Clint Lightner 706 E Maple Garden City, Ks 67846 |
Welcome to ClintLightner.com a website dedicated the the historic Kansas Ballpark.
- Date Opened 1920
- Dimensions Left - 340' Center - 385' Right - 305'
- Height of Wall Left - 6' Center - 6' Right - 6'
- Construction Cost Unknown
- Elevation 2828
- Finney County, Garden City Kansas USA
Fieldturf and modern Musco Lights installed in 2013.
by Mark Eberle- Fort Hays State
Clint Lightner Field, Frederick Finnup Park, Garden City, Kansas (1920, 1936, 1956)
Historical Baseball Park. The land that comprises Frederick Finnup Park was transferred to the city in May 1919 by George W. Finnup to honor his father. The city intended to “proceed at the earliest moment to establish the roads and walks, plant trees and establish the lake, build tennis courts and ball grounds and provide a camping ground for tourists passing over the Santa Fe Trail” (highways were just beginning to be paved with concrete and highway numbers were not yet used). By August 1919, plans were being made for the baseball diamond. “The permanent base ball grounds for the city will be established in the northeast corner of the Finnup Park, and the work of improving it will commence shortly. It is proposed to erect grandstands and other necessary buildings and get it in shape for both base and foot ball games.” In May 1920, the “ball grounds in Finnup Park” were “being put in shape” by 2 ball clubs, one a general town team and the other consisting of members of the American Legion, which was chartered by the US Congress in 1919, at the close of the First World War. They had obtained money to buy team uniforms, and still “it is hoped eventually to build a grand stand on the grounds.” A scoreboard was installed in time for a July 4th baseball game in 1920 “at the fine new ball park, which is beginning to take on the appearance of a real ball diamond.” Funds from a game in August 1920 between the Garden City town team and the local Legion team were to be used for additional improvements at the baseball ground. Nearly 6 years later, a batting cage at “Finnup park diamond” had been completed prior to the second spring workout of the Legion team in April 1926, where “a good crowd of spectators looked on from the sidelines,” rather than from a grandstand.
A concrete grandstand with a roof (now metal) was built as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project in 1936 or shortly after. Although no wooden grandstand built at Finnup Park in the 1920s has yet been documented, the WPA replaced wooden grandstands with structures wholly or partly made of concrete, sometimes with stone exteriors, at other ballparks. They also built grandstands where none had existed. By the 1950s, the seating available with this single, concrete grandstand was considered insufficient at some ballgames. During 1955 and early 1956, plans to add seating for about 300 people, increasing the total seating capacity to about 1,000 spectators, were discussed by the city and the Jaycees (the local Ban Johnson team), who would share the construction costs. The options discussed were adding either a concrete section or a steel section toward the third base line. Howard Blanchard, who designed the existing grandstand built by the WPA, consulted on the design of the new seating, which ultimately resulted in construction of a concrete section matching the existing grandstand but lacking a roof and separated by an entryway 18 feet wide. Although the added seating on the third base line lacks a roof, it has concrete supports for one along the back wall that match those on the main grandstand. The seating constructed in 1956 was built shortly after the ballpark received its current name. Clint Lightner worked as the Superintendent of the Electrical Department of Garden City. He also was the business manager of the local Ban Johnson team. Given his job with the city, he was involved with installation of the first lights at the park in the 1940s. He died unexpectedly in 1951 at the age of 55.
In 2014, the Garden City Recreation Commission and Garden City Unified School District (USD) 457 partnered for another set of improvements. The improvements include installing new lights (replacing those installed about 60 years earlier, although the poles had been replaced by the city in 1968) and laying a synthetic turf infield (including the pitcher’s mound), which gives balls truer bounces for the young players to field, requires less daily maintenance, and conserves water. The outfield is still grass. Enhancements to the seating (now metal benches), backstop, locker rooms, parking, and other features of the park are part of the renovation plans through 2016. The local American Legion team folded after the 1955 season, and the Ban Johnson team folded after the 1959 season, leaving the stadium largely unused and vandalized. However, Legion baseball returned in 1963, and the field has since been used by a variety of local teams, including the high school, which will all benefit from the recent restoration and renovation project.
The Garden City Wind joined the Pecos League in 2015.
Garden City High School and American Legion play on the field as well.