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TBT: The rise and fall of Cooper Stadium

Mike Thomas

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Believe it or not, this year will mark the tenth season of Clippers baseball in Huntington Park. As Columbus celebrates a decade in its new home for baseball, let’s take a look back at the Stadium that gave the Clippers (among other C-Bus teams) their start.

Opening in in 1931 as the home of the minor-league affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, Red Bird Stadium (as it was then called) was constructed using the same blueprints as Red Wing Stadium in Rochester, New York. In Red Bird Stadium’s inaugural game, the 1932 season opener, more than 15,000 fans watched on as Columbus obliterated the Louisville Colonels, winning 11-2.

Known for its formidably-long outfield, legend has it that Joe DiMaggio and Ralph Kiner were the only players who managed to hit the ball out of the stadium’s 457-foot left field.

Another team would make the stadium its home in 1955, when the Ottowa A’s relocated to Columbus. The new Columbus team was dubbed The Jets, with the stadium renamed Jets Stadium. And so it remained until 1970, when Columbus officials refused to renovate the stadium at the expense of taxpayers. The owners of the Jets moved the team to Charleston, West Virginia, and Jets Stadium lay dormant for six years.

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1977 saw the dawn of Columbus baseball as we know it today, when the International League granted a new franchise to the city and the Columbus Clippers were formed. Named for Harold Cooper, a baseball promoter who worked to preserve the old stadium and bring minor league ball back to Columbus, the home of The Clippers was officially dubbed Cooper Stadium in 1984. The Coop would remain The Clippers’ home until the relocation to Huntington Park in 2009.

Aside from baseball, Cooper Stadium played host to many memorable events throughout the years. President Franklin D. Roosevelt kicked off his first campaign in the stadium in 1932. The Columbus Bullies, a professional football team from the American Football league, played games there from 1939 to 1942. The Coop even hosted concerts from acts like Aerosmith, Bob Dylan, and Garth Brooks over the years.

Today, few signs remain of Cooper Stadium’s former glory. The grounds are overgrown with weeds and much of the structure has fallen to disrepair. The site has become a destination for graffiti taggers and abandonment tourists alike. Proposed plans from a developer to convert the grounds into a racetrack have apparently stalled, leaving the future of the old stadium uncertain.

While thinking back on the history of the Coop is bittersweet given it’s current decaying state, there are still plenty of bright spots from Ohio’s sports history to enjoy. Visit The Ohio History Connection this weekend to explore their new exhibit titled Ohio-Champion of Sports.

What are some of your favorite memories from The Coop? Let us know in the comments.

Special thanks to ohioexplorationscoiety.com for information about the history of Cooper Stadium.

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“It’s a-me, Mario!” Buy tix now for video game-inspired racing in Columbus

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You’ve played Mario Kart and you’ve probably played Beerio Kart, but have you played Mushroom Racing?

This live-action go karting experience is coming to Columbus Saturday, June 29 and Sunday, June 30.

Eventbrite tickets are still on sale.

The $55 experience includes costumes, 20 laps, DJ and after party, games, activities and more.

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If you’ve got your drifting and shell-throwing down to a science, you could win yourself a place in the Mushroom Racing in Las Vegas.

There will be 20 spots in the final with three ways in which racers can win a place on the grid in Las Vegas:

  1. Having the fastest lap time in your city.
  2. Collecting the most stars in your city (Top 3 in the country will go to Vegas!)
  3. A lottery – Every person that purchases a ticket to the event , will be entered into a lottery.

There will also be prizes for collecting the most stars throughout the Mushroom Rally series!

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FREE Boyz II Men concert will bring you down “On Bended Knee”

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One of the most iconic “man bands” of this generation will be gracing us with a FREE concert this summer! It’s far from the “End of the Road” for Boyz II Men, who will be performing live at Columbus Commons on Thursday, August 8.

Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris, and Shawn Stockman will be bringing you down “On Bended Knee” with their smash hits from the 90s like “I’ll Make Love To You,” “A Song For Mama,” and “Motownphilly.”

None of those songs sound familiar? Maybe you’ll recognize the latter from this scheme in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia:

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While the tickets are free, you must still acquire them to attend. Early access tickets will be available to Columbus Commons newsletter subscribers on Tuesday, June 25 at 10 AM. A limited number of additional free tickets will be released on Thursday, June 27. Sign up for the Columbus Commons newsletter for early access to tickets at columbuscommons.org.

See below for additional details.

  • Gates will open at 6 PM.
  • Ticketholders will not be permitted to access the park before gates open at 6 PM.
  • Easy and convenient $5 parking for this event is available at the Columbus Commons Main Garage, located at 55 East Rich Street.
  • Food trucks and bars will be available.
  • Folding chairs and blankets are welcome.
  • Coolers and outside alcoholic beverages are not permitted.
  • Free tickets are required for entry.
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I…Declare…an Office Trivia Bar Crawl in Columbus!

Mike Thomas

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Start a new series on Netflix, or re-watch The Office for the 100th time? We already know which option you’ve chosen, so why not put the countless hours you’ve spent with the Dunder Mifflin gang to work?

The “That’s What She Said Trivia Bar Crawl” is the perfect way to face off against other Office Super fans, putting your knowledge of all things Scranton to the test. The crawl will take place over multiple bars on Saturday, June 1, with registration running from 4-6 PM at Park Street Cantina.

This is not a drill! Free Dunder Mifflin souvenir t-shirts will be available for those who sign up early, as well as a souvenir D.M. ID card, lanyard and crawl guide for all participants.

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Food and drink specials – hopefully chili – will also be available to participants as they take on 3 rounds of 25 questions about everyone’s favorite workplace docu-comedy TV show.

“Dundies” and other prizes will be awarded for for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place trivia winners, as well as prizes for the best costumes in individual and group categories.

This event is 21, and please note that you will need a cell phone with data to take part. For more info, visit the event page here.

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