A fascinating scale model of the Lane Field stadium, home of the Pacific Coast League Padres from 1936 to 1957, is now located inside the front lobby of the San Diego Padres business office. The model was built by baseball historian Bill Swank, author of several books, including Echoes from Lane Field : A History of the San Diego Padres 1936-1957.
Fans of the early Padres used to head to Lane Field to see their favorite team in action. Many fond baseball memories were made in downtown San Diego near the waterfront, at the end of West Broadway between Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway. Today the area is occupied by two hotel buildings and Lane Field Park, which features a small baseball diamond, plaques that honor an era of local baseball history, and three colorful banners that celebrate former players at Lane Field, including legendary hitter Ted Williams.
Bill Swank created the detailed model of long-vanished Lane Field to preserve a bit of San Diego history for the enjoyment of Padres fans. The model is in 1:128 scale and made out of basswood. Care was taken during its construction to maintain a high degree of accuracy.
According to Bill Swank, the model is “so accurate to scale that it’s even 87’ from home to first base. It wasn’t until the 1950s that a groundskeeper measured the distance and discovered it was only 87 feet… and had been 87 feet since 1936! I believe the mistake was made by taking the measurement off the hastily drawn blueprint.”
Bill Swank has provided the following additional information concerning his model:
January 1997: Because I had blueprints for Lane Field, San Diego Hall of Champions Historian Don King asked if I would like to participate in building a scale model of the original home of the San Diego Padres to be displayed at the Hall of Champions.
May 1997: It took me longer to finish the model than it took the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to build the actual ballpark. Bill Lane signed an agreement to relocate his Pacific Coast League Hollywood Stars to San Diego on January 28, 1936. A ballpark had to be built at the northwest corner of Broadway and Pacific Highway in less than two months, because the renamed “Padres” first game was scheduled for March 31, 1936. The cost of construction was approximately $25,000. (San Diego beat the Seattle Indians, 6-2, on Opening Day.)
July 1997: My Lane Field model was unveiled at the San Diego Hall of Champions on the Prado.
September 2000: The model was transported to the remodeled Federal Building after the Hall of Champions moved from the Prado.
April 2017: When the Hall of Champions closed in 2017, a new home was found for the model at Petco Park.
February 2018: The Lane Field model went on display in the front lobby of the Padres business office.
I have enjoyed an up-close and personal look at this very cool model. Here are several historical photographs of Lane Field, followed by a few photos of the model beneath glass that my camera captured.
With a little imagination one can almost see fans in the stands, players in the field, and hear the crack of a batted home run…
Many thanks to the San Diego Padres, the super friendly Petco Park Navigators and Bill Swank who made this fun post possible!