Thursday, March 18, 2010

Halbach Field

With spring training well underway and shouts of "play ball!" just around the corner, it seems like an appropriate time to look back on the history of Rochester's own baseball ground, Halbach Field.

The village of Rochester acquired the property on which Halbach Field stands, along Woodward St. near Paint Creek, after the Detroit Sugar Company demolished its factory at that location in 1906. Around 1923, local residents started using the vacant land unofficially as a ball park. In the spring of 1925, the village took steps to improve the field by grading, filling and seeding the property. In announcing that the new athletic field was almost ready for use, the Rochester Clarion championed the cause of organized baseball in the village:
Rochester has needed just such a field these many years, and now that same has been secured, it is to be hoped a good ball team may be formulated and maintained as in other years, thereby bringing to our city many visitors from neighboring villages of the county, as it is bound to do.
With the possibility of our business places all closing on Wednesday afternoons during the months of June, July and August, as is now planned, why not organize a first class ball team and hold games each Wednesday for the entertainment of those who now can get away to see a game and at the same time have a tendency to keep our people at home upon these half holidays, in which, as time rolls on our city is sure to benefit therefrom.
The field opened in June 1925, when the Rochester Independents defeated a team from Armada by a score of 4 to 2. In 1936, local civic leader and Detroit Edison supervisor Fred Halbach led a campaign to light the field and and install a grandstand so that evening softball games could be played. Despite the fact that the nation was still struggling through the Great Depression, townspeople contributed nearly $1,000 under Halbach's encouragement to make the improvements to the ball park. The dedication ceremonies were held on June 24, 1936, and in a surprise move during the festivities, the village fathers announced that the facility would be named Halbach Field in honor of Fred Halbach and all of his efforts to improve the field. Unfortunately, Halbach had very little time to enjoy the fruits of his labors, as he died unexpectedly just six months later.

This photo from the collection of the Rochester Hills Public Library shows the dedication ceremonies underway at Halbach Field on June 24, 1936.


  1. I played Little League Baseball there in 1955. High School football games were played at Halbach Field until the new field was completed at Rochester High School. Does anyone know when the grandstand was demolished?

  2. I am not old enough to know when that grandstand was demolished. But i know where Halbach Field is.

    I have one suggestion on where you could find this information out and that is; CONTACT THE CITY HISTORICAL PEOPLE. THEY MIGHT BE ABLE TO TELL YOU! OR: MAYBE SOMEONE AT CITY HALL MIGHT BE ABLE TO HELP YOU!


  3. Don't forget there was also a football field at that location. The old Rochester High School played their football games there back in the 1930's under Coach Roy Keys (?). This is from my memory, stories from my Dad. Also, when the old RHS was Central Jr. High, games were also played at Halbach field, guess I'm dating myself! Susan Brown Johnson

  4. I think they demolished the stands in the mid to late 50's. They made improvements and added a walking trail and aluminum stands. There was a re-dedication ceremony and my father Robert, who was 14 when his father, Frederick passed away, was given the first pitched ball. I took the ball to school for show and tell, without Dad's permission, and lost it. Not a good day.
    Gregory Halbach

  5. Epic Little League games were played there in the 60's There were 3 diamonds: A, B and C. A was for A league games, B for B league, and C was a dirt hellhole across Woodward where long shots would roll forever. When I visited in 1990 B diamond had been turned into a park.
    My teams were MGM Cleaners and Avon Tube, a perennial winner. We wore smelly polyester shirts and hats, our own jeans and spikes were not allowed.

  6. Amazing how little league stays with you. I still remember muffing a pop fly in a playoff game on A diamond, probably in 1965. I think I was on Avon Tube that year, but I could be wrong. I was also on Jones Barber Shop and Holland Florist, which had purple and yellow shirts that were distressingly un-masculine.