Home for Durham Bulls Dedicated, 1926

El Toro Park in the 1930s. Image from the Duke Rare Book and Manuscript Collection.

On July 26, 1926, the Durham Bulls’ El Toro Park was dedicated. Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the first Commissioner of Baseball, stole the show that day by riding onto the field on the team mascot, a real bull.  Governor Angus McLean was also on hand for the festivities. The park was the home field for the Bulls, a local class-D farm team for the Cincinnati Reds.

In 1933, the City of Durham purchased the park with the help of a donation from local banker and attorney John Sprunt Hill and renamed the facility Durham Athletic Park. The stadium burned in June 1939, but a new concrete and steel grandstand that seated 1,000 spectators was constructed within weeks.

During the off season, the rest of the stadium was rebuilt, again funded by Hill. The reconstructed Durham Athletic Park opened in April 1940. It was that stadium that was featured in the 1988 blockbuster film, Bull Durham.

In 1995, the baseball team moved down the road to Durham Bulls Athletic Park, leaving their old stadium for municipal uses such as festivals and other sporting events.

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