A bronze memorial to former Washington Senators owner Clark Griffith at Orlando’s Tinker Field has disappeared, leading to worries that the historic piece was sold for scrap metal.
The memorial sat in the ballpark concourse, directly past the front gates. Griffith, as owner of the Senators, brought his team to Tinker Field for spring training in 1936, an association that survived the move of the Sens to Minnesota. With the future of Tinker Field up in the air after Mayor Buddy Dyer proposed tearing it down — only to withdraw the plan after a public outcry — someone saw the opportunity to make off with the historical marker. With construction going on in the ballpark’s outfield thanks to an expansion of the Citrus Bowl, Tinker Field was not exactly a secure facility: during a January visit we were able to walk right into the ballpark thanks to some unlocked gates down each end.
The marker disappeared between Feb. 1 and Feb. 3, and it certainly was a planned event: the bolts affixing the marker to the concrete in the concourse were cut. From the Orlando Sentinel:
Was it stolen and sold like any other piece of scrap metal, or is it sitting in the man-cave of some die-hard baseball fan?
Cops don’t have a clue.
“It has been investigated, however, there are no leads,” Orlando police spokesman Jim Young said. “The case is still assigned but coded as ‘inactive due to lack of investigative leads.’ “
Though the field was used for baseball as far back as 1914, Tinker Field opened in 1923 and was rebuilt in 1963. The Cincinnati Reds trained there in 1923-1930, the Brooklyn Dodgers trained there in 1934-1935, and the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins trained there between 1936 and 1990, save the three wartime years when the team trained in College Park, Md., and are most closely associated with the facility. There are some Griffith Stadium seats still installed in the Tinker Field grandstand. It was built in 1923 and named for former Chicago Cubs infielder Joe Tinker — he of Tinker to Evers to Chance fame — who retired in Orlando.
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