|From The || June 26, 1969|
|"The memory of and dream for major league baseball in Apache Junction is fading. Geronimo Stadium [sic], winter home of the Houston Colt .45's (now Astros) seven years ago is being dismantled.|
After sitting idly for seven years, the victim of the elements, no maintenance and mischievous vandals, the park was sold to the Mesa School District for about ten cents on the dollar of the original cost.
Bleachers, sprinkler systems, fences and other usable items will be refurbished and used at different schools in the Mesa system.
During its planning and the start of construction in the fall of 1961, the ballpark was the biggest thing going for Apache Junction.
Backed by a group known as the Lost Dutchman's Association, PG&R Engineering Company of Phoenix was contracted to build the park at an estimated cost exceeding $20,000.
During the construction period it was the talk of the town and print of te paper. Weekly reports with pictures of the progress were given. Even the length of the grass and date for its first clipping were listed.
In mid November of '61, with the park rapidly taking shape, it was discovered the new stadium didn't have a name. Gene Chambers, president of the Lost Dutchman's Baseball Association, started a contest to name the park offering two season tickets to home games as the prize.
December 5, the first game was played at the park.
The B-Colts dropped a 5 - 3 decision to San Francisco in winter league play. The young Colts played three winter games at the new park. December 15, [general] manager Paul Richards announced the Colts Spring Training would start March 10, and players were to report toi Apache Junction Feb. 26.
The big splash came in mid-January when the "Name the Ballpark" contest ended, and the name "Geronimo Park" was selected as the winner.
As reported in the Sentinel Jan. 19, 1962, ' "Geronimo Park, Apache Junction, Ariz." That's the dateline that will soon appear on sports pages in thousands of newspapers across the country.'
'Officially, and presumably forever, the name of the major league baseball field at Apache Junction has been designated as "Geronimo Park" by the Lost Dutchman's Baseball Association.'
The winning entry ad been submitted by Victoria Vala of Riverside, Ill.
With the new park nearly complete and already named, the Lost Dutchman's Baseball Association ran into financial difficulty.
The association put out a plea for support from local merchants and divided the area into seven sections for a blanket canvass for funds. At this time, they were aproximately $20,000 short of the amount needed to pay immediate ballpark construction costs.
The name Colt .45's was a natural for headlines in the local newspaper. It was almost a contest to dream up gag headlines. A few suggested were 'Colts Again Fire Blanks,' 'Powder Wet, Colts Lose,' "Colts Lose, Holsters and All,' 'and 'Colt .45's Fail to "Stir Up" Fans.'
Meanwhile, the value of the training facilities increased. As reported in a February issue, 'The new National Leaguers will play eight games in Geronimo Park which is a new $150,000 baseball facility providing the most picturesque baseball setting in the country.'
Apache Junction was destined for fame when Bill Giles, traveling secretary for the Colts, announced arrangements had been made to broadcast all the team's spring training games. 'These games,' said Giles, 'will be beamed over a network of 16 stations covering Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.'
Then came the big day, March 12, when the Colts 45's met the San Francisco Giants for the first big league baseball game in Apache Junction.
W.W. Creighton, president of the Lost Dutchman's Baseball Association, proudly tossed out the first ball. He was a substitute for Gov. Paul Fannin, who was originally scheduled to inaugurate the stadium.
After six weeks of Cactus League play, the Colts left the Junction short of the $24,000 they had been guaranteed at the gate, but vowing they'd be back again next spring.
They did tis, they returned in the spring of 1963, but not snce March of 1963, has the crack of a bat or cheers from baseball fans been heard in Geronimo Park. Now the park is gone too.