Baseball history in Bisbee, Arizona

Are you a baseball fan interested in its Arizona roots? If you’re on your way to watch some Cactus League action (or are here now), you might want to consider a road trip to Bisbee, Arizona.

It’s here at the 100-year-old Warren Ballpark that history was made. Baseball legends John McGraw, Connie Mack and Charlie Comiskey brought their teams to play here. Today, the Bisbee Copper Kings ball club, a member of the Pacific Southwest Baseball League, makes Warren its home field.

Can’t make it in March? Come back in July for the first annual Copper Kings Invitational Baseball tournament and the Warren Ballpark’s centennial celebration. See the latest list of events for Bisbee’s Fourth of July weekend for more information.

Trying to topple the Bisbee Copper Kings will be the Phoenix/Mesa Garden of Gears, the Tucson Nationals, the Casa Grande Cotton Kings, the Denver Cougars and the El Paso Texans. Another team will join them to round out the tourney. There will be eight teams and 15 games, hot dogs, beer and team memorabilia.

If you want to make plans to come to the tournament, it pays to plan ahead. July Fourth weekend is busy in Bisbee, so make your reservations early.

Many baseball legends managed or played on the Bisbee field. Major league managers and players who saw action at Warren Ballpark include Billy Martin, Charlie Metro, Frank Lucchesi, Clint Courtney and Earl Wilson among others. More than 20 major league players and managers started their careers or came back to manage at Warren Ball Park. See my earlier post with a picture of the 1947 Bisbee Yanks.

So, why not plan a trip down?

Here are a few facts about the historic Warren Ballpark:

  1. It was constructed by the Warren Company, a subsidiary of the Calumet and Arizona Mining Company.
  2. Original cost: $3,600.
  3. The field provided recreation and entertainment for copper miners and the townspeople of Bisbee.
  4. Originally scheduled for June 26, 1909, opening day was postponed due to a rain-out. The following day, the “Bisbee Beautiful” team hosted and defeated a visiting squad from El Paso.
  5. In the 1920s, some of the outlaw players who were caught up in the 1919 World Series “Black Sox” scandal played on the Warren Ballpark field, but were not on the Bisbee team. These “outlaw” players were from visiting teams.
  6. The Bisbee team’s refusal to sign blacklisted players was one of the reasons why they became one of the first minor league teams in the Arizona-Texas League.
  7. Major league teams regularly played exhibition games at Warren Ballpark in the 1910s, 20s, 30s and 40s. Teams that played here included the Chicago Cubs, White Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Giants, Cleveland Indians and Philadelphia Athletics.
  8. Bert Shepard pitched for the 1941 Bisbee Bees before joining the Army Air Forces and becoming a fighter pilot. He returned from a German POW camp to become the only man to play on an artificial leg in major league baseball.

The company that funded the ballpark’s construction, Calumet and Arizona, was one of the three biggest copper producers in the area at the time. Today, there’s an inn named after it: The Calumet & Arizona Guest House. It’s within walking distance from the ballpark.

Warren Ballpark circa 1910

Warren Ballpark circa 1910

Warren Ballpark 2008

Warren Ballpark 2008

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10 Comments

Filed under Events, History, Things to do, Travel

10 responses to “Baseball history in Bisbee, Arizona

  1. Great post! Where did the 1910 photo come from? I know we have some photos of Warren Ballpark in the exhibit, but this one is quite nice!

  2. tourcochisecounty

    Thanks for your comment! Sorry it took me so long to respond… the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum supplied the photo of Warren Ballpark for us! They’re involved in the efforts to celebrate Bisbee’s baseball history.

  3. Eric

    I’m very curious to learn more about the history of baseball in not only Bisbee but Arizona as a whole. Do you know of resources I could find for that (especially baseball’s beginnings in the state)? Thanks.

  4. tourcochisecounty

    Thanks for your comment, Eric. I’ll put you in touch with the organizers of the Bisbee Copper Kings’ tournament. They are very well connected.

  5. Pingback: Bisbee baseball autographs « Tour Cochise County

  6. The post on the Warren ballpark and the history of baseball in Bisbee was fabulous. I grew up practically next door to Warren Ballpark. And yet until a few years ago, I was largely unaware of the importance of Warren Ballparks historic past. In the last few years, I have had the pleasure of photographing both the Copper Kings, Bisbee’s semi pro team and the vintage base ball games staged by the Arizona Territories Base Ball League. During this time, I have also had the honor of photographing Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords throwing out the first ball at a Copper Kings game and Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik doing the same at a recent vintage base ball tournament. At my website elkinsphotos.com, folks can view my web gallery page featuring a photo essay on vintage base ball as played in Bisbee at the Warren Ballpark. LARRY ELKINS ELKINSPHOTOS PHOTOGRAPHY .

  7. Harvey Polk

    In 1961 Buena High (Sierra Vista) played Douglas High on this baseball field. Hollis Phillips pictched for Douglas who were the Class “A” State Champions. Wes Rhea pitched for Buena. At the end of regulation play (7 innings) it was tied 0-0. It went 9 innings and Douglas won 1-0 on a throwing error and a single, their second hit of the game. The Tucson Daily Star read as follows: “Wes Rhea with 19 strikeouts was not quite a match for Phillips who had 6.” Now that’s a mouthful. Douglas got their 1st hit with two away in the 8th. I had two hits off Phillips including a double, Buena’s total was 4 hits. Phillips went on to pitch for the U of A and Rhea was drafted by the Yankees, but only played in the minors. hp

  8. tourcochisecounty

    Thanks for the story about the game, Harvey. It’s nice to hear from a player!

  9. Terry Larkin

    My grandfather, Frank Larkin, lived in Bisbee, worked in the mines, and played baseball for the Bisbee Bees sometime in the 1920′s. I wonder of there are any baseball records of any games that far back? He passed away in 1998.

  10. tourcochisecounty

    Hi Terry,
    Thanks for your e-mail. I’m going to refer you to the Friends of Warren Ballpark in Bisbee. they are working to restore the park and have gathered lots of history on the men who once played on the field there. You can visit their website at http://www.friendsofwarrenballpark.com/. I’ll forward your comments to Mike Anderson, who is involved in the ballpark.
    Take care!
    Luanne Mattson

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