Bisbee got its start as a mining boomtown in the late 1800s.
The town is nestled into the sides of a chain of mountains in Cochise County, meaning flat land is at a premium.
So when the Calumet and Arizona Mining Company decided to build a master-planned community in a nearby valley, space for a ballpark was a must.
The space for Warren Ballpark was a major part of Arizona's first planned community, Bisbee's Warren neighborhood.
The Warren neighborhood included space for a multi-use stadium, dubbed Warren Ballpark.
From the time land was cleared in the early 1900s, the space was used for many events.
“We had English immigrants playing soccer, rugby and cricket on this field every Sunday afternoon in the winter time,” said Mike Anderson, author of "Warren Ballpark," a book depicting the history of the stadium. “It’s been used for Wild West shows, rodeos, boozing and wrestling matches.”
Despite its multiple uses, the ballpark’s main configuration was for baseball.
The large, open space of Warren Ballpark made it a commodity in the hilly area around Bisbee.
The stadium housed minor league games, as well as relics of baseball’s bygone past, such as outlaw leagues and barnstorming games.
Those events housed big names from the positive and negative parts of baseball.
“We’ve had such notable figures on this field as John McGraw, the greatest manager of the national league and arguably the greatest manager ever; Connie Mack and Honus Wagner, Lou Bedreaux, Mel Ott,” Anderson said. “Several members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox team played here after being banned from professional baseball for fixing the World Series.”
The 1949 Bisbee-Douglas Copper Kings played in Warren Ballpark more than 60 years ago. The batboy in the front center of the above image is Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik.
The ballpark’s dark history includes a major crime, the Bisbee Deportation.
In 1917, at a time when the U.S. needing copper to build up for World War I, recently unionized miners, who were striking for better conditions, were rounded up, brought to Warren Ballpark, and told to either get back to work or leave town. And, "1,182 of those striking miners chose to leave Bisbee forever,” Anderson said.
Nowadays, Warren Ballpark is owned by Bisbee Unified School District. It was a gift from the mining company to the schools.
Photo: Steve Pauken
The sign that now sits outside of Warren Ballpark was commissioned by The Friends of Warren Ballpark and built by Cochise College students.
The field is used for Bisbee High School football and baseball games, graduation, as well as local concerts, semi-professional baseball, and an annual vintage baseball tournament.
And the school district is aided by The Friends of Warren Ballpark, a nonprofit group that emerged on the stadium's centennial, and is dedicated to helping ease the burden an aging ballpark can put on a cash-strapped school district.
Improvements include adding on modern bathrooms, repairing seats, and installing signs for both the baseball and football entrances.
The group's next endeavor is to update the space under the ballpark's grandstand, large portions of which date back to the stadium rebuild in the 1930s.
Together, the two act as stewards to the stadium, collaborating on upkeep, making long-needed upgrades, and adding touches to modernize the stadium so the park can be used for years to come.