Work to raze the Memorial Stadium began in earnest Monday, but cranes and a wrecking ball won’t tear into the ballpark until next week.
The demolition brings an end to the stadium’s 16-year life along Coliseum Boulevard and the St. Joseph River. The stadium helped bring minor league baseball to Fort Wayne but is no longer needed now that the TinCaps have moved into Parkview Field downtown.
Tonight was the last game we’ll ever see the Fort Wayne Wizards take the home field in Fort Wayne. It was also likely the last professional baseball game we’ll ever see played in Memorial Stadium; which is slated to be demolished in 2009 shortly after the yet-to-be-named Fort Wayne team takes the field for the inaugural season at the ballpark at Harrison Square.
The stadium first fielded Wizards in 1993 as an affiliate of the Minnesota Twins organization. Future Twins, such as Torii Hunter, LaTroy Hawkins, Matt Lawton, Luis Rivas and Michael Cuddyer broke in their gloves while playing in the Summit City. In 1999, the Wizards became affiliates of the San Diego Padres. Since that time, future Friars like Sean Burroughs, Jake Peavy, Josh Barfield, Chase Headley and others kicked up dirt at Memorial Stadium. To date, 69 former Wizards players have made it to the Major Leagues – with many others sure to follow. And, for you trivia fans out there, here’s some:
The last out in Memorial Stadium history was made by Danny Payne at 10:03PM Eastern.
Former Norwell High School standout and Silverhawks prospect, Jarrod Parker dominated the Wizards through five innings of one hit ball. The Wizards offense came alive immediately after his departure . . . too bad they were already down 17 to 0.
The last game at Memorial Stadium took place the same night that Major League Baseball first instituted instant replay availability.
Dinger the Dragon faced off against former Wizard’ mascot, Wayne the Wizard in the Mascot Race. You would think one would finally win. Nope. They tied and therefore they both lost. Amazing.
Olympian Gold Medalist, Lloy Ball threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
My family came home with eleven softy balls, one Memorial Stadium replica and two bags of free potato chips.
And now, there is little else to do but turn our attention to the Major Leagues as the playoff races take shape. By early September, we may know the new name of the team and quite possibly have the opportunity to purchase (or receive) the new branded merchandise by the holiday season. And who knows, maybe I’ll publish another book during Spring Training! These are all some small milestones to help us endure another winter where following the Arizona Fall League just doesn’t quite cut it.
Oh, and there’s always this little vignette for Memorial Stadium that I put together. I’ll post a photo gallery tomorrow night.
It’s been a wonderful year. Thank you to the Wizards for keeping us entertained and providing me with the opportunity to take batting practice at Memorial Stadium, view an occasional game from the best seats in the house and so much more. To all those I have met and met up with at the Castle, I hope to see you downtown next season. I’m already looking forward to helping kick off a new era in Fort Wayne baseball history on Opening Day at Harrison Square.
The last major piece of steel was put into place today at a topping off ceremony. Members of the City Council, the Redevelopment Commission, Barry Real Estate, the Fort Wayne Wizards and the Northeast Indiana community were on hand for the occasion that saw many signatures and messages inscribed on the beam before being raised to is final location on the left side of the stadium’s entrance.
“Today is an achievement in the revitalization of the heart of our city,” said Mayor Henry. “The topping off marks an important point in the construction of the Harrison Square ballpark, just like Harrison Square marks an important point in making downtown Fort Wayne a great place to live, work and play.”