One of America's best amateur baseball
facilities, Blair Field in Long Beach will once again be the home site
for 49er games. Blair Field is by Long Beach State under an extended lease from the City of Long Beach and
is in Recreation Park at the corner of 10th Street and Park Avenue.
Blair Field has been honored by Baseball America
as one of the top 15 collegiate ballparks in the nation.
Long Beach State baseball officially moved to the facility for the 1993 season. A $1.4 million renovation in 1992 and additional improvements in the past seven years make the stadium a prime spot for all baseball fans.
Recent improvements include 774 new box seats, located in the first five rows behind the Super Box seats, between the first and third base bags. In 2008, Long Beach State and the City also combined to build a new scoreboard with a full LCD color video screen and LED score displays.
The following items are prohibited from Blair Field - Food/Drinks, Bicycles/Skateboards/Rollerblades, Video Cameras/Flash Photography, Animals, Noise-Makers, Balloons, Drugs, Alcohol, Weapons and Heaters. Blair Field is a non-smoking facility - Please ask Event Management for the closest designated smoking areas.
Blair Field is named for Frank Blair, the first and only sports editor at the Long Beach Press-Telegram from 1921 until his death in 1953. Blair had been a vocal leader in the drive to build a new ballpark in Long Beach.
Before Blair Field was built, Recreation Park already was a baseball landmark. Opened in 1924, the 1,000-seat wooden grandstand would see the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Angels begin what would be more than 30 years of use. Future major leaguers from Bob Lemon and Jack Graham, to Ricky Bridges, Joe Amalfitano and Ron Fairly played at old Rec Park. Connie Mack's Athletics and barn storming teams with Joe DiMaggio, Bob Feller and Satchel Paige would all play there. In fact, the old field was so used that the City removed the worn grass field and created a completely skinned field in 1929.
Blair Field opened on Friday, April 11, 1958 with Poly High School pitcher Gordon Nelson throwing the first pitch to Huntington Beach High School shortstop John Daros. Poly would win the game 3-1 before less than 100 fans. Four days later, Long Beach State would defeat Long Beach City College 14-6 in the first collegiate game. Ironically, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants played their first "West Coast game" that same day.
In 1961, the Dodgers would play an exhibition game at Blair Field versus the Dallas-Ft. Worth Rangers before a still-record 6,250 fans. In 1966, the Chicago Cubs held spring training and played eight exhibition games at the ballpark. The Angels and Indians would play additional games in 1967. For 13 years, the Los Angeles Rams used the facility as their practice site, until their move to Anaheim.
The home of amateur baseball in Southern California, the stadium has been the home for five Moore League high schools, American Legion and Connie Mack baseball for 40 years. Hundred's of future professional players, including future major league all-stars Jeff Burroughs, Bobby Grich and Tony Gwynn, have played at the ballpark. Local legends like Ray McKinstry, Harry Brittan, Fred Strobel, Jack Caplinger, Red Meairs and Jack Graham have given a lifetime of service to the community's baseball youth over the decades.
In 1992, after years of decay and community outcry, the City invested $1.4 million in a complete stadium renovation. The three-phase project would take eight months to complete and included: new metal seats in place of the original wood benches; a new roof; a new backstop; new paint; and new Triple-A standard lighting. The most time consuming and costly work was a complete excavation, instillation of modern drainage and replacement of the playing field. Today, the Bermuda playing field at Blair Field is recognized as the finest collegiate field in the country.
Subsequent years have seen the City and Long Beach State cooperatively continue to upgrade the facility with a new batting cage, picnic area, improved locker rooms and sound system upgrade. The stadium's first-ever tarp arrived in time for El Nino in 1998 and last year 800 new box seats and a $300,000 scoreboard - custom designed to asthetically fit the old ballpark - were added. The City of Long Beach currently is working on long-term modernization plans to bring the stadium to 21st Century standards.
Thirty-six years after construction, Long Beach State became the stadium's first full-time baseball tenant in 1993. Starting with 753 fans at that home opener in 1993, 49er attendance has continued to build to 30,000 per season to rank in the NCAA top-25 total attendance list. The highlight of the new Blair Field came on April 26-28, 1996, when 8,035 fans attended the three-game series between the 49ers and Cal State Fullerton, including a single-game attendance record of 3,107 on Saturday the 27th.
In addition to LBSU and the five area high schools, Blair Field has been host of six MTV Rock & Jock softball games, four Area Code Game tournaments and has been the filming location for over 200 film, TV and commercial productions, including Space Jam, Mr. Baseball and Odd Couple II.
In 2003, Long Beach State hosted its first-ever
NCAA Regional at the park, drawing over 10,000 people to the four-team,
It is believed that more future major leaguers have played in high school, Legion, Connie Mack or collegiate games at Blair Field than any other field in the country.
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Freshman Jarren Duran was named to the All-Tournament team at the Coral Gables Regional. The 2B saw five of his six hits go for extra bases, with two doubles, two triples and his first career home run.
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LAST WEEK'S WINNER: Fatima Vergara, Women's Track & Field