West End Park Historical Marker

Published 10:21 am Thursday, October 27, 2016

Doug Patterson, who was drafted by Baltimore, left, and Andre Robertson, who played for the Yankees, unveiled the West End Park Historical Marker on Sunday at the West Orange –Stark Middle School. Both played on the baseball fields built for the St. Louis Cardinals Spring Training in 1901. West End Park, a baseball field with wooden grandstands, was an institution in Orange, Texas, for nearly 80 years. The baseball park was originally constructed to draw a professional baseball team to the city for spring training. The St. Louis Cardinals spent a month in Orange during 1921 and 1922 for spring training. During those two years, managers and players at appearing at West End Park included Baseball Hall of Fame inductees Branch Rickey, Rogers Hornsby and Connie Mack. The first Commissioner of Baseball, Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, who is also in the Hall of Fame, visited the city and watched a game from the grandstands. Another famous player at West End Park was Cardinal George “Specs” Toporcer, who is credited with being the first professional baseball player to wear eyeglasses during games. The Cardinals team arrived in Orange at the end of February and took the field for the first practice on February 28. “Half a dozen balls were in play, pitchers warmed up and others kept the cinder path hot,” reported the Orange Daily Leader. “Manager Rickey was on the field watching every man, every miscue, making such suggestions and giving much directions as he saw fit. Workmen were busy putting the finishing touches on the batting cages, the location of which was slightly changed since the arrival of Rickey.” The practice was supposed to be private, but that didn’t stop fans, young and old, from getting a look. “The fence around the park was dotted with men and boys perched in small groups of two or three who appeared highly pleased with the situation, regardless of their most uncomfortable seating facilities,” the Leader reporter wrote.