Ray Winder Field
Little Rock, AR
Review by Gary
Ray Winder Field was the longtime home of the Arkansas Travelers of the Texas League. Built in 1932 as Traveler Field, the ballpark was renamed after a part-time owner who started with the club as a ticket seller and would be involved with the team for over 60 years. On a number of occasions, Winder would single-handedly keep minor league baseball in Little Rock.
In the 1940’s, the field also hosted a number of barnstorming Negro League games. Ray Winder Field boasted large wooden seats and metal bleachers down both base lines. The section down the right field line was once reserved for African-Americans, but on a day with a large crowd, the bleachers were integrated.
The Travs’ ballpark held about 6,000 fans and featured a press box that was actually suspended from the roof eave above the fans behind home plate. A Jurassic Park-like 60-foot steel fence, known as the Screen Monster, stood high above the outfield wall from center to right field to keep home run balls from landing on the interstate just beyond, as well as keeping Tyrannosaurus Rexes from entering without a ticket.
The 1996 season was not a memorable one for the Travelers as they would finish in the cellar, but they would defeat the visiting Tulsa Drillers on the day I attended by an impressive 11-1 score. The ball club departed Ray Winder Field after the 2006 season and ‘traveled’ to their new stadium in North Little Rock. The classic ballpark sat abandoned for years and was finally demolished in 2012 to make room for a University of Arkansas parking lot. As a nice tribute to the old yard, the new parking lot is laid out in long arcs over the footprint of the field and the scoreboard, nicely refurbished, still stands in it’s original location in left-center field.
Ray Winder Field was a cool ballpark with nothing but general admission seating to catch the “The Greatest Game on Dirt”, as the locals lovingly called their Travelers.