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Shepherd Stadium


  1. Ballfield(s)
  2. Concession Stand
  3. Restrooms
History of Shepherd Stadium

To the “old timers” in Colonial Heights, Shepherd Stadium may always be remembered as simply “The Ballpark.” Indeed, it was by this name that the stadium was known in the late 1920’s and throughout the 1930’s and 40’s. Originally, of course, there was no stadium at all. Earliest memories recall a cleared field with a rickety fence, later replaced by a stronger fence and bleacher seating, and one of the better “diamonds” in the area. According to local tradition, the Ballpark was constructed in an area known to turn-of-the-century residents as “horse heaven” due to the fact that for many years dead horses and mules were buried here.

Although used freely by local farm boys for endless summers of “pick up games,” organized baseball leagues were playing games at the Ballpark by the 1930’s. One of the earliest teams that played here was sponsored by the Colonial Heights Fire Department and known, understandably enough, as “The Firemen.”

Early ballplayers recall the “big tree” in right field, bicycles lining the foul lines, and the wooden outfield fence that harbored contingents of anxious children waiting to retrieve every precious baseball that left the Ballpark confines. Early residents of the area still recall the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowds that could be heard through open windows on hot summer nights.

Baseball, however, was not the only activity that was hosted by the Ballpark. There were numerous traveling shows, carnivals and circuses that set up here during the 1930’s and 40’s, along with a constant stream of religious revivals. Perhaps the most memorable event in the early history of the Ballpark occurred on September 26, 1936, when hundreds of local residents gathered to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Colonial Heights, then just a small town. It was on this memorable occasion that Judge Edwin P. Cox declared the thriving, young community to be “the best town in the nation!" 

Following the tragic interruption of World War II, baseball experienced a resurgence that was felt even in Colonial Heights.  On January 13, 1948, Mayor Fred R. Shepherd was instructed by town council to confer with a Mr. Hatchett of Petersburg in regards to the possible “relocation” of the stands in the Ballpark.  After subsequent investigation, on March 23, 1948 Councilman Wilbur Dishman made a motion “that the Town go ahead and rebuild the stands at the Ballpark.”  The motion was seconded by Mr. Powell and passed unanimously.  It is interesting that council minutes refer to the “town” in Mr. Dishman’s motion, as Colonial Heights had become a 2nd Class City just four days before, on March 19th!

In 1949, the Chesterfield Baseball League played at the Ballpark with the local entry being the Colonial Heights Athletic Club.  Other teams included the Chester Baseball Club, Sixteen Athletic Association (Richmond), Centralia Athletic Association, Woodpecker Lodge (Chesterfield), Ettrick, Chesterfield County Yellow Jackets, and Beulah Athletic Club.

On March 14, 1951, per City Council Minutes, a group of citizens composed of Messrs Young, Swearingen, Barney, Stewart, Bulifant, Johnson, Williams and Picardat, appeared before the council and stated they had purchased the baseball franchise from Mr. Kelley Williams of Petersburg and that they contemplated moving it to Colonial Heights and asked for terms, etc. covering the lease of the Ballpark.  It was suggested that the City put a five cent tax on each ticket, which would be turned over to the city as rent for the park.  These gentlemen also requested improvement as follows: The entire field be leveled off; top soil on infield, fence in front of water tank, press box, wire on top of roof of stands to prevent ball going over, box seats, and lockers in dressing room. In addition to the rent the ball club was to pay water and electricity.  Councilman CC Hart made a motion, seconded by Mr. Dishman that a committee be appointed by Mayor Shepherd to work out the details from the group. The motion passed unanimously. This team was the Colonial Heights-Petersburg Generals.  The Colonial Heights-Petersburg Generals played one season of Class “C” Virginia League Baseball.  The Petersburg Generals had been a charter franchise of the Virginia League, which disbanded after the 1951 season. Colonial Heights-Petersburg finished first in the Virginia Class “D” League with an 80-39 record.  Colonial Heights led the league in attendance with 35,146. Like all teams in the Virginia League, the Colonial Heights-Petersburg Generals were not associated with a Major League team. Kenny Hatcher led the league with 34 home runs.  Hatcher played in all 115 games and led the league in runs (109), RBI’s (121) and walks.  Johnny Brockwell batted .262 in 48 games and pitched in 35 games, starting 31 games, 29 complete games, 25-7 record and 2.05 era.  Roy Ward, in latter years a manager for the Post 284 Legion Team, played 70 games and hit 8 homers and drove in 40 runs.  The team’s manager was Cecil “Turkey” Tyson.

The first exhibition game, according to City Council Minutes of March 14, 1951, would be between the New York Giants and another major league club to be played here on April 17th.

On May 20, 1951, according to City Council Minutes, a resolution was offered by Mr. Hart and seconded by Mr. Powell and passed unanimously that read in part, WHEREAS, Fred R. Shepherd has acted as Mayor of said Municipality since the year 1928 and by his untiring and ceaseless efforts has promoted the growth and betterment of said City and taken the leading part in the establishment of said Park.  NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED BY THE Council of the city of Colonial Heights, Virginia that the name of said Recreational Park be, and the same shall be known and hereafter called ‘SHEPHERD STADIUM’ in honor of said Fred R. Shepherd.

On May 31, 1951, according to City Council Minutes, a motion was made by Mr. Hart and seconded by Mr. Dishman that lettering SHEPHERD STADIUM to be put on the front of the ballpark as well as a plaque.  The motion passed unanimously.

In 1954, the transplanted Richmond Colts played one season at Shepherd Stadium.  The Colts represented a new franchise in the Class B Piedmont League.  The Manager was John Vander Meer, who had pitched back to back no hitters for the Cincinnati Reds.  The Colts record was 62-78 and tied for last place even though the club was second in the league in attendance with 44,127.  Coach Vender Meer pitched in 10 games.  He was 1-3 in 21 innings pitched.  The team led the league in hitting with a .281 average. In the 1970’s the Colonial Heights Generals played teams like the Bethel Red Sox, Prince George Blue Sox, DC Giants, Baltimore Corner, McKenny, and Rocky Run.

The B.I.B. Begins

In 1958, the Optimist Club of Colonial Heights started the Boy’s Invitational Baseball Tournament.  The BIB was the idea of Roland Fontaine and Jimmy Steward.  They came up the idea while watching a Generals game in Shepherd Stadium and seeing a big crowd watching a Little League Game at the “B” Field.  The first Tournament Director was Roland Fontaine. Bobby Goulder, former principal at Colonial Heights High School and head Baseball Coach at CHHS, coached the Petersburg team in the first BIB Tournament. One of his players was former Colonial Heights School Superintendent James Ruffa. Colonial Heights finished 3rd defeating Petersburg in the consolation game.  The BIB Tournament for boys ages 12 and under will celebrate its 52nd year this summer.  Distinguished guests at the BIB Tournament have been Jerry Coleman, Bob Feller (twice), Frankie Frish, Enos Slaughter, Warren Spahn, Bobby Richardson, Bobby Thompson, Robin Roberts, Jimmy Pearsall, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Satchel Paige, Brooks Robinson and Johnny Grubb. Colonial Heights won the BIB Tournament in 1969 and 2000.

American Legion Baseball at Shepherd Stadium

American Legion Baseball started in Colonial Heights in 1960.  In 1960, the team was coached by Roland Fontaine and won their first game ever played in 13 innings. They did not win another game until the last game of the season.  In 1961, 1965 and 1987, American Legion Post 284 Baseball Team won the American Legion State Championship.  In 1961, Post 284 won the Mid Atlantic Regional Legion Tournament and went to Hasting, Nebraska to play in the American Legion World Series. In 1965, James Ruffa led Post 284 with a .327 batting average and home runs with 5 entering the Mid Atlantic Regional Game.  They lost twice to eventual World Series champion, Charlotte, NC by scores of 3-2 and 1-0.  The 3-2 ball game was lost on a catcher’s balk.  Johnny Oates, former manager of the Texas Rangers and Balitmore Orioles, replaced Dick Rogers as Assistant Coach during the Regional.  Mr. Rogers passed away prior to regionals.  Post 284 has hosted American Legion State Tournaments at Shepherd Stadium in 1965, 1967, 1973, 1974, 1991, 1993, 1996, and 2000 and hosted the Mid Atlantic American Legion Regional tournament in 1962, 1975, 1976, 1994 and 2008. American Legion Post 284 of Colonial Heights has worked closely with the Department of Recreation and Parks in making improvements to Shepherd Stadium by donating a scoreboard and $18,000 toward a new lighting system in 1993.

High School Baseball at Shepherd Stadium

High School Baseball has been a tradition at Shepherd Stadium.  It is the home of Colonial Heights Colonials.  In the years 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003, Shepherd Stadium was the host facility for the AAA State High School Baseball Championships and in 2001 & 2004, the host of the Central Region Championships.  In 1999, Shepherd Stadium was named the Region II High School Field of the Year.  It was one of eight recipients of the regional award in the country that year.

Other Interesting Facts

Part of John Grisham’s film “Mickey” which stars Harry Connick Jr. was filmed at Shepherd Stadium on Memorial Day weekend of 2001.  The film was released for public viewing in 2004.

In the fall of 2003, Hurricane Isabel knocked down over 250 feet of the left field wall, netting, and the flag pole.  

Shepherd Stadium is owned by the City of Colonial Heights and is maintained by the Department of Recreation & Parks. For more information on reserving Shepherd Stadium for tournaments, games or events contact (804) 520-9392.

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