When sports fans think of cities with two
professional teams of the same sport they may think
of cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.
However, for over a half-century the City of St.
Louis was home to two professional baseball
franchises, the St. Louis Browns and Cardinals,
where they shared Sportsman's Park for 33 seasons.
The history of organized baseball at the site of
Sportsman's Park dates to the 1860s when August
Solari purchased a plot of land in North St. Louis
along Dodier Street and North Grand Avenue in 1866.
This ball field, Grand Avenue Ball Grounds, became
home to the St. Louis Brown Stockings in the mid
1870s and the first wooden grandstand was
constructed along the Southeast corner of Grand
Avenue Grounds in 1881, that was known as
Sportsman's Park. In 1892, the Browns became members
of the National League and moved to a new ballpark
several blocks Northwest.
The St. Louis Browns opened their new ballpark, New
Sportsman's Park on April 27, 1893 against the
Louisville Colonels. This ballpark, consisting of a
wooden grandstand was the home to the team for 23
years. Constructed primarily of wood, it was a
firetrap, as fire struck the ballpark in April 1898
and May 1901. The ballpark was rebuilt both times
and before the 1899 the ballpark was renamed League
Park and the Browns were renamed the Perfectos. Not
only did the name of the ballpark and team change,
but the team colors changed, to Cardinal Red. Thus
the birth of the St. Louis Cardinals franchise name
in 1900. Throughout the club's 23 seasons at the
ballpark the seating capacity ranged from 14,500 to
21,000. A covered wooden grandstand was behind
homeplate and down both the first and third base
lines, and bleachers were located in the outfield.
League Park was renamed Robison Field in 1911 in
honor of Frank Robison, former owner of the team.
With new steel and concrete ballparks being built in
baseball during the time, the ballpark which became
known as Cardinal Field, became obsolete. The
Cardinals played their last game here on June 6,
1920 against the Chicago Cubs. The property was sold
and Beaumont High School was built.
Rewind 18 years back to 1902 and several blocks from
Robison Field to the original Sportsman's Park at
Dodier Street and Grand Avenue.
After the 1901 season the St. Louis Browns were formed when the
Milwaukee Brewers, charter members of the American League, moved to
St. Louis. An 8,000 seat wooden ballpark was built and named after
its predecessor, Sportsman's Park. By the end of
this decade new steel and concrete ballparks were
being built in Cincinnati, Philadelphia and
Pittsburgh leading to the construction of a new
modern era ballpark in St. Louis. Concrete and steel
was used to build a double deck grandstand from
first to third base with additional seating joining
the lower level and extending down the lines. The
location of the playing field was shifted with
homeplate moving to the southwest corner leaving the
original wooden grandstand in left field. On April
14, 1909 the Browns played their first game at the
new Sportsman's Park against Cleveland. Original
capacity was approximately 18,000.
The St. Louis Cardinals moved from Robison Field to
Sportsman's Park, becoming tenants of the Browns in
1920, playing their first game on July 1, 1920. In
1925 the grandstands were double decked to both foul
poles and the bleachers in right field were covered,
increasing the capacity to 30,500. Fans sitting
behind homeplate could see the bleachers that
extended around the outfield, a huge scoreboard
above the left field seats and views of the
surrounding neighborhood. Members of the media also
received an excellent view of the field from the
press box on top of the stadium roof. The first
night game under lights at Sportsman’s Park was on
May 24, 1940.
The Cardinals became the more successful team in St.
Louis capturing six World Series titles between 1926
until 1946. In the late 1940s and early 1950s in
became apparent that St. Louis could not support two
baseball franchises. Sportsman's Park was purchased
by the Cardinals in April 1953 for $800,000 after
owner of Anheuser-Busch, August Busch, purchased the
team from Fred Saigh. The ballpark was renamed
Budweiser Stadium briefly before being named Busch
Stadium. With strong ownership, the Cardinals were
the dominant franchise in St. Louis leading the
Browns to move to Baltimore after the 1953 season.
Throughout 1953 and 1954 the Cardinals spent $1.5
million renovating the ballpark. A new playing field
was installed, new, wider seats replaced the
existing ones, seating in centerfield was removed
and replaced with shrubbery, new dugouts were
installed and the clubhouses were updated. In
addition, the ballpark was stripped of all
advertising, except for a Budweiser ad on the
scoreboard in right field. Atop this was the
Anheuser-Busch symbol, a neon eagle, that flapped
its wings anytime a homerun was hit.
The Cardinals played at Busch Stadium until May 8,
1966 when the last game was played at the ballpark. The Cardinals
moved into new Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis days later. Sportsman’s
Park/Busch Stadium was demolished soon after. Today, it is site of
the Herbert Hoover Boys’ Club. A baseball field is at the same
location where the Cardinals and Browns once played.