Jack Williams Stadium
Review by Mike
Nestled in a public park in Fargo, North Dakota, pressed right up against Minnesota, is a little gem of a ballpark that feels as though it was grown organically from the park in which it resides. Jack Williams Stadium is so close to Minnesota, that a long home run to left field, getting a favorable bounce on the cycling path beyond the fence, could clear the Red River and land in that neighboring state.
Built in 1966 and primarily home to American Legion baseball, the ballpark did see professional action in 1996 when the Fargo-Moorehead RedHawks took up residence to start the season while awaiting completion of Newman Outdoor Field.
The thing that immediately strikes you about the park is that it looks like, well… a park. Meticulous landscaping throughout the grounds provides beauty and tranquility. Flowers and winding walkways lead down the right field line, protected from the sun by tall, lush shade trees. As you continue your stroll you come across bleacher seating that is built right into the grass berm. The long benches, with backrests, extend to the foul pole, under the trees, so that you sit on the bench, your feet in the grass, shaded from the sun. I’ve not seen anything like it at a ballpark.
The main grandstand has seating from 1st to 3rd, with a walkway at the top. Additional bleacher seating is available on the 3rd base side and extended bleachers stretch a little farther past 1st base. Behind home plate is a large press box with a concession stand underneath. It is here, amongst the flowers that you will find a banner paying tribute to Fargo’s most famous son, Roger Maris.
The facility is immaculate and every bit the equal, or superior, of many Short Season or Collegiate Summer League ballparks I’ve visited. However, this ballpark is devoted to American Legion baseball, it’s brief dalliance with the RedHawks notwithstanding. Between hosting local teams, regional and national tournaments, the field can see as many as 100 games played just in July and August, a true testament to the commitment of the community and the groundskeeping staff, which, on the day I visited, included the players, who grabbed rakes and sandbags and prepared the field for the next game at the conclusion of their own.
Of the two ballparks I visited in Fargo, I would choose Jack Williams as the more comfortable and bucolic setting for a baseball game. Maybe next time I’ll bring my glove, get a canoe and paddle around the Red River waiting for a big fly to left…