Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Labatt Memorial Park

 Hello Friends!

I've had this topic in my head for a while now but was having difficulty sitting down to write. 

Today I'm going to go over the history of Laball Park in London, Ontario. 

Labatt Park, formerly known as Tecumseh Park, is a ballpark in London, Ontario. The grounds have been in use for baseball since 1877, though the structures have changed some over the years. It's in the Guiness Book as the Oldest Baseball Grounds. 

London, Ontario, as with London, England, has the River Thames. Labatt Park is on the banks of the Thames. Prior to the ballpark being built, the area was used as a common grounds or training grounds for the military. 

The first tenants were the London Tecumsehs, who were founded in 1868. In 1877 the Tecumsehs won the International Association pennant. Unlike other leagues from the time period, the IA has never been granted Major League status. Had this happened, the London Tecumsehs would have been the first Canadian team to win a Baseball championship in the Majors. 

In 1883 the park was damaged by flood. The original Home plate was in current Left Field. After being rebuilt, the plate was moved to current placement. Another flood occurred in 1937, after which the Labatt Brewing Company donated $10000 to renovate the park and deeded the park to the city of London. The conditions of the deed stated the park remain an athletic park in perpetuity and be renamed "John Labatt Memorial Park"

This illustration is of an 1877 game between the Tecumsehs and the Guelph Maple Leafs.

Labatt Park in the 1940s. 

Some of the players who have played on this field include George Gibson, Denny McLain, Ty Cobb, Fergie Jenkins, Frank Colman, Tom Burgess, Travis Fryman, Jose Lima, and Rico Brogna. 

Baseball hasn't been the only sport here. Bicycle racing, football, softball, soccer, track, wrestling, boxing, and showjumping. The area has also been used for rallies. 

This is the current entrance

After the 1937 flood, the park was rebuilt with this entrance. The structure was demolished in 1990. 

Tecumseh Park. In a current photo, you'd see buildings in Left-Centre. 

Now.. Are you ready to see the list of teams that played here???

I may do this a little different because of the way the teams were named and how long they lasted..

London Tecumsehs:
International Association 1877-1878, 1888-1890
Canadian League 1912-1915
Michigan Ontario League 1919-1924
Ontario League 1930

London Alerts: International Association 1897, 1899

London Cockneys: 
International League 1899, 1908
Canadian League 1911

London Indians: Michigan Ontario League 1925
London Majors: Intercounty Baseball League 1925-Present
London Pirates: PONY League 1940-1941
London Tigers: Eastern League 1989-1993
London Werewolves: Frontier League 1999-2001
London Monarchs: Canadian Baseball League 2003
Western Mustangs Baseball 2006-Present
London Rippers:  Frontier League 2012

This park is obviously a Heritage Building both in London and for the country. The original clubhouse from 1937 is still on the grounds and can be visited during tours of the park. 

The pro game has probably passed London by now. The park will continue to be used as the home for the IBL, Western University, and local athletics. I'm thinking there may be enough here for multiple cards when I get around to making cards for this place. 

I know this and my last Ballpark featured have been departures from what I started with, but I feel that the parks used in the Intercounty League can be just as interesting as the ones in the Majors/Minors. 


1 comment:

  1. Informative post. Those are some big names who have played at that park.