ALL A-LIGHT — Ray Winder in full swing. (Apologies to the photographer for the lack of credit — could not find an ID)

Built in 1931, the ballpark that would be known as Ray Winder Field hosted generations of Arkansas Travelers fans out to see the “Greatest Game on Dirt.” It was creaky and leaky and as friendly a professional baseball experience as one could want. Ray Winder was a place to see folks like Bernard Gilkey, Ray Lankford, Geronimo Pena and Mike Perez before they moved up to the majors.

Ray Winder Field was more than just great AA ball. It was a place to see the late Max Patkin, the clown prince of baseball; or to watch kids and adults race Shelly, the Travs’ mascot, around the bases. And of course, who could forget The Puffy Taco Man mascot when the San Antonio Missions were in town?

Then there were the regulars: sportscaster and all-around nice guy Jim Elder, Alfreda Wilson, who for 35 seasons rallied fans and players with her organ playing; and of course, former General Manager Bill Valentine. A former major league umpire, Valentine is one of those larger-than-life people who lent Ray Winder Field more of the character that made it such a welcome place for fans and families in Little Rock.

The Travs played their last game in Ray Winder in 2006, moving to a shiny league-spec venue across the Arkansas River in North Little Rock. There was much wrangling over what to do with the old field. One proposal called for it to become a new elephant enclosure for the neighboring Little Rock Zoo. Another called for it to become a parking lot for the University of Arkansas (for) Medical Sciences. Its fate was sealed when the City of Little Rock sold the park  to UAMS for $1.3 million.

CALLING IT QUITS — Rubble, a light stand and the scoreboard are the few signs there was once a beautiful ball park here. Photo taken July 17, 2012.

4 thoughts on “Going, going …

  1. It’s always a sad thing to see an old landmark stripped down and relegated to something like a parking lot. I’ve seen a few around my parts as well fall away as well. Hope you are getting some of this much needed rain. It’s dodged us here so far but might get lucky later this evening.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. Ray Winder is a big loss and the new stadium is nice, but just kind of cold.

      We had about 0.1-0.2 inches on Friday and the cloud cover is beginning to thicken, so maybe we’ll get some of it. In the last two weeks we have received about 2.5 inches and the woods are much happier for it and the only-highs-in-the-lower-90s temps. Hope you get some trail time this weekend!

      1. Glad to hear you got some moisture your way because we definitely needed it. I’m hitting the trail later this evening if we don’t get washed out. If it isn’t raining too hard I might ride in it anyways. 🙂 Have a good weekend.

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