On the map above, drawn by John Cembruch, you can see where there was a baseball diamond before the one built in the late 1940s. It was about at the east side of where the parking lot is now. John mentioned that they played soccer there, also. DM

On Saltbox Hill there is about a 4 – 5- foot drop. Halfway up Saltbox there was a cement watering trough. The milkmen from Mendon (Davenport and Beal) used to water their horses there. John Cembruch, May 2013.

                                                                            Draper Field

On June 18th,(1948) the first night game ever scheduled [in Hopedale, that is] was played between Hopedale and Milford at Draper Field before a capacity crowd, with the locals winning out 11 – 6.  The lighting system was rented for the occasion and consisted of 8 towers, placed around the field in such a way as to insure the greatest coverage.  Each tower supported 8 – 1500 watt bulbs, and the candle power delivered was sufficient to permit maximum vision in all sectors of the field.

Contributing no little to the success of the season was the new baseball field constructed to the rear of Bancroft Park.  The opening day game with Whitinsville was attended by an overflow crowd of 1686 paid.

Draper Field is located on a 4 acre swampland lot reclaimed with slag and other fill from the shop and the Town.  This rough fill was covered and leveled off with 12,000 cubic yards of subfill followed by 4,250 cubic yards of loam so as to insure a proper playing surface.  The field is laid out facing the north in order that the setting sun offers a minimum of glare to the pitcher, batter and outfielder alike.  The design of the skinned base paths and outer outfield edges is circular, as can be seen from the aerial photographs of the field, offering a symmetry pleasing to the eye.  The distance from home plate to the center field fence is 388 feet, and to the left and right field fences, 350 feet; 80 feet from the base line to the fence on each side of the diamond, and 60 feet from the catcher’s box to the backstop. Both the batter’s and pitcher’s box are filled to a depth of 8 inches with special clay to prevent the forming of permanent holes.

Perhaps the outstanding feature of the park however and one that makes it the equal of any major league field in the country is the underground sprinkling system that has been installed. This system is a duplicate of the one currently in use at Braves Field.  There are 11 outlets spotted over the entire area so that any portion or all of the field can be sprinkled at any time.  One sprinkler head can water a circle 170 feet in diameter.  These outlets are protected by a rubber cap that is set flush with the surface of the ground with the result that there are no projecting edges of iron caps to catch a ball player’s spikes.  In use, this rubber cap is removed and the sprinkler head pushed down on a valve and locked with a half turn.  It then starts to operate immediately.

The grandstand, designed to seat 1250 spectators, contains 10 rows of seats, chair high, with a full 18 inches of walking space between each row.  The players’ dugouts are located at the usual first and third base side of home plate, and will easily accommodate a full team compliment.  Underneath the grandstand are separate dressing rooms for the umpires as well as the visiting and home teams; each equipped with its own showers.  Here too is a concession stand which was well patronized by the many fans who saw the

Draper team lead the league by finishing the regular season two games ahead of its nearest rival.    Cotton Chats, November 1948.   

In 1950, a permanent lighting system was erected at the field.

May 23, 2024

Draper Field opened in 1948. As you can see in the pictures at the top, they didn’t have lights at that time, but they did by 1950. In 1953 they were taken down and sent south, probably to Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Thanks to Rick Buroni who sent the photos of Draper Field in 1948 and 1950.

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