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Old Pueblo Abuelo: Historic Sports Venues and Artifacts

Elysian Grove was where our first baseball stadium was built. (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson)

This is the 13th installment of “Old Pueblo Abuelo,” a Sunday night thought on positive things happening in the Old Pueblo from a sometimes cranky and often times humorous grandfather actually born in Tucson and writing from my desk in Tucson.…well, this was from the beach in Puerto Peñasco. Wish you were here.

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Look for us in the past and there you will find, our future will last if you take time to rewind

My Facebook and Twitter groups, “Tucson Historic Sports Venues and Artifacts” is one of the most rewarding ventures I have been a part of. I got the idea of looking for hidden or forgotten sports artifacts in the Old Pueblo after watching “Searching for Secrets” on the Smithsonian Channel last summer. That series visited major international cities like San Francisco and it showed unknown and obscure artifacts like why one fire hydrant in the City by the Bay is painted gold and where to find it and I wondered what I could come up with for Tucson but from a sports angle.

I began with Elysian Grove, located just west of current day Carrillo K-5 Magnet School. Emanuel Drachman constructed the field and the corresponding Pavilion in 1907 and Tucson High practiced and played there as did the University of Arizona in the early days of James Fred “Pop” McKale. The site was torn down in 1930 ending a very important part of Tucson’s past. The World Series champion Chicago White Sox played there. All that’s left is the front of a grocery store.

Advertisement from 1908

Then, I found Tucson had two sporting goods stores from 1890 to 1920 and, around 1908, the Reid Sporting Goods Co. (located on 44 N. Stone) was the first to offer football gear like shoulder pads. That store was swallowed up by Montgomery Ward. Now called the “Roy Place Building,” it is used by the University of Arizona and Startup Tucson.

I included info on where to find the Button Salmon grave site and the actual hospital where he died, the Southern Methodist Hospital, which is currently the Castle Apartments on 721 E. Adams.

(Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson)

Herring Hall served as Arizona’s gymnasium long before Bear Down Gym and McKale Center. It housed Pop McKale’s first office and it was the only gym in Tucson with running water for showers. It was the Men’s Gymnasium (1903 – 1925) and it housed the Women’s Physical Education program (1925 – 1937) before Bear Down was built in 1926.

There are quite a few more venues and artifacts listed on my page including where to find a flag pole from the Olympics and where the locals watched the Mad Mongol, Chief White Eagle, Brenda Scott, Ann Casey, Judy Grable, Olga Martinez, Tucson Terror, The Masked Cowboy, Chief Little Wolf and Chocolate Ice Cube “wrestle.”

Oh, and Tucson did have a baseball field downtown but it was torn down to make room for I-10 in 1950.

So, take a look and send me ideas. Remember, only forgotten and obscure sports venues and artifacts. While it’s interesting John Denver lived by Randolph Park or there’s a Cat and Mouse on the San Xavier Mission is interesting, those facts are not part of my plan.

The first gymnasium used by the Wildcats. (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson)

More “Old Pueblo Abuelo” can be found here.

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Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017, a 2019 AZ Education News award winner and he has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. He was the first in Arizona to write about high school beach volleyball and high school girls wrestling. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is the Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Andy was named an Honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019, became a member of the Sunnyside Los Mezquites Cross Country Hall of Fame in 2021 and he was a member of the Amphi COVID-19 Blue Ribbon Committee and he earned a Distinguished Service Award from Amphitheater. Contact Andy Morales at amoralesmytucson@yahoo.com

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