Retro Charlotte

Summer of ‘69 at Griffith Park

Crockett Park, June 9, 1980
Crockett Park, June 9, 1980 The Charlotte Observer

Former Observer sports writer Stan Olson reminisced in 2014 about the old park:

“From a distance you might have thought someone had left a huge packing crate perched on the front edge of Crockett Park's grandstand roof. It was from that box I watched the Charlotte O's play nearly every game of their almost decade-long homestand in the wonderful old stadium just off of South Boulevard.

“The press box had glass windows that you could raise, and chicken wire you couldn't. It was there to protect us against the hard foul balls that always seemed to whack into it with a head-rattling thud just as you were looking at your scorecard or reaching for another slice of pizza.

“I was there covering the team first for the Charlotte News (gone the way of the O's) and then the Observer, filling the long summers with baseball when it was still Charlotte's first and only professional team sport.

“And I loved it. We in the box were on top of the games - literally. Maybe 30 feet behind the catcher and about the same distance above him, able to hear the infield chatter and the arguments and the umpire shouting up position changes.

“From there we blew out our cholesterol counts (who knew?) on great-tasting junk food and watched players such as Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken Jr. wear the O's orange and black. Future stars such as Bo Jackson and Don Mattingly passed through with their Southern League teams.

“But it wasn't the stars that made the O's and Crockett Park special; Charlotte was merely a way station for them. It was the players who were here for multiple seasons - Jeff Schaefer and Cat Whitfield and Drungo Larue Hazewood, young men who enjoyed Charlotte as much as we enjoyed them.

“Oh, and the park itself. From the press box you could gaze across the green expanse to the far outfield fences and know one thing: Baseball is played here, and has been for decades.

“Baseball, and only baseball.”