Pullman Park

On May 18, 1934, two teams made up of local ball players, the Bernohr All-Stars and the Vessel All-Stars, played the inaugural baseball game at the historic grounds of Pullman Park. The game featured Butler's Mayor, George Thompson, who pitched for the Vessel team. Thompson did not fare well as he given up a total of 7 runs in the first two innings of play. The Pullman Standard Steel Car Company leased then eventually donated the vacant land to the Butler Athletic Association to build a park. Volunteers in the community built the park themselves for the most part. Local businesses and donors gave money to construct the park.


In the park’s second year of operation in 1935, it was home to its first professional baseball team, the Butler Penn Staters, who served as a farm team for the Cleveland Indians of the Major Leagues. This affiliation was due entirely to the donation of five hundred dollars given by the General Manager of the Cleveland Indians, Billy Evans, to help aid in the building of the park's grandstand seating. Evans donated the money with the vision of Butler becoming a minor league affiliate of the Major League team, which became a reality in the 1935 season. The team played both regular league games as well as games against teams from the Negro Leagues. Hall of Fame slugger, Josh Gibson, who played his entire career in the Negro Leagues, is believed to have hit the longest home run in the history of the park.


Following the 1935 season, team President J.J. Dunlevy ended the team’s agreement with the Indians, even though the team finished respectably in second place. The termination of this agreement was due to a new agreement that was in place with the New York Yankees organization starting in 1936. The Yankees supplied the farm team with players of its own as well as lights on wooden poles, and agreed that the Major League team would play exhibition games at the park when possible. There were two very memorable games that the New York Yankees stopped in to play exhibitions against the minor league team. The first was on May 22, 1936, and they returned once more during the 1938 season. These teams included players such as Hall of Fame members Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig. Minor league ball continued to be played at the park up until about 1942, when operations were discontinued due to World War II. Team president J.J. Dunlevy applied for another franchise after the war and received a team in the newly founded Middle Atlantic League, which was sponsored by the New York Yankees for a couple of years until the franchise was sponsored briefly by the Detroit Tigers. Professional baseball ended at Pullman Park in 1951.


Pullman Park has served as the home of many youth, high school and amateur baseball teams in the years since it served as home for numerous professional farm teams. The park has also been the host of other sporting events such as semi-pro and high school football games as well as nationally televised boxing matches. The first boxing match to take place at the park was in July of 2008 and featured Butler native Brian Minto in the main event; he was victorious in this bout, recording a first round knockout. This match, which was televised on ESPN 2, was the first ever nationally televised event in Butler.


Beginning in 2005 the park closed for major renovations including a brand new facade, seating, scoreboard, and an artificial turf infield. The reopening of the newly renovated stadium took place on March 17, 2008. In 2013, the naming rights to the stadium were sold to a local car dealership for $150,000. The stadium has since been renamed Kelly Automotive Park.

Images

Map