Faced with the continued deterioration of a classic ballpark, residents of Spartanburg marshaled their resources and raised funds to renovate Duncan Park, a classic minor-league ballpark. We visited this ballpark when it hosted summer-collegiate ball and was pretty much falling down.
Year Opened: 1926
Dimensions: 315L, 365LC, 375C, 365RC, 315R
Playing Surface: Grass
Parking: There’s a free lot next to the ballpark, with additional street parking.
Address/Directions: 81 W. Duncan Park Dr., Spartanburg. Park Drive is off SC-56 (Union Street), which runs southeast-northwest through Spartanburg. From downtown Spartanburg, take SC-56 southeast until you hit Duncan Park Drive. You’ll hang a right and immediately hit a T; take the street to the right and continue until you reach the ballpark.
We visited Duncan Park Stadium in 2006 when it still the home of the Coastal Plain League’s Spartanburg Stingers. Since then the Stingers moved to Forest City, N.C., and the ballpark has been renovated.
It is hard not to visit Spartanburg’s Duncan Park Stadium and not be a little miffed at the ballpark’s trustees in the city government. They’ve let a wooden gem literally rot away, as years of official neglect have finally caught up with a grand old ballpark, slated to be closed at the end of the season. First opened in 1928, Duncan Park Stadium hosted the likes of Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio in exhibition games and Ryne Sandburg as a minor-league player, as well as countless American Legion and textile-league teams over the decades. In the recent past Duncan Park Stadium has served as the home of the Spartanburg Stingers (summer collegiate; Coastal Plain League). It achieves the historical accuracy and ambiance retro-ballpark designers can only dream of achieving.
Duncan Park Stadium is typical of ballparks of its era. The focal point is a large wooden grandstand with a roof supported with steel trusses, topped by a small press box. We’re guessing the box-seat dividers were original to the ballpark, and we’re also guessing many of the old-fashioned green wooden seats were original to the ballpark as well. (Some also came from Shibe Park when it closed.) Down each line are bleachers, mostly in pretty bad shape. (We must note, however, that the curvature of the camera lens makes the grandstand look warped when it’s not. Keep that in mind.)
The ballpark is located on the edge of a bucolic city park — Duncan Park, as you might guess — and tucked onto the side of a hill. Surrounded by trees, the ballpark setup provides lot of shade on a typical summer night for both players and fans. Outfielders may not be too thrilled with the ballpark, however: the outfield fence is not padded. (Then again, the infield is clearly uneven, so no position player is safe.) It’s also crumbing in left field — typical of how Duncan Park Stadium is maintained.
Walk through Duncan Park Stadium and you can’t be a little depressed at its condition. Squishy plywood doesn’t exactly inspire confidence underfoot, and there’s at least three coats of paint everywhere — with the topmost layer peeling.
As we said, the ballpark will be closed indefinitely while the Friends of Duncan Park attempts to raise funds to renovate the ballpark. We wish them well: it’s a classic ballpark, and not many ballparks from the late 1920s are still in use. There’s probably little chance for minor-league baseball to return to Spartanburg, but the summer collegiate Coastal Plain League is a perfect match for the historic facility.
A main concession stand in back of the grandstand serves ballpark staples; the $2 hot dogs were great. A separate booth in back of the grandstand serves sno-kones. The RJ Rockers Party Deck (shown below) down the left-field line serves various Rockers beers on tap ($3.50) as well as food for groups of all sizes. RJ Rockers is a Spartanburg microbrewery; its beers are available throughout the area. The pale ale is a brisk seller among the four on tap.
For the Kids
A fast-pitch booth down the right-field line is manned during games.
In general, kids find Duncan Park Stadium a great place to wander around during games. There are the ruins of concrete bleachers down the first-base line, and this seemed to be a popular gathering spot for kids.
Where to Stay
Duncan Park Stadium is located with a city park — Duncan Park, natch — within a residential area. Most of the modern hotels in Spartanburg are located near the freeway on the west side of town.
Before/After the Game
Spartanburg is not exactly party central. However, downtown Spartanburg features a fair number of bars and coffee shops, including a few offering live music. We hit two coffee shops after the Stingers game and enjoyed live music. Cross Roads Coffee Shop (99 S. Church St.) is located on the west side of downtown and well worth a visit.