Municipal Stadium (Kansas City): Wikis

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Kansas City Municipal Stadium
Municipal Stadium
Former names Muehlebach Field (1923-1937)
Ruppert Stadium (1937-1943)
Blues Stadium (1943-1954)
Location 22nd Street and Brooklyn Avenue, Kansas City, Missouri
Coordinates 39°5′9″N 94°33′25″W / 39.08583°N 94.55694°W / 39.08583; -94.55694Coordinates: 39°5′9″N 94°33′25″W / 39.08583°N 94.55694°W / 39.08583; -94.55694
Broke ground 1923
Opened July 3, 1923
Demolished 1976
Owner City of Kansas City
Operator City of Kansas City
Surface Grass
Construction cost US$400,000
Architect Osborn Engineering
Capacity 16,000 (1923)
35,561 (1972)
Field dimensions 1923
Left Field - 350 ft
Center Field - 450 ft
Right Field - 350 ft

1972
Left Field - 369 ft
Left Center - 408 ft
Center Field - 421 ft
Right Center - 382 ft
Right Field - 338 ft

Tenants
Kansas City Blues (A.A.) (1923-1954)
Kansas City Monarchs (NNL and NAL) (1923-1931, 1937-1954)
Kansas City Blues / Cowboys (NFL) (1924-1926)
Kansas City Athletics (MLB) (1955-1967)
Kansas City Chiefs (AFL / NFL) (1963-1971)
Kansas City Spurs (NASL) (1968-1970)
Kansas City Royals (MLB) (1969-1972)
Single decked and double decked

Kansas City Municipal Stadium was a baseball and football stadium that formerly stood in Kansas City, Missouri. It hosted the minor league Kansas City Blues of the American Association from 1923 to 1954, the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues during most of the same time, the Kansas City Athletics of the AL from 1955 to 1967, the Kansas City Royals of the AL from 1969 to 1972, and the Kansas City Chiefs of the AFL and NFL from 1963 to 1971, as well as some other short-lived professional teams.

Contents

Early history

Municipal Stadium was originally built as Muehlebach Field in 1923 for the minor-league Blues for $400,000. It was named for Blues owner George E. Muehlebach, who also owned Muehlebach Beer and the Muehlebach Hotel.

It was located in the inner city neighborhood near 18th and Vine to house the minor league white Kansas City Blues baseball team and the Negro League Kansas City Monarchs.[1][2] The first Negro League World Series game was held at the stadium in 1924. Today, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is a few blocks from the site.

The stadium consisted of a single-decked, mostly covered, grandstand extending from the right field foul pole down around most of the left field line. When the New York Yankees bought the Blues for their farm system in 1937, the stadium was renamed Ruppert Stadium in honor of the Yankees owner, Col. Jacob Ruppert. Ruppert died two years later, and the stadium was renamed Blues Stadium in 1943.

Kansas City Athletics

When Arnold Johnson bought the Philadelphia Athletics from Connie Mack in November, 1954, he announced that he would move the team to Kansas City. He'd bought Blues Stadium a year earlier, but sold it back to the city, which quickly renovated it to bring it up to major league standards. An upper deck was built atop the original stands, and the facility - renamed Municipal Stadium – was ready by Opening Day in 1955. The scoreboard from Braves Field was bought and moved to Kansas City. Temporary bleachers were also added in the left field corner and parts of the outfield. The bleachers were shifted around somewhat from year to year.

Municipal Stadium was home to many of the shenanigans of Charlie Finley, who bought the A's after Johnson's death in 1960. Most notably, he tried to shorten the rather distant fences by creating a 296-foot (90 m) Pennant Porch in right-field, fronting a tiny bleacher section, to mock the famed short fence in right field at Yankee Stadium, home of the powerful Yankees. The move was quickly vetoed by the league. So Finley rebuilt the fence to the bare legal minimum of 325 feet (99 m), and repainted the fence to say One-Half Pennant Porch. Later he tried the ruse of putting a canopy over the little bleacher, which just happened to have an extension that reached out 29 feet over the field. The league, not amused by Finley's sense of humor, again ordered him to cease and desist. According to legend, on a road trip that the A's made to New York, a Yankee hitter lofted a long fly ball to left field which, in the cavernous left field of Yankee Stadium, became a routine out. Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard is alleged to have then said over the microphone, "In Kansas City, that would have been a home run", itself a response to Finley's dictum for the PA announcer at Municipal Stadium to say "That would have been a home run at Yankee Stadium" for any ball that hit a chalk line Finley painted 296 feet away from home plate in K.C.

In addition to his notorious tinkering with the right field corner, Finley experimented with moving the other fences in and out several times during his seven seasons operating the team here. None of those moves had any notable effect on the team's performance, as the club finished in or near last place nearly every year.

A small zoo with goats and sheep and picnic area stood behind the right-field fence. When home runs were hit into the field the goats and sheep would scamper up the hill. At the same time, Finley replaced the Athletics' old elephant mascot with a live mule, appropriately named "Charlie-O".

At home plate a mechanical rabbit, nicknamed "Harvey" in reference to the stage play and film Harvey, rose out of the ground with new baseballs for the umpire and a compressed-air device (nicknamed "Little Blowhard") blew dirt off of home plate.

During the years when two major league All-Star Games were scheduled each year instead of one, Municipal Stadium hosted the first of the two 1960 games, with the NL winning the contest 5-3.

Kansas City Chiefs

When the Dallas Texans of the AFL moved to Kansas City in 1962, becoming the Kansas City Chiefs, Municipal Stadium was readied for football. Temporary stands were erected in left field to expand the stadium's capacity each fall, but had to be removed during the baseball season. The double-decked grandstand extended all the way across the south sideline (first base line of the baseball field), but ended halfway around the west end zone (third base on the baseball diamond). Both teams' benches were on the north sideline in front of the temporary bleachers, as was the case at other baseball stadiums converted to football use such as Milwaukee County Stadium, Metropolitan Stadium, Tiger Stadium and Wrigley Field. The east end zone ended at the right field fence, and the large scoreboard was in this end of the stadium. Due to the fence, there was significantly less room between the end line and the fence of the east end zone than there was in the west end zone, where there was a significant amount of room between the end line and the grandstand.[3]

On September 17, 1964, The Beatles played Municipal Stadium as part of their first U.S. tour. The date was originally supposed to be an off-day for the band, but they agreed to perform when Finley offered their manager, Brian Epstein, a then-record sum of $150,000. The group opened the show with their version of the song "Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey" in this concert.

Kansas City Royals

As Municipal Stadium aged, it became clear that new facilities would be needed, and public bonds were issued in 1967 to fund a complex including separate football and baseball stadiums. It came too late for the A's, however, as they moved to Oakland after the 1967 season. Instead, Kansas City was awarded a new American League team for 1969, and the Royals used Municipal Stadium as a temporary home.

The Chiefs' final home game at Municipal Stadium was played on December 25, 1971. The double-overtime playoff contest (a loss to the Miami Dolphins) remains the longest game in NFL history.[4]

After the 1972 baseball season, Municipal was replaced by Royals Stadium for the Kansas City Royals and the adjacent Arrowhead Stadium for the Kansas City Chiefs. Municipal Stadium was demolished in 1976, and replaced by a municipal garden. Currently, the former ballpark site is being redeveloped with new single family homes.

References

Preceded by
Association Park
Home of the Kansas City Blues
1923 - 1954
Succeeded by
last ballpark
Preceded by
Association Park
Home of the Kansas City Monarchs
1923 - 1954
Succeeded by
last ballpark
Preceded by
Shibe Park
Home of the Kansas City Athletics
1955 - 1967
Succeeded by
Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
Preceded by
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Host of the All-Star Game
1960 1st Game
Succeeded by
Yankee Stadium
Preceded by
Cotton Bowl
Home of the Kansas City Chiefs
1963 - 1971
Succeeded by
Arrowhead Stadium
Preceded by
first ballpark
Home of the Kansas City Royals
1969 - 1972
Succeeded by
Royals Stadium
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