Stan Galle Field – Spring Hill College Badgers

by | Mar 22, 2019 | Matt Colville, NCAA Baseball | 0 comments

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Back in Time at Stan Galle Field

Spring Hill College is a small, Catholic, Jesuit, liberal arts college located in Mobile, Alabama. The College opened its doors in 1830 with an enrollment of only 30 students. Today the College has about 1,400 students and is the oldest institute of higher learning in the state of Alabama. In addition, it is one of the oldest colleges in the south, and is the fifth oldest Catholic college in the U.S.

In 2013 the Spring Hill Badgers began the transition to NCAA Division II; the school previously competed in the NAIA Gulf Coast Athletic Conference, but in 2014 the Badgers joined the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) to compete full time.

The Badgers compete at Historic Stan Galle Field – nicknamed “The Pit,” it opened in 1889 and is believed to currently be the oldest continuously used baseball park in the country. Although it officially opened in 1889, baseball was believed to be played on The Pit dating back to the 1860s. In fact, in 1864 two Cuban students from Spring Hill returned to Cuba and introduced the game to the island after they learned of it while playing at The Pit. The two students established the Cuban National Baseball team and are recognized as the fathers of Cuban baseball.

The field is named after Stan Galle, who had a stint with the Washington Senators in 1942 and was a long time coach for the Badgers from 1956 until his retirement in the mid-1980s. Notable former baseball players for the Badgers who have gone to the Big Leagues include former Cubs GM and current Yankees assistant Jim Hendry, as well as former pitcher Blake Stein, who had a brief career for the A’s (98-99) and Royals (99-02).

Food and Beverage   0

There are no permanent stands open, although fans are free to bring food and drinks into the seating area. Alcoholic beverages are allowed as well, and I saw many students and fans with beers in their hands walking along the first base concourse (more on that later).

Atmosphere   3

One of the things that makes Stan Galle Field feel so special is that it truly is a throwback to ballparks of the past – the stadium, if you want to call it that, remains virtually unchanged. The Lucy Administration Building, a 3-story structure that opened in 1890 is used to house the University’s main offices. The imposing structure extends from home plate down the entire first baseline to right field. There is a small concourse that extends down that line, which has quite a festive atmosphere with fans grilling and drinking all right there on the concourse. The first baseline is covered with ivy and that adds a nice touch to the historic stadium. Also, the field faces the southwest, with the historic buildings on campus providing a beautiful backdrop to the field.

The field has a few rare features – it lacks a real back stop, as a six-foot wall serves as the field’s backdrop. There is also no netting along the stands next to the administration building. Another unique feature is the lights; where most stadiums would have their light towers set up outside the stadium, here the light towers are located along the foul line, meaning they are in play as they stand in foul territory. Lights were also only installed in 2002, so prior to then every game here was played during the day.

If you’re used to going to baseball games with lots of frills, entertainment, or amenities then you have come to the wrong place. There is a small bleacher-style grandstand for visiting fans set up behind home plate on the left field side, while on the home side there is no seating, but plenty of fans set up lawn chairs outside the entrance to the Lucy Administration Building, which also doubles as the makeshift “concourse.” There is one basic scoreboard in left field, and there is also a table set up behind home plate that represents the press box and the location from which music is played between innings. There is no PA announcer as well, all of which most of the time would be enough to downgrade the venue, but at Historic Stan Galle Field things are kept simple and it works here.

Neighborhood   3

The Spring Hill College campus is located on Dauphin Street to the west of downtown Mobile in a residential area. Along the way on Dauphin Street are many historical antebellum homes, with many available for touring. In terms of restaurants or attractions there are none within walking distance of the campus. However, you are a few miles west of downtown Mobile and downtown has plenty of restaurants and nightlife option worth checking out. Just take Dauphin Street east a few miles and you’ll run into downtown, finding everything you’ll need.

Fans   4

Fans showed up in droves to the most recent game I attended – there was a large mix of alumni and students lining the right field concourse. In right field just beyond the outfield is the Stonisch Baseball Fieldhouse; the first floor is used for the team’s facilities and lockers rooms while the upper deck is rented out to groups to watch the game on the balcony overlooking right field. Many students tailgate around the Fieldhouse drinking, playing corn hole, and grilling, so it was definitely a festive atmosphere with no ushers or staff working the game, leaving fans free to roam around the grounds wherever they want. It is kind of a rowdy atmosphere, one you wouldn’t find at a regular D2 baseball game. At Spring Hill, a baseball game is the thing to do on weekends with many of the students showing up to support the Badgers.

Fans definitely show their pride when coming to games and you don’t get the vibe that most fans are here because they are family members of the team. You can tell that many of these fans have been coming to games here for generations, with a mix of older folks and young children. At Stan Galle Field it’s almost like a party with a baseball game being played in the background.

Access   4

Finding the campus of Spring Hill College shouldn’t be a problem as the campus is located right off the interstate. If traveling from the north and south I-65 will be your best bet, as the campus sits just off the Dauphin Street exit to the west of the Interstate. There really is only one entrance into the college and that is from the south on Dauphin Street, with a golf course you’ll have to pass on the winding road into campus.

Once on campus the field itself can be difficult to find as it sits nestled among some buildings. However, the campus is small enough that you should be able to find it. I also recommend getting there early and spending some time walking around campus. Many of the buildings date back to the 1800s, and it really is an impressive site and an absolutely beautiful southern campus.

Return on Investment   3

There is no parking fee, no tickets, and no concessions, but you are free to bring your own food and drinks into the stadium. And you can’t beat getting to see a true hidden gem of a stadium and a beautiful college campus; all you have to do is spend the gas to drive here.

Extras   4

The field has had Major League teams play on it, as the 1910 Chicago Cubs played Spring Hill in a Spring Training game. The Badgers came up just short in the rain-shortened exhibition game as the Cubs won 4-1 in 5 innings. However, this would not be the last professional game at The Pit, as the venue would host the Cincinnati Reds three years later with the Reds winning 11-3.

Eleven years later perhaps The Pit’s greatest historical feat would be accomplished as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and several Yankees players visited Mobile. While in town the players made it a point to stop off at the college and take batting practice with the baseball team.

Another extra for the town of Mobile having a very rich and storied baseball history in its own right – the town of a little less than 200,000 people is the birthplace of five players who have been enshrined in Cooperstown, which places it as the birthplace of more Hall of Famers than any other city in the world besides New York and Los Angeles. Hank Aaron, Satchel Paige, Willie McCovey, Ozzie Smith, and Billy Williams were all born and grew up playing on baseball fields around Mobile. Hank Aaron’s boyhood home has even been converted into a museum and moved to the parking lot of Hank Aaron Stadium, home of the Mobile Baybears, a few miles down the road.

Another extra for the campus of Spring Hill College itself. Very little has changed since the days of the Civil War and this campus reflects that very much with its beautiful buildings on campus. Get to campus early and take a stroll down Avenue of the Oaks; it is a stretch of campus with lively oaks stretched over the road, providing almost a canopy as you drive down the street.

Final Thoughts

Historic Stan Galle is truly a hidden gem of a ballpark and one that I recommend a visit to if in the area just for its scenic beauty alone. Walking the concourse at The Pit is like stepping back in time, it’s like watching a baseball game from the 20s. Baseball purists will be in heaven with a trip to “The Pit.”

  

 

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Stadium Info

Historic Stan Galle Field
Ave of The Oaks
Mobile, AL 36608

Spring Hill College Badgers website

Historic Stan Galle Field website

Year Opened: 1889

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