Wirth Watching: Remembering the early days of Utah baseball

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 UTAH) - After the long winter, the Major League Baseball season started on Sunday. Locally, the sound of "play ball" is scheduled to be heard Thursday.  That’s when the Bees take the field again at the newly renamed Smith's Ballpark in Salt Lake City. 

In the 1930s, the original Salt Lake Bees played and shortly after that Art Teece started selling popcorn for 5 cents and cokes for a dime all at Community Park.

It was a great way to spend a day with the Bees. Yes, they were our boys. Most grew up playing ball in warm southern states and had never been to Utah before the nights at Community Park

But then the scoreboard was blank. The war came and minor league baseball was suspended. However Community Park wasn't empty. The military started playing games to support the war effort.

One soldier named Joe DiMaggio came to Community Park.

It was another night at Community Park. A place where people ate peanuts and watched ball games.

“There were cracks between the planks and people would drop shells and then a match or a cigarette and the shells would smolder and we had a bucket of water we would throw on the plank,” said DiMaggio.

And one night the bucket wasn't enough and Community Park burned to the ground. And the city built its second park, Derks, but that is anther memory for another time.

The first professional Bees team played in Salt Lake in 1915, having moved here from San Francisco. In 1925, the Bees moved to Los Angeles and became the Hollywood Stars. The current Bees came here in 1994 from Portland.

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