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  • Writer's pictureDominic Konareski

Former Yankees And Athletics Minor League Stadium In Ruins | Quigley Stadium

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Forenote

For many, baseball is life; some people live, breathe and sleep the hardball game. For West Haven, Connecticut, the thought of going pro was in so many kids' heads in the 1970s and 80s, it seemed like it was just one block away, for some it was.


For a decade Quigley Memorial Stadium held home to three Double-AA minor league teams: the West Haven Yankees, West Haven Whitecaps and West Haven A’s.

The stadium was a true field of dreams, now it is anything but that.


Constructed in 1947, it was originally called Exhibition Stadium, but subsequently renamed for Maurice P. Quigley, who built the ballpark. Quigley would move his semi-professional West Haven Sailors from Donovan Field to the newly constructed stadium, making the Sailors one of the first teams to play there.


From the get-go, the stadium was regarded as one of the higher-end ballparks in Connecticut. The talent and success of the Sailors brought the likes of Yogi Berra, Billy Johnson and Jim Bagby Jr., in attendance.


The City of West Haven would buy the stadium from Maurice Quigley in 1951. The first several decades after the change of ownership would not see much, it wasn’t until the 1970s where Quigley Stadium was fully put on the map.


Minor Leagues At Quigley

In 1972, the New York Yankees put their AA-ball affiliate in West Haven. The West Haven Yankees would win an Eastern League championship in the inaugural season in the city. Overall, the West Haven Yankees would post a 611-462 (.552%) record and be winners of four-total Eastern League championships (1972, ‘76, ‘77, ‘79).


Notable West Haven Yankee alumni features: Ron Guidry, Buck Showalter, Dave Righetti, Willie McGee and Steve Balboni. The club also had future Major League managers at its helm, notably featuring Bobby Cox and Stump Merrill.


After the Yankees left; the Oakland Athletics would then roll in. 1980 saw the West Haven Whitecaps, who would later have a name changed to the West Haven A’s prior to the 1981 season.


1982 saw the last West Haven team. The A's, managed by Bob Didier, won the team's fifth and final Eastern League title. In 1983, the franchise moved to Albany, New York, becoming the Albany A's.


There is no recognition that the stadium once housed Minor League baseball teams, especially championship teams.


A New Era For Quigley And West Haven

Since 1983, Quigley Stadium has been home to several college, high school and semi-pro teams. Currentally, the stadium only holds games for the West Haven Twilight League, a semi-pro baseball summer league.


Slowly but steady Quigley Stadium has fallen into shambles from neglect and incompetence from poor management by the City of West Haven.


The Decline


A 1988 New York Times article called, ‘Stadium in West Haven Held Between 2 Visions’ showcased the neglect that Quigley Stadium has received. Reminder: that article came out just six-years after the minor leagues left the city.


Former West Haven Mayor Azelio Guerra, stated in the article that “The stadium loses $75,000 a year.”


$75K in 1988 translates to around 194K in today’s money figures, but let's put the actual number around $80-100K for more a more accurate approach and take a look at the current state of the stadium.

The Quigley Stadium parking lot is used as a dumping ground, with some trash making its way inside the stadium itself. Not to mention potholes that are ankle-deep, showing desperate signs of repavement.


Overgrown shrubbery has taken the form of the chain-link fence and has almost fully seized the entirety of both foul poles. Branches and weeds hang over parts of the bullpens and the field. The visitor bullpen has several dirt patches with broken plates that have weeds growing out of it, it seems almost post-apocalyptic.






The press box is graffitied over with blacked out windows, it is unclear if it is usable once again, as it was reported by several sources that a small homeless encampment was there and feces was what was left-over. The visitor dugout had its benches removed and it is unclear when, if ever, that they’ll be replaced. The ticket stand has been boarded up for over three years, allowing people in attendance to view the games with no-payment.


The City of West Haven is making little-to-no money on Quigley Stadium. The only green that the stadium produces is weeds. The City of West Haven has failed the simple task that is maintaining a baseball field.


A Mission To Save Quigley Stadium


A fix could be made and by making a fix, it would rejuvenate the Stadium and put Quigley back on the map. Here are the steps that I am proposing.


First of all, all the overgrown shrubbery would have to be removed. The chain-link fences and bullpen fences appear to be rustless, it's just that they are being retaken by Mother Nature.


Secondly, the refurbishment of both the home and away bullpens are desperately needed. Overall, the dugouts appear to be in good shape, with just the visitor dugout needing new benches.


Thirdly, a parking lot repavement needs to happen. By repaving the parking lot it will make the outside of the stadium not look forgotten and in abandonment style.


Fourthly, the ticket booth and press box need to be either completely rebuilt and / or renovated. Both feature very small areas compared to other baseball press boxes and ticket booths around the Connecticut area, which isn’t bad whatsoever, but obviously they need to be cleaned and fixed. Also, charging a small admission price and holding 50/50 raffles would help with costs.


Fifthly, a very small seating expansion by just 500 could propel the newly revamped stadium back in the spotlight. Short-Season Class A / Rookie-ball only require seating for 2,500 as Class A has a minimum requirement of 4,000 with Double-AA having a 6,000 minimum. Quigley’s current seating capacity is listed at 2,000. That could bring back minor league baseball to West Haven or another semi-pro league.


Sixthly, the City of West Haven needs to promote the stadium more and get sponsorship banners in. Sponsorship banners usually average 2.5 feet x 6 feet or 6 feet x 12 feet.


Seventhly, hold community events at the stadium such as concerts, movies and food truck festivals, to attract crowds.


Eightly, apply for historical site status. (see eligibility criterias with answers below)

  • Be associated with events that have made a significant contribution to our history and the lives of persons significant in our past: Quigley Stadium was home to a combined 5 minor league championship teams between 1972-1982, and housed multiple future hall of fame major league players and managers in that decade-long span.

  • Embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period or method of construction: Quigley Stadium’s original bleachers were reused wood from old New Haven Railroad train cars, overall the stadium is 79-years-old.

  • Represent the work of a master, possess high artistic values, or represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction: Baseball stadiums are a work of art and Quigley Stadium was the true embodiment of that, if restored it once again would and it would represent the work of Maurice Quigley and all the workers. The stadium also represents an era of baseball in West Haven that most likely the city will never see again.

  • Have yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history: Quigley Stadium is a part of New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics franchise history, having a direct impact on the organization and team outcomes and roster moves while their farm teams were at Quigley.


Afternote

Quigley Stadium was once a field of dreams, and it once again could be, but it would take effort from the West Haven city officials and the public. There's just too much baseball history that can't be left to fade away on the field.


Join our emailing campaign (it's free) to receive updates in our fight to save Quigley Stadium:

- Send a one-time email to NYSSsaveQuigley@gmail.com saying "SAVE QUIGLEY" to be added to our list or send in your contact info on our contact page.


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