White Elephant - What is There to Save?

That is the title of a PBS Documentary on Bobby Maduro (Miami) Stadium (better titled, I think: "This is How Miami Fails Itself. Again.").  Kudos to John S. Graham at Fowler White Burnett who produced the film.

The ballpark opened on August 31, 1949 and Miami was booming. The "Magic City", with its tropical beaches, year round sunshine and retinue of jai-alai frontons, racetracks and resort hotels looked to put itself on the map as a baseball town. With little publicity, the "finest baseball park in the land" magically appeared on the corner of NW 10th Avenue and 23rd Street in Allapattah.

Its gone now, but between now and then the history that took place at that ballpark should be part of our fabric. Oh, you don't know? 

It held an intimate 13,500 people.  The BROOKLYN Dodgers held Spring Training there. When the team broke the heart of New York and moved to Los Angeles, they played their first game as the LA Dodgers there.  It was a modern, ground breaking stadium, with a cantilever roof which allowed almost no obstructed views to patrons. 

Satchel Paige pitched there.  Paige played in the Negro League until he was 40.  In July 1956 Paige turned 50 on the mound at Miami Stadium in a Miami Marlins uniform.  He went 11-4 that year with a 1.86 ERA.  At 50.  Years old. 

Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, Roy Campinella, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle and a kid named Cal Ripkin, Jr. played there each Spring.  5 Hall of Fame players were born there, including pitchers Ferguson Jenkins and Jim Palmer.

The Herald once reported that Cuban millionaire José Manuel Alemán was a driving force in constuction.  In 1948, Alemán became a controversial figure in Cuba. He allegedly took part in the noontime theft of a $174 million fortune from the Cuban treasury's vault. It's unclear if Miami Stadium was built with stolen money, but cash flowed freely for the project from the start.  The same week as the heist, the group purchased a local minor league team, the Miami Tourist, for $64,000.  The Tourist were renamed the Miami Sun Sox.  Opening Day for the stadium featured a game between the Miami Sun Sox and the Havana Cubans. Before Castro.

And Bobby Maduro was more Cuban than you will ever be.  Read this.

It thrived for a while.  (Note the Historical reference to the Miami Marlins in the photo below, before the teams latest incarnation.)


In 2001 it was demolished, like so much of our history.


We have our collective heads up our asses, for letting this go.  What a shame.


  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zA0LyX8H-q4

  2. Wow - great footage courtesy of Wolfson archive. Thanks for the link.

  3. Anyone see the Wham! concert at Bobby Maduro in '85? I was so mad that my parents wouldn't let me go - I was in 8th grade.
    There was a heat wave that year and they ended up having to use fire hoses to spray down the crowd.
    I got a big 'your parents know best' speech when they saw that on the news.

  4. I saw Poco, the Doobie Brothers and Boston there in 1979.

  5. The place was special. Kid Gavilan successfully defended his title there against Bobby Dykes in 1952. It was the first title bout between black and white fighters in then-segregated Miami.

  6. It was a beautiful stadium. 330 feet to left and right field. 400 feet to center field. Marlins were a Philly AAA farm team. I saw Paige battle Luke Easter, the Big Buffalo 1B. Many marlins made it to the Bigs. Cardwell, Moorehead, Coker, Semprach, farrell. Woody Smith was the 3B, a life long minor leaguer but steady. Don Osborne the manager.The Havana sugarkings were in the league as was Montreal, Tronto. It was called the International league. Bill Veeck was involved as well.

  7. Hi all. John Graham here. Thanks for the post and the interest. That ballpark told some incredible stories. I have to give props to architect, Rolando Llanes, whose love of baseball and the stadium was the inspiration behind the entire project. Also director, Joe Cardona, and Kids in Exile Films, who created a fantastic film.

    If you're interested, there's a Facebook site for Miami Stadium called "The Original Miami Marlins (1956-1988) and Miami Minor League History." You'll find (seemingly endless) photos and memorabilia there.

    Thanks again!

  8. These comments are wonderful.


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