On This Place in History, we’re visiting Vermont’s many roadside historical markers with Steve Perkins, executive director of the Vermont Historical Society.
Just before another season of baseball begins at historic Centennial Field, we visit the ballpark that came before Centennial.
The original Athletic Park in Burlington is now a trucking depot on Riverside Avenue on the Intervale.
“Well, you know, that trolley line went through where Riverside Avenue is right now.” said Perkins. “The railroad line went on the other side of the park. So, people would generally use public transportation or walk. And they could show up and see a baseball game really anytime during the summer.”
Some of Vermont’s great ballplayers played at this park. Bert Abbey, Arlington Pond, Jean Dubuc, hall of famer Ray Collins, 3-time Red Sox World Series champion and Vermont native Larry Gardner, and Doc Hazelton who played on this field and then coached on this field and then later worked for UVM.
Perkins also tells the story of black ball player William Clarence Matthews who played for the Burlington Northern League team in 1905. He was the only black player playing in professional baseball at the time and he was playing in Burlington.
Centennial Field was built in 1906. At that point, this park was abandoned and baseball moved to Centennial Field.
That’s On This Place in History with the Vermont Historical Society.