Tag Archives: baseball history

Bisbee baseball autographs

A baseball fan posted photos of an autographed baseball he got from his parents who live in the Warren district of Bisbee. The cool thing is he’s got history in his hands. Someone else commented that there’s a lot of history in that signed ball. Indeed!

Next month Bisbee will hold the Copper City Classic Vintage Baseball Tournament. Looks fun!

For more info on Warren Ballpark, check out my previous post on Bisbee’s baseball history. Also, you can look at the Bisbee website for more info on where to stay and things to do while you’re in Bisbee.

Batter up!

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Warren Ballpark’s 100-year anniversary

If Mother Nature cooperates, baseball fans can celebrate a piece of history: the 100th birthday of Warren Ballpark, the oldest ballpark in the U.S.

Originally scheduled for July 5, the celebration was rained out. Festivities will begin Saturday, Aug. 1 at 2:30 p.m. and culminate with a game between the Bisbee Copper Kings and the El Paso Sun Kings.

Pete Vucurevich, a member of the 1947 Bisbee Yanks player, will throw out the first pitch. Vucurevich played for the team in 1947 when Charlie Metro was manager. The Yanks werea Class C farm team for the New York Yankees.

Schedule of Events:

2:30 P.M.         Warren Ballpark opens

3:30 P.M.         Barber Shop Quartet

4:30 P.M.         A Taste of the Bisbee Blue’s Festival

5:30 P.M.         Fort Huachuca 36th Army Band – John Phillip Sousa Marches
6:00 P.M.         Invocation – Reverend Caryl Larkins

First Pitch – Pete Vucurevich – Former Bisbee Kings Player

PLAY BALL! Bisbee Copper Kings vs. El Paso Sun Kings

Tickets are $10 and include a 100th Anniversary Warren Ball Park 1909 – 2009 Official Souvenir Program.  Pre-school aged children are free.

Commemorative hats and t-shirts will be available along with ballpark favorites, including hotdogs, cracker jacks, sodas, iced-cold beer and other goodies.

Bisbee is 90 miles southeast of Tucson. Check out the city of Bisbee’s tourism website for visitor information.

For baseball information visit www.friendsofwarrenballpark.com and www.bisbeecopperkings.com.

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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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Baseball history in Cochise County

It seems fitting that this baseball blog post comes after the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series last night. Yay, team (I used to live there, so I’m partial)!

Bisbee, Arizona has quite a bit of baseball history. Some of the game’s legendary players and managers either started their careers at Warren Ballpark or got some of their biggest breaks there. Some say Warren Ballpark is the oldest baseball stadium of its kind in the U.S.

The photo below is a team photo of the 1947 Bisbee Yanks, a Class C farm team for the New York Yankees. It was taken in the first base-side bleachers at Warren Ballpark in September 1947. Mike Anderson, a member of the Friends of Warren Ballpark, says it looks a lot like the kids who played for the Bisbee Copper Kings this year! He supplied the history about the players below.

Photo courtesy of Pete Vucurevich

Photo courtesy of Pete Vucurevich

Front row: left to right: Jim Wirt, Jim Bynon, Bud “Whitey” Howe, Charlie Metro, Bill Collins, Bullet Joe” Jose Valenzuela, Frank Finnegan

Middle Row: Jim Propst, Sam Kitterman, Eddie Hughes, Frank Lucchesi, Bob Holland, Pete Vucurevich, Bob Keeler

Top row: Jim Rude, Wayne Peterson, George Smith, Max Hittle, Clint Courtney

Charlie Metro was manager of the Yanks. It was his first manager’s job. He moved up the ranks to manage class B, A, AA and AAA ball, later managed the ’62 Chicago Cubs and the ’73 Kansas City Royals. He was a good friend of Billy Martin. Metro played for Connie Mack of the Philadelphia Athletics, the Detroit Tigers, Casey Stengel’s Oakland Oaks and the Seattle Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League prior to taking the Bisbee job. He is 90 years old and lives in Virginia with his wife.

Frank Lucchesi became, at age 23, the youngest manager in professional baseball in 1951. Like Metro, he worked his way up the managerial ladder, managed the Philadelphia Phillies in the 70s, the Chicago Cubs in the 80s and finally, the Texas Rangers. Frank is 83 and lives in Texas with his wife.

Clint “Scrap Iron” Courtney was a catcher (very briefly) for the New York Yankees, the St. Louis Browns, Baltimore Orioles, Washington Senators and Chicago White Sox. He also became a minor league manager, and at his death was manager of the Atlanta Braves’ AAA Richmond team. He and Billy Martin had a career-long feud that started when Courtney was with the Yanks and Martin was with the Phoenix Senators.

This photo is courtesy of Pete Vucurevich, who played for the Yanks in 1947 and the Bisbee Copper Kings in 1955. Between his Bisbee stints he played on minor league teams in Ventura, CA, Twin Falls, Idaho, Binghamton, NY and Norfolk, Va. He also played on several top-notch Navy teams from 1951-1954, including the Armed Services World Champion Los Alamitos Naval Air Station team team in 1954. His brother Dan played for the 1953 Copper Kings. Pete lives in Sierra Vista, Ariz. Dan lives in Bisbee, Ariz.

Pete says the Yanks’ uniform was the same as the Yankees – white with pinstripes but with a “B” instead of “NY.”

The historic Warren Ballpark in Bisbee, Arizona will be 100 years old in 2009. Check back for more info about events to be held July 5, 2009.


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