Municipal Stadium (Kansas City, Missouri)

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Municipal Stadium
Kansas City Municipal Stadium 1955.jpg
First Athletics game at Municipal Stadium, 1955.
Former names Muehlebach Field (1923–1937)
Ruppert Stadium (1937–1943)
Blues Stadium (1943–1954)
Location 2123 Brooklyn Avenue
Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Coordinates 39°5′9″N 94°33′25″W / 39.08583°N 94.55694°W / 39.08583; -94.55694Coordinates: 39°5′9″N 94°33′25″W / 39.08583°N 94.55694°W / 39.08583; -94.55694
Broke ground 1923
Opened July 3, 1923
Demolished 1976
Owner City of Kansas City
Operator City of Kansas City
Surface Grass
Construction cost US$400,000
($5.54 million in 2014 dollars1)
Architect Osborn Engineering
Capacity 17,476 (1923-1955)
30,296 (1955-1961)
34,165 (1961-1969)
34,164 (1969-1971) 35,561 (1971-1972)
Field dimensions 1923
Left Field – 350 feet (107 metres)
Center Field – 450 feet (137 metres)
Right Field – 350 feet (107 metres)

1972
Left Field – 369 feet (112 metres)
Left Center – 408 feet (124 metres)
Center Field – 421 feet (128 metres)
Right Center – 382 feet (116 metres)
Right Field – 338 feet (103 metres)

Tenants
Kansas City Blues (A.A.) (1923–1954)
Kansas City Monarchs (NNL and NAL) (1923–1931, 1937–1954)
Kansas City Blues / Cowboys (NFL) (1924–1926)
Kansas City Athletics (MLB) (1955–1967)
Kansas City Chiefs (AFL / NFL) (1963–1971)
Kansas City Spurs (NASL) (1968–1970)
Kansas City Royals (MLB) (1969–1972)

Kansas City Municipal Stadium was an American baseball and football stadium that formerly stood in Kansas City, Missouri.

It hosted the minor-league Kansas City Blues of the American Association from 1923 to 1954 and the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro leagues during the same period.

The stadium was almost completely rebuilt prior to the 1955 baseball season and hosted the American League Kansas City Athletics from 1955 to 1967, the American League Kansas City Royals from 1969 to 1972, and the American Football League and National Football League Kansas City Chiefs from 1963 to 1971, as well as other short-lived professional teams.

Early history

Municipal Stadium was originally built as Muehlebach Field in 1923 for the minor-league Blues for $400,000. It was named for Blues owner George E. Muehlebach, who also owned Kansas City businesses including Muehlebach Beer and the Muehlebach Hotel.

It was located in the inner-city neighborhood near 18th and Vine to house the minor-league white Kansas City Blues baseball team and the Negro League Kansas City Monarchs.23 The first Negro League World Series game was held at the stadium in 1924. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, founded in 1990, is a few blocks from the site.4

The stadium consisted of a single-decked, mostly covered, grandstand, extending from the right-field foul pole down and around most of the left-field line. When the New York Yankees bought the Blues as its top farm team in 1937, the stadium was renamed Ruppert Stadium in honor of the Yankees' owner, Col. Jacob Ruppert. Ruppert died two years later and the stadium was renamed Blues Stadium in 1943.

Rebuilding

Single decked and double decked

Arnold Johnson, a Chicago real estate magnate, bought both Blues Stadium and Yankee Stadium in 1953. A year later, he bought the Philadelphia Athletics from Connie Mack in November 1954 and announced that he would move the team to Kansas City. He then sold Blues Stadium to the city, who renamed it Municipal Stadium and leased it back to the A's.

Muehlebach had anticipated that Kansas City would eventually get a major league team, and had built the stadium with footings sufficiently strong to support a second deck. However, when work began on double-decking the stadium, it was discovered that the footings were no longer strong enough to support the weight of a second deck. City officials elected to almost completely demolish the stadium and rebuild from scratch. The city ran three shifts and the new stadium was built in 90 days, completed in time for the April 1955 opening. The new construction was financed by a bond issuance. The expanded stadium was supposed to seat 38,000, but cost overruns as a result of overtime payments forced officials to reduce capacity to just over 30,000.5 The Braves Field scoreboard was purchased and moved to Kansas City, while temporary bleachers were added in the left field corner and parts of the outfield.

Kansas City Athletics

A's vs. Yankees at Municipal Stadium, 1966

The stadium was home to many of the shenanigans of Charlie Finley, who bought the A's after Johnson's death in 1960. Most notably, he tried to shorten the rather distant fences by creating a 296-foot (90-metre) Pennant Porch in right field, fronting a tiny bleacher section, to mock the famed short fence in right field at Yankee Stadium, home of the powerful Yankees. The move was quickly vetoed by the league. So Finley rebuilt the fence to the bare legal minimum of 325 feet (99 metres), and repainted the fence to say "One-Half Pennant Porch". Later he tried the ruse of putting a canopy over the little bleacher, which just happened to have an extension that reached out 29 feet (9 metres) over the field. The league, not amused by Finley's sense of humor, again ordered him to cease and desist. According to legend, on a road trip that the A's made to New York, a Yankee hitter lofted a long fly ball to left field which, in the cavernous left field of Yankee Stadium, became a routine out. Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard is alleged to have then said over the microphone, "In Kansas City, that would have been a home run", itself a response to Finley's dictum for Municipal Stadium public address announcer Jack Layton to announce, "That would have been a home run at Yankee Stadium" for any ball hit beyond a line Finley painted in the outfield grass 296 feet away from home plate in Kansas City.

In addition to his notorious tinkering with the right-field corner, Finley experimented with moving the other fences in and out several times during his seven seasons operating the team here. None of those moves had any notable effect on the team's performance, as the club finished in or near last place nearly every year.

A small zoo with goats and sheep and picnic area stood behind the right-field fence. When home runs were hit into the field the goats and sheep would scamper up the hill. At the same time, Finley replaced the Athletics' old elephant mascot with a live mule, appropriately named "Charlie-O".

At home plate a mechanical rabbit, nicknamed "Harvey" in reference to the stage play Harvey (1944) and the subsequent film of the same name (1950), rose out of the ground with new baseballs for the umpire and a compressed-air device (nicknamed "Little Blowhard") blew dirt off of home plate.

During the years when two major league All-Star Games were scheduled each year instead of one, Municipal Stadium hosted the first of the two 1960 games, with the National League winning the contest 5-3.

On September 17, 1964, The Beatles played the stadium as part of their first U.S. tour. The date was originally supposed to be an off-day for the band, but they agreed to perform when Finley offered their manager, Brian Epstein, a then-record sum of $150,000. The group opened the concert by saluting the host town with their medley of "Kansas City" and "Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey".

Kansas City Chiefs

When the Dallas Texans of the AFL moved to Kansas City after the 1962 season, becoming the Kansas City Chiefs, the stadium was retrofitted for football. Temporary stands were erected in left field to expand the stadium's capacity each fall, but had to be removed during the baseball season. The double-decked grandstand extended all the way across the south sideline (first base line of the baseball field), but ended halfway around the west end zone (third base on the baseball diamond). Both teams' benches were on the north sideline in front of the temporary bleachers, as was the case at Milwaukee County Stadium. The east end zone ended at the right field fence, and the large scoreboard was in this end of the stadium. Due to the fence, there was significantly less room between the end line and the fence of the east end zone than there was in the west end zone, where there was a significant amount of room between the end line and the grandstand.6

The Chiefs' final game at the stadium was played on Christmas Day 1971. The double-overtime playoff contest (with overtime lasting over 22 minutes and resulting in a loss to the Miami Dolphins) remains the longest game in NFL history,7 as well the only post-season football game ever played at Municipal Stadium.

Kansas City Royals

Municipal Stadium's site, pictured in 2012, is largely occupied by a housing development. A plaque at 22nd and Brooklyn marks the location.

Municipal Stadium's fate was sealed when, as part of the AFL-NFL merger, the NFL agreed to require a minimum stadium capacity of 50,000 people; at its height, Municipal Stadium only seated 35,000 people for football and could not be expanded. However, a replacement would have almost certainly been needed in any event given its age and condition. Public bonds were issued in 1967 to fund a complex including separate football and baseball stadiums—what would eventually become the Truman Sports Complex. It came too late for the A's, however, as they moved to Oakland after the 1967 season. Instead, Kansas City was awarded a new American League team for 1969, and the Royals used the stadium as a temporary home.

After the 1972 baseball season, the stadium was replaced by the Truman Sports Complex, which included Royals Stadium for the Royals and Arrowhead Stadium for the Chiefs. The Royals won the final game (and event) ever held at Municipal Stadium, 4-0 over the Texas Rangers on October 4, 1972, in what also turned out to be the final Major League game ever managed by Hall Of Famer Ted Williams. Pitcher Roger Nelson threw a complete game shutout for the Royals, while centerfielder Amos Otis scored the final run in Municipal Stadium history in the 5th inning and catcher Ed Kirkpatrick had the final hit (a single) in the 8th inning. Four days prior on September 30, Gene Tenace of the Oakland A's hit the final home run in the park's history and John Mayberry hit the final Royals home run the night before that.

Demolition

The stadium was demolished in 1976, and replaced by a municipal garden. The former ballpark site is being redeveloped with new single family homes.

See also

References

  1. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  2. ^ Staff (undated). "K.C. Municipal Stadium". ballparksofbaseball.com. Retrieved July 9, 2012.
  3. ^ Staff (undated). "Kansas City Municipal Stadium". ballparktour.com. Retrieved March 31, 2009.
  4. ^ Staff (undated). "Negro Leagues Baseball Museum". Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Retrieved July 9, 2012.
  5. ^ Staff (March 1, 1958). "A's Municipal Stadium Constructed in 90 Days". Associated Press (via The Victoria Advocate) (via Google News). p. 8. Retrieved July 9, 2012. 
  6. ^ Staff (undated). "KC Municipal Stadium". stadiumsofprofootball.com. Retrieved July 9, 2012.
  7. ^ Staff (December 17, 2008). "The Longest NFL Game Ever Played: 'Twas the Night of Christmas – And All Through the Nation, Folks Were Wondering ... When Would This Game End?". tcpalm.com (website operated by Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers). Retrieved July 9, 2012.

External links

Events and tenants
(except as noted, all venues located in Kansas City, Missouri)
Preceded by
Association Park
Home of the Kansas City Blues
1923–1954
Succeeded by
last ballpark
Preceded by
Association Park
Home of the Kansas City Monarchs
1923–1954
Succeeded by
last ballpark
Preceded by
Shibe Park
(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Home of the Kansas City Athletics
1955–1967
Succeeded by
Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
(Oakland, California)
Preceded by
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
(Los Angeles, California)
Host of the All-Star Game
1960 1st Game
Succeeded by
Yankee Stadium
(New York City, New York)
Preceded by
Cotton Bowl
(Dallas, Texas)
Home of the Kansas City Chiefs
1963–1971
Succeeded by
Arrowhead Stadium
Preceded by
first ballpark
Home of the Kansas City Royals
1969–1972
Succeeded by
Royals Stadium







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