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 mombat on February 2, 2009 at 4:45pm
So cool- I love that there is still strong neighborhood memory.
Even though I grew up here and studied history and planning I still find new things about the city.
Comment by killbox on February 2, 2009 at 4:53pm
Nice bit of cultural anthology/archeology, I may need to get off my behind and contact the Albuquerque museum on my quest to find info on the lands Altura village lays on.
Comment by Barelas Babe on February 2, 2009 at 7:07pm
@NMGolfHacker - any chance you could scan and upload those photos? It would be cool to see more of the park, oops, I mean field!
Comment by Adelita on February 2, 2009 at 7:26pm
I can't wait to show this to my mom! I'll bet she has great memories of Tingley Field!
Comment by Sarahjmd on February 2, 2009 at 7:35pm
Yea for our museum. I knew they had a really large photo stash there. There is another large stash in Santa Fe, (I am not remembering where, but I promise to find out.), that a friend of mine accessed when working on the opening of the NHCC. I love these pictures. Thanks for hunting them out for us!

These photos should be blown up and on display at the new stadium, don't you think? Sometimes people need to be reminded of their history.
Comment by Josephine Brionez de Flores on February 3, 2009 at 8:38am
I grew up in Bareles! Thanks for showing those great photos! I am 44 yrs old and have very fond memories of that park-from softball games, picnics, and good old cruising in our low-riders! Although I have seen great old photos of Barelas, I had not seen the photo you posted. Thanks!
Comment by Bosque Bill on February 3, 2009 at 9:12am
Thanks, Barelas Babe! I have many wonderful memories of going to Duke's baseball games at Tingley Field and am so happy our team is now, once again, affiliated with the Dodgers (it made no sense to me to be a farm club for the Marlins... still one gets funding where one can.)

My dad bought me a membership in the "Knot Hole Gang" and explained it was named after the practice of kids in old time baseball stadiums looking through the knot holes in the fence to see the game for free. I was afraid I was going to be forced to look through the fence, but no, it meant I got in free with my dad's purchase of a grandstand ticket.

I remember a Picnic with a Player event (that may not have been the official name.) A double-header was scheduled and families could bring a picnic lunch. We were allowed to spread a blanket and set up our picnic on the outfield between the games and the players came out and each one joined a family for lunch. I remember my mom made fried chicken and the players looked 10 feet tall to me.

I have mental pictures of so much of the building and field... does that mean I'm getting old? The black and white photos don't show it, but the building was (more or less) white and all the trim inside and out was bright red. Thanks for the photos and links to photos. That brought back memories, too.

The roof of the building was covered in corrugated tin. I can still hear those foul balls landing on it with a loud bang, then hear the sound of it rolling to the edge. My memory of the screen behind the plate is that it was metal and ball hit it with a jangle, but I'll admit that might be a false memory as we didn't have the money for those "expensive" seats, but were out on the benches just past first base.

Good times!
Comment by NxDLamb on February 3, 2009 at 9:27am
WOW!! I never knew that. Although i'm pretty young and shouldn't know my father, now in his 60's, has never mentioned it either. He grew up, with his 8 other siblings, in Barelas. They lived on 10th and Pacific. I'm gonna have to ask him when i see him next.
Comment by Barelas Babe on February 3, 2009 at 4:27pm
@Bosque Bill - In addition to the "Knot Hole Gang", I've heard that viewing the game from the treetops was another way to see the game without having to pay! Does anyone know more about this practice?
Comment by Monica on February 3, 2009 at 5:14pm
The pics are awesome! I'm a sucker for Albuquerque history!


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