Remember When: Baseball was original stadium’s inaugural event
Published 2:30 am Saturday, September 1, 2018
Vince Lombardi said it well – “Football is like life – it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority.”
January 19, 1950 – “At their club meeting Monday night, the Jaycees heard speakers regarding the 1950 Arrow baseball season, the new athletic stadium, and the city’s recreational program. E. E. Anthony brought up to date the baseball situation. Mayor Tracey Wilder and W. B. McDonald, engineer, related the facts and figures about the stadium project.”
February 2, 1950 – “Lions Club members were told at their Wednesday luncheon that the football teams of Howard College and Troy State Teachers College will crash in Andalusia’s ‘new stadium’ on Saturday night, November 11, 1950. The Lions will sponsor the game.”
February 23, 1950 – “Andalusia’s new $100,000. athletic stadium drew the attention of many of the notables visiting the city on Tuesday in connection with Farm Achievement Day. Mayor Wilder told one inquirer that within 30 to 45 days, the new 4,000 plus seat stadium will be completed. It will be used for baseball games this summer. (Sightseeing) crowds are attracted to the stadium each Sunday. Giant electric light poles have been erected and fresh green has blossomed on the banks that surround the cinder track.”
Remember when families used to go riding around in their “one-family cars” on Sunday afternoons. Mine certainly did. I guess the “new stadium” under construction was the talk of the town!
March 9, 1950 – “Andalusia’s new $115,000. stadium will be put into use for the first time when baseball season is launched. It is taking on a ‘Grade A Gleam’ as final touches are put to the recreation plant. All traffic will move to the park by a hard surface route. A street is to be paved linking the stadium to East Three Notch Street.”
This street being referred to and paved, no doubt, was Henderson Street or maybe even Ray Street.
April 6, 1950 – “Andalusia’s new $120,000. stadium (Notice the price has gone up twice by $10,000. each time!) will have its formal inaugural on the night of Wednesday, April 12, at 8:00 p. m. when the University of Alabama brings its baseball nine to compete with the Andalusia Arrows (the Class D professional baseball team). The game is to be staged under the auspices of the Andalusia Kiwanis Club. It is expected to draw a capacity crowd with spectators from throughout South Alabama.”
(For those who do not remember or have never heard, the Municipal Stadium was just that. It was built and owned by the City of Andalusia in 1950. It was in later years turned over to the Andalusia City Schools. I don’t know if that date has ever been discovered and documented or not. The original plaque once affixed to the main stadium entrance is now housed in the AHS Heritage Room.)
“The Crimson Tide’s crew of baseballers is studded with football luminaries. The Arrow squad includes several holdovers from their 1949 championship squad.”
April 13, 1950 – “Every merchant, citizen, business and professional man in Andalusia is behind the movement to “pack the stadium!” The Andalusia Star News wants the world to know that we are supporting the move to establish a record for high attendance at the opening of the 1950 season recognizing that the Covington capitol owns the most modern stadium of any small town in America. (Yes, readers, history does repeat itself!) Let’s all sing together, ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’ to the folks who keep our business wheels rolling.”
Don’t you just love those former Editor Ed Dannelly’s editorials? Here’s one from June 15, 1950 – “Something we have found a little hard to digest is the fact that the girl chosen as the most beautiful co-ed at the University of Alabama during the past school year was from Georgia. If Andalusia Hi followed the University’s precedent, it would be a maid from Opp heading up the Memolusia pages of queens!”
September 7, 1950 – “Come Out and Cheer the Bulldogs On to Victory – Kickoff for 1950 Slated at 8:00 p. m. at Local Stadium – It is the ‘first chapter of a new verse’ for Andy Hi football. (The late Mr. Joseph C. Wingard, AHS English teacher for 39 years, would call that, I believe, a metaphor! Somebody correct me if I am in error, heaven forbid! ) Kicking off the 1950 gridiron season against Red Level in the Municipal Stadium at 8:00 p. m. Friday night, the Bulldogs will be shifting for a one-man offense of by-gone years to play highlighting teamwork.”
September 14, 1950 – “Andy Hi Bulldogs Roll Over Strong Red Level Eleven, 31-0”
So all of you Bulldog fans, just so you’ll Remember When – Andalusia High School won its first football game in the “new stadium” in 1950. I hope by the time this column is read that a similar victory in the 2018 “new stadium” will be celebrated! Just remember that in defeats, the losing team wins and much experience is gained, because lessons are learned and mistakes are corrected for the next game to be played.
By the way, even though the microfilm is difficult to read in the Andalusia Public Library archives, there were two names of players I recognized on the local teams that played in the new stadium – Lamar Curry and Hamner Curry, both on the Red Level team.
Of interest to many of you football and school rivalry fans of Covington County is an article I ran across with a headline on September 7, 1950 – “Opp to Dedicate New Stadium – Preparations are being made to open Opp’s ‘new stadium’ Friday night when the Bobcats will play Atmore. The new Channell-Lee Stadium will seat approximately 4,000 people. It is constructed of steel and concrete in a natural bowl north of the old stadium.”
“A short program has been planned to begin at 7:30 p. m. After short talks have been made by J. L. Channell, H. N. Lee, and Vernon St. John, the whistle will blow for the game! Educators from Auburn University, the University of Alabama, and sports writers from a number of the largest newspapers are among the invited guests.”
The microfilmed newspaper was too dim to find out if Opp won the first game in their “new stadium” or not.
In conclusion, the Bulldogs and the Bobcats have had a storied tradition of football teams, players, fans, and games in their “new stadiums” of 1950. May the love of football continue for years to come in our spirited hometown teams.
Sue Bass Wilson, AHS Class of 1965, is a real estate broker and long-time member of the Covington Historical Society. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.