• Steve Potter

7/16/2020 : Phillies Minor League History - The Asheville Tourists


Time Period - 1959 to 1960


Venue : McCormick Field


City : Asheville, NC


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Franchise History :


Professional baseball in Asheville dates back to 1897 and has been played continuously for nearly every year since 1909. The "Tourists" name began in 1915 when local sportswriters began referring to the team as such.


The various Tourists teams have played in fourteen different minor leagues and five classifications ( B,C,D, A and AA ). They were part of the fourth version of the Class A South Atlantic League when the Phillies fielded Tourists clubs for the 1959 and 1960 seasons.


The following affiliations occurred over the years :


Red Sox - 1934

Cardinals - 1935 to 1942

Dodgers - 1946 to 1951 & 1953 to 1955

Phillies - 1959 to 1960

Pirates - 1961 to 1966

Astros - 1967 & 1982 to 1993

Reds - 1968 to 1970

White Sox - 1971

Orioles - 1972 to 1975

Rangers - 1976 to 1981

Rockies - 1994 to Present


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The Stadium the Phillies teams played in :

McCormick Field :


Location: 30 Buchanan Place, Valley & Charlotte Streets at McCormick Place, Hunthill Avenue (later, Hunt Place), ran along the 3B line.

Capacity: 8,000 (1924); 3,000 (1939); 3,500 (1946); 4,500 (1947); 5,000 (1949); 3,200 (1964)

Dimensions (Left, Center, Right): 387-421-339 (1939); 365-410-365 (1940); 327-397-301 (1971)


The ballpark is one of the oldest minor-league stadiums still in regular use. It has been home to the various incarnations of the Asheville Tourists teams and also served as home field for the Asheville Blues of the Negro Southern League during the 1940s.


“The original ballpark was built in 1924 and was named for Dr. Lewis McCormick, a bacteriologist known as the "Fly Man" for his "Swat that fly" campaign to rid Asheville of a plague of houseflies. There was a wooden grandstand from first to third; bleachers down the foul lines; and a roofed grandstand in left. The outfield fences were framed by woods.


The RF bleachers consisted largely of wide wooden steps. Originally, a low rail fence enclosed the outfield, and "railbirds" would lean on the fence and watch the game. The fence was removed, and outfielders could range up the hill beyond the original outfield. Lights were first installed in 1930, but soon removed; permanent lighting came in 1940. A permanent fence was installed following World War II.” - Statscrew.com


The facility was rebuilt to concrete between the 1991 and 1992 seasons. The 1992 ballpark kept a similar layout to the original McCormick Field. The height of the fence behind the cozy right field area, which was in the vicinity of just 300 feet away from home plate, was more than tripled, as it now stands 36 feet tall.


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The Seasons :


1959


South Atlantic League ( A ) ... Manager : Clyde McCullough ... 70-70 , 5th place ... Attendance : 113,001


The club received multiple players on loan from other organizations however primarily consisted of Phillies personnel.


23 year old First Baseman Nathan Dickerson led the league in Batting Average ( .362 ) while playing in 106 games ( 389 AB’s - 141 hits - 112 singles ), he was noted as a “slap hitter” and was from Cheltenham HS in Cheltenham, PA ... the season would be his last in professional baseball - a five year minor league career.


1960


South Atlantic League ( A ) ... Manager : Chuck Kress ... 62-77 , 6th place ... Attendance : 73,276


20 year old LHP Dennis Bennett pitched in 35 games ( 16 starts ) amassing 137.2 IP ... he would go on to pitch in 7 major league seasons with the Phillies, Red Sox, Mets and Angels from 1962 to 1968 winning 12 games for the 1964 Phillies


Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️


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