Today marks a notable anniversary in the baseball world, as London, ON’s Labatt Park is turning 140 years old.
Baseball has been played at the site of Labatt Park since it opened as Tecumseh Park on May 3, 1877. The ballpark, which took its formal name–John Labatt Memorial Athletic Park–in 1936, has received some changes along the way, including the reconstruction of the grandstand on three different occasions.
During that period, professional teams of various levels have come and gone. The most recent Minor League Baseball club to occupy the facility was the London Tigers (Class AA; Eastern League), who played there from 1989-1993 before relocating to Trenton, NJ and becoming the Trenton Thunder. Labatt Park later hosted two separate independent Frontier League franchises–the London Werewolves from 1999-2001, and later the London Rippers, who lasted for just a portion of the 2012 season.
While it has been several years since the departure of the Werewolves, Labatt Park continues to serve as the home of the London Majors of the Intercounty Baseball League. The Majors, who will open their season later this month, continue a history that traces back to London Tecumsehs of the International Association. More from Global News:
The first game ever played on the field was between the London Tecumsehs and its junior team, the London Atlantics. The Tecumsehs won 5-1 in front of a crowd of about 1,000 fans.
The grandstands have been replaced three times since then, the first time due to the flood of 1883.
“For 40 years it didn’t have a team in the park. Usually, when that happens, the neighbourhood tears down the park and they build houses, but the park has stayed,” said [baseball historian Joe] Santry.
The longest running team that has called the stadium home is the London Majors, which was formed in 1925.
Those wanting to see baseball action at Labatt Park during its anniversary season have some time do so, as the Majors’ home schedule runs through July.
Image courtesy London Majors.