Kearney Nebraska has a great baseball history. Win Noyes started his
career with Kearney in the Nebraska State League in 1910. Kearney was also a
part of the Nebraska State League in the 1922-1924 time frame and in the 1928-1938
Memorial Field was built right after World War II and it replaced the ball park at the fairgrounds. The Kearney Irishmen of the Nebraska Independent League and the Kearney Yankees of the class "D" Nebraska State League played at Memorial Field.
Kearney Memorial Field
Photo courtesy Eliza Portrait Design
At the end of World War II, Kearney built Memorial Field. Built on a hill it is a great example of the kinds of stadiums built during this era. It was dedicated on June 2, 1946 and was home for the Kearney Irishmen. The Irishmen were part of the Nebraska Independent League. The league had six teams in 1946; Lexingron, Holdrege, McCook, North Platte, Hastings and Kearney.
The infield was not yet sodded for the first game and the grass in the outfield was sparse. In addition, the field only had temporary stands. In August, the Giant Manufacturing Company of Council Bluffs Iowa installed lighting for the field. The cost was $7,600 and featured 12 poles with a total lighting wattage of 235,000 watts. This same company installed the lights at Lincoln's Landis Field in 1930.
The Nebraska State League started up again in 1956 with the cooperation and support of Major League Baseball. This was a class "D" rookie league. Memorial Park was the home of the Kearney Yankees and future major league stars like Deron Johnson, Hal Reniff, Horace Clarke and Jim Bouton played for the Kearney Yankees in the NSL.
Memorial Park was the home of the Kearney Yankees and is now the home of the University of Nebraska Kearney team and local American Legion teams.
|The field is dug into a hill. The entrance is at the top of the hill. As you can see, you enter through a well maintained building which serves as offices, press box and concession stand. The signs tell you that the current use of the park is for Legion ball and UNK baseball.|
|If you go to a game at the stadium be sure to bring a cushion. The stands are concrete and do not have a back except for the ones behind home plate. This stadium and the one in Hastings were considered to be the best in the NSL during the 56-59 time frame.|
|The field is still in great shape. The infield is in great shape, the facility is well maintained and clean.|
|The field features a picnic area behind the stands. The ball park feels like a stadium in a much bigger city. It is gem in central Nebraska.|
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© 2009 Bruce Esser