action:article | category:SPORTS | adString:SPORTS | zoneID:40

Home » Sports

July 05. 2013 8:59PM

Gill Stadium has been much more than just a ballpark


 

This is the fifth in a series of articles from the Gill Stadium Centennial Committee leading up to the facility's 100-year anniversary on Sept. 8.


Best known for baseball but also renowned as the site of some legendary high school football games, Gill Stadium at times during its nearly 100-year history has served as a year-round facility — and not just for sports.

When it opened as Textile Field in 1913, the stadium included an oval track for middle- and long-distance footraces, as well as a straight track for sprints and other areas for field events. Auto races also took place on the track, and in October 1925, auto polo made its debut in what by then had become Athletic Park, with two-driver teams wielding mallets from behind the wheel.

Decades before the construction of JFK Coliseum beyond its outfield fence, the stadium housed its own hockey rink for the first time in 1922. Three years later, the 270-by-142-foot rink served as home to the fledgling Manchester City Hockey League.

Long popular in Manchester, boxing finally made it into the stadium in 1926 with a five-bout card featuring such local favorites as Johnny "The Polish Flash" Harko and Louie Prince.

Soccer has been a fixture at the stadium almost since its inception, and lacrosse games have been played there, too.

Gill has housed circuses and carnivals and, on at least one occasion, the Miss New Hampshire pageant. In 1925, a Miss Yvonne Fredette received her crown inside the stadium.

And it wasn't just circuses and carnivals that brought animal acts inside the facility's brick walls. You've heard of donkey basketball? Well, in 1936 Gill was used for a game of donkey baseball, with prominent local citizens taking their cuts and shagging pop-ups aboard the backs of beasts of burden.

At least one show at the stadium bombed. Literally. On Oct. 6, 1942, a crowd of about 6,000 turned out to see "Action Overhead," a display in which a model city was destroyed by incendiary bombs detonated by members of the U.S. Army.

Nine years later, another soldier created a sensation in the city when Pfc. Eddie Fisher sang at Gill. One of the era's top crooners, as well as one of its top heartthrobs, Fisher had been drafted a year earlier and served as the lead vocalist for the United States Army Band. No model cities were destroyed, but several hearts reportedly were broken.


 NH Sports Angle more
Links to news and happenings around the world of sports with a Granite State connection, updated daily.

Goalie Danny Tirone to enroll at UNH for second semester after star's suspension for domestic violence

'Smoke' blows into New Hampshire with the law in his rear-view mirror

Man found unconscious at Winchester Speedpark Saturday

Too young to drive, but old enough for NHMS

Police examine speed, possible horseplay in golf cart fatality

Mass. man, 27, dies in golf cart accident at The Links at Outlook

Hanover's Sarah Groff competes in the women's triathlon final during the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Hanover Olympian in spotlight at Las Vegas Super Sprint

FHL makes it official, team planned for Berlin will play in North Adams, Mass. instead

Can NH soccer star Charlie Davies make a comeback?

Inside NIKEs secret sports lab; born in Exeter, now located in Oregon.

Concord Monitor decries gender pay gap in professional tennis

FHL franchise slated for Berlin may go to North Adams, Mass. instead

Eagles' Kelly says he learned his offense by studying defense while at UNH

Former Concord area youth baseball coach sentenced to 30 more years in prison

Maine boxer Brandon Berry making Fight to Educate history

Hudson family, classmates working to keep Alvirne soccer standout Raul Stedile in U.S.

Israel unrest moves meet for NH swim star

Race date for Oxford 250 moved from July to Aug. 30 next year

NH's Groff a highlight for U.S. at ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final

Maine fighters Lamour, Berry on New Hampshire boxing card

Q&A with Matt Bonner as he weighs free agency

Keene State mum on suspension of veteran track coach

Morgan Andrews speaks: Notre Dame star undeterred by U.S. U-20 World Cup snub

Mo'ne Davis, and why no one should laugh at the idea of a woman in Major League Baseball

Curt Schilling says smokeless tobacco caused oral cancer

MORE

 New Hampshire Events Calendar
    

    SHARE EVENTS FOR PUBLICATION, IT'S FREE!

Upcoming Events

 New Hampshire Business Directory

  

    ADD YOUR BUSINESS TODAY!