As one who appreciates the both history and nostalgia associated with America’s pastime, I understand the importance that vintage ballparks holds in our combined psyche. Often in baseball, the places where baseball is played are as important and the game itself. Names like Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Ebbets Field, Tiger Stadium, Orioles Park at Camden Yards, the Polo Grounds, Yankee Stadium, and others are held in great esteem like national shrines. This also holds true for smaller venues, as well. In fact, for this blog author it is the lesser known ballparks in smaller cities and towns across the country that spark the most interest.
When any one of these magnificent shrines is lost to the wrecking ball or to neglect, baseball aficionados collectively feel deep sorrow for the dreams, legacies, and memories that also pass away with the structure’s destruction. No other sport seems to have this reverence for the places where the competition takes place with the possible exceptions of rodeo and both auto and horse racing. So, when an avid fan of baseball history stumbles across an old ballpark filled with a rich and enchanting history, we are thrilled. The Oscar Huber Memorial Ballpark (a.k.a. Madrid Ballpark) located aside the scenic Turquoise Trail in Madrid, New Mexico is just this kind of magical place.
Completed in 1920 by the Madrid Employees Club under the direction of Albuquerque & Cerrillos Coal Company superintendent Oscar Huber, the grandstand was added in 1928 and stone walls/dugouts were Works Progress Administration (WPA) projects in 1935.
Among the opposing teams who played here against the Madrid Miners during the ballpark’s glory years in the Central New Mexico Baseball League, were:
- Bernalillo Lumberjacks
- Isleta Indians
- Las Vegas (NM) Maroons
- Santa Fe Stationers
- House of David – a traveling exhibition team
Notable players who populated the field included:
- Lalo Barreras
- E.J. (Emmett Jerome ‘Chief’ Bowles
- Jack Duffy
- Johnny ‘Red’ Garcia
- Harry ‘Pop’ Stowers
As the home of the AA Minor League Madrid Miners, the Huber/Madrid Ballpark has seen its fair share of excitement which includes capturing the 1933 Central New Mexico League Championship, sportsmanship, and history. In fact, according to the site signage, the Huber/Madrid Ballpark was the first lighted baseball field west of the Mississippi River, thanks in part to the amble supplies of coal found in the hills and gulches surrounding the town of Madrid.
As the mining industry faded in the 1950s, Madrid’s population dropped steadily from a peak of 3,000 residents in its heyday to become a ghost town. However, the town was rediscovered by artists and crafters in the 1970s who helped revive the community. According to the 2020 Census, Madrid had a population of 218. Over the years, many other events have taken place at the ballpark, including rodeos. More recently, holiday softball games/tournaments have been played at the ballpark. Impressive efforts by groups such as Madrid Cultural Projects and the Friends of the Madrid Ballpark have helped restore the historic grandstand and other parts of the site.
Walking the bases; stepping into the cave-like stone dugouts; or sitting in the restored stands of the Huber/Madrid Ballpark, one is instantly overcome by a sense of wonder about the people who played ball on this hallowed diamond, by the myriad of community events that have taken place here, and especially by the enchanting character of the ballpark and its notable surroundings. For this fan of baseball legends and lore, the Huber/Madrid Ballpark contains a treasure trove of vintage design features to view and fascinating historic narratives for one to visualize while visiting its fabled grounds. Peace!
If minor league baseball and ballparks interests you, below are a couple of books available via Amazon.com.*
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- Historic signage at the Madrid Ballpark
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