Remembering Post Park, Battle Creek’s Premier Baseball Field
99 years ago this week, work started on a new baseball field that ended up being a place of memories for many people over its 70-year lifespan.
The December 7th, 1921 edition of the Battle Creek Moon Journal printed the news that Postum Cereal was grading six acres of land on Marshall Street (now known as East Michigan Avenue) on the land formerly known as the “Greble property”, to build an up-to-date baseball field. Fifteen teams and a large force of men were at work filling in the big hollow at the center of the field.
“The new field fronts off Cliff Street, lying between Cliff and Marshall Streets, east of James, and is easily accessible from the Marshall Streetcar line”.
The paper noted that Postum Cereal intended to form a baseball team, and that “if other teams in Battle Creek follow with programs, which are expected, Battle Creek should be one of the livest baseball towns in the state in 1922.” We’re not sure “livest” is a word, but maybe it was in 1921.
Both Post and Kellogg had semi-pro teams and intense rivalries with area teams. The new grandstand was built to seat 2000. The field’s heyday was from 1922 until W.W.II, but many big games continued to be played there in the ’50s and ’60s.
Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig came through in a barnstorming exhibition on October 28th, 1928. That event didn’t turn out as planned. The weather was cold, and the turnout wasn’t great. The major leaguers played an All-Star team of players from Kellogg and Postum Cereal teams. Ruth and Gehrig each managed just a single, and Gehrig was picked off the bases. The players were scheduled for several events during the day, including talking to school kids, a parade, luncheon, and banquet at the Post Tavern. But Ruth and Gehrig missed all of those events and skipped town without honoring their contract and without collecting their $1500 fee.
Jim Bidelman remembers that the outfield was gigantic, especially in Center and Right fields. He says the left-field fence was more normal and remembers seeing the local star and former Major Leaguer Ken Hamlin hit one over the left-field fence. Jim remembers that there was a big green fence all around the park, and was probably eight to ten feet high. The park had no permanent lights and had a grandstand, mostly in the area behind home plate.
Terry Newton, long-time player, coach, educator, and broadcaster on WBCK grew up a block from the ballpark on Greble Street. “It had a big wooden grandstand, screened in with a roof,” recalled Newton. “Leftfield had a big hill. It was flat down the line, but there was a hill in the outfield, which gave many left fielders fits. It was 444 feet to left-center. right field was 470 in the corner”.
Newton said, “As kids, we would play there and a lot of greats played there. The Dodgers brought Jackie Robinson in. Many players were there before they were famous, as part of the Amateur Baseball Congress (ABC) tournaments, including the Stan Musial World Series. Ron Cey and Mike Epstein played at Post Park. Basketball great Dave DeBuscher, who pitched in college, pitched back to back 9-inning games there. Many of the great Negro League teams stopped and played there”. For the Musial Series games, he said they put in special temporary box seats for tournaments that matched seating at Bailey Park.
“Before Bailey Park, Post Field was Battle Creek’s premier baseball park”, said Newton. And it was used for more than just baseball. “There were no lights because of it being in the middle of a neighborhood, but they did put floodlights on the roof and hosted big-time wrestling there, with legends like Bobo Brazil. Kids could get a free ticket, a hot dog, and a coke. Battle Creek Central played their home baseball games there. Longtime Lakeview Coach Butch Perry played a lot of games there.”
Newton says the grandstand was torn down in the early ’80s. He says his grandfather and others offered to repair it for the cost of materials, but the city declined their offer. He says it ended up costing more to demolish it than it would have cost to repair it.
Newton says the field was still there through the 1980s but lost its majestic grandeur once the grandstand was gone. Once C.O. Brown Stadium was built at Bailey Park in 1990, Post Field was repurposed.
Nola Baker remembers that the park well, and writes, “What remains now is a neighborhood park, complete with picnic tables, a walking path, and a basketball court and playground equipment.”
Post Bark Baseball Stadium