Friday, November 14, 2008

Red Sox Return; Keep the View

For those of you laboring under the misconception that the Red Sox are coming to the Roanoke Valley--as the Salem Red Sox--for the first time next spring, let us clarify:

The Boston Red Sox had a Class B Piedmont League club called the Roanoke Red Sox 1943-1952 and the Roanoke Ro-Sox 1951-1953. They played at Maher Field, next door to Victory Stadium.

Roanoke won the pennant in 1946 (the year I was born; I have a game program dated a week after I entered the world) and 1947. The Roanoke & Salem Friends preceded these teams 1939-1942 with a sponsorship agreement with the Indians in 1940. That was the last time "Roanoke," "Salem" and "friends" all appeared in the same sentence.

Roanoke's minor league baseball history goes all the way back to the Virginia League in 1894 and showed up variously as the Braves, Magicians and Tigers over the years prior to the entry into the Piedmont League in '43.

Now that we have that clear, let's offer a piece of advice to the new team owners: don't mess with the view no matter how strongly some of our resident idiots lobby for a Green Monster wall in left field. One of the truly outstanding features of Salem's beautiful ball park is its pristine view of the mountains. A large green wall does not a mountain make and I suspect it would alienate far more people than it would attract.

Now, about that dang over-loud P.A. system ...


  1. MAHER FIELD – ROANOKE RED SOX (1943-1953)

    LOCATION: Adjacent to Victory Stadium.

    SEATING CAPACITY: 3,000-3,500

    CENTER FIELD = 400 FT.

    RECORD SEASON HIGH ATTENDANCE: 139,000 (rounded figure – 1949)

    RECORD SEASON LOW ATTENDANCE: 43,000 (rounded figure – 1952)

    Roanoke in those days was one of the best baseball towns in America in the area of fan interest and enthusiasm. There was a little restaurant near the ballpark where a lot of the ballplayers would go after the game. The fans would join them at the restaurant.

    Maher Field was a very good playing field. The main grandstand behind home plate was a rustic covered wooden structure. There were separate sets of uncovered bleachers running down both the first and third base lines. The lights were never quite bright enough – a dilemma that plagued many ballparks of that era. The Roanoke River flowed behind the right field wall, and balls were sometimes hit across the river by the likes of Rosox slugger, Charlie Maxwell. The only drawback was that the clubhouse was about 100 yards behind the center field gate, over near Victory Stadium.

    The team folded operations after the 1952 season. Maher Field was deserted, and left for years to deteriorate until there were those so young they thought of it only as an eyesore with a peeling pale-green cinderblock wall in left and a handful of worn seats around home, unaware that it had been an attractive place to play ball.

  2. I finally found a good photo of Maher Field!!!