The Minnesota Twins spring training home from 1961 – 1990 is scheduled for demolition some time in the next 60 days. The Twins left Orlando after the 1990 season and moved their spring training home to Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers prior to their 1991 championship season. Numerous teams including the Minnesota Twins had minor league teams that played in Tinker Field as part of the Florida State League and the Southern League.
The ballpark was built-in 1923 at a cost of $50,000 and named for former Chicago Cubs player and Hall of Famer Joe Tinker. It hosted the Cincinnati Reds for spring training in the 1920s, and the Brooklyn Dodgers for two seasons in the 1930s. The Washington Senators and later the Minnesota Twins held spring training camp there from the mid-’30s until 1990. Numerous Hall of Famers including Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Bert Blyleven, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Jackie Robinson have played there. Tinker Field’s history isn’t limited to baseball, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at a civil-rights rally there in 1964.
On May 14, 2004, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places but now it is slated to be torn down in the name of progress. The main reason? The renovation of the Florida Citrus Bowl stadium, which abuts the baseball field, includes a larger enclosed concourse that will encroach onto Tinker Field. The ballpark will lose about 80 feet of its outfield, putting the outfield fence as close as 240 feet from home plate.
For me personally,it is sad that Tinker Field will soon be torn down as it is the first place that I ever attended spring training when I spend a few days there back in 1971 watching the Twins go through their spring paces.