Baseball was not born in Bartlesville with the dedication of Bartlesville Municipal Athletic Field on May 2, 1932, but it clearly marked the beginning of a new era of baseball. Long considered the crown jewel of the Bartlesville athletic community, Bartlesville Municipal Athletic Field was completed at a cost of $30,000 and seated approximately 2,000 people.
The stadium has a long and storied past dating back to the time when Bartlesville had a professional minor league team. From 1946 to 1952, Bartlesville had a team in the KOM (Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri) league with 28 players stopping through the stadium on their way to the major leagues.
Through the years, the stadium was known to be the only professional ballpark in the world with the same distance (340 feet) to the fence anywhere in fair territory. The fence is made up of 14 feet concrete panels angled to form the arc of a circle with home plate at the center. Today, home plate has been moved so the field is no longer fully symmetrical.
In 1997, Bartlesville Municipal Athletic Field was renamed Bill Doenges Memorial Stadium in appreciation of the nearly 60 years of support provided by Bill Doenges to the Bartlesville community and to the American Legion baseball program. A formal dedication ceremony was held May 20, 1998, Opening Day of the 1998 American Legion baseball season.
In 1997, the Doenges Stadium Renovation Committee was formed. With private and public funding, and many hours of volunteer labor, many improvements were made to the stadium, including: installing a state of the art lighting system, re-sodding of the entire playing surface, including an underground sprinkler system, adding wide-back aluminum benches that seat 1,000, replacing old bench-style seating with 510 chair-back seats, and painting the stadiums exterior. After the renovation, the stadium now comfortably seats 2,500.
On December 21, 1998, the Bartlesville City Council passed an ordinance establishing a Stadium Operating Committee (S.O.C.). The S.O.C. serves as an advisory board to the City Council on matters pertaining to the operation, use, care and improvement of Bill Doenges Memorial Stadium.
The renovation committee hit a – “home run” when they landed the prestigious 2003 American Legion World Series. And it is our privilege to host this historic event once again in 2007, during Oklahoma’s Centennial Year. The 2007 American Legion World Series is an official Oklahoma Centennial Event.
Bill Doenges Memorial Stadium stands as a symbol of the many years of Bartlesville tradition of community pride.