Colonial Heights, VA
Review by Gary
Records of baseball played on the footprint of Shepherd Stadium in Colonial Heights, Virginia dates back to the 1800s. According to local lore, the ballpark was constructed in an area known to turn-of-the-century residents as “‘Horse Heaven’ due to the fact that for many years dead horses and mules were buried here.”
Shepherd Stadium was constructed in 1948 and, as far as organized baseball here is concerned, the earliest tenants were the Petersburg Goobers (yes, they even had weird team names in the 1880s!), who played at least one of their final seasons at the stadium in 1951. The Goobers played in the area under various names from 1885 to 1954.
The Colonial Heights-Petersburg Generals played one season of Class “C” Virginia League Baseball here. The Petersburg Generals had been a charter franchise of the Virginia League, which disbanded after the 1951 season. In 1954, the transplanted Richmond Colts, a new club in the Class B Piedmont League, played one season at Shepherd Stadium. John Vander Meer managed the team, but was better known for pitching back-to-back no hitters for the Cincinnati Reds.
In the 1960s, American Legion Baseball began play at Shepherd Stadium and continues to this day. The stadium’s newest resident will be the 2021 Tri-City Chili Peppers of the collegiate Coastal Plain League. Renovated in 2018, the brick exterior of Shepherd Stadium has been updated. The original press box that was once on the roof had long ago been relocated along the first base side at the corner of the stands. The only sign of the original press box is a single steel ladder still in place at the back of the grandstand.
Craig Skalak, the Director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, shared some great info about the latest upgrades to Shepherd Stadium for the upcoming season. While the concrete grandstand is original, the seats under it are newer. Picnic tables along the right field line and smaller, movable grandstands down the left filed line offer a great variety of viewing options.
Craig says there has been talk of advertising on the water tower that stands on city property just beyond the RF fence. This water tank is the stadium’s most unique feature and is prime for some great marketing (perhaps a baseball sitting in an open glove or “Hit the Tower, Get a Free Bottle of Water!”). Thanks to Craig for his great hospitality.
Shepherd Stadium is yet another shining example of a vintage 20th century ballpark that’s enjoying a renaissance through collegiate league baseball and its potential future major league stars.