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Clarkson Park (1909-1927)
Base ball park located south off Center avenue beyond Livingston street in Bay City
  • Transcribed (Nov. 2005)
  • Clarkson Ball Park
    Clarkson Ball Park: The ballpark was about 500 feet south off Center avenue just east of the present Rail Trail according to old insurance maps. The Polk Directories list it as Center avenue and P.M.R.R. Belt Line.


    Bay City Tribune - Tuesday, May 18, 1909.


    New Clarkson Park Prounounced So by Ball Players, Old and Present
    -- Perfect in Equipment.

    Clarkson park is the best minor league plant in the country. Every one who has been on the new grounds pays Bay City’s new association on the compliment of having given the city the best base ball outfit any city of similar standing in the country possesses. Arthur Clarkson, old ex-big leaguer, expressed himself as astonished at the completeness of everything. The Battle Creek team was loud in its praises.

    Naturally the ground yesterday was soft. It has been impossible to secure dry ground anywhere in Michigan for the past week, but the extremely efficient drainage system and the constant rolling had reduced the infield to fair playing form, although in the outfield the players dropped clods of dirt from their shoes as they ran. Two dry days, however, will suffice to put the grounds into perfect shape.


    The new grandstand is the largest baseball stand in Michigan outside of Detroit and Grand Rapids. It is twice as large as the majority of Southern Michigan League grand stands and better constructed than any of them. There are 524 opera chair reserved seats, the total seating capacity being 1,500. The stand is extremely well built and was designed to four times the carrying strength than can possibly be required of it. The angle supports of the roof are all of steel and the uprights are so arranged that any seat in the grand stand the view of the field is uninterrupted. The bleachers are of the regulation construction and have a seating capacity of 1,500. One bleacher is erected on either side of the grand stand. The central section of the latter faces home plate and the two wings extend at a slight angle towards the base lines.

    The field is 4.7 acres in extent and it is safe to say that might few “over the fences” will be hit out. There is nearly mile and a half of drain tiling, the ground around the grand stand and bleachers being under-drained as well as the field. In the infield the rows of tiling are placed 20 feet apart; in the outfield the spaces between measure 40 feet. They are connected with a trunk drain that draws off the water from the entire field. The soil is not of the best, but it has been made perfect, as far as the infield is concerned, with clay ad-mixture and as soon as the weather man lets up on the continuous moisture, it will be in fine shape.


    The park is equipped with all the conveniences of the big league equipments. The club house is located at the north end of the grand stand, under it, and is equipped with shower baths and individual lockers. There are both grand stand and bleacher gates, the three openings affording quick exit. Five hundred feet of new cement walks leads from Center avenue to the gounds and there is no walking through dust or mud as was the case heretofore. There is also a cinder road for carriages and automobiles. The park was laid out, put into shape and under-drained under the supervision of “Tod” Fox, himself an old fan, while the construction work was all done by Contractor Charles Kiester. The perfection to which the park has been carried is due in large part tot he efforts of the two contractors, who assisted materially by their personal work.

    The Bay City Base Ball Co. is for the first time since the olden days a strictly home company. There is no connection whatever between the present ownership of the club and that of previous clubs. The franchise was purchased from the Southern Michigan League. There are 50 stockholders, everyone of them devotees of the game, and in going into the venture, putting up their money, and assuming the risks, they are actuated solely by a desire for the cleanest, healthiest and sanest sport existent.


    Bay City Tribune - Tuesday, May 18, 1909.


    Record-Breaking Crowd Witnesses Raising of Handsome Flag Donated by Widow of Man After Whom Plan is Named.


    Battle Creek Takes Lead in Sixth and is Not Headed, Although Locals Try Hard to Overcome Odds.

    With a radiant burst of sunlight, Old Sol yesterday afternoon bestowed his blessing upon Clarkson base ball park at the exact moment that T. G. Clarkson, father of the famous base ball star after whom the park is named, was drawing the crimson and white colors of the Bay City club to the flagstaff peak. From over 4,000 throats came a wild cheer and a storm of handclapping. The fluttering pennant whipped in the stiff breeze as it mounted higher and higher , while through a rift in the clouds that had lowered and threatened the day long, the sun continued to shine in beneficence. As the pennant reached its berth, the White Eagle band, which with the Bay City and Battle Creek teams, and the board of directors of the local association had gathered about the flagstaff, struck up a lively march, and Clarkson park had been formally dedicated.

    The opening of the local base ball season, and the dedication of the park were attended with exceedingly simple ceremonies. The burst of sunshine after a day of raw winds and skies that cause a feeling of hopelessness amongst the players, fans and others interested, as taken as an omen by the huge attendance and from the moment on, there wasn’t a moment when every one of the big crowd was not in good humor. The attendance was remarkable – between 4,000 and 5,000 people. It was the largest opening day crowd in Michigan this year, outside of Detroit set for the opening ceremonies, the north bleacher was filled completely. At 2 o’clock, one hour before the time while in the grand stand were seated scores of people. At 2:30 the crowd had almost filled all the available seating space. The long wait was borne with utmost patience. The two teams debouched into the field. Bay City came on first and was greeted with much applause. The Creekers were likewise given a hand. Megaphones, horns and other devices calculated to frighten the opposition and strengthen the home team were already in full play. Everybody and everybody’s friend was there; back and forth, and no one seemed to mind the wait. The teams threw the ball around the field and the spectators watched interestedly the form displayed by the men.


    Manager, Eddie Herr and his Missouri hills accent were there. The auburn haired leader of the locals was a bit gun-shy and he kept his back turned faithfully to the grand stand. The necessity of making a good showing before an opening day crowd at home bore upon him and he went after the men with unwonted ginger.

    Before 3 o’clock the crowd was coming so fast that “Little Willie” Rorke, in the ticket office, was forced to call help and split the tickets. Then came the participants in the parade, who with the city and county officials, Elks, the opposing teams, and Mrs. John G. Clarkson, widow of the famous pitcher; the latter’s parents, and his brother, Arthur, rode in automobiles. The directors of the base ball club escorted the Clarkson party and as the latter entered the grand stand, the crowd gave a thunderous ovation. The preliminaries were then pulled off rapidly. The directors, headed by Arthur Clarkson, carrying the pennant, and his father, formed in fours, preceded by the band. Then followed Manager Herr’s charges and the Battle Creek team closed the line. They struck a rapid step towards the flagstaff in the far corner of the field, the pennant was quickly adjusted and the halyards placed in the trembling hands of the father of the son, whose memory is to live in the name of the new park. The elder Clarkson hoisted the flag rapidly, the bank struck up and in quickstep the procession headed towards the home plate. The scene was inspiring and the grand stand and bleachers rose en masse with cheers and handclapping as the pennant flung its length to the winds.

    The two teams and directors were then photographed and photos of the crowd were taken by F. E. Shearer. Then came the throwing of the first ball.


    Mayor Evans stepped to the pitcher’s box and Manager Herr handed him a shiny, horsehide covered sphere. Circuit Judge Collins was armored with a catcher’s mask and pneumatic pad – useless precautions as afterwards developed. Sheriff Kinney “hefted” the lightest bat of the outfit and assumed a professional pose. The major moistened his fingers with his lips. Twas a spitter he would throw. He stood erect. Suddenly the mayoral arm flew out, the ball glistened in the sunlight. Say, you ought to have seen that ball curve. It curved up about six feet and then down about 10. A shriek came from the spectators. Sheriff Kinney straightened up. He swung wildly. With bated breath the spectators’ watched the catcher. Would he catch. No, he would not. That wonderful drop ball struck the ground about four feet in front of the shrieval batter and about three seconds after the limb of the law batted. The Judicial backstop had already inclined his knees just as Pat Newcomb does, but the judicial waistline is not built on plans required to stop grounders. The glistening ball rolled ignominiously into the mud back of home plate.

    The crowd went delirious with joy. The players converged rapidly about the judicial backstop and he was divested of the trappings of the his office. The game was on. Bay City took the field and as the white and red club players ran swiftly to their stations the crowd gave them another rousing send off. Arthur Clarkson, who is to act as umpired for the series because of the illness of Umpire Sweeney, appeared in a Bay City cap, and he too, was given a second ovation.

    As the game opened, the scene was nothing less than inspiring. The sun continued to shine brightly. The grand stands was packed to the roof. On the bleachers the fans hung with their hands to the sides. On both the field lines, beyond the bleachers, the crowd massed four and five deep. The spaces between the bleachers and the ground fences were packed full. And eminently fair was this opening day crowd. While naturally, the home team was the center of attention, and every play was given its reward, it was quick in cheering the opposing team. Cole, who pitched, won his way straight to the heart of the crowd by his magnificent opening work, but when Hessburger, the first man to make a hit for Battle Creek, lined it out, he was given a stirring recognition. The Creeker smiled and doffed his cap in appreciation.

    The wind, rather chilly and raw, seemed to have no effect upon the spirits of the fans and their enthusiasm grew as the game proceeded.


    Bay City Times - Tuesday, May 18, 1909.



    SCORE WAS 3 TO 2.


    Dedication of Clarkson Park a Success – Contest Lost to Visitors by Error in Sixth.

    The opening game in the Southern Michigan baseball league for Bay City this year will go down in the history of local sporting as one of the best played contests that has ever been seen in this city, even though Battle Creek did win by the score of 3 to 2. As it was the contest really should have favored Herr’s aggregation, but a fatal wild throw with the bases full was the point which decided that at the end of the game Bay City was to show up on the score board as the loser. The visitor earned one tally as they themselves admit, while to Bay City must be given the credit of twice having crossed home-plate with runs that were devoid of all errors on the side of their opponents.

    Big Hi Cole was placed in the box for Bay City, and although he practically lost his own game in the sixth, the twirler tossed the ball over the plate in a manner which showed that some day he may travel in a bigger league than the one in which he is now playing. At least half a dozen times he succeeded in pulling himself out of a hole when added runs seemed certain.

    However, Freeland, in the box for Battle Creek, is almost equally deserving of credit, having played a steady game, keeping his arm in control, and with the support of his team mates putting up an exhibition of ball which was all that could be desired of a team opposing Bay City for the opening of the new Clarkson park.


    With a simple but impressive ceremony, Clarkson park was formally dedicated yesterday afternoon before a good natured crowd numbering close to 5,000 people. The attendance was remarkable, being the largest opening day crowd in Michigan. Old Sol allowed the anxious fans a few beams of the long looked for sunlight just as T. G. Clarkson, father of the famous base ball star drew the crimson and white banner to the top of the flagstaff. As the pennant reached the top of the pole the band, together with both teams, and the board of directors, who had gathered around the pole, struck up a lively march and thus mingled with the voices of thousands of people, Clarkson park was formerly dedicated.

    While the weather was cold and damp, remarkable good humor prevailed among the lovers of the national game, and megaphones, horns and many other ear racking devices were much in evidence.

    At 2:30 the grandstand and bleachers were crowded to the limit and even standing room as at a premium.

    The first ball was pitched by Major Eddie Evans, and he stepped into the pitchers box. Manager Herr handed him a brand new sphere. Judge Collins with mask and glove crouched behind the batter, Sheriff Kinney. The grim of determination on Kinney’s face gave the fans the impression that the ball was going to be planted. It was, too, not in the outfield but in the glove of Judge Collins. Sheriff Kinney is consoling himself today by the thought that if he had ever hit it the sphere would still be going.

    Cole and Newcomb were the choice of Herr, for the local battery, and although Cole did not win his game, he won his way into the hearts of the fans not only with his invincible smile but with his work as a slab artist.

    The sixth inning was the Waterloo for Herr’s men, the Foodists running in three scores with the material help of a misplay by Cole himself. Even after such hard luck, the men were not discouraged, but tried at every opportunity to score, bringing the fans to their feet time, and time again only to be disappointed again.

    Though they lost, the team looks good to the local fans and all were unanimous in declaring that Manager Herr has brought the best aggregation to Bay City that has ever stepped on local ball fields.

    Both pitchers were given excellent support, the field work being sensational at times. King and Cole contributed Bay City’s only errors, the former on an overthrow to home plate to save a score. Cole’s benders hung the foolish sign on the bats of the Battle Creekers as the number of strikeouts readily testify. Cole was touched for six hits and passed but one man.


    Henderson, the first man to bat, flew out to Sesenbach, and Traynor and Wenley fanned.

    McGraw came to bat for Bay City rapping a safe hit to left field. Senay followed with a sacrifice hit but was thrown out at first. Henderson was next up and was thrown out to first by Traynor.

    In the first of the second Steward struck out. Heringer followed with a long hit to center. Comstock was thrown out by Tierney at first, and Oberton was retired. In Bay City’s half of the second Tierney was advanced to first on a dead ball but was caught napping by the Foodists’ twirler. King fanned and Webster flew to first.

    Battle Creek in the third came the nearest to scoring of any time up to the sixth. With two men on bases, Henderson put a long drive into right field which was easy money for the Bay City captain and latter threw the ball back to home, the sphere there just in time to catch Rearden as he was about to touch the sack.

    Two men fanned and the third knocking a slow ground to short which the latter tossed over to first placed Bay City again on the field.

    In the first of the fourth, Wenley fanned. Stewart was put out by a long throw from Henderson to King. Hesbenger was thrown out at first by King for Bay City. Henderson flew out to Henderson of Battle Creek. Zwilling made a beautiful long drive to right field getting two bases. Tierney flew out to Oberton and King was retired.

    Comstock made second on a long drive to center in the first of the fifth. Oberton got out on a sacrifice, Rearden fanned and Freeland flied out to Sensy.

    Bay City came to bat in the fifth determined to score. Webster started with a long drive to right field, but Newcomb was put out on a sacrifice hit. Cole flew to Wenley and McGraw to Traynor.

    Now came the inning that defeated Bay City. Henderson got a long hit to right field and stole second; Traynor flew out to Zwilling, Henderson stole third and Wenley got a safe hit to left field and stole second. Stewart hit to center bringing in Henderson and Wenley and Stewart came home on a wild throw by Cole to Newcomb on Hebenger’s sacrifice. Comstock was thown out on first by Newcomb and Overton at first by Sensy.

    The scoring had now begun and Bay City was determined to have a hand in it. Sensenbach started the ball rolling by a clean drive to left field and stole second and third; Henderson followed with a straight to center and Tierney brought in both runs by a long hit to center but was put out at second while attempting to steel third. King was next up and fanned.

    In the seventh Reardon struck out, Freeland was caught out by Newcomb and Henderson fanned. For Bay City Webster got to base on balls, Newcomb sacrificed and was thrown out at first, Cole flew to Traynor and McGraw to Rearden.

    In the first of the eighth, Traynor flew out to Zwilling, Wenley by King to Webster and Stewart was caught out by McGraw.

    Bay City made a desperate effort to retrieve the game, but Sensy flew out to Oberton, and Henderson, followed with a long drive to right field getting two bases. Zwilling fanned and Tierney was caught out by Oberton.

    In the first of the ninth King received Hebenger’s hit and threw him out at first. Comstock was caught at first by liner to Tierney, and Oberton fanned.

    Bay City came to bat for the last time. Freeland threw out King at first, Webster was thrown out by Rearden and Newcomb flew to Hebenger.

    McGraw, lf401100
    Sensenbach, ss311320
    Henderson, rf412120
    Zwilling, cf401200
    Tierney, 2b301120
    King, 3b300031
    Webster, 1b301800
    Newcomb, c2001110
    Cole, p300021
    *Ries, 100000

    * Batted for King in ninth.

    Henderson, ss411110
    Traynor, 2b400620
    Weinberg, lf411100
    Stewart, rf412001
    Hessberger, cf401100
    Comastock, 1b401810
    Overton, 3b300310
    Reardon, c200740
    Freeland, p200020

    Battle Creek0000030003
    Bay City0000020002

    Two-base hits -- Zwilling, Henderson.
    Sacrifice hits -- Sensenbach, Newcomb, 2; Overton, Freeland.
    Stolen bases -- Henderson.
    Left on bases -- Bay City, 6; Battle Creek, 4.
    First base on errors -- Battle Creek, 1; Bay City, 1.
    Base on balls -- Freeland, 1; Cole, 1.
    Hit by pitcher -- By Freeland, 1; Cole, 1.
    Struck out -- By Cole, 9; Freeland, 6.
    Double play -- Henderson and Newcomb.
    Earned runs -- Bay City, 2.
    Time -- 1:45
    Umpire -- Clarkson

    Standing of the Clubs.

    Battle Creek32.600
    Bay City22.500

    Park destroyed by fire. - Contribute by Alan Flood, Oct., 2012.

    Bay City Times – March 25, 1927


    The grandstand at Clarkson park, the field where all league baseball games here were staged, was completely destroyed by fire late Thursday afternoon. It is thought the blaze was started by someone smoking in the stand, although no prove for this contention has been established. Insurance of $10,000 which was carried on te structure will not replace it, according to estimate of local contractors, who not long ago made examinations of the stands before certain repair work was started.

    Firemen were able to do little in the matter of saving the stand. The entire plant was enveloped in flames before the trucks arrived. The men played water on adjoining buildings to prevent further loss, then turned to the demolished stand. Persons in the neighborhood said that the flames were leaping many feet above the roof before the fire department had been notified.

    The stand was not quite 20 years old.

    In the fall of 1908 local baseball enthusiasts met at the Republic hotel to discuss the feeling locally, of placing a team in the Southern Michigan league. The meeting decided unanimously to accept the proposal. A committee consisting of W. J. Lambert, J. C. McCabe, Louis Garrison and the late Thomas Burton was appointed to negotiate for a site and start construction of a stand.

    On April 29, 1909 the Bay City Baseball Co., was organized with a capitalizatio0n of $8,000, all paid in by 74 individual stockholders who held stock certificates which were offered at $100 each. Before then, on January 10, 1909, the deal for the present site was consummated. It was thought that $5,000 would be sufficient money, but an additional $3,000 was necessary. In addition to that there had been lumber and materials worth about $3,000 donated.

    Opened In May, 1908.

    The stand was finally completed and the park placed in shape for the opening of the season early in May. The club, known then as the Bay City Cardinals, opened its home season on May 18 with 4,000 paid admissions. The fans had gathered to see the new park, the new team and to honor the late John G. Clarkson, of the greatest pitchers the major leagues ever had. He had pitched here years before and had established a wide reputation which ws made greater through his later showings in the big league. His widow, his father and his brother, Arthur, were present at the opening game when the park was name in honor of the former star. Arthur umpired the game which Battle Creek won over Eddie Herr's Bay City Cityans, 3 to 2, in 12 innings. The late “Hi” Cole pitched the game for the locals.

    The grandstand had a seating capacity of 1,500. It was repainted and repaired at the opening of the 1926 season.

    The question of rebuilding will be taken up within a few days when officials of the Bay City Baseball Co., owners of the park and stand, and the Bay City Baseball association, present operators of the franchise meet.

    Related Notes & Pages

    Location of Clarkson Park

    John G. Clarkson

    Clarkson played major league base ball, as it was spelled back then, in the 1880s-90s. He was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1963, nearly seventy years after he last played. His records, still rank him among the all time great pitchers of the game.
    Related Pages:
    Bio. John G. Clarkson
    Clarkson, Arthur (brother)
    Base Ball Briefs (1885)
    Bay City Cardinals, 1909
    {Sports Pictorial}
    People Referenced
    Anson, A.C.
    Burton, Thomas
    Clarkson, Arthur (Bro.)
    Clarkson, Ella M. (wife)
    Clarkson, T. G. (father)
    Collins, (Circuit Judge)
    Fox, "Tod"
    Garrison, Louis
    Kiester, Charles
    Kinney, (Sheriff)
    Lambert, W.J.
    McCabe, J.C.
    Rorke, Willy
    Shearer, F.E.
    Sweeney, (umpire)
    Stevens, Eddie (Mayor)

    Bay City ball club:
    Cole, Hi (pitcher)
    Henderson, (right field)
    Herr, Eddie (Mgr.)
    King, (third base)
    McGraw, (left field)
    Newcomb, Pat (catcher)
    Ries, (pinch hitter)
    Sensenbach, (short stop)
    Tierney, (second base)
    Webster, (first base)
    Zwilling, (center field)

    Battle Creek ball club:
    Comastock, (first base)
    Freeland, (pitcher)
    Henderson, (short stop)
    Hessberger, (center field)
    Overton, (third base)
    Reardon, (catcher)
    Stewart, (right field)
    Traynor, (second base)
    Weinberg, (left field)
    Subjects Referenced
    Battle Creek team
    Bay City Base Ball Co.
    Center ave., Bay City
    Detroit, MI
    Southern Michigan league
    White Eagle band
    Bay City Times Article
    Monday, May 17, 1909:

    Are the Preparations for the Dedication of Park.
    Arthur Clarkson Will Act as Umpire For the Series -- Regular "Umps" Sick.
    Preparations have been completed for the entertainment of both fans and visitors at the dedication of the new Clarkson park.

    The visitors began arriving early this morning. Preliminary to the game a parade took place in which city officials, members of both teams and visitors participated.

    Owing to the illness of Umpire Sweeny, at Battle Creek, Secretary Glass has obtained the services of Arthur Clarkson, brother of the late John G. Clarkson, Clarkson will undoubtedly prove to be a capable umpire, as he has had a number of years' experience in major league ball, playing with Detroit at one time.

    Great regret is being expressed at the inability of Mayor Breitmeyer to attend the opening as his offical duties compelled him to withdraw his promise to come to Bay City today.

    The players are in the best of condition, but are somewhat miffed at the unkindness of the weather.

    The game will be called at 3:30 sharp.
    Other Notes on Park
    Apr. 17, 1909:
    -- The Bay City club will use the facilities at the YMCA until the club houses are completed at Clarkson Park.
    -- New park diamond expected to be ready in about 10 days, though bleachers will not be completed.
    -- Team's red and white uniforms are expected to arrive in about a week.
    Apr. 19, 1909:
    Bay City team practicing at fairgrounds diamond as old league park is flooded.
    -- Old league park is believed to be in same area where the new Clarkson Park is being built.
    May 15, 1909:
    Bay City Eastern High played game against Saginaw Eastern High School at Clarkson Park.
    May 16, 1909:
    Team picture of new Bay City club appeared in the Bay City Tribune.
    WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.