Chronological Tour: Stop 160

Watch Out for That Hill! (Or Maybe Not.)

Walking into Howard Johnson Field, Aug-2012.

The park's seating area as seen from the left-field bleachers.

The field, without the old, distinctive (and dangerous) right-field hill.

Quick Facts: Rating: 3 baseballs
Howard Johnson Field is not named for the hotelier who offered 28 flavors of ice cream. Nor is he named for the guy who hit for a little bit of power for the Tigers and Mets, among others. No, this Howard Johnson may well have been descended from the Johnsons for whom the town is named. This particular one was the superintendent of parks and recreation for many years, and they honored him by naming the ball field for him. The field itself goes all the way back to 1923, although the 1956 wooden grandstand was replaced in the early 1990s (according to former public address announcer Mike Clark).

Itís a city park which has hosted East Tennessee State University and still hosts the Johnson City Cardinals of the rookie-level Appalachian League. The field is a respectable size, and it had a right-field berm in play, making balls to the wall very interesting (at least one fielder fell down playing the ball up the berm and off the wall while I watched a game). The hill was removed in 2010, and the 15-foot fence was extended to right field. The team has also started referring to the facility as Cardinal Park again, although the dedication plaque to Mr. Johnson remains.

The stadium itself is typical Appy, with bench seating under a roof (except for the two rows of box seats up against the field) and a scoreboard that works right some of the time but is in desperate need of bulbs (since replaced by an LED model). The entire grandstand is screened by a net; if you want a souvenir, you have to go into the bleachers down the lines.

Parking is free, tickets are cheap, concessions are reasonable, souvenirs are very reasonable. At this lowest level of pro baseball, things feel a lot purer than they do in some of the artificial environments Iím seeing at some of these new palaces.

The hill in right field, removed in 2010.
Game # Date League Level Result
371 Sat 7-Aug-1999 Appalachian R Danville 10, JOHNSON CITY 9, 8 inn, 1st
372 Sat 7-Aug-1999 Appalachian R JOHNSON CITY 6, Danville 1, 2d
419 Wed 2-Aug-2000 Appalachian R Kingsport 5, JOHNSON CITY 3, 12 inn
1216 Fri 17-Aug-2012 Appalachian R JOHNSON CITY 10, Princeton 9, 1st
1217 Fri 17-Aug-2012 Appalachian R JOHNSON CITY 8, Princeton 4, 2d
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This page updated 21-Aug-2012