballparks.com/Stadium/2006/Little_Rock/Little_Rock.htm Ray Winder Field Views - "Ball Parks of the Minor Leagues"]

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