Neutral Sites

Green Cathedrals

Green Cathedrals

With Sunday’s regular season season game between the Marlins and the Braves set to be played at Fort Bragg, NC, on July 3, members of the media and some fans on social media have asked whether playing a game at a neutral site–not an exhibition contest–but one that counted in the standings–was, if not unprecedented, then at least rare. quickly consulting Green Cathedrals, Phil Lowry’s indispensable book about ballparks that I edited and published for SABR in 1985, I quickly came up with quite a number of neutral-site games in MLB since 1876, a sampling of which I will provide below. But such a list did not include–as Phil did in his Everest of research–neutral-site games in the National Association of 1871-75 (not a major league by today’s definition but certainly baseball’s first professional circuit), or Negro League games.

Then, a brainstorm: why not ask Phil, my friend all these years, to revisit the subject, even though his subsequent writing has reflected new research interests? Here he is, followed by a sampling of MLB’s neutral-site games since 1876.

On Sunday, July 3, 2016, the world will be stunned to see the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves playing a regular season baseball game on an Army Base named Fort Bragg, near Fayetteville, North Carolina, a base where the author was once stationed.

The 12,500-seat stadium has been built solely to host this game. After the game is over, it will be torn down, and the entire site will become a multi-purpose area for military families to play many different sports, take classes, and enjoy trails and bike paths.

But this is nowhere near being the first such neutral site regular season MLB game. Here is just a sampling of such games, including, first, a fuller display for the past 20 years. Note: All of the regular season games, going back to 1871, are listed at Retrosheet, as compiled by David Vincent:

http://www.retrosheet.org/neutral19.htm

http://www.retrosheet.org/neutral.htm

PRESEASON

3/28/1999: Cuba vs. Orioles in Havana, Cuba

5/3/1999: Cuba vs. Orioles in Baltimore

3/11-12/2000: Astros vs. Red Sox in Santo Domingo, Dominicana

3/19-20/2000: Devil Rays vs. Braves in Caracas, Venezuela

3/10-11/2001 Astros vs. Indians in Valencia, Venezuela

3/16/2001: Padres vs. Rockies in Culiacan, Mexico

3/18/2001: Devil Rays vs. Athletics in Hermosillo, Mexico

3/15-16/2003: Dodgers vs. Mets in Mexico City, Mexico

3/13-14/2004: Astros vs. Marlins in Mexico City, Mexico

3/15-16/2008: Dodgers vs. Padres in Beijing, China

3/29/2008: Monterrey Sultanes vs. Diamondbacks in Phoenix

3/29-30/2011: Monterrey Sultanes/Quintana Roo Tigres Diamondbacks in Phoenix

3/15-16/2013: Mets vs. Dodgers in Mexico City, Mexico

3/15-16/2014: Marlins vs. Yankees in Panama City, Panama

3/20/2014: Australia vs. Dodgers in Sydney, Australia

3/21/2014: Australia vs. Diamondbacks in Sydney, Australia

3/28-29/2014: Blue Jays vs. Mets in Montreal, Canada

3/29-30/2014 Veracruz Red Eagles vs. Astros in Houston

3/??/2015 Rockies vs. Diamondbacks in Hermosillo, Mexico

4/3-4/2015 Reds vs. Blue Jays in Montreal, Canada

4/4/2015 Mexico City Red Devils vs. Padres in San Diego

3/22/2016 Cuba vs. Rays in Havana, Cuba

3/26-27/2016 Astros vs. Padres in Mexico City, Mexico

4/1-2/2016 Red Sox vs. Blue Jays in Montreal, Canada

REGULAR SEASON

4/1-7/1996: Blue Jays/Tigers vs. Athletics in Las Vegas due to incomplete football renovations in Oakland Coliseum; author attended one Tigers-Athletics game

8/16-18/1996: Mets vs. Padres in Monterrey, Mexico

4/19-20/1997: Cardinals vs. Padres in Honolulu

4/15/1998: Angels vs. Yankees at New York Shea due to falling concrete in Yankee Stadium

4/4/1999: Rockies vs. Padres in Monterrey, Mexico

3/29-30/2000: Cubs vs. Mets in Tokyo, Japan

4/1/2001: Rangers vs. Blue Jays in San Juan, Puerto Rico

2003: 22 Expos home games in San Juan, Puerto Rico

3/30-31/2004: Yankees vs. Rays in Tokyo, Japan

2004: 21 Expos home games in San Juan, Puerto Rico

9/13-14/2004: Expos vs. Marlins in Chicago, U.S. Cellular Field due to Hurricane Ivan

4/10-12/2007: Angels vs. Indians in Milwaukee due to snow in Cleveland

5/15-17/2007: Rangers vs. Rays in Lake Buena Vista

3/25-26/2008: Red Sox vs. Athletics in Tokyo, Japan

4/22-24/2008: Blue Jays vs. Rays in Lake Buena Vista

9/14-15/2008: Cubs vs. Astros in Milwaukee due to Hurricane Ike

6/28-30/2010: Mets and Marlins in San Juan, Puerto Rico

3/28-29/2012: Mariners and Athletics in Tokyo, Japan

3/22-23/2014: Dodgers vs. Diamondbacks in Sydney, Australia

7/3/2016: Marlins vs. Braves at Fort Bragg

HISTORICAL NEUTRAL SITES

Albany, NY: for home team Troy, September 11, 1880; June 15 and September 10, 1881; May 16-18 and 30, 1882

Baltimore, OH: neutral site use by UA Pittsburgh Stogies September 17, 1884

Brooklyn, NY (separate city before 1898): home team Hartford, April 30 to September 21, 1877

Canton, OH: NL Pittsburgh Burghers September 18, 1890; by AL Cleveland Blues June 15, 1902 and May 10 and June 21, 1903

Chicago, IL: neutral site use by NL Cleveland Spiders some games 1898

Columbus, OH: AL Cleveland Blues August 3, 1902; AL Cleveland Naps May 17, 1903; AL Detroit Tigers July 23-24, 1905 

Dayton, OH: AL Cleveland Blues June 8, 1902

Elmira, NY: NL Buffalo Bisons October 10, 1885

Euclid Beach, OH: NL Cleveland Spiders June 12, 1898

Geauga Lake, OH: AA Cleveland Spiders July 22 and 29, August 26, 1888

Geddes, NY: NL Syracuse Stars Sundays 1879

Gloucester City, NJ: AA Philadelphia Athletics Sundays only August 5, 1888 to October 12, 1890

Grand Rapids, MI: AL Detroit Tigers May 24, 1903

Hamilton, OH: AA Cincinnati Reds August 25, 1889

Indianapolis, IN: AA St. Louis Browns one game in 1885; NL St. Louis Maroons September 15, 1885; NL Cleveland Spiders July 28 to August 2, 1890

Jersey City, NJ: NL New York Giants April 24-25, 1889; NL Brooklyn Dodgers seven 1956 games and eight 1957 games

Kansas City, MO: NL St. Louis Browns August 23 and October 15, 1892

Las Vegas, NV: AL Oakland Athletics April 1-7, 1996

Milwaukee, WI:  NL Chicago White Stockings September 4 and 25, 1885; AL Chicago White Sox 9 games in 1968 and 11 in 1969

Minneapolis, MN: AA Milwaukee Brewers October 2, 1891

Newark, NJ: AL New York Highlanders July 17, 1904

Newburgh, OH: AA Cleveland Spiders September 2, 1888

New Haven, CT: NL Hartford Dark Blues September 22, 1877 (team’s customary home that year was in Brooklyn, though one game also played in Hartford)

Petersburg, VA: AA Richmond Virginias October 7, 1884

Philadelphia, PA: NL Cleveland Spiders July 29-30, August 5-6, 8, and 11, 1898

Pittsburgh, PA: NL Indianapolis Blues August 22-24, 1878

Rochester, NY: NL Cleveland Spiders August 27 and 29, 1898; also, different Rochester field: NL Cleveland Spiders August 28, 1898

St. Louis, MO: NL Indianapolis Blues July 9, 11, and 13, 1878; NL Cleveland Spiders several games in 1898 and on September 24, 1899

Syracuse, NY: NL Buffalo Bisons June 27, 1885

Three Rivers, NY: AA Syracuse Stars Sundays May 18 to July 20, 1890

Toledo, OH: NL Detroit October 5, 1885; AL Detroit Tigers June 28 and August 16, 1903

Weehawken, NJ: AA New York Mets September 11, 1887

West New York, NJ: NL Brooklyn Bridegrooms September 11 and 18 and October 2, 1898; by NL New York Giants June 4, July 16, August 13, and September 17, 1899

Wheeling, WV: NL Pittsburgh Pirates September 22, 1890

7 Comments

Great info! Kudos to Phil, and thank you John for posting it.

John,
Does the 4th of july in Cincinnat between the old Boston Red Stockings and Washington Olympics meet the test? 4th of july 1871 I believe. It was game two of a double header- the first game was the Original Reds reunion game vs the hybrid Boston Washington team who were not Reds.

Absolutely, and it is listed at the Retrosheet link offered above. I confined the list in the story to 1876 forward, as MLB has not included the NA as a major league since 1969.

Very interesting piece. Just as an FYI, I caught a few things in there that I only know because I was fortunate enough to be on hand for several of these games. One omission: On March 16, 2001, the Padres and Rockies played a spring game in Culiacan, Mexico. In the regular season list, the June 28-30, 2010 Marlins home games in San Juan were against the Mets, not the Yankees. And finally, in the list of regular season games, it says it’ll be the Astros and the Braves Sunday night at Fort Bragg when, as the intro pointed out a couple of times, it will be the Marlins taking on the Braves. I’m a big fan of what you do. Keep up the great work!

Thanks, Glenn. Will make changes above.

Cleveland played five Sunday out of town home games in 1902, the one in Dayton on June 8, and also ones in Canton on June 15 vs Boston, in Fort Wayne on June 22, versus Washington, in Columbus on August 3 vs Washington, and the final major league game ever played in Fort Wayne on August 31 which featured Cy Young of Boston vs Addie Joss. The Fort Wayne games were played at League Park at the foot of Calhoun Street, which was located just over a mile from the site of the former Kekionga Ball grounds where the first major league game, now designated as the first game in a professional league, was played on May 4, 1871.

Thanks, Bill. Best place for a correction notice would be at Retrosheet.org.

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