NOLA History Guy Podcast 1-June-2019 – Baseball in New Orleans

NOLA History Guy Podcast 1-June-2019 – Baseball in New Orleans

Talking baseball! Derby Gisclair conversation on NOLA History Guy Podcast 1-June-2019

NOLA History Guy Podcast 1-June-2019

NOLA History Guy Podcast 1-June-2019

NOLA History Guy Podcast 1-June-2019

We have a LONG “long-form” podcast today! It’s our second conversation with S. Derby Gisclair, author and historian, about his book, Baseball in New Orleans. I had a great chat with Derby, up at the French Truck Coffee Shop on Magazine Street in the Garden District.

New Orleans Pelicans Baseball

NOLA History Guy Podcast 1-June-2019

Pelicans manager Jimmy Brown with two Loyola players, Moon Landrieu (l), and Larry Lassalle, 1948.

Most of Baseball in New Orleans focuses on the old New Orleans Pelicans. The club was around, in one form or another, from 1887 to 1977. The New Orleans Zephyrs arrived in 1993. So, the AAA-level club in Denver had to leave that city when they got a team in The Show, the Colorado Rockies. These professional teams anchored baseball interest in New Orleans for over 150 years.

Early ballparks

New Orleanians played baseball at several locations in the 1800s. The early Pelicans teams played at Sportsman’s Park. So, this ballpark sat just behind what became the “Halfway House,” later the Orkin Pest Control Building, on City Park Avenue. The ballpark operated from 1886 to 1900. The Pelicans moved to Athletic Park on Tulane Avenue in 1901.

Pelican Stadium

NOLA History Guy Podcast 1-June-2019

Heinemann Park/Pelican Stadium

In the early years of the Pelicans,Alexander Julius (A.J.) Heinemann, sold soft drinks at Pelicans games. Heinemann eventually joined the board of the club. He acquired the land at the corner of Tulane and S. Carrollton Avenues. So, Heinemann displaced a small amusement park called “White City.” Therefore, the Pelicans had a “serious” home. While the Pels were in the off-season, they moved the bleachers up Tulane Avenue to the new ground. The Pelicans played at Heinemann Park, later named Pelican Stadium, until its demolition in 1957. Derby has lots of stories about the ballpark in NOLA History Guy Podcast 1-June-2019.

Other Baseball Leagues

NOLA History Guy Podcast 1-June-2019

St. Aloysius and Loyola star (later Brother Martin and UNO coach) Tom Schwaner

Numerous leagues played in New Orleans. While the Pels played, amateur leagues also organized. They included workers at stores and businesses. So, these leagues played at local parks. High School and college teams also played. Derby’s books chronicle those teams. Special shout-outs to the “Brothers Boys! So, several BOSH young men appear in the book. So, one of them was St. Aloysius and Loyola Grad Tom Schwaner. Schwaner also coached Brother Martin and UNO. So, Gisclair also mentions the strong teams at Brother Martin High School in the early 1980s.

The Books of NOLA History Guy Podcast 1-June-2019

nola history guy podcast 1-june-2019

Baseball in New Orleans (Images of Baseball) (Paperback)

ISBN: 9780738516141
ISBN-10: 0738516147
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing (SC)
Publication Date: March 24th, 2004
Pages: 128
Language: English
Series: Images of Baseball

Baseball at Tulane University (Images of Baseball) (Paperback)

ISBN: 9780738542089
ISBN-10: 0738542083
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing (SC)
Publication Date: January 2007
Pages: 128
Language: English
Series: Images of Baseball

Early Baseball in New Orleans: A History of 19th Century Play (Paperback)

ISBN: 9781476677811
ISBN-10: 1476677816
Publisher: McFarland & Company
Publication Date: March 15th, 2019
Pages: 271
Language: English

Last Week’s Podcast, where we talk with Derby about Early Baseball. 

New Orleans Centre – Shopping Downtown in the 1990s #Superdome

New Orleans Centre – Shopping Downtown in the 1990s #Superdome

New Orleans Centre – downtown shopping

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New Orleans Centre

A shopping mall in the CBD? Why not? In 1988, developers opened a mall right next to the (then) Louisiana Superdome. Several new office buildings popped up on the section of Poydras Street between Loyola and S. Claiborne Avenues. Those buildings enticed many companies to leave the “old CBD” buildings with lower rent and easy parking.

There’s always a catch. In this case, it was not enough lunch places. The po-boy places were back in the “old CBD”. The Krauss Luncheonette was a schlep down Loyola. Mother’s was (and still is) all the way down on Tchoupitoulas and Poydras. The neighborhood needed a bunch of food places in a small footprint. The solution? A food court.

The Mall in 1988

New Orleans Centre opened in 1988. The development included not only three floors of shopping, but a fourteen-story office tower. The mall featured two national department stores, Lord and Taylor and Macy’s. New Orleanians knew the stores as New York icons. So, the novelty of New York coming to New Orleans drew suburban shoppers back downtown. That was something Holmes and Maison Blanche never could accomplish!

New Orleans Centre started with approximately fifty stores. There was room for 150. The mall expanded to over 100 stores at its peak.

The Mall and Da Dome

New Orleans Centre offered an interesting opportunity for the Superdome. By 1988, the National Football League understood that Da Dome was the best place for the league’s championship game. While internal politics made designating the stadium the permanent home of the Super Bowl. Many league staffers argued for just that, anyway.

The Superdome presented the NFL with a tempting feature: a hotel, right next door. So, the Hyatt Regency Hotel enabled the league personnel to literally walk to work. They used the bridge connecting New Orleans Center and the stadium. No taxis to the suburbs. No public transit. Just get up, go downstairs, and walk into the Superdome.

ESPN

The sports network set up shop in New Orleans Centre for the 1990, 1997, and 2002 Super Bowls. Setting up in the mall gave ESPN the Superdome as a backdrop behind the anchor desk. Other cities just couldn’t match the visuals. So, the mall gave ESPN the win, no matter which network actually broadcast the game.

CNG/Dominion/Benson Tower

The primary tenant of the accompanying office building was Consolidated Natural Gas (CNG) Producing Company. The company moved from One Canal Place in 1989. The company, now known as Dominion Oil, occupied the seventh through fourteenth floors of the tower.

Hurricane Katrina

The mall declined in the early 2000s. Lord and Taylor closed at that time. The management company leased the nearly-empty third floor to WGNO-TV. Katrina was the final nail in its coffin. The Superdome was a mess, the Hyatt suffered terribly, and the mall flooded. A medical clinic, operated from the Lord and Taylor space, until University Hospital resumed service.

Champions Square

new orleans centre

Champions Square

The late Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints, bought New Orleans Centre and the office tower in 2009. After the Saints won the NFL Championship in the 2009-2010 season, they planned major changes for the mall. They demolished all of the mall with the exception of the Macy’s footprint. They converted the space into an open-air venue. Champions Square hosts pregame activities for Saints home games, as well as concerts and other events.