Post Banner Image
History

5 of America’s Oldest Baseball Stadiums

By Bennett Kleinman
Read time: 6 minutes

After gaining widespread popularity in the U.S. in the 1830s, baseball has since become America’s favorite pastime. In the early days, baseball games often took place in wide-open fields rather than the 50,000-seat stadiums that are common today. But that began to change in 1862 — when Union Grounds opened in Brooklyn, New York, and became the first baseball field surrounded by an enclosed fence. Though that stadium was demolished in the 1880s, it paved the way for future ballparks of its kind. Several ballparks from the early 1900s are still in use today, making them fascinating tourist destinations for sports fans, architecture lovers, and history buffs alike. Here are five of the oldest extant baseball stadiums in the U.S. 

Jackie Robinson Ballpark – Daytona Beach, Florida

Ticket booth and entrance gate to Jackie Robinson Ballpark in Daytona Beach, Florida
Credit: MPM Images/ Alamy Stock Photo

Daytona Beach’s Jackie Robinson Ballpark — opened on June 4, 1914 — is the oldest Minor League ballpark that still hosts games on a full-time basis. The stadium was known as Daytona City Island Ballpark from 1914 until 1989, when it was renamed after trailblazing baseball player Jackie Robinson, who famously broke the Major League color barrier in 1947. A year before that, the stadium hosted the first integrated spring training game on March 17, 1946, when the Brooklyn Dodgers took on the Montreal Royals, for whom Robinson played at the time. 

The park began hosting Minor League baseball games on a regular basis in 1920, and it has served as the home base for many Spring Training camps over the years. Like any historic baseball stadium, Jackie Robinson Ballpark has undergone substantial renovations since opening. For instance, an HD scoreboard was added next to the old manually-operated scoreboard. The park — added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998 — has served as home of the Daytona Tortugas (the Single-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds) since 2015.

Wrigley Field – Chicago, Illinois

Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois, with iconic sign "Home of the Chicago Cubs"
Credit: Jeffrey Phelps/ MLB via Getty Images 

Though it’s now synonymous with the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field was originally the home of a team that played in the now-defunct Federal League. When it was built in 1914, the stadium was called Weeghman Park, after owner Charles H. Weeghman. It hosted its first baseball game on April 23, 1914, in which the Chicago Federals defeated Kansas City by a score of 9-1.

After the Federal League folded following the 1915 season, the Chicago Cubs of the National League moved from nearby West Side Park to Weeghman Park — where they’ve remained ever since. The Cubs played their first game at the stadium on April 20, 1916, defeating the Cincinnati Reds. It was renamed Cubs Park four years later, and in 1926, the name was changed to Wrigley Field after new team owner William Wrigley Jr.

The stadium underwent significant renovations in 1937 that included the construction of outfield bleachers and a new scoreboard, the latter of which remains intact today. During renovations, ivy vines were also strung along the outfield wall, and they remain one of the most iconic visual aspects of Wrigley Field. Though lush greenery covers a brick wall hidden underneath, it occasionally poses a headache for outfielders when a ball gets lost in the vines. 

For decades, Wrigley Field was only able to host daytime games, until overhead lights were finally installed in 1988. The first night game in Wrigley Field history took place on August 8 of that year, though the game was called after just three-and-a-half innings due to rain. In recent years, Wrigley has once again undergone substantial renovations — including expanding the bleachers in 2005 and adding a 75-foot-tall LED scoreboard in 2012 — while retaining its historic charm. Fans can also take in a game from atop one of the Wrigleyville rooftops located directly across the street from the ballpark.

Fenway Park – Boston, Massachusetts

Overview of Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts, from upper level seats
Credit: Kathryn Riley via Getty Images Sport

Opened on April 20, 1912, Fenway Park is the oldest Major League Baseball stadium that’s still in use. During its century-plus of existence, the stadium has served as the home of the Boston Red Sox, in addition to a brief stint as the home of MLB’s Boston Braves from 1914 to 1915. Fenway Park isn’t just the oldest stadium in the MLB, but it’s also the oldest venue in any of the Big Four sports leagues (the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB). Fenway has hosted 31 World Series games — only the original Yankee Stadium and the former Polo Grounds in New York have hosted more.

Fenway is known for several distinct visual elements that make it stand out from other ballparks. First, there’s the Green Monster, a 37-foot-tall wall in left field that earned its nickname in 1947 after receiving a fresh coat of green paint. The Green Monster is more than just an imposing obstacle for hitters, but also an exhilarating experience for the 274 fans who are lucky enough to sit on top (seats were added prior to the 2003 season). Out in right field, you may notice a single red-painted seat in the bleachers. In 1946, slugger Ted Williams purportedly hit a 502-foot-long home run that bopped a sleeping fan right on the head sitting in that very chair.

Rickwood Field – Birmingham, Alabama

View of Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama, from behind home plate
Credit: UniversalImagesGroup/ Universal Images Group via Getty Images 

In 1910, Birmingham businessman Rick Woodward set out to build a state-of-the-art minor league ballpark for the local Coal Barons baseball team. He modeled the stadium after Forbes Field, the former home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Opening day at Rickwood Field on August 18, 1910, was such an event within the local community that the entire city was closed for business so that fans could attend the festivities. In the decades that followed, Rickwood Field welcomed record-setting crowds to cheer on legends such as Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, and Negro League star Artie Wilson — the last professional ballplayer to hit .400 in a single season.

Rickwood Field was a full-time Minor League baseball stadium until 1987, when the Birmingham Barons moved to a more modern field nearby. However, the stadium continues to host special baseball games each year including the annual Rickwood Classic, when the Barons return to their old home and wear vintage jerseys to honor the park’s storied history. In 2010, Rickwood Field became the first U.S. ballpark to reach 100 years of operation. 2024 is another special year at Rickwood Field, as Major League Baseball plans to host a special regular season contest on June 20, 2024, between the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants.

Cardines Field – Newport, Rhode Island

Person standing at intersection beside Cardines Field in Newport, Rhode Island
Credit: Darryl Brooks/ Alamy Stock Photo

Cardines Field in Newport, Rhode Island, is widely considered the oldest baseball stadium in the United States. Baseball was a popular sport in Newport as far back as the 1890s, leading to the development of a dedicated ballpark in 1908. This new stadium was originally named Basin Field, as it opened atop a former basin that supplied water to steamships The ballpark hosted its first game on May 25, 1908. 

The stadium was temporarily shut down because hard-hit baseballs led to many broken windows in nearby houses, though Basin Field reopened in 1918 and implemented an insurance policy for those incidents. At the time, games started at 5:30 pm and ended at sunset if the game wasn’t yet complete.

The park was later renamed after Bernardo Cardines, the first Newport resident to be killed in the line of duty during World War I. In 1936, the city purchased the stadium and later installed a curved grandstand section that still sits behind home plate today. During World War II, many future MLB Hall of Famers — including Yogi Berra and Bob Feller — played games at Cardines Field while stationed at the local naval base. The stadium underwent renovations in the 2000s and welcomed the collegiate-level Newport Gulls as their home team in 2001. The team continues to play home games at Cardines Field from June to August every year.

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Email

Featured Stories

5 of the Most Lavish Hotel Breakfasts in the U.S.

Tips

What the Data Says About the Best Times to Book Flights

Tips

What Is Airplane Mode — and Why Do You Need to Use It While Flying?

Tips

Here’s What You Should Clean Yourself When You Check Into a Hotel Room

Tips