Not every big event at a ballpark is a baseball game. Here’s a look back at one of the biggest events in Tinker Field history: a speech from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. still honored and remembered in Orlando today.
Orlando’s Tinker Field was the long-time spring-training home of the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins, as well as home to Class AA Southern League ball and other Minor League Baseball teams.
But when the ballpark was torn down and a historic market constructed at the ballpark as the adjoining Camping World Stadium (the former Citrus Bowl) was expanded, the city set up a historical plaza at the site, and included was a bust of King to mark that March 6, 1964 speech–the only speech evert delivered by King in Orlando.
At the time, the speech was not a big deal: the ballpark was only half full, partly due to the threat of violence. From the Orlando Sentinel:
“It wasn’t one of these events where people were yelling and screaming,” recalled the late Rita Bornstein, then 83 and the widow of attorney Jerry Bornstein.
But the message King had delivered at Tinker Field remained clear, Kunerth wrote. “It was a message of hope in times of crisis.”
“King was good at taking you from a point of despair and putting you into a future of hope,” Perry told Kunerth. “That was King’s uniqueness. Your mind could see possibilities, the vision of what was to come.”
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