Municipal Stadium (Kansas City, Missouri)

Municipal Stadium

First Athletics home game in 1955
Former names Muehlebach Field
Ruppert Stadium
Blues Stadium
Location 2123 Brooklyn Avenue
Kansas City, Missouri
Coordinates 39°5′9″N 94°33′25″W / 39.08583°N 94.55694°W / 39.08583; -94.55694Coordinates: 39°5′9″N 94°33′25″W / 39.08583°N 94.55694°W / 39.08583; -94.55694
Owner City of Kansas City
Operator City of Kansas City
Capacity 17,476 (1923–1955)
30,296 (1955–1961)
34,165 (1961–1969)
34,164 (1969–1971)
35,561 (1971–1972)
Field size 1923
Left Field  350 ft (107 m)
Center F.  450 ft (137 m)
Right Field  350 ft (107 m)
Left Field  369 ft (112 m)
L. Center  408 ft (124 m)
Center F.  421 ft (128 m)
R. Center  382 ft (116 m)
Right Field  338 ft (103 m)
Surface Natural grass
Broke ground 1923
Opened July 3, 1923
Demolished 1976
Construction cost US$400,000
($5.56 million in 2016 dollars[1])
Architect Osborn Engineering
Kansas City Blues (AA) (19231954)
Kansas City Monarchs (NNL / NAL) (19231931, 19371954)
Kansas City Blues / Cowboys (NFL) (19241926)
Kansas City Athletics (MLB) (19551967)
Kansas City Chiefs (AFL / NFL) (19631971)
Kansas City Spurs (NASL) (19681970)
Kansas City Royals (MLB) (19691972)

Kansas City Municipal Stadium was an American baseball and football stadium that formerly stood in Kansas City, Missouri. It was located at the corner of Brooklyn Avenue and E. 22nd Street.

Municipal Stadium hosted both the minor-league Kansas City Blues of the American Association and the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro leagues from 1923 to 1954.

The stadium was almost completely rebuilt prior to the 1955 baseball season when the Kansas City Athletics moved to Kansas City from Philadelphia. The A's played from 1955 to 1967, the Kansas City Royals from 1969 to 1972, the Kansas City Chiefs (American Football League and National Football League) from 1963 to 1971 and the Kansas City Spurs (North American Soccer League) from 1968–1970.

The stadium hosted the 1960 Major League Baseball All-Star Game (first game). The Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowl IV after appearing in the very first Super Bowl, Super Bowl I. Municipal Stadium was the site of the longest NFL game in history, in a playoff game between the Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins on Christmas Day, 1971. Jackie Robinson played at the stadium for the Kansas City Monarchs in 1945 until he was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Early stadium history

Municipal Stadium was originally built as Muehlebach Field in 1923 for the minor-league Blues for $400,000. It was named for Blues owner George E. Muehlebach, who also owned Kansas City businesses including Muehlebach Beer and the Muehlebach Hotel.

It was located in the inner-city neighborhood near 18th and Vine to house the minor-league white Kansas City Blues baseball team and the Negro League Kansas City Monarchs.[2][3] The first Negro League World Series game was held at the stadium in 1924. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, founded in 1990, is a few blocks from the site.[4]

The stadium consisted of a single-decked, mostly covered, grandstand, extending from the right-field foul pole down and around most of the left-field line. When the New York Yankees bought the Blues as its top farm team in 1937, the stadium was renamed Ruppert Stadium in honor of the Yankees' owner, Col. Jacob Ruppert.[5] Ruppert died two years later and the stadium was renamed Blues Stadium in 1943.

Rebuilding for Major League Baseball – 1955

Single decked and double decked

Arnold Johnson, a Chicago real estate magnate, bought both Blues Stadium and Yankee Stadium in 1953. A year later, he bought the Philadelphia Athletics from Connie Mack in November 1954 and announced that he would move the A's from Philadelphia to Kansas City. Johnson then sold Blues Stadium to the city, who renamed it Municipal Stadium and leased it back to the A's.

Muehlebach had anticipated that Kansas City would eventually get a major league team, and had built the stadium with footings sufficiently strong to support a second deck. However, when work began on double-decking the stadium, it was discovered that the footings were no longer strong enough to support the weight of a second deck. City officials elected to almost completely demolish the stadium and rebuild from scratch. The city ran three shifts and the new stadium was built in 90 days, completed in time for the April 1955 opening. The new construction was financed by a bond issuance. The expanded stadium was supposed to seat 38,000, but cost overruns as a result of overtime payments forced officials to reduce capacity to just over 30,000.[6] The Braves Field scoreboard was purchased for $100,000 and moved from Boston to Kansas City, while temporary bleachers were added in the left field corner and parts of the outfield.[7]

On opening day 1955, former President Harry S. Truman, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Connie Mack and legendary player Jimmie Foxx were also in attendance. The A's defeated the Detroit Tigers, 8–2,[8]

The baseball field was aligned northeast (home plate to center field) at an approximate elevation of 900 feet (270 m) above sea level.

Pre-1955 teams

Kansas City Monarchs

The Kansas City Monarchs were the longest running franchise in the Negro Leagues and were successful, winning eleven league championships before integration (1923–25, 1929, 1931 in the NNL; 1937–40, 1942, 1946 in the NAL). They appeared in four Negro League World Series. The won the first ever Series in 1924. The Monarchs then lost the 1925 Series. They won the 1942 Negro World Series, and lost the 1946 Series.[9]

Many noteworthy players played for the Monarchs at Muelbach Field: The legendary Buck O'Neil played 10 seasons for the Monarchs.

Buck O'Neil

Hall of Famers Bullet Rogan, J. L. Wilkinson, José Méndez, Satchel Paige, Hilton Smith, and Willard Brown all played for the Monarchs. Other Hall of Famers who spent a season or more with the Monarchs include: Cristóbal Torriente, Andy Cooper, Turkey Stearnes, Cool Papa Bell, Bill Foster, Willie Wells, Ernie Banks, and the legendary Jackie Robinson.[10]

Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson Kansas City Monarchs

After being discharged from the United States Army, Jackie Robinson signed with the Monarchs for the 1945 season. He played shortstop and was selected to play in the East-West All-Star game. While playing for the Monarchs, Robinson was scouted by the Dodgers' Branch Rickey, who signed Robinson on October 23, 1945.[11] Robinson broke the color barrier in the Major Leagues on April 15, 1947.[12]

Kansas City Blues – Minor League

The Kansas City Blues were one of the eight founding members of the American Association. The franchise existed in its entirety from 1888–1954, and was an original tenant of Municipal Stadium. The franchise was a farm team for the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Yankees. The franchise was an AA team (1923–1945) and then an AAA team (1946–54).[13] The city's longtime support of the Blues helped the team eventually land Major League Franchises.[14]

As the Yankees top Farm Team, the Blues had many great players and successes. But, the 1939 Blues have been called one of the greatest minor league teams of all time and were led by Hall of Fame player (and future Yankee Announcer) Phil Rizzuto and Vince Dimaggio, who hit 46 home runs.[15][16]

A young Mickey Mantle hit .361 with 11 HR for the Blues in 1951.[17]

Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Ralph Houk, Al Rosen, Billy Martin, Bill Virdon, Johnny Mize and Elston Howard were some of the players in the Yankees farm era who played for the Blues. There were about 580 Blues players who went on to the Major Leagues.[18]

Major League Baseball

Kansas City Athletics

A's vs. Yankees at Municipal Stadium, 1966

The stadium was home to many of the shenanigans of Charlie Finley, who bought the A's after Arnold Johnson's death in 1960. Most notably, he tried to shorten the rather distant fences by creating a 296 feet (90 m) Pennant Porch in right field, fronting a tiny bleacher section, to mock the famed short fence in right field at Yankee Stadium, home of the powerful Yankees. The move was quickly vetoed by the league. So Finley rebuilt the fence to the bare legal minimum of 325 feet (99 m), and repainted the fence to say "One-Half Pennant Porch". Later he tried the ruse of putting a canopy over the little bleacher, which just happened to have an extension that reached out 29 feet (9 m) over the field. The league, not amused by Finley's sense of humor, again ordered him to cease and desist. According to legend, on a road trip that the A's made to New York, a Yankee hitter lofted a long fly ball to left field which, in the cavernous left field of Yankee Stadium, became a routine out. Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard is alleged to have then said over the microphone, "In Kansas City, that would have been a home run", itself a response to Finley's dictum for Municipal Stadium public address announcer Jack Layton to announce, "That would have been a home run at Yankee Stadium" for any ball hit beyond a line Finley painted in the outfield grass 296 feet away from home plate in Kansas City.

Kansas City Athletics logo 1963 to 1967

In addition to his notorious tinkering with the right-field corner, Finley experimented with moving the other fences in and out several times during his seven seasons operating the team here. None of those moves had any notable effect on the team's performance, as the club finished in or near last place nearly every year.

A small zoo with goats and sheep and picnic area stood behind the right-field fence. When home runs were hit into the field the goats and sheep would scamper up the hill. At the same time, Finley replaced the Athletics' old elephant mascot with a live mule, appropriately named "Charlie-O".

At home plate a mechanical rabbit, nicknamed "Harvey" in reference to the stage play Harvey (1944) and the subsequent film of the same name (1950), rose out of the ground with new baseballs for the umpire and a compressed-air device (nicknamed "Little Blowhard") blew dirt off of home plate.

Reggie Jackson, Sal Bando, Catfish Hunter Joe Rudi and Gene Tenace were some young A's players who debuted in Kansas City and went on to lead them in their World Series victories in Oakland. Hunter and Jackson would earn Hall of Fame induction.[19]

Kansas City Royals

Main article: Kansas City Royals

Municipal Stadium's fate was sealed when, as part of the AFL-NFL merger, the require initiated a mandate for all teams of a minimum stadium capacity of 50,000 people; at its height, Municipal Stadium only seated 35,000 people for football and could not be expanded. However, a replacement would have almost certainly been needed in any event given its age and condition. Public bonds were issued in 1967 to fund a complex including separate football and baseball stadiums—what would eventually become the Truman Sports Complex. It came too late for the A's, however, as Finley moved the franchise to Oakland after the 1967 season. Subsequently, Kansas City was awarded an American League expansion team for 1969, and the new Kansas City Royals used the stadium as a temporary home from 1969–1972.[20]

Kansas City welcomed the new Royals, who were led by 1969 American League Rookie of the Year Lou Piniella. The expansion team drew nearly One Million fans in their first season, despite a 69–93 record.[21]

In subsequent seasons, many future stars made their debuts for the Royals, who were building a highly competitive team, rising up to an 85-76 record in 1971. CF Amos Otis (1970), P Paul Splittorff (1970), SS Freddie Patek (1971), 1B John Mayberry (1972) and P Steve Busby (1972) were a core of young Royals who made their debuts at Municipal Stadium. Each went on to strong careers and selection into the Royals Hall of Fame.[22][23]

After the 1972 baseball season, the Truman Sports Complex, which included Royals Stadium for the Royals and Arrowhead Stadium for the Chiefs was completed. The Royals won the final game (and event) ever held at Municipal Stadium, a 4–0 win over the Texas Rangers on October 4, 1972, in what also turned out to be the final Major League game ever managed by Hall of Famer Ted Williams. Amos Otis scored the final run in Municipal Stadium history and Ed Kirkpatrick had the final hit. Four days prior Gene Tenace of the Oakland A's hit the final home run in the park's history and John Mayberry hit the final Royals home run the night before that.

No Hitters

No Major League no-hitters were pitched at Municipal Stadium.

American Football League/National Football League

Kansas City Chiefs

Main article: Kansas City Chiefs

Franchise owner Lamar Hunt moved the Dallas Texans of the fledgling American Football League (AFL) to Kansas City after the 1962 season, becoming the Kansas City Chiefs. The stadium was retrofitted for football. The playing field ran an unconventional east-west, along the first base line. Temporary stands were erected in left field to expand the stadium's capacity each fall, but had to be removed during the baseball season. The double-decked grandstand extended all the way across the south sideline, but ended halfway around the west end zone (third base line). Both teams' benches were on the north sideline in front of the temporary bleachers, as was the case at Milwaukee County Stadium. The east end zone ended at the right field fence, and the large scoreboard was in this end of the stadium. Due to the fence, there was significantly less room between the end line and the fence of the east end zone than there was in the west end zone, where there was a significant amount of room between the end line and the grandstand.[24]

The Chiefs were 44–16–3 in their tenure at Municipal Stadium and had a roster of Hall of Fame players: Quarterback Len Dawson, Defensive End Buck Buchanan, Linebackers Bobby Bell and Willie Lanier and Kicker Jan Stenerud. Lamar Hunt himself was the first Chief elected to the Hall, as his role as a league pioneer resulted in pro football growing from 12 to 26 franchises in the 1960s.[25][26] In one of the great performances at the stadium, the Chiefs' Hall of Fame Quarterback Len Dawson passed for 435 yards and 6 Touchdowns against the Denver Broncos on November 1, 1964.[27]

While at Municipal Stadium, the Chiefs were successful, representing the American Football League in two of the four Super Bowls before the leagues merged. As AFL Champions under Coach Hank Stram, the Chiefs won Super Bowl IV, beating the Minnesota Vikings 23–7. Previously, the Chiefs played in the very first, Super Bowl I, losing to the Green Bay Packers of Vince Lombardi. Leading up to the game after Lamar Hunt had first used the term "Super Bowl" in the local media as a term for the AFL-NFL Championship Game, a phrase that was later adopted as the name.[28] Super Bowl IV was the last game played before the merger of the AFL and NFL[29]

Super Bowl IV Logo. The Chiefs defeated the Minnesota Vikings 23–7. MVP: Len Dawson

Longest National Football League Game Ever Played

The Chiefs' final game at Municipal Stadium was played on Christmas Day 1971 and was historic. Despite a brilliant game by the Chiefs' Ed Podolak, who had 350 total yards from scrimmage, an NFL Playoff Record that still stands, the Chiefs were beaten by the Dolphins 27–24.[30] The double-overtime playoff contest lasted 82 minutes and 40 seconds (with overtime lasting over 22 minutes) and remains the longest game in NFL history,[31] as well the only post-season football game ever played at Municipal Stadium.

North American Soccer League

Kansas City Spurs

The Chicago Spurs of the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL) relocated the franchise to Kansas City after the NPSL and the United Soccer Association formed the North American Soccer League (NASL) in 1967. The Spurs won the 1968 NASL Championship/Soccer Bowl under Coach Janos Bedl, while leading the league in attendance, with an average of 4,273 fans. But, the franchise was eliminated following the 1970 NASL season as the NASL adjusted franchises in their initial seasons. The Spurs' colors were red and white and their mascot was "Cowboy Joe". [32][33]

Other events

1960 Major League Baseball All Star Game

On July 11, 1960, Municipal Stadium hosted the best major league players in front of 30,619 fans. During the years when two major league All-Star Games were scheduled each year instead of one, Municipal Stadium hosted the first of the two 1960 games, with the National League winning the contest 5-3. Team rosters included over 15 Hall-of-Fame members.[34]

Notable players on the rosters included: Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente (His first All-Star Game), Stan Musial, Yogi Berra, Roger Maris, Whitey Ford, Brooks Robinson, Ernie Banks, Eddie Mathews, Bill Mazeroski, Al Kaline, Orlando Cepeda, Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio.[35]

Ernie Banks, Del Crandall and Al Kaline hit home runs in the contest.[36]

Beatles Concert

On September 17, 1964, The Beatles played the stadium as part of their first U.S. tour. The date was originally supposed to be an off-day for the band, but they agreed to perform when Finley offered their manager, Brian Epstein, a then-record sum of $150,000 (equivalent to $1.14 million in 2014). The group opened the concert by saluting the host town with their medley of "Kansas City" and "Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey"; a month later, they would record the song for their next studio album, Beatles for Sale.

Demolition/Site Today

The stadium was demolished in 1976, and replaced by a municipal garden. Today, the former ballpark site is being redeveloped with new single family homes.

Kansas City Municipal Stadium site, 2012

A plaque at 22nd and Brooklyn marks the historic location. The neighborhood still contains legendary Arthur Bryant's Barbecue at 18th and Brooklyn (1908), a fan and player favorite when Municipal Stadium was nearby.[37]

Interior of Arthur Bryant's at 18th and Brooklyn, 2006

See also


  1. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  2. Staff (undated). "K.C. Municipal Stadium". Retrieved July 9, 2012.
  3. Staff (undated). "Kansas City Municipal Stadium". Retrieved March 31, 2009.
  4. Staff (undated). "Negro Leagues Baseball Museum". Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Retrieved July 9, 2012.
  6. Staff (March 1, 1958). "A's Municipal Stadium Constructed in 90 Days". The Victoria Advocate. Associated Press. p. 8. Retrieved July 9, 2012 via Google News.
  24. Staff (undated). "KC Municipal Stadium". Retrieved July 9, 2012.
  28. The Evening Standard. Associated Press. 1966-07-18. p. 14. Retrieved 02 February 2016.
  31. Staff (December 17, 2008). "The Longest NFL Game Ever Played: 'Twas the Night of Christmas  And All Through the Nation, Folks Were Wondering ... When Would This Game End?". (website operated by Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers). Retrieved July 9, 2012.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Municipal Stadium (Kansas City).
Events and tenants
(except as noted, all venues located in Kansas City, Missouri)
Preceded by
Association Park
Home of the Kansas City Blues
Succeeded by
last ballpark
Preceded by
Association Park
Home of the Kansas City Monarchs
Succeeded by
last ballpark
Preceded by
Shibe Park
Home of the Kansas City Athletics
Succeeded by
Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum
(Oakland, California)
Preceded by
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
(Los Angeles)
Host of the All-Star Game
1960 1st Game
Succeeded by
Yankee Stadium
(New York City)
Preceded by
Cotton Bowl
Home of the Kansas City Chiefs
Succeeded by
Arrowhead Stadium
Preceded by
first ballpark
Home of the Kansas City Royals
Succeeded by
Royals Stadium
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