While we are waiting for 2015 Major League Baseball’s opening day, let me take you back to a time in which baseball was America’s game and Saturday afternoons could be spent at the ballfield watching the Charlotte Hornets play.
Wait a minute you ask me, the Charlotte Hornets playing baseball? Yes, before the city got its NBA team in the late 1980’s, our minor league team from 1901 to 1973, which served as a farm team for various Major League team from the Washington Senators to the Minnesota Twins was named the Charlotte Hornets. They played Wearn Field, which was built and owned by the club owner J. H. Wearn who owned a lumber mill of the same name located in the old Brooklyn neighborhood between Third and Fourth Streets near the Fourth Street Alley.
His baseball field, however was located just inside the city limits at the corner of South Mint and Dowd Road, according to the 1922 Charlotte City Directory, the field keeper was Henry Petty:
1935 Charlotte Chamber of Commerce Map. Arrow shows the approximate location of Wearn Field. Image courtesy of the Spangler-Robinson Carolina Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.
What threw me in trying to find the location was that the street name like so many others here in Charlotte has changed over the years. Dowd Road was changed to West Summit Avenue sometime in the 1960’s:
Location of Wearn Field 2015. West Summit Avenue in 1923 at this point was called Dowd Road.
When I finally found the location, of course I had to find out what was there now:
Office complex on the site of Wearn Field. Picture taken by the author.
Here is a picture of a game day at the field, courtesy of James Jack:
Game at Wearn Field, date unknown. Picture courtesy of James Jack.
After World War II, it was supplemented by Clark Griffith Field built in Dilworth which was later destroyed in an arson fire. I don’t have any information about when the park was finally closed and demolished, I hope someone can help me out.
I hope that you will explore more about the Charlotte area’s sports history. You can start at the Carolina Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library or the Levine Museum of the New South both of which are located within a couple of blocks from each other on North Tryon and North College Streets. If you know of anyone who may have more information, please let me know.
My sources for today’s entry are:
Picture showing a game day is courtesy of James Jack date unknown is via Facebook from the Charlotte, NC Past and Present Page.
Map showing location of Dowd Road at South Mint Street from the online maps collection of the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library.
Information on J. H. Wearn and Wearn Field from the 1922 Charlotte City Directory, page 660. This was downloaded from digitalnc.org on November 17, 2012.
1911 Sanford Fire Map showing the location of J. H. Wearn Lumber Yard was courtesy of the North Carolina Maps page of the Wilson Library of the University of North Carolina located at http://www2.lib.unc.edu/dc/ncmaps/sanborn.html