J. Fred Johnson Stadium
Review by Gary
J. Fred Johnson Stadium is located on the campus of Dobyns-Bennett High School (DBHS) in Kingsport, Tennessee. Built circa 1938, this baseball field overlaps the high school gridiron, whose own grandstand and field houses were erected in the 1950’s.
The ballpark’s main seating is confined to a steep concrete grandstand behind home plate. The brick stands, dugouts, perimeter wall and clubhouse are all beige in color. A banner hanging on the clubhouse boasts that DBHS Indians own the most wins for a high school baseball team. (The sign did not mention how many losses they had.) Fans can also sit on sloped grass berms between the dugouts and the grandstand.
The roof over the home plate stands looks to have been added in the 1960’s and frames in this section nicely. Twenty-four rows of benches are part of the 5,000 seats advertised, which surely includes the massive stands for football games. Fans attending DBHS baseball games may choose to watch the game from the football stands which run further down the left field line and face the centerfield wall. Sweeping views of the Smoky Mountains off in the distance can be seen from the upper rows of either section of stands.
The Fieldturf ballfield sits nearest the high school with the back of one endzone tickling the edge of the left side of the “dirt” infield. A tall green wooden outfield wall ends just to the left of a raised centerfield wall to allow for the opposing team’s football sidelines. For baseball games, a makeshift left field fence connects this wall and runs along the near 40-yard line to enclose the ball yard.
J. Fred Johnson Stadium was home to minor league teams from its inception until 1994, including the Kingsport Cherokees, Dodgers, Orioles, Pirates, Royals, Braves and Mets. The Appalachian League’s Kingsport Mets departed for Hunter Wright Stadium, which is roughly five miles southwest of J. Fred, in 1995.
Whoever is in charge of maintaining this athletic facility has done a masterful job of keeping the vintage ballpark in place while incorporating the football field, whose own clubhouse and scoreboard lie at the other end of the ball field. Located on a main road through downtown Kingsport, J. Fred Stadium looks to be a cool place to catch a game of any sport.