Chronological Tour: Stop 360

Home of the Tecumsehs

Entrance to Labatt Memorial Park, May-2012.

Wooden bleachers flank a main seating bowl that was rebuilt in 2001.

Looking across the field and the river at downtown London. The entire main bowl is protected by netting.

Quick Facts: Rating: 2 baseballs
Labatt Park, on the banks of the Thames River near its forks in London, Ont., has seen dedicated use for baseball since at least 1877, making it one of the oldest continuously used baseball fields in the world.

The field was originally named for Tecumseh, the Native American who assisted the victorious British forces in the Battle of London during the War of 1812. Early teams here were called the Tecumsehs and the Indians. By 1925, the field became home to the semipro London Majors of the Intercounty Baseball League, who use the park to this day. In 1937, when the City of London took ownership of the property, it was dedicated in memory of the brewer John Labatt.

The facility, dedicated as an Ontario Heritage Site in 1994, has seen numerous renovations over the years. The field was overhauled in 1989, when the Eastern League London Tigers came in and utilized the park for five seasons; that team moved to Trenton, N.J. in 1994. The city rebuilt the main grandstand prior to the 2001 season of the Frontier League’s London Werewolves. The park was also used for the London Monarchs of the Canadian League in 2003; that league did not finish its first season. Finally, in 2012, the Frontier League returned and placed a new independent club, the London Rippers, at the park. However, in late July, the Rippers announced that they had suspended operations, unable to make a go of it due in part to restrictions on the sale of alcohol (see below). The Frontier League finished its schedule with a road team.

Several things bothered me about my initial visit to Labatt Park, for the second Rippers home game. The side grandstands are largely made of wood which has deteriorated badly. By city regulation, one cannot drink beer anywhere in the seating bowl; alcohol consumption is limited to a “beer garden” down the third-base line. Parking is extremely limited; I found myself parking on a residential side street several blocks away, but there is no lot dedicated to the ballpark. There were no programs available and no lineups posted; a staffer handed me a copy of the Rippers’ starting lineup, which saved me the pain of re-transcribing the lineups when the announcer introduced the home team in position order rather than in batting order.

Concessions were a mixed bag. A 20-ounce bottle of pop cost $3.50, which was on the high side; however, a hot dog also cost $3.50 and it was one of the largest and tastiest hot dogs I’ve had at a ballpark, well worth the price. (At the time, the Canadian and US dollars were roughly at par.)

Game # Date League Level Result
1183 Sat 26-May-2012 Frontier Ind. Gateway 4, LONDON 3
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This page updated 10-Jan-2013