The National Pastime: Great Ballparks in Oklahoma

Just a reminder that basketball is not the only sport played in Oklahoma…..

Welcome back. Baseball is truly something special. Across the country there are many historical small town ball fields like Doenges Memorial Stadium where many professional major leaguers got their start over the last 70 years. With seating for 2,500 it’s been the crown jewel of downtown Bartlesville since 1932 and thanks to the support of the community it will continue to be.

In Tulsa the Double A Tulsa Drillers call ONEOK Field home. Opened in 2010 at a cost of 39.2 million, the stadium holds 7,833 spectators comfortably and when they add seating on the infield for concerts that number jumps to 9,000. Built just like the big league ballparks with a couple of dozen private suites, ONEOK Field also offers many other extras for fans, players and coaches.

Trying to see all the baseball I could over the weekend, on the 4th I caught a game at the stadium in Bricktown which is located right in downtown Oklahoma City and is close to everything.  The Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark as it is called is home to the Triple A Oklahoma City Dodgers which is the affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The big boys play here and with seating for over 13,000 it is also home to the Big 12 Tournament and numerous other major events.

While I was there I found out that there are three main gates leading into the park and each one is marked by a giant bronze sculpture of a ball player with ties to Oklahoma. At the main gate is Mickey Mantle who was born in Spavinaw and raised in Commerce, Oklahoma. The7’6” statue stands on a 3’ granite base and was dedicated on the opening day of the stadium in 1998. A 9’bronze of Oklahoma boy Johnny Bench greets fans at the home plate gate. Bench grew up in Binger, Oklahoma and his statue was dedicated in 2001.

Warren Spahn was a hard throwing left hander from Buffalo, New York who is in the Baseball Hall of Fame along with Mantle and Bench.  Although not a native of Oklahoma, the 8’8” statue of him at the other gate came to be because after managing the Tulsa Drillers in 1967 he chose to remain here and live in Broken Arrow.

The inside of the Chickasaw Ballpark has an elegant design and state of the art amenities including a 10’ high 185’ long LED video scoreboard in left field. The food in the ballpark is also top of line and it’s no wonder that it has been named the #2 minor league park in the country by Baseball America and ranked in the top 10 minor league stadiums in the country at the Best Readers’ Choice Awards.

Baseball, the 4th of July and America, they all go together so if you’re thinking of catching a ball game, whether at Doenges Stadium, ONEOK Field or at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, located at where else but #2 south Mickey Mantle Drive, you are sure to meet some friends and have a good time at the old ballgame.

Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road…..



Tribes of Oklahoma

Some interesting history  I have picked up along the road…….

Welcome back. Living in northeast Oklahoma I am always looking for stories that might fall through the cracks in terms of mainstream media reporting and also in hopes of bringing you a fresh perspective very week so here we go.

Oklahoma is home to 39 tribal nations which according to the Oklahoma Indian Country Guide means that there are more different languages spoken here than in all of Europe. In this area we are all familiar with tribes such as the Osage, Cherokee and Delaware and many of you may also be members of one of these nations. However there are many other tribes we may not be aware of such as the Kituwah who have 14,300 members or the Modoc whose chief Captain Jack was the only Indian in American history to be tried by a military commission for war crimes and executed.

The Tonkawa tribe which is headquartered outside of Ponca City is another small group of 600 but once the tribe was made up of many small bands who were considered some of the most warlike on the plains by both the early Spanish explorers and the first American settlers. Stroud, Oklahoma is home to the 3,600 member Sac& Fox nation whose 1832 battle with US infantry men resulted in the slaughter of hundreds of unarmed Indian women and children while they were crossing the Mississippi River in retreat. The Sac& Fox also count among their members the man whom the King of Sweden called the greatest athlete of modern times during the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, Jim Thorpe.

Other small tribes in Oklahoma include the Euchee tribe with 240 members, the Kialegee with 439 and the Kickapoo with 2,713 who were the first Indians to encounter Lewis & Clark after the expedition left St. Louis in 1802.

Oklahoma is rich in Indian history and if you want to learn more there are many great museums to explore around the state. The Cherokee Strip Museum in Alva is a good place to start as is the Plains Indians and Pioneers Museum in Woodward.  At the Museum of the Red River they have a large display of both Indian artifacts and dinosaur bones from the area.

In northeastern Oklahoma there’s the Osage Tribal Museum, the Webbers Falls Museum, the Creek Council House Museum and a dozen others.

There are also around 80 tribal casinos in Oklahoma including the Riverwind near Norman run by the Chickasaw Nation and the Choctaws’ casino in Durant. The Osage Tribe operates seven casinos in Osage County, claiming they occupy the only federally recognized reservation in Oklahoma.

If you’re thinking about a road trip, there are dozens of historical sites around the state and I’ve been to several. At Fort Reno in western Oklahoma many of the original structures are still intact and the cemetery there has a story of its own as several German pows from World War II are buried there. The Jim Thorpe home is another neat place as is Chief Lookout’s memorial and gravesite on Lookout Mountain east of Pawhuska. Two of my favorite places, Woolaroc and Gilgrease Museum have large collections of Indian art and artifacts right in our backyard.

Till next time I’ll see ya down the road……