Much of what we write about here at RtB involves what is currently happening with the Brewers, but with Spring Training fast approaching I thought I’d do an article related to spring training history, specifically Gerig Field in Ocala Florida-which man considered to be minor league gem during its existence, where the minor league Milwaukee Brewers played their games.
Gerig Field was located in what is now MLK Jr. Recreation Complex in Ocala, Florida. The ballpark was constructed in 1936 for roughly $100,000 and was named after the then-major of Ocala, John Jacob Gerig, who was a driving factor in getting the funding needed to build the ballpark. Gerig Field was part of a sports complex which included softball and football fields on the former site of the Ocala Fairgrounds. The fairgrounds had become established as a transient camp during the Great Depression before being repurposed as a sports complex.
More from Reviewing the Brew
- Brewers: 4 Players Who Must Step Up for the Crew to Make the Playoffs
- Brewers: Yet Another Huge Promotion For Top Prospect Jackson Chourio
- Brewers Making Colossal Mistake With Corbin Burnes’ Contract
- Which Players May Be In The Final Month Of Their Brewers Careers?
- Brewers: Where Does Devin Williams Stand In NL Reliever Of The Year Race?
The Brewers were the first professional team the play their home spring training games at Ocala Field, playing there from 1939-1941. The Texas League Tulsa Oilers (a Chicago Cubs Affiliate) trained there also in 1940 and 1941. When World War II started both teams stopped playing at Gerig Field.
Baseball wouldn’t return to Gerig field until 1948 with the Boston Red Sox affiliate the Birmingham Barons, for the next 23 years Red Sox affiliates played their games at Gerig Field. The Memphis Chicks, Allentown Red Sox, Raleigh Capitals, Waterloo Hawks and the Corning Red Sox (all Boston Red Sox affiliates) trained at Gerig Field. Various other minor league teams played at Gerig Field (after the Red Sox, Yankees affiliates played there) until 1972 when the first time in 24 years there wasn’t any spring training baseball at Gerig Field.
The city of Ocala tried, unsuccessfully, to bring in MLB suitors, but instead, collegiate, recreational and Little League games came instead. By the early 90s the park was crumbling and on July 10, 1993, the grandstand and clubhouse at Gerig Field was dismantled.
You can read more about Gerig Field here.