What Became of Five Legendary Ballparks

When the city of Detroit demolished historic Tiger Stadium in 2009, several years after the Tigers moved to Comerica Park, it did one admirable thing. The city left behind Navin Field, the same field played on by Ty Cobb, Hank Greenberg, and so many others.

A dedicated group of volunteers maintained Navin Field and might have had cause for celebration with recent news that a police athletic league intended to use the site. But, in a reminder that threats to historic preservation sometimes never cease, the city destroyed the remaining field in late June to put down AstroTurf.

It’s not the best end for a historic stadium, though it might not also be the worst. Here’s what became of five other legendary ballparks:

1.) League Park: Big thumbs up to the Cleveland City Council. When the Indians’ former ballpark was demolished in 1951, workers left the ticket office and part of a bleacher wall standing. It served as a city park for many years thereafter, the office and wall falling into disrepair. In 2011, though, the city council voted to restore the decaying office and wall and put in a new baseball diamond and museum.

2.) Crosley Field: The Reds last played at Crosley in 1970, though it lives on, albeit at a different location. A city manager of Cincinnati suburb Blue Ash built a recreation of the park, complete with 400 seats from the original facility, in 1988.

3.) Original Yankee Stadium: In a sense, original Yankee Stadium died in the 1970s when George Steinbrenner undertook a multi-year renovation of the park. The renovated park featured home plate farther into the field, a fenced off Monument Park, and no roof, among other changes. But it was still officially the House That Ruth Built. The Yankees played in it until 2008 and then moved into their new ballpark next door. Heritage Field opened on the site of former Yankee Stadium in 2012.

4.) The Polo Grounds: Like a lone bullet on an old battlefield, a single staircase once donated by New York Giants owner John T. Brush remained at the site of his team’s former home. It fell into disrepair until the New York Daily News led a successful campaign to raise $950,000 to renovate the stairs in 2014.

5.) The Astrodome: Technically, nothing’s yet become of the former would-be world wonder, which has sat in disuse since the Houston Fire Department declared it non-compliant with code in 2008. What ultimately becomes of it is anyone’s guess. Voters turned down a $213 million referendum in 2013 to restore it.