Review by Gary
Newman Park is located off Interstate 85 in North Carolina halfway between Winston-Salem and Charlotte. If you are a fan of historic and vintage ballparks, you may want to venture 30 minutes to the north and check out the seemingly undisturbed 1930’s era Holt-Moffitt Field in Lexington. That’s because Newman Park went through a major refurbishment in 2022 courtesy of its longtime inhabitants, Catawba College.
First built in 1924 and renovated in 1934, the last professional team played at Newman in 1968. The college seems to have removed any vestige of the memories of the South Atlantic League or Tar Heel League clubs who played here for many years since 1937. Today, only the ghosts of teams like the ’68 Salisbury Senators remain, but they wouldn’t recognize the place.
From the outside, there is little to indicate that you are at a playing field of any kind. The vintage roofed grandstand has been torn down and a tall wooden wall envelopes the field while a nondescript two-story brick building serving as the press box and ticket booth behind first base.
Inside, the lack of a raised grandstand is striking as it was knocked down during reconstruction. A replacement main seating area seems to be in the works as part of the second phase of the remodel. In July 2022, temporary metal bench bleachers sit on the newly poured concrete behind home plate. Sheets of old turf from either this field or perhaps the football field next door are strewn down each line’s “concourse” like huge playing cards dealt to form uneven walking areas to get to picnic tables and the clubhouse in the right field corner.
On the field, instead of natural grass, the new artificial playing surface looks like a traditional baseball diamond, complete with rows of “mowed” lines on the fake turf. Warning tracks look like dirt, but a closer look will reveal that the entire playing field is artificial. The turf is the same material some Major League teams use, which is interestingly composed of coconut fiber. In addition to the new turf, Newman Park also installed new field lighting, larger dugouts and some new bleachers down the left field line.
On the whole, Newman Park will eventually end up looking like nothing resembling the original 3,000 seat ballfield that was here nearly 100 years ago. Sadly, what is on this plot of land today is just a modern-day green-walled college field and nothing a fan of vintage ballparks needs to warrant exiting the highway.