Blair Field

If Yankee Stadium was the House That Ruth Built, it's only fair to call Blair Field to be the House That Frank Built. Frank T. Blair was the sports editor of the Long Beach Press-Telegram from 1921 until his passing in 1953. He spent untold hours covering baseball games at Recreation Park, the functional yet dusty park with wooden grandstands at the corner of Seventh Street and ParkAvenue that has served the likes of Bob Lemon and other notable Long Beach youth stars well.

He also was the first to suggest building a better, more modern ballpark on the same corner. It was his belief that Long Beach deserved a modern park, and that it could lead to the city acquiring a minor league franchise, perhaps one that would serve as home for a franchise in the Pacific Coast or Western Baseball minor leagues.

His passing in 1953 did not end his dream. In 1956, a $260,000 bond issue was presented by councilman PatAhearn, and it passed leading to the construction of Blair Field, at a final cost of $500,000.

The park opened in 1958. The first official game played there was on April 15, between the baseball teams from Long Beach State and Long Beach City College, but a Poly-Huntington Beach high school game actually was the first, on April 11, won by Poly 3-1. With the Dodgers and Giants playing their first game on the west coast on the same day as the first official game, the hopes of a pro team playing there quickly ebbed.

Instead, it has served the community well as a home for prep, Connie Mack, American Legion and winter barnstorming games, at the rate of 200 per season. In the ensuing years, it also hosted a 1961 Dodgers exhibition game that drew 6,250, double the seating limits, the 1966 Chicago Cubs spring training, and the Los Angeles Rams for more than a decade as their official practice facility in the fall and winter.

Long Beach State moved its games to Blair Field a decade ago and has since hosted four NCAA Regional Tournaments at the park that has been rated among the finest college facilities in the nation. Blair's dream and the park celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2008.

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