Baseball Ground

Last updated

Baseball Ground
Derby Former Baseball Ground Commemoration by Denis O'Connor.JPG
Commemoration of the Baseball Ground
Baseball Ground
Former namesLey's Baseball Ground (until c. 1895)
Location Derby
Coordinates 52°54′17″N1°28′7″W / 52.90472°N 1.46861°W / 52.90472; -1.46861 Coordinates: 52°54′17″N1°28′7″W / 52.90472°N 1.46861°W / 52.90472; -1.46861
Owner Sir Francis Ley (until 1924)
Derby County FC (from 1924)
Operator Ley's Malleable Castings Vulcan Ironworks (until 1896)
Derby County FC (from 1896)
Capacity 4,000 (original capacity)
42,000 (highest capacity, 1969–1980)
18,300 (capacity at closure)
Broke ground1889
Derby Baseball Club (1890–1898)
Derby County FC (1895–1997)
Derby County FC Reserves (1895–2003)

The Baseball Ground (sometimes referred to as the BBG) [1] was a stadium in Derby, England. It was first used for baseball as the home of Derby Baseball Club from 1890 until 1898 and then for football as the home of Derby County from 1895 until 1997. The club's reserve and youth sides used it until 2003, when it finally closed as a sports stadium after 113 years (108 of them as a football stadium) and was demolished.



As the name suggests, the stadium was originally used for baseball. It was originally called Ley's Baseball Ground and was part of a complex of sports grounds (Ley's Recreation Centre) built and owned by businessman Sir Francis Ley for workers at his foundry, Ley's Malleable Castings Vulcan Ironworks. The stadium was the focal point of the complex and was part of a personal quest by Ley to establish professional organised baseball in the United Kingdom. His Ley's Recreation Club was formed in 1890 and went on to become known as Derby Baseball Club, prior to being dissolved by Ley and replaced with a new Derby Baseball Club, all in 1890.

The Ground was bordered by Shaftesbury Crescent (west-northwest); Vulcan Street (south-southwest); the Ley foundry (east-southeast); and an extension of Cambridge Street (north-northeast) roughly corresponding to Columbo Street. The original stand was built along Vulcan, with standing-room areas along other edges of the field. The diamond was in roughly the southwest corner of the lot. Over the years, additional stands were built around the pitch and were tagged with names corresponding to their orientation with respect to the streets (Vulcan and Columbo) and nearby neighborhoods (Normanton and Osmaston).

The stadium was home to Derby Baseball Club, which was allied to the more famous Derby County Football Club. The baseball club ran away with the first championship after the National League was established in 1890. However, pressure from other teams in the league over the number of American players Derby used forced them to resign at the end of the league's first season, though the baseball club itself lasted until 1900.

Derby County Football Club was formed in 1884, as an offshoot of the Derbyshire County Cricket Club. [2] The football club played on a pitch that was part of the Derby cricket ground, which at that time was in the middle of a racecourse. [2] This site, which had minimal facilities, was chosen to host five FA Cup semi-finals, the replay of the 1886 FA Cup Final and an England international match in 1895. [2] Derby had occasionally used Ley's Baseball Ground for their home matches due to horse racing meetings taking priority. [2] With their partner baseball club in decline, Derby County FC made it their permanent home in 1895 and renamed it The Baseball Ground. A party of Gypsies were forced to move and legend has it that before leaving they put a curse on the ground preventing Derby County winning the FA Cup. The ground became the property of the club in 1924 when it was purchased from Ley's heirs for £10,000. The Baseball Ground was once used for an international match: England beat Ireland 21 in a British Home Championship match on 11 February 1911.

At its height, the Baseball Ground could accommodate around 42,000 spectators. The record attendance was 41,826 for a match against Tottenham Hotspur in 1969, just after Derby County were promoted under the management of Brian Clough, at the beginning of the most successful era in the club's history. Clough guided Derby County to the league title in 1972 and his successor Dave Mackay oversaw another title triumph in 1975.

However, attendances fell at the turn of the 1980s as Derby were relegated from the First Division in 1980, and in 1984 they fell into the Third Division, though an upswing in form followed and they were back in the First Division by 1987. Perimeter fencing was erected between the stands and the pitch during the 1970s to combat pitch invasions by hooligans, but this was dismantled in April 1989, within days of the Hillsborough disaster in which 96 Liverpool fans were fatally injured, most of them crushed to death against perimeter fencing. This resulted in policing levels in games at the Baseball Ground being increased by 50%.[ citation needed ]


Derby County remained at the stadium until 1997, when they moved to the Pride Park Stadium. The site had first been identified in August 1993, although difficulties with decontaminating the land led to the project being abandoned within 18 months in favour of rebuilding the Baseball Ground into a 26,000-seat stadium. In the meantime, the Baseball Ground had been gradually converted into an all-seater stadium, although its capacity was reduced to just over 18,000 - inadequate for a second-tier club with ambitions of winning promotion back to the top flight.

However, these plans were abandoned in February 1996 and Pride Park was confirmed as the location for a new stadium. Construction work began later in 1996, with the new stadium scheduled to be ready in time for the 1997–98 season. It was, however, confirmed that the Baseball Ground would be retained for reserve and youth team matches for at least a few years after the new stadium's completion. Construction of the new stadium began later that year. [3]

The last league match to be played there was a Premier League fixture against Arsenal (where 18,287 people watched Derby lose 3–1, although their top flight status was secured one season after promotion), though the stadium continued to be used for reserve team games for a few seasons afterwards. [4]

In late 2003, several months after the youth team played its final game there, the Baseball Ground was finally demolished to make way for housing. The former ground has since been redeveloped to around 150 new homes and, in September 2010 a commemorative statue was unveiled on the site. The 15 feet (4.6 m) high metalwork featuring the silhouettes of three footballers dribbling and shooting was commissioned by the builders Spirita and Strata and designed by artist Denis O'Connor. [5] A fan, George Glover, 'made history' by scoring the last goal at the Baseball Ground in a game between fans. [6]

Structure and facilities

After the Taylor Report was published, the stadium was slowly converted to become all-seater from terracing. Consequently, its capacity dropped to 17,451 in the 199596 season. [7] This was inadequate for the ambitions of Derby County, who were chasing promotion to the Premier League during the early to mid-1990s, finally achieving it as Division One runners-up in 1996. The stadium featured two 3-tier stands at either end, both with the lowest tier not facing completely straight towards the pitch (due to the previous configuration for baseball) giving a wedge-like appearance at one end. Also, in one corner was a unique stand that was more house-like, mainly for media use.


In 1990, a halt was built to serve the stadium called Ramsline Halt although only four trains ever stopped there.

Related Research Articles

Hillsborough Stadium Stadium in Sheffield, England

Hillsborough Stadium, is a 39,732-capacity association football stadium located in Owlerton, a north-western suburb of Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. It has been the home of Sheffield Wednesday since its opening in 1899.

Easter Road

Easter Road is a football stadium located in the Leith area of Edinburgh, Scotland, which is the home ground of Scottish Premiership club Hibernian (Hibs). The stadium currently has an all-seated capacity of 20,421, which makes it the fifth-largest football stadium in Scotland. Easter Road is also known by Hibs fans as "The Holy Ground" or "The Leith San Siro". The venue has also been used to stage international matches, Scottish League Cup semi-finals and was briefly the home ground of the Edinburgh professional rugby union team.

Villa Park Football stadium in Aston, Birmingham, England

Villa Park is a football stadium in Aston, Birmingham, England, with a seating capacity of 42,749. It has been the home of Aston Villa Football Club since 1897. The ground is less than a mile from both Witton and Aston railway stations and has hosted sixteen England internationals at senior level, the first in 1899 and the most recent in 2005. Villa Park has hosted 55 FA Cup semi-finals, more than any other stadium.

Pride Park Stadium

Pride Park Stadium is an all-seater football stadium in Derby, England, that is the home ground of English Football League club Derby County. With a capacity of 33,597, it is the 16th-largest football ground in England and the 20th-largest stadium in the United Kingdom. Located on Pride Park, a business park on the outskirts of Derby city centre, the stadium was built as part of the commercial redevelopment of the area in the 1990s. Derby County have played at the ground since it opened in 1997 as a replacement for their former home, the Baseball Ground. Due to sponsorship, the venue was officially known as the iPro Stadium between 2013 and 2016.

Maine Road Former stadium of Manchester City

Maine Road was a football stadium in Moss Side, Manchester, England, that was home to Manchester City F.C. from 1923 to 2003. It hosted FA Cup semi-finals, Charity Shield matches, a League Cup final and England matches. Maine Road holds the record for the highest attendance for a club in their normal home stadium in English club football, set in 1934 at an FA Cup sixth round match between Manchester City and Stoke City. It also had a nickname being referred to as "The Wembley of the North".

Old Trafford Football stadium in Manchester, England

Old Trafford is a football stadium in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, England, and the home of Manchester United. With a capacity of 74,140 seats, it is the largest club football stadium in the United Kingdom, and the eleventh-largest in Europe. It is about 0.5 miles (800 m) from Old Trafford Cricket Ground and the adjacent tram stop.

White Hart Lane Former football stadium of Tottenham Hotspur

White Hart Lane was a football stadium in Tottenham, North London and the home of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club from 1899 to 2017. Its capacity varied over the years; when changed to all-seater it had a capacity of 36,284 before demolition. The stadium was fully demolished after the end of the 2016–17 season and was replaced by Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as the club's home ground.

Tynecastle Park Football stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland

Tynecastle Park is a football stadium in the Gorgie area of Edinburgh, which is the home ground of Scottish Professional Football League club Heart of Midlothian (Hearts). It has also hosted Scotland international matches, and been used as a neutral venue for Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup semi-finals. Tynecastle has a seating capacity of 19,852, which makes it the sixth-largest football stadium in Scotland. Hearts have played at the present site of Tynecastle since 1886.

County Cricket Ground, Derby Cricket ground

The County Cricket Ground is a cricket ground in Derby, England. It has been the home of Derbyshire County Cricket Club since 1871. The ground was first used by South Derbyshire Cricket Club in 1863 and was initially located within Derby Racecourse, although racing ceased after 1939. The ground has staged two One-Day Internationals: New Zealand against Sri Lanka during the 1983 ICC Cricket World Cup and New Zealand against Pakistan during the 1999 ICC Cricket World Cup. It was one of the venues for the 2017 ICC Women's Cricket World Cup, hosting one of the semi-finals.

Bootham Crescent sports stadium in York, North Yorkshire, England

Bootham Crescent in York, England, was the home of York City football club and York City Knights rugby league club. With a capacity of 8,256, it is near the city centre, just over a mile from York railway station.

Spotland Stadium

Spotland Stadium, known as the Crown Oil Arena for sponsorship reasons, in the Spotland area of Rochdale, Greater Manchester, is home to Rochdale A.F.C. and Rochdale Hornets R.F.L.C. and has a capacity of 27,949.

Victoria Park, Dingwall

Victoria Park, also known as the Global Energy Stadium for sponsorship reasons, is an all-seater football stadium in the town of Dingwall, Highland, Scotland. It is the home ground of Ross County, who currently play in the Scottish Premiership.

County Ground (Swindon)

The County Ground is a stadium located near the town centre of Swindon, Wiltshire, England, and has been home to Swindon Town Football Club since 1896. The current capacity of 15,728, all-seated, has been at that level since the mid-1990s. A record attendance of 32,000 was set on 15 January 1972, against Arsenal in the 3rd round of the FA Cup. North of the football stadium is Swindon Cricket Club, with their pitch is also named The County Ground which was used for the football club from 1893 till 1896.

Bank Street (football ground)

Bank Street, also known as Bank Lane, was a multi-purpose stadium in Clayton, Manchester, England. It was mostly used for football matches and was the second home ground of Manchester United Football Club, after North Road, which they left in 1893. The stadium had a capacity of around 50,000, but the club moved to Old Trafford in 1910 because club owner John Henry Davies believed he could not sufficiently expand the ground.

Recreation Park, Alloa Football stadium in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland

Recreation Park, also known as Recreation Grounds, The Recs and The Indodrill Stadium for sponsorship reasons, is a football stadium in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland. It is the home ground of Scottish Professional Football League team Alloa Athletic, who have played there since 1895. Additionally, BSC Glasgow of the Scottish Lowland Football League have been groundsharing at Recreation Park since 2016. Central Girls Football Academy have used the stadium for home matches from 2017. The stadium has an artificial playing surface and has a capacity of 3,100.

Derby County F.C. Association football club in England

Derby County Football Club is a professional association football club based in Derby, Derbyshire, England. The club competes in the Championship, the second tier of English football. Derby has played its home matches at Pride Park Stadium since 1997.

Pirelli Stadium

Pirelli Stadium is an association football stadium on Princess Way in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, England. It was built in 2005 and is the current home of Burton Albion FC, replacing the club's old Eton Park home, also on Princess Way, which was demolished and developed into housing. The ground was built on the former site of the Pirelli UK Tyres Ltd Sports & Social Club, and having had the land donated to the club by Pirelli, in return for naming rights, the ground cost £7.2 million to build.

Derby County Baseball Club

Derby Baseball Club is a defunct professional baseball club from Derby England, formed as Ley's Recreation Club by Francis Ley in 1890 and dissolved in the same year. A new Derby Baseball Club was formed in 1890 to succeed his dissolved club, this new Derby Baseball Club played until 1900, winning numerous National League titles in the 1890s, albeit as amateurs.

Francis Ley English industrialist

Sir Francis Ley, 1st Baronet was an English industrialist. He founded Ley's Malleable Castings Vulcan Ironworks in Derby. He (re-)introduced baseball into the United Kingdom town of Derby with the Ley’s Recreation Club and owned Ley's Recreation Centre from 1890 to 1924, which was home to Derby County Football Club.

Ibrox Park was a football ground in Ibrox, Scotland. It was the home ground of Rangers from 1887 until they moved to the adjacent second Ibrox in 1899. The ground staged the Scottish Cup Final four times and also three Scotland international matches.


  1. "Goodbye BBG". BBC Derby. May 2003. Retrieved 19 November 2009.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Inglis 1996 , p. 149
  3. "The Baseball Ground, 1895 to 1997". Derby County F.C. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  4. "Baseball Ground - Derby County". Old Football Grounds. Archived from the original on 27 June 2009.
  5. "Baseball Ground sculpture has been unveiled". Derby Telegraph . 13 September 2010. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  6. "Farewell to the Baseball Ground". BBC News. 27 May 2003. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  7. Inglis 1996 , p. 150