Wednesday, August 25, 2021
Spartanburg’s baseball history is a long, proud tale that itself is a history of the sport.
From 1963-1980, and again from 1986-1994, Spartanburg was the home of the Spartanburg Phillies, a minor league affiliate of the Philadelphia big-league team of the same name.
And in 2021, Spartanburg welcomed a new team to the scene: the Spartanburgers of the Coastal Plain League. The Spartanburgers made their home at historic Duncan Park, a piece of Spartanburg and baseball history.
Duncan Park is the current home of the Spartanburg High School Vikings baseball team, and was the home to both the Spartanburg Phillies and the Spartanburg Sluggers, a Negro League team that called the Hub City home for nearly three decades.
Over the years, Spartanburg’s baseball scene brought numerous Major League stars, including several Hall of Famers, to the area.
Legends like Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron and Satchel Paige all played in Spartanburg as they toured across the U.S. New York Yankees teams featuring Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig played exhibitions at Duncan Park in the spring. And games featuring the Spartanburg Phillies welcomed big-league stars like Ryne Sandberg and Tom Glavine.
The community’s connection to baseball remains prominent in some areas even beyond Duncan Park. Outdoor chairs bearing the logo of the Spartanburg Phillies can be found along Main Street just outside FR8yard, adding to the biergarten’s air of a great place to be outside and watch the game.
Ultimately, Spartanburg played a key role in many players improving their on-field skills before finding themselves in the Major Leagues.
And with Spartanburg’s status as a College Town, the sights and sounds of America’s pastime can be taken in for even more of the year. College baseball season takes to the field in February, despite the cold temperatures, at Wofford College, the University of South Carolina Upstate and Spartanburg Methodist College.
It was under a cold blue sky that Wofford College and USC Upstate took to the diamond on March 5, 2019 for the first of two games in their crosstown college-baseball rivalry. A chill hung over the crowd at Russell C. King Field. Rows of college students, laptops open, enjoyed a few innings outside while working on classwork, and children and families bundled up, enjoying early-season baseball with popcorn and Coca-Cola.
Pings echoed across the field to the trees lining the outfield wall at Russell C. King Field every time contact was made (college baseball uses an aluminum bat).
Baseball is a sport many associate with warm weather and shorts, but college baseball season starts in February, prime winter season in Spartanburg County. As the season unfolds, temperatures gradually warm up making baseball games more and more appealing.
The March 5 game was a 3-1 win for the Terriers, a continuation of Wofford’s good sports fortune in 2019. Wofford’s men’s basketball team finished the regular season 26-4 overall and finished 18-0 in Southern Conference play. The Wofford women’s basketball team finished the regular season with a winning record as both squads prepared for Southern Conference tournament play.
But, luckily, you don’t have to be a college athlete, or a college student for that matter, to get out and play sports in Spartanburg County.
Tyger River Park, at 179 Dillard Road in Duncan, is home to 13 baseball/ softball fields, a 1.25-mile walking/running trail, batting cages and more. Tyger River Park is also host to baseball and softball tournaments, recreation leagues and local youth leagues.
North Spartanburg Park, at 1160 Old Furnace Road in Boiling Springs, is home to five baseball/softball fields, a BMX track and walking track. The park is also home to the Carolina Miracle League, which provides sports and recreation opportunities to children with mental and/or physical challenges.
295 Park, at 2100 Southport Road in Spartanburg, is home to four baseball/softball fields and multiple outdoor recreation opportunities perfect for families with young children.
Duncan Park, sits in the middle of one of Spartanburg’s oldest neighborhoods. The park is most notably home to a former minor league baseball stadium that’s now home to the Spartanburg High School baseball team. Duncan Park is also home to two lighted baseball/softball fields, several tennis courts, a walking trail, amphitheater and picnic areas.