Engel Stadium    Chattanooga, TN
Dimensions: LF:  325  CF:  471   RF:  318       Capacity:  7,500  (1999)        Opened: 1930

Stadium Minor League History:        Southern Association                1930-1961
                                                                    South Atlantic League               1963
                                                                    Southern League                       1964-1965,  1976-1999

Stadium Negro League History:       Occasional home field for some Negro National League games in the 1930s
 
Current Status:   Used for local amateur baseball

What's Good:   Everything.  Engel Stadium (or "Historic Engel Stadium," as it is officially known) is the archetype of what a ballpark should be.  Historic, idiosyncratic, and -- following a fairly recent renovation -- quite comfortable, there are very few places I'd rather watch a game.  The grandstand is sturdy, clean, well-maintained, and has a full roof (supported by an elaborate system of girders, trusses, turnbuckles and whatnot) with a pressbox perched on top.  The exterior has been gussied up as well, but it's the outfield that many people will remember most.  Although it's only 325 down the left field line, the outfield angles out sharply to 425 in the alley before ending at the deepest centerfield in pro ball -- 471 feet -- before jutting back in to 415 feet, with a flagpole and power transformer in play along the way.  The section between 425 and 471 feet features a sharp incline up to the concrete outfield wall, with the word "Lookouts" spelled out.  Much of the time this area is fenced off (presumably for the safety of centerfielders), but when I was there in 1995 it was in play.  Naturally, I didn't see any balls hit out there anyway.  (Click here for a photo of center field)  The history of the ballpark is well-documented in the usual sources so I won't go into it here, but believe me, there's plenty of it.  You can look it up.  With its storied history, cozy baseball atmosphere, and beautiful facilities, Engle is simply one of the best ballparks in America.

What's Not So Good: I can't think of a bad thing to say about it.  The ownership of the team, however, thinks differently, and has moved the team to a modern, downtown stadium.  Apparently Engel will remain standing and be used for local school and amateur ball, though its removal from the ranks of active professional ballparks truly marks a sad day in minor league history.

This Photo:    June 26, 1995    Chattanooga Lookouts vs. Orlando Suns
 
 

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