(Atlanta, Ga) – Whenever you get a chance – you should take the opportunity to see a baseball game at Russ Chandler Stadium, home of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. A crown jewel on the Tech campus, the facility is pristine and has fabulous views of the Atlanta skyline. The stadium has produced a long list of impressive major league baseball players, including Mark Teixeira, Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Varitek and Matt Murton to just name a few. But the history goes way back, as baseball has been played right off Fowler Street since 1930.
The original name, which was Rose Bowl Field, came from the source of the funds to build it, the 1929 Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, where the Yellow Jackets football team defeated the California Bears 8-7 (thanks to Roy Riegels infamous wrong way run). Construction was completed in March of 1930, an article in the Atlanta Constitution described the field this way,
“The new diamond, on the Rose Bowl Field and the Flats, is one of the best in the south, professional parks not barred. The park has a grandstand of orthodox construction which can care comfortably for 5,000 fans.”
The field made its debut on Friday, March 28, 1930 when the Yellow Jackets hosted the Clemson Tigers in the opening game, a 10-9 win for the good guys. The game started at 4pm and darkness began to take over in the 7th inning. Darkness played a factor as Tech’s winning run scored on a passed ball by Tigers catcher Foggy Woodruff when he lost the ball in flight and Tech base runner Ray Issacs scored. Tech shortstop “Leg” Pullen made history when he hit the first home run at the park.
Tech graduate Kid Clay was the coach that year, he was an assistant football coach under legendary John Heisman and became the baseball coach in 1921, where he would win three conference championships. After his departure in 1931, another Tech legend, Bobby Dodd, patrolled Rose Bowl Field as the baseball coach.
In 1930, the professional baseball team in Atlanta, the Crackers played their home games at Ponce de Leon Park before giving way to the Atlanta Braves in 1966 at Fulton County Stadium. While this is Tech’s 89th season at the Rose Bowl Field site, professional baseball has had four homes during the same time period.
While the field and location are the same, a lot of changes have occurred. In the fall of 1970, the old stands were torn down and the new stands weren’t installed in time for the season, so all fans of the 1971 Tech team had to stand. Lights were added in 1983, and new stadium was built in the current location in 1985.
The current stadium, which has a capacity of 4,157, was completed in 2002. Russ Chandler was a Tech Alumni who funded the 1985 construction.
There are not many venues in the United States that can boast the heritage of Tech’s baseball stadium. Next year will mark 90 years, and the place looks like it is just getting younger and younger. Take in the experience this year, you will not regret it.