Baseball, and Payne Park

In downtown Sarasota, FL sits a significant and historical piece of land known as Payne Park.  Originally owned by Calvin & Martha Payne, the City of Sarasota bought their 60 acre plot for $18,000 in 1923 (equivalent to $300,000 in today’s value).  The couple worried that the beauty of the property could one day be lost to private interest and developers, so they negotiated that the land would be reserved as a public park.

Also included in the original terms of sale was a provision that allowed the City to build a baseball stadium for any Northern Major League Baseball teams that may consider relocating their spring training to Sarasota. Both the city and another major local “player” on the real estate scene – none other than our friend John Ringling –  pursued the most dominant baseball team in the 1920s, the New York Giants!  Eventually, they would succeed in luring the Giants to the area and Sarasota’s connection to the Major Leagues would be born; eventually, the area became the spring training home for a variety of teams including the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago White Sox. Over its 64 year history,  Payne Park field would play host to many of the baseball greats including such Hall of Famers as Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson, and the mighty Babe Ruth.

In 1988 the original field was closed to be replaced with a new one. To pay homage to the original stadium the Sarasota County Historical commissioned a miniaturized stone monument of the famed field.  This great baseball monolith has all the usual distinctions of a classic baseball field including 4 infield bases, 2 rows of stadium bleachers, a grass field, and a thick concrete outfield wall over 5 ft tall.  The central outfield wall features an arch reminiscent of the original grandstand structure where fans and announcers alike would seek shelter from the peering Florida sun, and if you stand at home plate and peer through the archway of the outfield wall you’ll see a bronze placard narrating the story of the park’s foundation and connection to the MLB.

In 2015 the City of Sarasota commissioned a full restoration of this historical site.  AGG Restoration was selected and oversaw a complete stone resurfacing and metal restoration of this monument.  The baseball days of this park may be well over, but the delight and joy this location brought to many baseball fans and local Sarasotans will live on for decades to come.  We are honored to be part of South West Florida’s long connection to America’s favorite pastime.

Payne Park Marker
Payne Park, Stadium & Field Tribute Sarasota, Florida

Payne Park, Stadium & Field Tribute Sarasota, Florida

Historic Photograph - Payne Park, Sarasota, Florida