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Fielding history: Georgetown’s Mike Johnson Park a lasting tradition

cslate@thesunnews.com

Originally named Georgetown County Stadium the facility was built in the late 1800s with the earliest recorded game played in 1896.

Now named Mike Johnson Park, it is located on the live oak-lined Emanuel Street in Georgetown, and has a homey, historic feel not found in modern ballparks.

1940s: Georgetown Athletics, members of the semi-pro Palmetto League and sponsored by the Loyal Motor Company, begin playing in the stadium with a tin fence.

▪ 1950s: The Palmetto League is a main attraction until late 1950’s. The Stadium is refurbished by International Paper Company (replacing tin fence with a concrete wall and installing scoreboard). Stadium used for high school baseball.

▪ 1962: stadium converted to football field only. The large stands were built. The Winyah Gators played the inaugural game against Bishop England. You can still see the football lines on the field because for years lime, rather than chalk, was used to mark them and it changed the chemistry of the dirt.

▪ 1965: Stadium is adapted for baseball used by Winyah High School and Howard High School. The old bleachers are responsible for the unique dimensions of the field with the center field fence being only 331 feet from home plate. The almost constant wind blowing in from Winyah Bay makes home runs very hard to come by, despite the short fence.

▪ 1982: Schools consolidate and stadium is home to Georgetown High School football and baseball teams.

▪ 1988: Georgetown High builds a football stadium at the school.

▪ 1989: City of Georgetown passes a resolution to rename the stadium Mike Johnson Park, recognizing his personal dedication to making the stadium one of the state’s finest. International Paper Company finances a portion of the renovations including a replica of the original scoreboard in left field.

▪ 1991: The Park became home to the International Paper Baseball Classic, with the year’s Silver Anniversary event won by the Wando Warriors, who also went on to win the South Carolina AAAA State Baseball Championship.

▪ 1998: Stadium gets a covered, lighted batting cage, players’ locker room built beside third base, and restrooms built beside first base.

2000: Concrete outfield fence torn down, and replaced farther out with 10 foot chain link with wind screen.

▪ 2001: Larger, modern press box and new stands built, increasing seating capacity. New signs placed around stadium.

▪ 2002: Wooden stands replaced by chair seats and backstop replaced with netting.

▪ 2003: New lights installed.

▪ 2008: Renovations to home locker room, restrooms, and batting cage. New wireless network and computerized sound system installed.

▪ 2012: Named the No. 1 high school baseball facility in South Carolina by www.thediamondprospects.com.

▪ 2015: South Carolina Historical Marker will be unveiled on Sunday.

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