The Hunt for Tingley Field (aka Tingley Park)

Shortly after I moved to Barelas, I discovered Tingley Park. With two little ones, Tingley Park was a far enough walk away from home to feel like an adventure and close enough for us to make a quick dash for home in case we needed to.

There was also the bonus of Tingley Park’s location across the street from the Rio Grande Zoo – some afternoons we headed to the zoo first for a picnic and a peek at some animals, wrapping up our excursion with a turn at the swings or gliding down the plastic slides that made everyone’s hair stand up on end from static electricity.

As my kids got older and outgrew weekly trips to the park, I continued to visit Tingley Park. Since it was across the street from the Barelas Community Center (my gym at the time) I would use the track and par course to vary my workouts. (The track around was .48 of a mile before they renovated the park).

One day, while working out in the Barelas Community Center weight room, about ten women from the Barelas Senior Center exercise class stopped by to use the weight room. It was a bit more crowded than usual, with lines forming at a few of the weight machines.

I struck up a conversation with one of the women, remarking that I had just run a few laps at Tingley Park, when she politely interrupted me, telling me it was called Tingley Field. I very politely replied that the sign above the track read Tingley Park, and then another woman, a lifelong resident of Barelas, jumped in, stating that the sign was wrong!

These senior citizens of Barelas, most of them lifelong residents, plus a few who had moved to Barelas after marrying husbands from the neighborhood, started to regale me with tales of the baseball games at Tingley Field, the dances with live bands held at the very Barelas Community Center where we were exercising, and the boxing matches that took place at the Barelas Community Center.

It was all interesting information, and I tucked it away, thinking that maybe it would make its way into a story or an essay some day.

In 2006, Barelas was flooded by the heavy monsoon rains. Floodwaters damaged many homes, and we newcomers learned that the low point of Barelas was not Tingley Park, as I had thought, but some streets bordering Tingley Park.

To its credit, the city of Albuquerque (after some good reporting and vigorous lobbying by Bareleños), decided to address this issue by turning Tingley Park into a drainage area for the neighborhood of Barelas.

After more than a year of construction, the renovation of Tingley Park is now complete.

In the meantime, having been displaced by the construction, I changed my running venue to the bosque. Each time I went past (on foot or on wheels) Tingley Park, I checked the progress, and thought about those women from the Senior Center and the tales they told.

Around the same time, I started blogging for Duke City Fix.

One day, I decided to see if I could track down any photos of the old Tingley Field. I started at the Rio Grande Main Library and also the Special Collections library across from the Artichoke Café, but had no luck there. I also visited the library of the National Hispanic Culture Center, and found reams of material for future blogs, but no pictures of the old Tingley Field.

I even contacted the offices of a former player for the Albuquerque Dukes, Senator Domenici, for assistance, but did not even get the benefit of a form letter response to my inquiry. (Constituent services apparently are less important when a member of Congress is soon approaching retirement?)

Finally, on the suggestion of a friend (and a few librarians), I struck gold at the Albuquerque Museum archives. The museum staff members were quite generous with their time, and quite helpful in letting me go through the images in their database.

Here’s the result. (Profuse thanks go to the staff at the Albuquerque Museum who were kind enough to share these with me - muchas gracias!)

Note the flag at half mast, the advertisement for Offense Bonds (perhaps WWII era?) and the flagpole and utility pole INSIDE the outfield! You can also see the old Sacred Heart Church towers...torn down some time ago.

I can't tell which direction this view is facing or when the photograph was taken, but the car on the left may be a clue...

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Comment by Barelas Babe on February 3, 2009 at 10:27pm
@Izquierdo - this is great stuff! Thanks for adding your memories. So I have to ask - is that the Duke Snider who played for the Dodgers with Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax? Those guys were before my time but I grew up on tales of the LA Dodgers starting with their stint at the LA Coliseum before they moved to Chavez Ravine. And I've often used the story of Sandy Koufax deciding against pitching in the World Series on Yom Kippur as an example of a clash between personal/professional ethics - though these days few college students know his name... (Guess I'm getting old!)

Thanks again for the great commentary - I could picture it as I was reading it. Have you checked out the renovated Tingley Park at all in the past few months?
Comment by Braceman on February 3, 2009 at 10:47pm
Thank you bringing Tingley Field back to life. The Special Collections Library had an exhibit called "the New Deal and Albuquerque last fall that included some information on the construction of Tingley Field. The large concrete baseball at Isotopes Park was once a part of Tingley Field.
Comment by Izquierdo on February 4, 2009 at 6:45am
I started going to games at Tingley Field in1952 when it had a Class C professional team in the West Texas - New Mexico League. Seems to me the Dukes played the Abilene Blue Sox, Amarillo Gold Sox, Pampa Oilers, Clovis (can't remember the mascot), Lubbock Hubbers, Lamesa (?) and Borger Gassers. When I was a teenager, the pros left and semi-pro ball was there for awhile. I ran the electric part of the scoreboard (balls and strikes) from the press box and did the PA. A kid out on the scoreboard in left field (who climbed a ladder and worked off a walkway) posted the runs each inning by hand. Centerfield was toward the Crest if I remember, so left field was north, give or take a little. Most ballparks are set up this way, so the sun won't be in the batter's eye. Class C ball didn't pay much. Fans would stick money through the screen for anyone who hit a home run. I've been in the bowels of the building, dressing rooms and all, many times (I had to lock up). Bats and catching masks etc. were stored there for years (abandoned) while the pros were gone. One of the great players on the Class C team was Pedro Santiago. Everybody loved him. Once he told me he could never advance because he was a left handed outfielder...too short for first base. He stayed around town for a long time after the original pro team was gone. I loved Tingley, and in some ways I believe it was superior to the parks we have today. The old sports stadium, wasn't too bad. It had a drive-in outfield, but this overgrown mall today is not for baseball -- it's for Nobalites, preening and watching each other, not the game. It's a diminutive version of a major league park, catering to the struting set. The move from the Barelas area to the present location was made because the afraid of being mugged in Barelas and the powers that be recognized that it wasn't what happened between the lines but in the stands that counted. When I left Tingley late at night at about 18, I would walk over to Fourth Street to get some protection from the street lights and traffic, walk to Bridge Street (now Cesar Chavez) cross the Rio, then take Isleta to wher I lived near Armijo and Ernie Pyle Jr. High. I never got mugged once. At some point, Tom Bolack, the Farmington oilman and guv for a short time, helped revive pro ball.. Duke Snider and Roger Craig from the bigs were managers there if I remember. When the semi-pros played there, Al Wright, the baseball coach at Ernie Pyle, caught for the Dukes for a couple of games when the regular catchers both were injured. The Dukes were then in Class A and he caught a one-hitter. Can't remember who threw it. Jim Hulsman, the Bulldogs basketball coach, managed one of the semipro teams, Rio Grande Lumber, Hulsman had a great team that went to the national finals in Wichita. Bobby Lemmel and Paul Fugit were among his players, both ex-pros. Somebody said Fugit once played in the Show, but I've never been able to find his name in the stats book. Carlos Salazar, the Trib sports editor, handled the official book.
Comment by Izquierdo on February 4, 2009 at 6:53am
By the way, there's a Wiki entry on Tingley Field and another one that you can find by googling Tingley Field and J.D. Kailer in combination. Kailer, who still alive and kicking in the heights, was the sports editor at the Journal and is one of the sources for the story.
Comment by Bosque Bill on February 4, 2009 at 7:39am
Great additions, Izquierdo! I was just a little kid watching games with my dad there in the late '50s. I have fairly clear mental images of many parts of the field and building... at least those parts a little kid would notice.
Comment by Izquierdo on February 4, 2009 at 8:42am
Thanks, Bosque Bill...I'll bet you can remember the little "hit me for $50" sign on top of the fence at the right field foul post.
Comment by Bosque Bill on February 4, 2009 at 9:18am
Unfortunately, that didn't stick in my mind. I remember such things as the building entrance where they sold tickets and the turnstiles, the bleachers, the pipes used as railings for the box seats, the roof and backstop, lots of concrete... just disconnected impressions of a child 8 to 10 years old.
Comment by cc on February 5, 2009 at 10:44am
Hey Barelas Babe et al,
My home town of Tulsa, with their Tulsa Oilers, were also a farm team for the Dodgers. I totally remember Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax as a kid. Weekend afternoons out in the backyard, through my dad's wired radio speaker on the back porch, all of those games are cemented into me brain - "... high fly ball...". My dad, who was born in 22, who moved to ABQ in 28 and also lived in LA as a teen, was a big baseball fan, and know he and my grandma woulda told me about it if they were here ...

Who was the Dodgers' radio announcer - Red Barker? Or is my memory just totally shot?
Comment by Barelas Babe on February 5, 2009 at 12:18pm
@ cc -Vin Scully is the only Dodger announcer I remember...
Comment by Maria L. Leyba on March 28, 2009 at 10:41pm
I live half block away from Tingley. When I was little I remember how the roaring of people clapping when someone hit a homerun would wake me up from a deep sleep. It sounded like everyone was in my house. My brothers would stand outside the field to catch flyballs & if they returned them they were given a quarter. I loved it when the circus came & performed at Tingley. The whole circus crew would park their trailers outside the park. Many times we made friends with their children & played while their parents practiced their tricks.


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