It’s just a bunch of dirt now. The bleachers, the field, the concession stand, the locker rooms, even the name – they’re all gone.
In fact, everything is gone, except, of course, the memories.
Where Baynard Stadium once stood there now stands … nothing. The old place has been completely torn down and the rebuilding process hasn’t started yet, and all we’re left with for now is lots of dirt and empty space.
For the first time in almost a century, there is no Baynard Stadium in Wilmington.
Eventually, that empty space will become the finest sports stadium in the state, not counting colleges. It will have amenities old, tired Baynard Stadium could never dream of, and it will have a brand, new name, too.
When completed, it will be called Abessinio Stadium, after the man, Rocco Abessinio, whose money has made the new facility possible – just as Baynard Stadium was named after its main financier, Samuel H. Baynard, back in 1922.
For now, however, there’s just that dirt.
Gone are the metal bleachers where generations of sports fans – mostly Salesianum School football fans – sweated and shivered for decades. Renovations were done in 1956 and 1972, but they were never really comfortable and eventually some of them were even condemned.
Gone is the press box where the late, great Bill Pfeiffer sat and broadcast hundreds of Sallies games over the WDEL airwaves. That was back in the days when you couldn’t stream the games and had to listen to them on the radio – AM radio, at that.
Gone is the concession stand that served soggy hot dogs and bland pizza and lukewarm soda, and gone are the cramped, dank, concrete rooms where teams met at halftime while the fans ate those hot dogs and that pizza and drank those sodas.
Ah, the good old days. For countless residents of New Castle County – past and present — Baynard Stadium was a priceless gem that served the community and almost everyone has good memories of the place, even while acknowledging its shortcomings.
My memories started when I was a kid in grade school and my father would take me and my brothers to Salesianum games – three generations of my family have played football for the Sals – and I remember those high school kids looked like real men to me. They even looked like they shaved.
Of course, most of my time was spent playing under the bleachers and watching neighborhood kids sneak in through the hole in the fence behind the press box. I would even stand watch for them and let them know when the coast was clear so they could scoot through the hole and under the bleachers, where no adult would dare go.
The other highlight was that awful concession stand — I couldn’t wait until halftime so I could run over there and buy bad food that, to a kid at a football game, tasted heavenly.
And, of course, there was the football, and in those days Salesianum, coached by the legendary Dim Montero, almost always won.
So, yeah, Baynard Stadium was a special place for me, just as it’s been for so many of you. The new place will be nicer, but it won’t be better.