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Play Ball!

Posted on 04/03/2014 by Judy Ross

Among the first signs of spring in 1924 was the opening of the new McCormick Field for the Asheville Skylanders (now the Asheville Tourists) baseball club. At Biltmore, the spring of 1924 was also a festive time as preparations were underway for Cornelia Vanderbilt’s marriage to The Hon. John F. A. Cecil on April 29.  

Just as guests for the wedding began arriving, Edith Vanderbilt received a letter from Mr. H.  L. Carter of the Asheville Baseball Association thanking her for her assistance with a “ball park, beautiful.” Carter included box seat tickets for the opening of McCormick Field on April 21, 1924.

A few days later, Mrs. Vanderbilt’s secretary, Todd Ashby, responded to Carter stating that Mrs. Vanderbilt was very pleased and would make it a point to be there and bring the rest of the guests staying at Biltmore House. He wrote a list of names in the margin of the letter: Mrs. Vanderbilt, Miss Vanderbilt, Lord William Cecil (John Cecil’s father), Miss Cecil (Mr. Cecil’s cousin) and Miss Todd (bridesmaid). 

Built for $200,000, McCormick Stadium was named for local biologist Dr. Lewis McCormick. Situated among the hills of Asheville, it was soon recognized as one of the most beautiful ballparks in the country. This sentiment was echoed by Babe Ruth in 1925. As he stood off in right field, he exclaimed, “My, my, what a beautiful place to play. Delightful. Damned delightful place!”

McCormick Field is one of the oldest operating minor-league baseball parks in North America still in use today.

Photo: Edith Vanderbilt, Cornelia Vanderbilt, and two unidentified guests, 1924.

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