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Wilmington Park
Location Governor Printz Blvd & E 30th St
Wilmington, DE 19802
Broke ground 1939
Opened May 1, 1940
Demolished 1963
Surface Grass
Construction cost $185,000
Capacity 7,000
Tenants
Wilmington Clippers (AA) (1939-1941, 1946-1949)
Wilmington Blue Rocks (InL) (1940-1952)
Philadelphia Athletics (AL) (spring training) (1943)
Philadelphia Phillies (NL) (spring training) (1944-1945)
University of Delaware football (1940-1952)

Wilmington Park was a ballpark in Wilmington, Delaware that was located at the corner of 30th Street and Governor Printz Boulevard. It was home to the University of Delaware football team from 1940 to 1952 and the Wilmington Blue Rocks of the Class B Interstate League from 1940 to 1952. The Blue Rocks were an affiliate of the Philadelphia Athletics from 1940 to 1943 and the Philadelphia Phillies from 1944 to 1952.[1].

Contents

Teams

The University of Delaware Blue Hens football team played its home games at the park from 1940 until 1952. Delaware had played at Frazier Field in Newark, Delaware before moving to Wilmington Park midway through the 1940 season. Delaware played its first game at Wilmington Park on November 9, 1940 and beat Pennsylvania Military College 14 to 7. While Delaware would continue to play occasional games at Frazier through the 1946 season, the team played its home games at Wilmington Park until midway through the 1952 season. In their last game at the ballpark, Delaware beat Pennsylvania Military College, 43 to 20. Delaware finished the 1952 season at the brand-new Delaware Stadium which returned the team to Newark and the university campus.[2]

During World War II, in January 1943, Major League Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis ordered the sixteen Major League baseball clubs to conduct their spring trainings north of the Mason-Dixon Line to limit railroad use. The country had a wartime spirit of self-sacrifice and Baseball sought to avoid negative publicity from photographs of professional athletes training in the Florida-sun. The Philadelphia Athletics held spring training at Wilmington Park in 1943 and the Philadelphia Phillies at the park in 1944 and 1945.[3]

In addition to World War II-spring training games at Wilmington Park, the Phillies played occasional exhibition games at the ballpark including games against the Blue Rocks. The Phillies and Athletics had long played pre-season exhibition games against each other in the Philadelphia City Series. The A's moved to Kansas City prior to the 1955 season but returned to the Philadelphia-area for a final match-up prior to 1955 Opening Day. They played the 1955 series at Wilmington where the A's beat the Phillies 9 to 6 on April 9, 1955 and 10 to 2 on April 10, 1955.[4]

Attendance

7,000 fans attended the Blue Rocks’ first game at the ballpark in 1940 and the club established a Class B attendance record in 1940 with 145,643 attending ballgames at Wilmington Park. The club topped that mark with 172,531 fans in 1944. The single game attendance record for the Blue Rocks was set in 1947 when 7,062 fans saw Curt Simmons’ Wilmington debut. But attendance in 1950 dropped to 38,678, and despite a slight improvement to 43,135 in 1951, attendance continued to sink in 1952 which proved to be the last for the Blue Rocks at the ballpark. [5].

References

  1. ^ Pahigian, Joshua (2007). The Ultimate Minor League Baseball Road Trip. The Lyons Press. pp. 69, 70. ISBN 978-1-59921-024-7.  
  2. ^ 2008 University of Delaware Football Media Guide. Newark, DE: University of Delaware Athletics Media Relations Office. p. 165. http://www.bluehens.com/sportsinfo/football/2008mediaguide/results.pdf. Retrieved 2009-09-03.  
  3. ^ Mead, William B. (1998). Baseball Goes to War. Washington, DC: Broadcast Interview Source, Inc.. pp. 73–74. ISBN 0-934333-38-6.  
  4. ^ Peterson, John E. (2003). Kansas City Athletics: A Baseball History, 1954-1967. McFarland. p. 52. ISBN 0-786416-106. http://books.google.com/books?id=zJUCG0b0K9YC&pg=PA52&dq=Phillies+Athletics+city+series&lr=&client=firefox-a. Retrieved 2009-05-22.  
  5. ^ The Great Delaware Sports Book. Montchanin, DE: Manatee Press. 1995. pp. 91–93. ISBN 0-9644427-0-1.  

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