“It’ll be sad to see the Old Lady torn down”: People reflect on Capital City Stadium’s legacy

A residential and retail complex is expected to be built after the ballpark is demolished

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) — A ballpark that served as the focal point of baseball in the Midlands for decades is set to be demolished.

The City of Columbia has been working with a private developer who plans to build a residential and retail complex on this site once the stadium is torn down.

Some say even when it’s long gone, the stories and memories that emerged from the ballpark will keep its legacy alive and well. 

Growing up in Columbia, Tommy Moody says some of his favorite baseball memories, ranging from when he saw a Major League exhibition game in 1961 to when he won American Legion MVP honors in 1969, took place within the confines of Capital City Stadium.

“It was always in, back when I played, immaculate shape, it was a great ballpark. It had a high wall in the outfield with a lot of advertising signs on it, and it took quite a poke, especially when you’re 15, 16, or 17 years old to hit to get a ball over that fence. To think I played in the same hallowed ground as Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson, that will always be a thrill for me,” said Moody, who is currently a radio host for 107.5 The Game in Columbia.

Capital City Stadium opened in 1927, and hosted a handful of minor league and summer collegiate baseball teams over the years. Barney Dreyfuss, a longtime owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, brought the first minor league team to the Soda City to play in an older incarnation of South Atlantic League. One of the streets where the ballpark is currently nestled is named after him.

For decades, Capital City Stadium was the only active minor league ballpark in the Midlands. The most recent minor league team who called the ballpark home was the Capital City Bombers, who moved to Greenville in 2005.

In 2016, Segra Park (formerly Spirit Communication Park) opened its doors, bringing minor league baseball back to Columbia.

Five years after it last hosted the Lexington County Blowfish of the summer-collegiate Coastal Plain League, who played at the ballpark from 2006 to 2014 before moving to their current home in Lexington, the land where a diamond once stood will soon have a new purpose.

“This particular site sits in really close to proximity to the University of South Carolina, to Williams Brice Stadium, along a major corridor, so it has great potential for redevelopment,” said Missy Gentry, the Assistant City Manager for the City of Columbia.

Even though the area around the ballpark is prone to flooding, the City of Columbia has been working to re-purpose the land with a private developer for both retail and residential use.

Part of the development plan is to put aside some money to fund a documentary, “one last tour” of the ballpark, and a historical marker honoring the ballpark.

Moody says he understands why the city wants to tear down the ballpark, but he says the history will keep its memory alive.

“Anybody who comes by there in the future long after I’m gone, will know what happened there and all the superstars that played on that field. It’s still going to be really, really, sad to see the old lady torn down,” Moody said.

Bill Shanahan, the general manager of the Lexington County Blowfish, the last team to call the ballpark home, says he’s happy with the way the City is handling the project and how they will acknowledge the history and impact of the ballpark in the near future.

The City of Columbia has yet to set an official demolition date for the ballpark.

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