From names like Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth and even Don Larsen, Spudder Park featured some of the most iconic baseball players in major league history.
Spudder Park was built in the 1920s during the big oil boom that came through Wichita Falls.
It burned down three different times causing them to rebuild it bigger and better each time.
Babe Ruth actually played at Spudder Park back in 1930 and even hit two home runs out of the park, but, ultimatley, lost to the Spudders with a score of 9-6.
Spudder Park enthusiast Philip Chisum said there’s a lot of history behind the park that he wishes more people knew about.
“At it’s largest capacity, Spudder Park could hold 8,500 people,” Spudder Park enthusiast Philip Chisum said.
According to Museum Curator Leanne Ray, Ralph Harvey Sr. and W. Newton Mayor brought The Spudders here in 1920 and built Spudder Park. They built it four times because it burned down three times. Each time they built it they built it bigger and more elaborate.
With Wichita Falls hitting a large oil boom in the early 1900s, the men who would drill for oil were called Spudders, creating the name for one of the biggest minor league teams in the state at the time.
“The Spudders had the second best overall record of all of those teams—12 full seasons and one partial season,” Chisum said.
“He played the 47′, 48′ seasons here in Wichita Falls for The Spudders,” Bob Brotherton said.
Former 30th District judge Bob Brotherton’s father Paul Brotherton was one of the stars that helped attribute to The Spudders success.
“He was known as a real power hitter. He was really good for offense and when he backed out and moved on to other things after the 1948 season people were really worried about who was going to replace him,” Chisum said.
On top of having some of the best players known at the time like Don Larson, who would become the only player in MLB history to pitch a perfect game in the World Series. There were also some really big names like Lou Gehrig and even “The Great Bambino” that came to Spudder Park to play exhibition games against The Spudders.
“It’s hard to think of a person that was as big as Babe Ruth was. When Babe Ruth came to Wichita Falls and he hit those two home runs, people literally have considered it like okay now Spudder Park is hallowed ground, now its historical that we had a baseball team here,” Chisum said.
“Of course that didn’t help The Yankees much because The Spudders won 9-6. Although the reporter said that he hit those homerun balls somewhere in the somewhere in the general direction of Clay County, so I’m thinking they went pretty far,” Ray said.
If anyone could find one of those Babe Ruth homerun balls and could prove it, it would be worth a small fortune. Which brings us to Ronald Kinney, a man who found an old baseball a couple of years ago in the attic of a thrift shop that he was remodeling. But not just any ball.
“I found a box in the attic by the furnace that had a baseball in it with Babe Ruth’s signature on it. Not knowing if it was real, you never know. Did some research and found out that Babe Ruth had played an exhibition game here on April 3rd, 1930, here in Wichita Falls in Spudder Park and it very well could be one of those long lost home run balls,” Kinney said.
While there are many, many more fake Babe Ruth balls than real, Kinney holds on to hope that it is authentic.
“If it’s real, then that’s about as close as a jackpot that anyone can get,” Chisum said.
Even if its a swing and a miss, Kinney said even thinking about the possibility of it being real is enough to wake the history behind Spudder Park and The Spudders. Bringing more interest to the history behind one of the greatest teams to ever play in the minor league, right here in Wichita Falls.