Western Int League Field to Be Rebuilt
By Bob Johnson.
Ferris Field, home of the Spokane Indians of the Western International League was destroyed by fire the night of October 29 with damage estimated at approximately $100,000.
It was the second time in three years that tragedy had struck at Spokane, holder of the Class B attendance record of 287,185 in 1947. In June, 1946, the Spokane team was virtually wiped out in a bus crash in the Cascade Mountains. Enroute to Bremerton, Wash., the bus carrying 15 players crashed through a guard railing and plunged 350 feet, taking nine players to their deaths and seriously injuring the others.
J. Lamar Butler, part owner of the Indians, said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles immediately after the fire that the Spokane park would be rebuilt of concrete and steel “so that another such fire will be impossible.”
Firemen were unable to determine the cause of the blaze. The entire wooden structure took fire with such rapidity that it was impossible to save more than a small section of the right and left field bleachers.
The park had seating accommodations for 7,223. Earlier this year, Butler had said he planned to increase the seating capacity to 11,000 but a shortage of construction materials prevented the project.
The entire structure was covered by insurance, Butler said.
The park was built in 1934 at the cost of $40,000, but had underground several major improvements in the past 24 years. It was named after George Ferris, city corporation counsel, who was a member of the Spokane Indians in the old Northwest League at the turn of the century.
Butler and Co-Owner Buddy Ryan of Sacramento purchased the club from Sam Collins at the end of the 1947 season. This year, working independently, the Indians captured the league crown, coming from nine games off the pace during the last month of the season to edge out Bremerton in the final week of the season with 102 wins and 64 defeats. There were no playoffs in the league.
- TSN, Nov. 10, 1948