New Orleans History -- Lake Pontchartrain
Friday, March 24, 2017
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1957 Pelican Stadium Closes

The last baseball game to be played at the old New Orleans Pelican Stadium occurred on Sunday, Sept. 1, 1957. The Pelicans had furnished fond memories at this location dating back to April 13, 1915, when the site was officially opened after having been moved piecemeal from Banks and Carrollton by mules and then reconstructed at the Tulane and Carrollton location.

The date Sept. 1, 1957, was one literally filled with crocodile tears. Not only did the New Orleans Pelicans lose to Memphis in the season finale by a score of 7-3, but to make matters worse, only 941 fans, who appeared to be in shock, were in attendance to bid fond farewell to the players and the ballpark. The final batter in the historic game was Dick Klinesmith. Just as the rest of the day went, he grounded out in the role of a pinch hitter, as Bill Darden, a Memphis righthander, threw the last pitch in the old park.

Robert Jarvis, Pelican left fielder of the day, etched his name in the baseball history book of Pelican Stadium by hitting a solo homer in the ninth inning, last home run ever to be hit in the stadium. It came off southpaw Bill Hendry, who was the last pitcher to win a ball game there.

Harry “Peanuts” Lowrey was the last manager at the old site. As manager, he could do what he felt best for the team. So, he inserted himself into the lineup that Sunday afternoon as a pinch hitter. He batted for pitcher Walt Kellner in the eighth. You guessed it ... he struck out.

Not only was the last game played at Pelican Stadium a losing one, the entire season was disastrous. The 1957 Pelicans finished last, five games behind the seventh-place Little Rock Travelers. Besides losing the game and finishing last in the league, the final nail in the coffin was in the form of only 66,151 fans making it to the Pelican games for the entire season.

As you study the box scores for the final game at Pelican Stadium, you learn that in spite of their record, there were some outstanding ball players on the team. Russell Snider, the Pels’ lead-off man, went on to the majors and played 12 seasons of big league ball, including three games in the 1966 World Series.

Although Harry “Peanuts” Lowrey, the manager of the Pelicans in that last game, struck out, he did have an excellent major league career that spanned from 1942 to 1955, appearing as an outfielder for the Chicago Cubs who played in the World Series in 1945.

Wayne Belardi, first baseman for the Pelicans, played six years of major league ball, spanning from 1950 through 1956. Morris Thacker, a pinch hitter in that last game, went on to the majors, playing five years in the National League. Pitcher Steve Kraly, who played in the final game, also played in the majors.

Source: Buddy Stall at http://clarionherald.org/20010913/stall.htm