Legion Field circa 1940s
|Location||Gregory & G Streets|
|Engineer||Charles Hill Turner|
|Renovations||1915, 1926-1927, 1927-1928|
Legion Field, also known as Maxent Park and Legion Park, was a Pensacola ballpark fronting on Gregory and G Streets featuring a single deck grandstand. Organized teams that called the ballpark home included the Pensacola Fliers and Pensacola Pilots.
The park was commissioned by the Pensacola Baseball Association — organized by C. F. Schad, John G. Oliver, and Edward W. Peake — and built by the C. H. Turner Construction Company. Upon its opening in 1911, the Pensacola Journal wrote that there "is no baseball plant south of the Ohio River that surpasses Pensacola's new park in its perfection of appointments for the comfort and convenience of patrons of the national game."
The distance from home plate to the left field fences was 290 feet, while the distance to the right field fence was 284 feet. The outfield was sodded with Bermuda grass, and at the time the park opened, the grandstand had a capacity of 1,000 people. The park was a segregated facility, with the grandstand reserved for whites, and blacks relegated to bleachers along the left field fence.
The first game at the park, then unnamed, was played on June 16, 1911, between a Pensacola team and a team from the U.S. Navy's battleship USS Idaho. Park management announced on September 6, 1911 that the park had been named the Maxent Baseball and Amusement Park.
The grandstand and much of the park's fences were destroyed in a 1915 fire and rebuilt.
The City of Pensacola purchased the ballpark in 1919. The city rebuilt Maxent Park's facilities in late 1926 and early 1927 ahead of a spring training commitment by the Newark Bears of the International League. The grandstand was rebuilt with a capacity of 3,500 white and 500 black spectators.
On March 16, 1927, the Pensacola City Commission adopted an ordinance changing the name of the park from Maxent Park to American Legion Park, "as a testimonial to the grateful appreciation of the people of Pensacola of the unselfish and patriotic services of the American Legion to the community, state, and nation."
Despite the 1926-1927 rebuild, city leaders felt Legion Park needed additional upgrades and in late 1927 asked voters to approve a $25,000 bond issue for the park. The bond issue was narrowly approved by a margin of just six votes, but the election was nullified due to a technicality. A second election was held February 23, 1928, in which the bond issue was again approved, this time by a larger margin of 218 votes.
In 1913, the Cleveland Naps (a predecessor of today's Cleveland Indians) held its spring training at the park. Professional baseball came to Pensacola for the first time the same year, with the Pensacola Snappers entering play with the Cotton States League. However, the league folded at the end of the year and the team disbanded after only one season.
In 1927, the Pensacola Fliers began play in the Southeastern League and continued until folding after the 1930 season. In 1937, another Southeastern League team was fielded as the Pensacola Pilots, which lasted until 1942. A third Southeastern League team, again named the Fliers, was established in 1946 and ran until 1950, when the league folded.
On March 31, 1929, the New York Yankees — including star players Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig — played the Fliers as part of a spring training tour of the South. More than 3,000 fans turned out for the game, which the Yankees won 12-2.
- "Pensacola's Modern New Baseball Park". The Pensacola Journal. June 16, 1911. p. 2. Retrieved June 2, 2019 – via Newspapers.com
- "Idaho Defeats Pensacola 4 to 1 in the Opening Game". The Pensacola Journal. June 17, 1911. p. 2. Retrieved June 2, 2019 – via Newspapers.com
- "Peres Coming Here to Play; Park is Named". The Pensacola Journal. September 7, 1911. p. 2. Retrieved June 2, 2019 – via Newspapers.com
- "Grandstand In Baseball Park Was Destroyed". The Pensacola Journal. August 17, 1915. p. 2. Retrieved June 2, 2019 – via Newspapers.com
- "Work to Begin on Rebuilding Baseball Park". The Pensacola Journal. December 14, 1926. p. 1. Retrieved June 2, 2019 – via Newspapers.com
- "Library Bond Issue Fails as Three Others Carry". The Pensacola Journal. December 14, 1927. p. 1. Retrieved June 3, 2019 – via Newspapers.com
- "Voters Approve Bond Issue By Huge Majority". The Pensacola Journal. February 24, 1928. p. 1. Retrieved June 3, 2019 – via Newspapers.com
- "Naps Pleased with Maxent Park Grounds". The Pensacola Journal. February 25, 1913. p. 1. Retrieved June 2, 2019 – via Newspapers.com