As my wife Shelia and I were going from our granddaughter's volleyball game to our grandson's baseball game this week, we drove on Third Street past Engel Stadium, and immediately, wonderful memories started flowing. I've been in the Chattanooga area since 1975 and Engel Stadium was always a big part of my life. From attending or covering Lookouts' games to actually playing baseball a time or two in the stadium, everything was always positive.
Here is a list of some of those memories.
I was there in that rickety old press box in 1976 when baseball returned to Chattanooga. Mark Budaska's grand slam home run sealed an opening night win.
I was there when umpire Joe West tossed organist Charlie Timmons out of the park for playing three blind mice. I was also there when the late David Earl Hughes was tossed out for offering the umpire his glasses.
I was there and behind the mic when the Lookouts hosted the Montgomery Rebels in the Southern League Playoffs in 1976.
I was there a lot to watch the UTC baseball team play its home games there...of course that ended in 1981 when the school dropped baseball.
I covered a lot of high school baseball games at the stadium, including games with the TSSAA Spring Fling.
I was there when the Lookouts opened a brand new press box, replacing that old rickety one.
I was there when Michael Jordan visited as a member of the Birmingham Barons as he tried his hand at baseball.
I was there when the late, great Hall of Famer Bob Feller pitched to several members of the media, and I was fortunate enough to get a base hit off of him.
I was there when the team hosted a rib eating contest and I sat by UTC Coach Mack McCarthy while Channel 3's Clark Schaffer cheated and won the contest.
I was there at many used car nights when clunkers and some decent cars were given away to fans.
I was there for many visits by the San Diego Chicken, aka, Ted Giannoulas. The first time the Chicken held my infant son Davey and the last time I saw him at AT&T Park, my 6'-6" 300 pound football playing son picked the Chicken up and held him.
I was there when the great Bruce Meade hit softball after softball out of the stadium, over the left field wall and onto Third Street.
I was there when Country Music Hall of Famers Alabama played a benefit softball game.
I was also there when Engel Stadium hosted a Celebration of Life ceremony for my long-time friend Luther Masingill, who passed away in 2014 at the age of 92.
It's a shame that the Grand Old Lady...Historic Engel Stadium...is sitting empty with no events to attend. As you can tell from the above list, Engel Stadium was once the hub of activity in Chattanooga and could be again, given the attention it deserves from current owner, UT Chattanooga.
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Randy Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org