Vintage Base Ball Event Honors Bisbee’s Forgotten Black Teams
Ninth Copper City Classic Tournament Takes Field at Warren Ballpark
More than a century has passed since Thomas “Blue” Webster and Roy Jones put on cleats and took the field at Bisbee’s Warren Ballpark, but they and their African American teammates will be remembered for their contributions to local baseball history during this year’s Ninth Annual Copper City Classic Vintage Base Ball Tournament, scheduled for April 7 and 8.
Nine teams, dressed in period uniforms and playing the game of base ball as it existed when Abraham Lincoln first ran for president, will take part in the event at Bisbee’s 108-year-old ballpark. This year’s two-day tournament will commemorate early Bisbee’s black town teams, the “Buffalo Soldiers” teams of the 10th U.S. Cavalry and 25th U.S. Infantry Regiments that played in Bisbee, as well as the men who broke professional baseball’s color barrier as members of the Bisbee-Douglas Copper Kings minor league ball club at Warren Ballpark during the 1951 season.
Gates open at 9 a.m. both days. Tournament action gets underway at 9:30 a.m. and will continue through early evening. This year’s tournament, featuring eight teams from the Arizona Territories Vintage Base Ball League and a travelling team from the Colorado Vintage Base Ball league, will include night games – a first for the event.
Vintage base ball is played without gloves, using an 1870-style lemon peel ball. Similar to modern baseball, the game also has some archaic rules that make it fun to watch and to play.
The tournament is hosted by the Friends of Warren Ballpark, a non-profit organization tasked with raising funds to renovate and improve the Bisbee Unified School District’s historic baseball and football facility. All proceeds from the event will go towards projects to upgrade Warren Ballpark, which was constructed in 1909 and has been in continuous use since.
Tickets for a single day cost $10. A two-day ticket costs $15. Children 12 years and under will be admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult. Tickets can be purchased on line on the tickets page or at the gate on April 7 and 8.
For more information, visit the Friends of Warren Ballpark’s Facebook page or call 520-366-1455.
9th Copper City Classic Vintage Base Ball Tournament
The Copper City Classic Vintage Base Ball Tournament returns for its 9th year on April 7th and 8th, 2018. The Arizona Territories Vintage Base Ball League and the Friends of Warren Ballpark host the tournament. Teams from the Arizona League and the Colorado All-stars, dressed in period uniforms, play by rules adopted when Lincoln was president. Come cheer or razz your local team, the Bisbee Black Sox.
This year’s tournament honors the African American base ball players that played at Warren Ballpark as members of teams while serving in the United States Army during the first four decades of the 20th century.
- April 7th and 8th. Gates open at 9:00 a.m. and games are played all day
- Tickets: $10 for one day and $15 for both days
- Kids 12 and under are free with an adult ticket; Active military free on Sunday
- Tombstone Brewing Company will serve local craft beer
December 9th, Rugby Returns to Warren Ballpark in Bisbee, Arizona
December 9th, Rugby Returns to Warren Ballpark in Bisbee, Arizona
In 2016, after a 100-year absence, the Friends of Warren ballpark hosted a day of rugby matches at Warren Ballpark. The teams are returning on December 9th to play Rugby once again. Mark your calendar to celebrate another facet of Warren Ballpark’s storied history.
The tournament is dedicated to James J. Murphy from Bisbee. S1C Murphy and 1176 of his shipmates were killed when the Arizona's forward magazines were penetrated by a Japanese aerial bomb at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941.
- December 9th, 2017 (gates opening time TBA)
- Entry fee: $5 per day
- All funds go to preserve and enhance the 108-year-old historic Warren Ballpark. Recent Friends projects include new restrooms and a multi-sport scoreboard.
- The Tombstone Brewing Company will be on hand to serve local craft beer.
ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL VINTAGE BASE BALL TOURNAMENT
The Friends of Warren Ballpark hosted its 8th successful Copper City Classic Vintage Base Ball tournament. Many people helped make the tournament a success.
Thanks to the Arizona Territories Vintage Base Ball League teams that travel from Prescott, Fort Verde, Phoenix and Tucson to play with the local Bisbee Black Sox. The Colorado All-Stars again brought their colorful uniforms and showmanship to entertain the cranks (fans in 1860 parlance).
Thanks to Richard Hodges, Josh, Bryon, Jesus and Clinton, the school district staff, who devoted their weekend to chalking the field, keeping the restrooms supplied, and doing everything that ensures a smoothly running event.
Support your local radio station KBRP. Ryan Bruce, Marco and Dillan spent two days announcing the games and harassing the players.
What’s a tournament without beer and hotdogs? Thanks to the Barco family for operating the concessions. They provided hotdogs and nachos with good humor for an unexpectedly large crowd. Cheers to the Tombstone Brewing Company for their generosity of time and tasty craft beer. Next time you’re in Tombstone quench your thirst on Toughnut Street, two blocks from the Courthouse.
Special thanks go to Copper Queen Publishing. Each year Lupe designs a poster and program that serve as valued keepsakes. Frank Barco makes sure that we have high-quality banners, posters and tickets.
The arbitrators and tally-masters, in period clothing, ensure that 1860 rules are enforced and runs (aces) are recorded. Each year Pat Kelly, the arbitrator, keeps the teams “in line.” Sharon Frosco, Tom Hill, Bill Bank and Penny Germain kept the players honest tallying the scores when the players “rang the bell” and swore an oath that they scored an ace. Penny even pitched a game. The tournament had some special treats this year. Pat Darcy, a Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher during the days of the Big Red Machine, resumed his pitching career with the Central Arizona All- Stars. The Old Pueblo Trolley brought back Bus #8 of the Warren-Bisbee Bus line after 66 years.
Thanks to Bill Greenberg and the Cholla Blues Standard all-stars and Black Cat Bones for Post-game Blues entertainment at Crazy Ponyz. We are grateful to Elvia’s Kitchen for agreeing at the last minute to provide food for the post-game blues.
Thanks to the many volunteers, too numerous to list, for devoting your time. We are grateful to our many sponsors who help defray costs for this non-profit fundraiser. All proceeds go to projects that help maintain and enhance the 108-year-old Warren Ballpark, a community gem. As always, we recognize the Bisbee Council on the Arts and Humanities whose sponsorship grants the Friends their nonprofit status.
BALLPARK GROUP HONORS TRIO of BISBEE BEES AT FUNDRSAISING VINTAGE TOURNAMENT
April 8 and 9, during the Eighth Annual Copper City Classic Vintage Base Ball Tournament at historic Warren Ballpark in Bisbee. Gates open 9:00 a.m.
Bisbee was in the same league as Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso and Albuquerque?
Yes indeed, it’s hard to imagine that the old copper mining town of Bisbee, AZ had a professional baseball team in the same league as the biggest cities in the southwest, but it’s true! Not only did the Bisbee Bees minor league team of the old Arizona-Texas League successfully compete with teams from cities much larger, it also sent a steady stream of players to the big leagues!
Join the Friends of Warren Ballpark as they honor a trio of stinging Bees – Dwight “Red” Adams, Bert Shepard and Clarence Maddern - who each made their way up the professional baseball ladder to play in the Big Show.
Red Adams began his exemplary baseball career in 1939 as a 17-year-old pitcher for Bisbee and remained in the game for 41 years, finishing as the beloved and well-respected pitching coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Red also holds a place in the record books as the oldest living member of a Chicago Cubs baseball team (1946).
Bert Shepard pitched for the Bees in 1941 and returned home in 1945 from wartime service as an Army Air Forces fighter pilot and captivity in a German POW camp to earn a place in baseball history as the only man to pitch in a major league baseball game on an artificial leg. More importantly, “Shep” served as the inspiration for the many thousands of badly-wounded American World War II veterans who faced an uncertain postwar future.
Clarence Maddern, Bisbee’s hometown hero, starred for the Bees as an outfielder in 1940 and 1941. After service in World War II he resumed his career in baseball, playing for the Chicago Cubs, the Cleveland Indians and several teams in the old Pacific Coast League. Clarence remains the only native-born Bisbee man to make his way up to The Big Show!
This year’s fundraising invitational vintage base ball tournament will feature teams from the Arizona Territories Vintage Base Ball League, wearing period uniforms and playing bare-handed base ball according to the rules of the game in use back in 1860!
Two former big league pitchers – James “Mudcat” Grant and Pat Darcy – will also be attending the event at Warren Ballpark to sign autographs and chat with the fans.
Tickets for the fundraising event may be purchased at the gate or online. ($15 for both days, $10 for one day, ages 12 and under free with adult ticket) Proceeds of the tournament will be used to pay for future renovations and improvements at the Bisbee Unified School District’s 108-year-old multi-sports facility in the Warren Neighborhood. For more information, contact Judy Anderson at 520-366-1455 or check out our Facebook page.