Sardis ballpark history

The Sardis Ballpark has been a mainstay in the community and several people have connections and memories from their time playing baseball there. 

Unfortunately, most records regarding the history of the park have not been preserved; instead, stories of the the ballpark's past have spread through word of mouth. 

According to Johnathan Richard, who has been researching the ballpark's history, the park was built in the 1920s for a semi-pro baseball team. At the time, the park only had one field.

Jim Crone, who has lived in Sardis for much of his life, said older men played on the semi-pro team, the Blackhawks. Younger men, including his older brother, played for the Bears. His other two brothers played on the Cubs team. 

For a time beginning in 1955, no one played baseball at the Sardis ballpark, but teams began playing again in 1958, Crone said. 

By then, he said he was old enough to play on a semi-pro team too. He participated until about 1966.

With the creation of leagues for boys and girls in Sardis, the teams participated in a Saline County league playing against others from nearby communities including Salem, Traskwood and Haskell, Crone added. 

Eventually, electricity was added at the park and years later another field was constructed. 

"It was a big thing when they built the present day concession stand and it had electricity," said Steve Spickard, who began playing baseball in Sardis in 1961. 

"It was one field and the whole community centered around the activities there," he said.

The ballpark now includes three fields. 

During its history, the ballpark became part of the Bryant School District. There was a 100-year lease between the district and park organizers. That lease has since been paid off, Richard said.

The Sardis community was once included in the Hurricane Township. 

In the Centennial Edition of The Benton Courier, the Hurricane Township was described as "splendid."

"Just how old this township is or how long people have made homes here seems to be lost in oblivion, though records show that this was a settlement long before the Civil War," H.H. Tull wrote in 1937. 

Tull added "the people of Hurricane have always been in the main, a law abiding and religious people."

Jody Caple said that no one played games during church times. 

Doris Bates' entire family was involved with the ballpark. Both of her sons and her daughter all played baseball at the park. One son, Robert served as baseball commissioner and brought the first state tournament to the park. Another son, Keith played until 

American Legion. 

Her husband Robert Bates Sr. had a co-ed team at the ballpark until 1996 and now he has taken on caring for the fields, Doris Bates said. 

Along with preserving the history of the park, officials with the Sardis Ballpark Board of Directors would like to see the park improved for the future through sponsorships. 

During this month, is hosting online signups for individuals interested in playing baseball and softball. Signups will also be available from 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 24 and Jan. 31, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 25 and Feb. 1. 

T-ball is open for 3 and 4 year olds at a cost of $38. Baseball and softball registrations cost $42. 

More information is available by contacting Casey Richard at 501-507-2749 or Shana Philpot at 501-773-4535. 

The organization can accept mail at P.O. Box 429 in Bauxite, AR 72011.