Baseball In Downtown, Devereux Meadow Meets Progress In Raleigh


Courtesy of the North Carolina State Archives

It’s no secret but most people don’t know about the stadium that once stood near downtown. That’s right, at one point in time, minor league sluggers were blasting home runs onto what would eventually become Capital Blvd. The ballpark once sat in the area highlighted in the map below and this is where I’d like to focus the conversation today.


Click image for wider view.

Raleigh’s Team
The Raleigh Capitals once played at Ballpark which was located along present day Peace Street between West Street and Capital Blvd. The stadium was built in 1938 and baseball had its up and downs here until the site was cleared in 1979. In the name of “progress”, the area was then used for city services, a parking lot for waste disposal vehicles really. I want to highlight two articles I found that mention the stadium meeting the wrecking ball, written around that time.

Sentiment Surrounds Wrecking Of Park – The Time-News June 27, 1979.

Wrecker’s Ball Puts End To Ballpark – The Tuscaloosa News June 27th, 1979.


Courtesy of the North Carolina State Archives

What is there now?
The area today contains few offices or very little of anything representing density or urbanity. The city has been using the lots for parking waste services trucks and other utility vehicles. A few businesses reside off West Street in “off the beaten path” office space with very little car and pedestrian traffic on West Street.

However, the more important resource in this area is the Pigeon House Branch Creek that snakes through the Devereux Meadow site and hides underneath certain streets in downtown. Here’s an excellent blog post tracking the through the site. Last I checked, the creek was on the state’s list of impaired waterways and the city is trying to remedy this. One example of a fix has been the water garden at nearby Fred Fletcher park. I bet most readers have driven or walked through this area and never knew that a creek was flowing underneath.

The Future
As far as I know, there are no plans for Devereux Meadow at this moment. Ideas of a river walk have come up but nothing has materialized from that. It’s all talk at this point but that allows the online peanut gallery here to dream up ideas for this large piece of property on the edge of downtown.

More on that later….

Comments

Very cool. I had no idea there was a ballpark there. I grew up in Charlotte and remember being heartbroken when they tore down Crockett park where the Charlotte O’s played. I know Dan Douglas has some visions for this area as well. See here:

http://www.indyweek.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid:403156

Great spot for a low-rise office complex that houses Police/Fire/Emergency Management headquarters as well as city government offices. We can call it the Gaylord Bonner Municipal Plaza!

What a shame that it was torn down… so MANY tragic stories of buildings lost during the 60s and 70s… and it seems most just were torn down to be parking lots. Wow, that’s great planning. I think a river walk could be a very neat idea. Line it with some independent shops and restaurants with riverfront seating, and a wide paved walkway on both sides of the river, lined by trees. Could be very cool and pretty, and a great draw to the area. Just sayin’ …

Wonderful post and thanks for the link! I attended many ball games here as a child and have nice memories of the games. I am looking forward to the “riverwalk” greenway planned by Pigeon House Branch in this area – but no hopes for restoring the ballpark, I fear.

[...] which disappeared over time, joining Isaac Hunter’s Tavern, Raleigh Municipal Airport, and Devereaux Meadows ballpark in obscurity. This has been a recurring theme in Raleigh’s history, sadly [...]

I watched the Raleigh Caps and the Cardinals play baseball there as a child. Broughton High School’s football team used Devereux Meadow as their home field and so did Sanderson High School until Sanderson’s football stadium was completed in 1971. I lived in Italy from 1979-1981 and was shocked and saddened when I returned and drove by the site and saw garbage trucks and other city vehicles parked there.

I watched many baseball games at Devereux Meadow in my youth, but the place was worn out by 1979. It wasn’t worth spending $$$$ of public money to save. While it may be sad to lose something from the past, not everything can and should be saved. It served the purpose for which it was built, lived out its life, and now it is gone.

[...] The Raleigh Riverwalk is a proposed project that would develop the Pigeon House Branch Creek and drainage system into a tourist destination. If completed, the Riverwalk would run through downtown adjacent to Devereux Meadows, home to Raleigh’s very own former minor league baseball team- the Raleigh Capitals. [...]

I was lucky enough to see several games there. The Raleigh/Durham Triangles’ home field- affiliate of the Houston Astros, I believe
.
I was also fortunate enough to play there on several occasions with the Cary Legion Baseball team in 76-77. It was fun place to play gave you that major league feel. Also played at the Durham Athletic Park before it was shut down. Lots of great memories in both of those places!

My Daddy used to carry me to the ballgames there, much like we took our children to Durham, thanks for the great memory.

It was a hot Day in late July, 1952. The Cap’s were playing Fayetteville in the Meadow and the starting pitcher for the Cap’s had just been made a father of a brand new baby boy a few days earlier. To celebrate, he hit three home runs, a single and a double, won 15-2 and tied Muscle Shoals record of three homers in one game. His name was Al Cleary, I was the baby boy.

I still have the bat used, broken in batting practice, the next day. It is old now and many of the signatures are hard to read. One that stands out though is “Crash Davis”.

I forgot to mention. Two records were tied that day 7/27/52
3 homers in one game (record tied)

Total bases, one game -15
record tied Al Cleary, Muscle Shoals

Info taken from the 1953 Carolina league record book
Most valuable player 1952 Leonard Matarazzo on the cover
I have tons of memorabilia and stories, such as when Cleary faced Jackie Robinson In Minnisota in ’41? Robinson did not get on base. BTW.

I am assuming much of this info exists nowhere else, at leat I have not seen it.

Bryan, that’s an awesome story. There aren’t any team statistics saved anywhere? What was the name of the league that the Capitals played in?

Wow..that is amazing thank you for that bit of reasearch.. What Deveolpers can do Is get the photos of the Once Stadium and try to rebuild it,Creating a Stadium/River Walk in the area.”Ding”…there is your Destination spot. I’m sure that Parking and other Venues can be sorted out,But that would be a new addition to Downtown Raleigh. A pleasent Riverwalk where folks can lounge and gather together,A Stadium,where you can just Walk to the game or a short drive downtown rather than Drive all the way to Zebulon to watch the MudCats Play,hence saving gas to get there..There is just not enough Creative thinking to look at the big Picture. I hope that Someone see my Comment and Pass Along this bit of info to City Leaders and Developers and give it some serious consideration.

remember when the raleigh cardinals played there in the 60′s

In the day, when one Mr. Brock owned the baseball team, my father was the ticket taker. One night they had a Shetland pony give away. By chance, my sister won. Lady behind us caught wind of my father’s vocation, and protested the fix was in. The funny thing being, was that my father had 5 kids and worked two jobs to support them. It wasn’t like he wanted to add a Shetland Pony to mix. I am sure he was relieved.

[...] located on the area bounded by North West Street, Peace Street and Capital Boulevard, was once a minor league baseball field?  Today the area, where development is limited by the fact that it sits on a flood plain, is used [...]

[...] area on the northwest corner of Peace Street and Capital Blvd was once a baseball stadium, and until recently the home of the City’s Solid Waste Services Department.  The adjacent West [...]

[...] reminded me of the Leo Suarez look back at the old ball park from two years ago. RALEIGH — An expanse of land just north of downtown moved closer to a [...]

What a great place that was, my dad work for Mr. Brock, so I spent my summers at the park. I ended up being the bat boy and would shag fly balls with the team when they took batting practice before each game. A lot of great players played there eventually making it to the majors. It was sad to see it go

I played 2nd base for the Raleigh Caps in a 1958 exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox led by Ted Williams,Jimmy Piersall,Frank Malzone and Willard Nixon.If I recall there were about 7 to 8 thousand people in attendance and I remember Jimmy Piersall leading a high school band with his bat for entertainment prior to the start of the game.Piersall also hit a home run over the leftfield fence into the hiway off our pitcher Russ Halloran.The Red Sox won the game,can’t remember the score.Ted Williams only batted in the 1st inning and lined a single past me into right center.After this game we returned to Ocala,Fl to resume spring training.After a successful season for the Corning Red Sox I returned to finish out the 1958 Carolina League with the Caps and experienced another memorable event when I hit a home run over the rightfield fence at Devereux Meadow in my 1st at bat against Wilson,NC.In 1959 after an injury in spring training and a knee operation I returned to Raleigh for 2 weeks of rehab before being sent to Corning where I only played a few games.In 1960 I returned to play for the Caps and had an outstanding season.In 1961 I got hit in the face by a thrown ball in spring training while playing for AAA Seattle,Rainers in Deland,Fl and suffered broken bones and a concussion.I ended up playing in A ball with Johnstown,PA of the Eastern League.I finished my baseball career in 1962 playing for the Winston Salem Redsox.During my minor league career I really enjoyed playing in Raleigh as Devereux Meadow was always a well maintained field and we had at least 300 loyal fans to support us every home game.Long live the memory of Raleigh Caps Basball at Devereux Meadow.By the way,just as a side note my sports career in baseball ended in 1962 but it evolved later on into Major ASA fastpitch softball with the nationally famous Raybestos Cardinals of Stratford,CT.In 2009 I was inducted into the National ASA Fastpitch Hall of Fame.If anyone reading this has a box score and news related articles of the 1958 Caps vs the Boston Redsox please e-mail me.I tried the local newspapers with no luck.

[...] The “early 70s” detail was to connect “The Ginger Kid”‘s Raleigh baseball team to the defunct Raleigh team, the Raleigh-Durham Triangles, that folded in 1971.  I placed the Capitals in downtown Raleigh, but I didn’t specify a site; I suppose they could have played on the site of the old ballpark at Devereux Meadow. [...]

i too saw the Cardinals play an ehibition doubleheader at the meadow; stan musial played just the first game,but i think that was standard; i believe i saw robin roberts pitch as well; then i think i played some games there as a youth, but i wouldn’t put money on that memory;
but i would, on the night my brother gave me some ex-lax as “candy”, which after much pondering, caused our dad to decide i should stay home instead of going there for the game with them!

funny, i don’t remember any remorse shown for that act!

The heck with the Durham Bulls. Pay the annul fee, build the Mudcats a new stadium in downtown Raleigh!!!
Next to new Mudcats stadium, build a new PNC arena
This city moves to slow, they have built only two real high rises in 22 year. Buid these two stadiums downtown!

This would be the true destination for downtown. Parks are not destinations, you go downtown for entertainment and if your near the park, you stroll through it, no more, no less (our city council: what Dix)

I remember playing for The Dr. Pepper Wildcats, The Raleigh all=star Pee wees, Martin Jr. High there against Daniels. If memory serves me, we lost that game, but I had always enjoyed the history of the Meadows. I graduated from SHS in 1976, and left for college. By the time I returned, the Meadow was gone which broke my heart. I couldn’t believe that the city destroyed such a historic place, but I have hope that perhaps they will build a new Devereux Meadow at that location for the middle schools and high schools to play in along with Semi pro baseball.

WOW !!!! How about this !!!!!! I played in the same game Al Yeager mentioned against the parent club. Got a single that day against Dave Sisler. Al, Peirsall also hit the homerun as the leadoff hitter in that game. I also played in Corning, NY. Then the Raleigh Cap in 1960, went to Allentown in July of that year in the Eastern League. Played third base. After an arm injury the following spring, I returned to play second base in the NY Mets Org. in Devereau Meadow. Loved playing there !! I lived in Raleigh for 21 years. Played fast pitch softball @ Red Diamond over next to NC State. WOW, I could go on ! Good memories. Hey, Al. If you see this, please contact me. Love to talk to you. God bless you, man. Your old teammate, Jim

I played in the Carolina League in 1967 for Rocky Mount Leafs. I hit a Natural cycle and played in the Carolina Allstar game there that year. Sorry to see it demolished as it will forever hold precious memories to my past. Baseball in Raleigh should be a heritage. We should never forget those great baseball years that took place there. Bob shifty Gear

[…] canopy and our beloved cityscape from above.  Suggested spots for towers around downtown include Devereux Meadows, Dix Park and St. […]

Leave a comment

(required)

(required)


Blog Post Topics