The site of Tinker Field, former spring home of the Minnesota Twins/Washington Senators and other MLB teams, could be memorialized under a plan to be considered by Orlando’s Historic Preservation Board at a November 2 meeting.
The plan for a Tinker Field History Plaza at Camping World Stadium, as it stands now, would commemorate the many important events in the ballpark’s history. That would include, according to the city, historic timeline and plaques, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and Clark Griffith monuments, refurbished original stadium seats and gateway entrance, a replica covered pavilion, vintage-style lighting and a State of Florida Historical Marker. (Besides baseball, the ballpark hosted many other important events in Orlando history, including a groundbreaking and memorable speech from King in 1964.)
The ballpark is shown below in its final state before being torn down in March and April of 2015.
Baseball has been played at the Tinker Field site since 1914, and the ballpark was named after Joe Tinker—he of “Tinker to Evers to Chance” fame—who came to Orlando after his playing days and made his mark as a developer and land speculator. The original 1,500-seat wooden Tinker Field grandstand (shown below) was built in 1923 and served as the spring-training home of the Cincinnati Reds from 1923 through 1933, and the Brooklyn Dodgers trained there in 1934 and 1935. In 1936 Clark Griffith moved the Senators’ spring training to Tinker Field, and for many years the Twins’ AA affiliate played there as well. Almost 1,000 of the seats were moved to Tinker Field from Griffith Stadium when that Washington landmark closed.
Even though baseball has been played at Tinker Field since 1914, the final Tinker Field configuration dated back to 1963 and has been updated several times since. The photo below shows the ballpark after the 1963 reconstruction, where the original wooden grandstand was torn down and replaced by a modern steel grandstand. You can see the corner of what was then called the Tangerine Bowl in the bottom left.
After the Twins shifted spring-training operations to Fort Myers, the ballpark served as home to the Class AA Southern League Orlando Rays and a summer-collegiate team. But the end of the ballpark came when the Citrus Bowl — now Camping World Stadium — was expanded, and part of center and right field was lost to the grandstand.
The cost of the project is estimated at $300,000, with the city already budgeting $113,000 toward it.