Letter: Pittsfield should revisit a new downtown ballpark
To the editor:
In 1791, George Washington was still in his first term of office as our nation's first president. Also, in 1791, our nation's Bill of Rights was ratified, and, on Sept. 5, 1791 the township of Pittsfield passed a bylaw that prohibited baseball from being played in our downtown.
Broken windows were a common occurrence due to foul balls. As a result, this ordinance was passed to protect the windows of our downtown businesses and churches. The date of this ordinance tells us that this game was being played much earlier than Sept. 5, 1791. So much, that a law was required to protect the downtown windows. This is the first written mention of baseball in history. With this writing we now know that as our country grew baseball grew, as did Pittsfield's love of the game.
This document was found in an old box that was stored in the Berkshire Athenaeum. Can it be said that as a retraction was never found it is still a law today?
Also, without an explanation, it was discovered that in 1875 the world's first intercollegiate baseball game was played in Pittsfield between Williams and Amherst colleges.
Due to this rich baseball history, a downtown stadium was proposed for the corner of West and Center streets. What happened next could be considered the most controversial time in Pittsfield's history.
Many of our voters kicked and stamped their feet as if it was a life or death situation. As a result of this debate, the idea of a downtown stadium was defeated in a special election. Then, as we were trying to understand what happened, the property was sold to CVS and the possibility of a new stadium in that area was gone forever.
The saddest part of this story is that it was voted down for all of the wrong reasons. It was voted down because people were made to believe horrible things were going to happen to homes in that part of Pittsfield.
I would like to suggest that we still have a place in our downtown for a beautiful new stadium that could be used for many new and exciting ideas that are only limited to the size of our imaginations.
I am proposing that Springside Park is an alternative option. If anyone has another suggestion or location please bring the thought forward.
I believe that a nonbinding referendum that asks the question "Should we pursue building a new stadium somewhere in Pittsfield?" be asked. As the results of the question would be nonbinding we will have a simple yes or no answer to a simple question. Are we interested in a new and additional stadium in our town. Then, if yes, we proceed with caution.
Please remember that our beloved Wahconah Park would still remain and be used as it is today. Also, I believe that grant money can be found to eliminate the cost issue of building a 5000 seat stadium.
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