Fort Myers, FL
Review by Gary
The Terry Park Baseball Complex has a storied history of professional baseball. Dozens of Hall of Famers have played here since the 1920’s. This Fort Myers installation is anchored by Park T. Pigott Memorial Stadium. A local baseball enthusiast and government administrator, Pigott was instrumental in bringing the Pittsburgh Pirates (1955-1968) and later the Kansas City Royals (1969-1987) to Terry Park for their spring training homes. The first professional team to call the ballfield on these grounds “home” was the 1914 Louisville Colonels, a minor league baseball team that spent three weeks here weeks for their spring training.
In order to lure the Philadelphia Athletics here from their spring training abode in Montgomery, Alabama, team owner and manager Connie Mack was invited to design a ballpark to his own specifications. Mack accepted and the original wooden grandstand he designed seated 1,500. The stadium was completed in time for spring training in 1925 and the A’s trained at Terry Park from 1925 to 1936.
In 1943, the grandstand was destroyed by a fire after the Cleveland Indians spent the two previous seasons here. The next grandstand was not built until 1955, constructed of steel and concrete. In 2004, this grandstand was heavily damaged by a hurricane, deemed unsafe, and demolished. The current grandstand opened in 2005 and, while some of the 1955 girders remained, the latest structure bears little resemblance to the historic grandstand it replaced.
The Royals left Pigott Memorial after the 1987 season and were the last MLB team to call this venerable ground home. The last professional baseball team to play its home games here were the Fort Myers Sun Sox (1989-1990) of the short lived Senior Professional Baseball Association. Today, over 100 teams travel to Terry Park in February and March for the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic.
The main stadium and the three adjoining practice fields are immaculate and in superb condition. The main grandstand has individual seats in the front rows while bleachers are found in the rows further back. All these seats are under the majestic roof that rises overhead. The practice fields are named after three Hall of Famers (Connie Mack, George Brett, and Roberto Clemente) who one graced the grounds at Terry Park. Three tall banners sit behind plexiglass under the grandstand to memorialize all the HOFers who played here. If you are in Fort Myers, be sure to stop by this wonderful ballpark and breathe in the history.