Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) is the home of the Arkansas Travelers baseball team. It has seating for more than 7,000, including 5,800 in fixed seats, with additional room for approximately 1,500 on the berm. Previously, the team played at Ray Winder Field in Little Rock (Pulaski County), which opened in 1932.
On August 9, 2005, North Little Rock voters approved a temporary one-percent sales tax providing $28 million for the new ballpark. The land was donated by Warren Stephens, the CEO of Stephens, Inc., who also donated $440,494 for the project. Park revenue brought in $5.6 million for construction, and $15,000 was given by the North Little Rock City Beautiful Commission.
The ballpark features a plaque stating that it was named for “two sets of brothers. They worked together, and they played together. They loved each other . . . Arkansas . . . and baseball.” Beneath this are four plaques, each featuring a portrait. The inscriptions read:
- Bill Dickey (1907–1993) Catcher, New York Yankees 1928–1943, 1946, Hall of Fame 1954
- George “Skeeter” Dickey (1915–1976) Catcher, Boston Red Sox 1935–1936, Chicago White Sox 1941–1942, 1946–1947
- R. “Witt” Stephens (1907–1991) Founded Stephens Inc. in 1933, CEO, Stephens Inc. 1933–1956
- Jack Stephens (1923–2005) CEO, Stephens Inc. 1956–1986, Chairman, Stephens Group 1986–2005
Bill Dickey played himself in two motion pictures: The Pride of the Yankees (1942) about his friend and teammate Lou Gehrig, and The Stratton Story (1949). After their baseball careers, both of the Dickey brothers became employees of Stephens Inc.
At the November 30, 2005, groundbreaking, Warren Stephens said: “My father [Jack Stephens] and uncle [W. R. ‘Witt’ Stephens] loved the game of baseball and cherished their relationship with the Dickey family…there are four good men smiling about this project and being able to keep baseball alive and well in central Arkansas. There was something pure about their love of the game and the relationship they shared. I knew what we wanted to call this park before there was any certainty we would be able to get it done.” On January 26, 2006, construction began, and it was completed on March 27, 2007. The first game at the park was played on April 12, 2007.
On July 22, 2007, when the Travelers hosted the Tulsa Drillers, the Drillers’ batting coach, Mike Coolbaugh, was struck by a ball in the coaches’ box and died of a brain hemorrhage less than an hour later. In response to this, Major League Baseball began requiring base coaches to wear helmets.
On August 27, 2007, the park was named Ballpark of the Year by Baseballparks.com. The organization’s webmaster, Joe Mock, said the award “not only honors the governmental entities and team responsible for the new facility, it also recognizes the architectural firm. In this case, HKS of Dallas.”
The park, situated close to the Arkansas River, suffers from a continuing problem with sinkholes in the outfield. This problem became especially prevalent during the Flood of 2019. In February 2021, Major League Baseball instituted new facility standards for minor league ballparks, standards that would require millions of dollars in renovations and upgrades to Dickey-Stephens Park.
For additional information:
Arkansas Travelers. https://www.milb.com/arkansas (accessed June 24, 2021).
“Dickey-Stephens Park.” Baseballparks.com. https://baseballparks.com/indepth/arkansas (accessed June 24, 2021).
“Dickey-Stephens Park—Arkansas Travelers.” BaseballPilgrimages.com. https://www.baseballpilgrimages.com/minors/north-little-rock.html (accessed June 24, 2021).
Earley, Neal. “Travelers, NLR Reach Impasse on Upgrades.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, March 27, 2022, pp. 1A, 8A. Online at https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2022/mar/27/north-little-rock-and-travelers-at-odds-over/ (accessed March 28, 2022).
Jacoby, Susan. Why Baseball Matters. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2018.
Price, Scott L. Heart of the Game: Life, Death, and Mercy in Minor League America. New York: HarperCollins, 2009.
Little Rock, Arkansas
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