Model of Lane Field stadium at Petco Park.

Completed model of Lane Field stadium in the garage of baseball historian Bill Swank. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Completed model of Lane Field stadium in the garage of baseball historian Bill Swank. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.

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…

Lane Field (1936) before the grandstand roof was added. Photo from the Bill Swank collection.
Lane Field (1936) before the grandstand roof was added. Photo from the Bill Swank collection.
Panoramic view of Lane Field includes long ticket line for 1954 PCL Championship game with Hollywood Stars (Padres won, 7-2). Photo by Ray Hacecky, Sr.
Panoramic view of Lane Field includes long ticket line for 1954 PCL Championship game with the Hollywood Stars (Padres won, 7-2). Photo by Ray Hacecky, Sr.
Opening Day, March 30, 1940. Southpaw Wally “Preacher” Hebert took the mound and beat the Los Angeles Angels, 5-1. Photo from the Hebert Family.
Opening Day, March 30, 1940. Southpaw Wally “Preacher” Hebert took the mound and beat the Los Angeles Angels, 5-1. Photo from the Hebert Family.
A new attendance record (13,466) was set on May 2, 1948 for a game with the San Francisco Seals. During the game, fans stood and sat in the outfield against the fence. A ball that went into the crowd was a ground rule double. Photo from the Bill Swank collection.
A new attendance record (13,466) was set on May 2, 1948 for a game with the San Francisco Seals. During the game, fans stood and sat in the outfield against the fence. A ball that went into the crowd was a ground rule double. Photo from the Bill Swank collection.
Model of Lane Field as it appears today.
Scale model of Lane Field stadium, displayed in lobby of the Padres business office.

This model was built to honor the men who played baseball at Lane Field and the fans who loved them.
This model was built to honor the men who played baseball at Lane Field and the fans who loved them.

Memories from San Diego's baseball past live on at Petco Park.
Memories from San Diego’s baseball past live on at Petco Park.

Many thanks to the San Diego Padres, the super friendly Petco Park Navigators and Bill Swank who made this fun post possible!

Go Pads!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Published by

Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

2 thoughts on “Model of Lane Field stadium at Petco Park.”

  1. Bill Swank and I were classmates at MBHS. Graduation class of 1958. We were consumed by baseball then and now. Reading this article was my first view of the model. I was a batboy for the Padres in 56 and 57. When I saw the model it came alive for me. I see Rapp, Usher, Carmichael, Kazak, Colavito, Kerrigan, Mesa, Federoff, Sisler, Erratt, Astroth, Floyd Robinson, et al. All bigger than life. I was living a dream. We are blessed to have Bill Swank as an asset in SD. AC

    Liked by 1 person

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