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Cardines Field

Cardines Field

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Cardines Field, "a small urban gem of a ballpark" is a baseball
Baseball
Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. The aim is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four bases arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot diamond...

 stadium located at 20 America’s Cup Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island
Newport, Rhode Island
Newport is a city on Aquidneck Island in Newport County, Rhode Island, United States, about south of Providence. Known as a New England summer resort and for the famous Newport Mansions, it is the home of Salve Regina University and Naval Station Newport which houses the United States Naval War...

. It is believed to be one of the oldest ballparks
Baseball park
A baseball park, also known as a baseball stadium, ball park, or ballpark is a venue where baseball is played. It consists of the playing field and the surrounding spectator seating...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The field serves as a buffer between the residential and commercial sections of an older part of Newport. The oddly shaped outfield fence and dimensions are created by the close proximity of residential housing, while the spectator side of the park is contained by America's Cup Avenue
Route 238 (Rhode Island)
Route 238 is a numbered state highway running in Newport, Rhode Island.-Route:Route 238 is a spur from Route 138 providing access to Goat Island in Newport. It begins at the intersection of the Newport Bridge Access Road and J.T. Connell Highway, and runs south along J.T. Connell Highway,...

 and West Marlborough Street. Originally called Basin Field, references to the field can be found as early as 1893. At that time, the property was used by local railroads
Rail transport
Rail transport is a means of conveyance of passengers and goods by way of wheeled vehicles running on rail tracks. In contrast to road transport, where vehicles merely run on a prepared surface, rail vehicles are also directionally guided by the tracks they run on...

 as a drainage and supply basin for steam engines. Complaints from neighbors about the stagnant water and mosquitoes
Mosquito
Mosquitoes are members of a family of nematocerid flies: the Culicidae . The word Mosquito is from the Spanish and Portuguese for little fly...

 prompted the drainage of the basin area, permitting baseball to be played. A local historical debate continues as to whether baseball was played prior to 1900, making Cardines one of the oldest existing ballparks in the country, or if play didn't begin until 1908, the earliest documented proof of stadium
Stadium
A modern stadium is a place or venue for outdoor sports, concerts, or other events and consists of a field or stage either partly or completely surrounded by a structure designed to allow spectators to stand or sit and view the event.)Pausanias noted that for about half a century the only event...

 construction.

The Basin Field ballpark was later renamed for Bernardo Cardines, a Newport baseball player who was Newport's first citizen to die in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. Today, the ballpark continues to be the home of the historic Sunset League
George Donnelly Sunset League
The George Donnelly Sunset League plays its games at Cardines Field in Newport, Rhode Island. Play began in 1919 when the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad gave permission to a group of its employees to establish the Sunset League. The Sunset League is so named because games begin at 5:30...

, as well as the Newport Gulls
Newport Gulls
The Newport Gulls are a wooden-bat, summer collegiate baseball team based in Newport, Rhode Island. The Newport Gulls Baseball Club is a member of both the New England Collegiate Baseball League and the NECBL's East Division. From 2001 to the present, the Gulls have played at Cardines...

 of the New England Collegiate Baseball League
New England Collegiate Baseball League
The New England Collegiate Baseball League is a 12-team collegiate summer baseball league founded in 1993 and sanctioned by the NCAA and Major League Baseball. Each NECBL team plays an eight-week, 42-game schedule during June and July, with a playoff in early August...

.

History


Built for unofficial sandlot baseball games by railroad workers from the adjacent Old Colony Division of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Line
Old Colony Railroad
The Old Colony Railroad was a major railroad system, mainly covering southeastern Massachusetts and parts of Rhode Island. It operated from 1845 to 1893. Old Colony trains ran from Boston to points such as Plymouth, Fall River, New Bedford, Newport, Providence, Fitchburg, Lowell and Cape Cod...

, the field hosted many barnstorming all-stars, including Negro League teams like the Baltimore Elite Giants
Baltimore Elite Giants
The Baltimore Elite Giants were a professional baseball team that played in the Negro leagues from to . The team was established by Thomas T. Wilson, in Nashville, Tennessee as the semi-pro Nashville Standard Giants on March 26, 1920. The team was renamed the Elite Giants in , and would move to...

, Boston Royal Giants
Boston Royal Giants
Boston Royal Giants was a Negro League baseball team in Boston. The team was also known as the Boston Giants, Quaker Giants, Philadelphia Giants and Boston Colored Giants. The Royal Giants served as a farm team of sorts for the league...

 and the New York Black Yankees
New York Black Yankees
The New York Black Yankees was a professional baseball team based in New York City, Paterson, NJ, and Rochester, NY which played in the Negro National League from 1936 to 1948. The Black Yankees played in Paterson, New Jersey from 1933-1937 and then from 1939-1945. The 1938 season saw the Black...

. Satchel Paige
Satchel Paige
Leroy Robert "Satchel" Paige was an American baseball player whose pitching in the Negro leagues and in Major League Baseball made him a legend in his own lifetime...

 once played at Cardines. The original backstop dates back to as early as 1908, when the city organized its first six-team league at the park.

Cardines Field is a smaller cousin of other notable ballparks of that era, such as Ebbets Field
Ebbets Field
Ebbets Field was a Major League Baseball park located in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, New York, USA, on a city block which is now considered to be part of the Crown Heights neighborhood. It was the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers of the National League. It was also a venue for professional football...

, Fenway Park
Fenway Park
Fenway Park is a baseball park near Kenmore Square in Boston, Massachusetts. Located at 4 Yawkey Way, it has served as the home ballpark of the Boston Red Sox baseball club since it opened in 1912, and is the oldest Major League Baseball stadium currently in use. It is one of two "classic"...

 and Wrigley Field
Wrigley Field
Wrigley Field is a baseball stadium in Chicago, Illinois, United States that has served as the home ballpark of the Chicago Cubs since 1916. It was built in 1914 as Weeghman Park for the Chicago Federal League baseball team, the Chicago Whales...

, with a stone facade and wooden bleachers with unique outfield angles. The exterior's elliptical arches reflect the facade of the original Yankee Stadium.

In 1936, the city of Newport took over ownership. Stone and concrete bleachers were built along the third-base line by the Works Progress Administration
Works Progress Administration
The Works Progress Administration was the largest and most ambitious New Deal agency, employing millions of unskilled workers to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads, and operated large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects...

 (WPA) in 1936-1937. The plaque at the entrance that reads "1937" refers to this date. The current grandstand was built by the WPA
Works Progress Administration
The Works Progress Administration was the largest and most ambitious New Deal agency, employing millions of unskilled workers to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads, and operated large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects...

 following the devastating hurricane of 1938. The distinctive curving grandstand section behind home plate was built in 1939. Over the coming decades, the park continued to grow through construction projects to increase capacity, eventually creating the patchwork, overlapping stadium seen today.

During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, many former professional ball players were stationed at Naval Station Newport
Naval Station Newport
The Naval Station Newport is a United States Navy base located in the towns of Newport and Middletown, Rhode Island. Naval Station Newport is home to the Naval War College and the Naval Justice School...

. Many of these players, including Yogi Berra
Yogi Berra
Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra is a former American Major League Baseball catcher, outfielder, and manager. He played almost his entire 19-year baseball career for the New York Yankees...

, Phil Rizzuto
Phil Rizzuto
Philip Francis Rizzuto , nicknamed "The Scooter", was an American Major League Baseball shortstop. He spent his entire 13-year baseball career for the New York Yankees...

, and Bob Feller
Bob Feller
On December 8, 1941, Feller enlisted in the Navy, volunteering immediately for combat service, becoming the first Major League Baseball player to do so following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7. Feller served as Gun Captain aboard the USS Alabama, and missed four seasons during his service...

 participated in Newport's George Donnelly Sunset League
George Donnelly Sunset League
The George Donnelly Sunset League plays its games at Cardines Field in Newport, Rhode Island. Play began in 1919 when the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad gave permission to a group of its employees to establish the Sunset League. The Sunset League is so named because games begin at 5:30...

, an amateur league formed in 1919. Wednesday night all-star games drew thousands and required construction of temporary bleachers in the outfield. The Sunset League was named because games began at 5:30 p.m. and ended at dusk, prior to the addition of lights at the park. It is the oldest continuous amateur baseball league in the country. With black players such as Larry Doby
Larry Doby
Lawrence Eugene "Larry" Doby was an American professional baseball player in the Negro leagues and Major League Baseball....

 and Luke Easter
Luke Easter (baseball player)
Luscious Luke Easter was a professional baseball player in Major League Baseball and the Negro leagues. He batted left-handed, threw right-handed, was 6'4", and weighed 240 lb. The birth year listed here is drawn from census data...

, the Sunset League was integrated several years before Jackie Robinson
Jackie Robinson
Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson was the first black Major League Baseball player of the modern era. Robinson broke the baseball color line when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947...

 joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. The league continues today as key chapter of Cardines' history.

Current Tenants


The Sunset League
George Donnelly Sunset League
The George Donnelly Sunset League plays its games at Cardines Field in Newport, Rhode Island. Play began in 1919 when the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad gave permission to a group of its employees to establish the Sunset League. The Sunset League is so named because games begin at 5:30...

 still plays a full schedule throughout the summer, though the park's lighting system now permits games to go well beyond dusk. The field is home to baseball games for Rogers High School
Rogers High School (Newport, Rhode Island)
Rogers High School is the only public high school in Newport, Rhode Island.-History:The school was founded by educator William Sanford Rogers in 1873 and was named for him. The original Rogers High School building was on Church Street. The school moved to a building Broadway in 1905 and the old...

, Newport's Babe Ruth League, the historic Sunset League, Newport's American Legion
American Legion
The American Legion is a mutual-aid organization of veterans of the United States armed forces chartered by the United States Congress. It was founded to benefit those veterans who served during a wartime period as defined by Congress...

 team, Salve Regina University
Salve Regina University
Salve Regina University is a university in Newport, Rhode Island. Founded by the Sisters of Mercy, the university is a Catholic, co-educational, private, non-profit institution chartered by the State of Rhode Island in 1934. In 1947 the university acquired Ochre Court and welcomed its first class...

, Naval Academy Preparatory School
Naval Academy Preparatory School
The Naval Academy Preparatory School, or NAPS is the preparatory school for the United States Naval Academy. NAPS is located on a hill at Naval Station Newport, RI. The mission of the school is "To enhance Midshipman Candidates' moral, mental, and physical foundations to prepare them for success...

 and the Newport Gulls
Newport Gulls
The Newport Gulls are a wooden-bat, summer collegiate baseball team based in Newport, Rhode Island. The Newport Gulls Baseball Club is a member of both the New England Collegiate Baseball League and the NECBL's East Division. From 2001 to the present, the Gulls have played at Cardines...

 of the New England Collegiate Baseball League
New England Collegiate Baseball League
The New England Collegiate Baseball League is a 12-team collegiate summer baseball league founded in 1993 and sanctioned by the NCAA and Major League Baseball. Each NECBL team plays an eight-week, 42-game schedule during June and July, with a playoff in early August...

. In the January 18, 2004 edition of Baseball America
Baseball America
Baseball America is a magazine which covers baseball at every level, with a particular focus on up-and-coming players in high school, college, Japan, and the minor leagues. It is currently published in the form of a bi-weekly newspaper, five annual reference book titles, a weekly podcast, and a...

, Cardines Field was chosen as one of the top five locations in America to play college summer baseball, in response to the jump in reputation the Gulls brought to the park.

Newport Gulls Era



While most teams playing at Cardines average attendance in the dozens or, at most, a few hundred per game, the Newport Gulls
Newport Gulls
The Newport Gulls are a wooden-bat, summer collegiate baseball team based in Newport, Rhode Island. The Newport Gulls Baseball Club is a member of both the New England Collegiate Baseball League and the NECBL's East Division. From 2001 to the present, the Gulls have played at Cardines...

, since moving to Newport in 2001
2001 NECBL season
The 2001 NECBL season was the eighth season of the New England Collegiate Baseball League. The league expanded to ten franchises with the addition of a second New Hampshire franchise, the Concord Quarry Dogs of Concord, New Hampshire. Also, the league's West Warwick, Rhode Island franchise...

, have helped to bring the field back to its former glory days of the mid-twentieth century, attracting thousands of fans every night. During the 2004 season
2004 NECBL season
The 2004 NECBL season was the 11th season in the history of the New England Collegiate Baseball League. The league's Middletown, Connecticut franchise, the Middletown Giants, moved to Holyoke, Massachusetts and became the Holyoke Giants...

 alone, the Gulls attracted over 50,000 fans through just 26 home games, with sellout crowds in excess of 3,000 people. Following the 2006 season
2006 NECBL season
The 2006 NECBL season was the thirteenth season of the New England Collegiate Baseball League. The league's Lowell, Massachusetts franchise, the Mill City All-Americans, was renamed and became the Lowell All-Americans....

, the Gulls set a team and 2006 league record for regular season home attendance, totaling 42,424 after 21 games.http://www.necbl.com/2006webstats/ng.htm

Renovation


Renovation work began in 2000 with funds from a matching $500,000 grant from the state Department of Environmental Management and the formation of the Friends of Cardines Field Foundation. In recent years, the grandstands, concession operation, and bathrooms have been renovated as part of the project, along with the addition of a state-of-the-art field lighting system. The winter of 2005 - 2006 saw the entire outfield and infield replaced among other improvements, including the addition of a fully functional drainage system and new outfield fence, all at the cost of an additional half million dollars.http://www.eastbayri.com/story/318548899310862.php

The Newport Gulls also have necessitated the expansion of concession equipment, in addition to the renovation of a team office, storage rooms, souvenir stand, ticket booth, scoreboard, and public address system, much of which has been covered by the ongoing restoration project led by the city's Parks and Recreation Department, the Gulls former ownership, and Roger Williams University
Roger Williams University
Roger Williams University, commonly abbreviated as RWU, is a private, coeducational American liberal arts university located on in Bristol, Rhode Island, above Mt. Hope Bay. Founded in 1956, it was named for theologian and Rhode Island cofounder Roger Williams...

Professor Staats. The most recent improvements have been to upgrade the stadium's broadcasting abilities, with the addition of high speed Internet and phone lines, camera positions, and a control room below the pressbox for use by the Tigers TV Crew, the volunteer production crew who work with the Gulls to produce games.

The park today has changed drastically in upkeep and appearance from that of the recent past. As early as a decade ago, some in the city of Newport had proposed for a then dilapidated Cardines Field to be demolished in order to expand parking in the cramped downtown area, a mere block in each direction from the waterfront to the West, commercial and tourist center to the South, and world famous historical district to the East.

Future projects at Cardines include: concluding outfield fence replacement via a state grant, widening and lengthening of the hockey-style side-by-side dugouts, the additions of a locker room and an umpire's room, and further restoration of bleachers, framework, trim, and other facets. The removal of a large, rundown private warehouse which makes up the right field fouline has been discussed for some time, though no official plans have been announced.

External links