Tinker Field

Orlando, FL

Review by Mike

Tinker Field was the home of the Orlando Rays of the Southern League. The Rays were the AA affiliate of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. By the time I got to Tinker Field, the Orlando Rays had already moved on, playing their home games at Champion Stadium beginning in the 2000 season. From all appearances, it looks like I missed an awfully nice little ballpark. Originally opened in 1923, the grandstand in these photos was built in 1963.

Tinker Field, Orlando, FL

The defining feature of this stadium was obvious from a mile away; the gigantic concrete hulk of the the Citrus Bowl football stadium which appeared to be on the verge of crushing little Tinker Field. The big bully was so close (how close was it?) that the distance to the gap in right center field was a paltry 350 feet. The right field wall practically leaned against the big stadium's support pillars.

Tinker Field, Orlando, FL
Tinker Field, Orlando, FL

When finally you were able to wrench your eyes away from Goliath looming to right, the David upon which its shadow was cast was a charming example of mid-century minor league ballpark construction. A solid grandstand with mostly fixed-back seats wrapped from 1st base around to 3rd. A partial roof covered about one third of the seats and likely provided sufficient shade for the rest. The press box at the top of the seating bowl was open and directly behind the last row. And, best of all, "ceiling" fans hung all along the front edge of the roof. This is something I had never seen at a ballpark. I can't imagine it would help much on a sweltering Central Florida evening, but you have to admire the effort.

A little misdirection with the Citrus Bowl security guard allowed me to get up to the press level of the big football stadium for the "arial" shot. The concourse was behind the seating area and it looked like it had a sufficient number of windows to serve a park of its size. In a startling contrast to the Incredible Hulk beyond right field, the view beyond the 3rd base stands featured residential housing. I never saw a game there, but I would have liked to. The stadium was finally demolished in 2015 and a nice memorial plaza was erected on the site.

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2000

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