Here's another first in Pensacola in 2014
Thunder on the Gulf Super Boat Race
In 2004, the inaugural ThunderRun Super Boat Grand Prix was held on the waterfront in historic downtown Pensacola! The race took place at Plaza de Luna and the Port of Pensacola. It could be watched from a personal boat or from the Maritime Park Amphitheatre for free. This was surely something to be remembered. People could bring the family &/or friends and enjoy the festivities, excitement and power! These Super Boats were running from 160 mph to a top speed of 200 mph! It was awesome! The crowd it drew was pretty large. The crowd was full at Plaza De Luna, the Maritime Park and in personal boats that filled the area on the back of the race course. This was to the south side of the course and the spectators could watch the race from their boat being, well, track side (like auto racing). Both the U.S. Coast Guard and Pensacola Fire Department's Fire Rescue boat was on scene. As well as, PFD having their land crews and the Pensacola Police Department providing security and safety for everyone. The PPD also kept close coverage of the traffic before, during and after the race.
1977, Dale Earnhardt & Darrell Waltrip,
the day before the race
Pensacola Naval Air Station's Goshhawks Football Team
Well, the track shown above is from back THEN. So, let's see Pensacola's stock car track NOW.
1974, Pete Hamilton #25 &
Neil Bonnet #12
That's NOT all! For the 2013-2014 season, the Ice Flyers experienced unparalleled success also winning the Coffey Trophy as the league's best regular season team. En route to these titles, the Ice Flyers set several Southern Professional Hockey League records, including the most wins, most points, highest winning percentage, most road wins, fewest regulation losses, and longest road winning streak. The Ice Flyers boasted the league's best offense scoring more than 200 goals, while also allowing the fewest goals in the league. The Ice Flyers regular season was so outstanding that they posted a better regular season record on the road than any other team in the league had on home ice.
After the 2007–2008 season, when the Ice Pilots had finished dead last for three consecutive years, team owner Mario Forgione announced he had no intention of fielding a team in Pensacola for the ECHL during the 2008–2009 season. Forgione announced plans to keep a team in Pensacola, but one in an unnamed, lower-level league. The ECHL then stated that it would revoke the franchise if need be, and the ECHL made it official on Monday, June 23, 2008. On April 4, 2009, the SPHL announced discussions between potential investors, key government officials, local fans and business leaders in Pensacola, Florida relative to the award of a franchise for the 2009-2010 PHL season. However, the press release stopped short of explicitly stating that this expansion team would be the Ice Pilots franchise owned by Mario Forgione. Rather, the new team will be known as the Pensacola Ice Flyers and be owned by former NHL player Tim Kerr.
The Pensacola Ice Flyers unveiled a brand new identity that's millions of miles beyond the monstrosity they entered into the world upon joining the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) in 2009. The Pensacola Ice Flyers are a professional ice hockey team with the SPHL. The team played their first season in 2009-2010. All home games are still played at the Pensacola Bay Center, previously home to the ECHL's Pensacola Ice Pilots from 1996 until their folding in 2008. The "Ice Flyers" name has a double meaning – it is both a tribute to Pensacola's heritage in Naval aviation (Naval Air Station Pensacola is home to the legendary Blue Angels and the National Museum of Naval Aviation) and homage to the original owner Tim Kerr, who previously played eleven seasons with the National Hockey League's Philadelphia Flyers. On April 14, 2013, the Ice Flyers beat the Huntsville Havoc 2–0 in Game 3 of the President's Cup Finals to win the franchise's first-ever President's Cup for the 2012-2013 season. They backed the 2012-2013 season with a record setting league performance. They won the 2013-2014 President's Cup! THE ICE FLYERS ARE THE FIRST TO WIN TWO YEARS IN A ROW! The 2015-2016 season has brought home ANOTHER President's Cup Championship!Calling Josh Cousineau‘s President Cup winning goal a last second miracle would be an understatement. Actually, it was the last tenth-of-a-second-goal to be more accurate and took the Ice Flyers to a 5-4 Southern Professional Hockey League win over Peoria Rivermen. This is the 3rd in 4 years!!! The Ice Flyers have been to the playoffs EVERY YEAR since their organizing.
The Pensacola Ice Pilots was a minor league ice hockey team with the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) located in Pensacola, Florida. The team was affiliated with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Islanders and the Chicago Blackhawks. They have also had a working agreement with the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League (AHL) for the 2004–2005 season. In 2008, the ECHL announced that it had terminated the Ice Pilots' membership, effective immediately. The team's colors (navy blue and gold) and nickname was a tribute to the long history of Naval aviation in Pensacola (Naval Air Station Pensacola is home to the legendary Blue Angels and the National Museum of Naval Aviation). The home of the Pensacola Ice Pilots was the Pensacola Civic Center (now the Pensacola Bay Center), which was and is referred to as "The Hangar".
Since I just spoke about skating, let's see some ice skating!
ICE HOCKEY in PENSACOLA
Pine Forest H.S.
In 2014, Pensacola's pipeline into the NFL further expanded.
With the talent that Pensacola has, it will only get better!
Watercross Jet Ski Competion Tour
(This is kind of like motorcross or NASCAR. In the water, the waves can be the track / hills / ramps... sort of.)
This is the Hydro-Turf Pro Watercross Tour. It began in 1996. This is 2014 and is the first time this event took place on Pensacola Beach. It attracted hundreds of people, many of whom were taking videos and snapshots on cellphones. The crowd included curious spectators that were standing at their hotel windows looking out at Pensacola Beach. They saw the array of sponsor tents, all the spectators and the jet ski's racing in the Gulf of Mexico. This brought even more people to the show. The racing events are in various classes and watercraft for professional competitors and amateur competitors. Freestyle competition features various flips and stunts. The racing and freestyle stunt performances fascinated both the performers and those watching the event, along with the post-event awards presentations. Spectators witnessed flips and spills and competitive racing on personal watercraft that can reach 90 mph with 500 horsepower motors. Now granted, a team operating in the HT Pro Watercross Tour doesn't cost nearly as much as NASCAR or Formula 1 racing. But, a top-end watercraft costs up to $45,000... plus all the travel and transportation costs.
The freestyle competition is decided by the judge's scores. The other events are multi-craft races with laps around buoys, and the first to cross the finish line wins. This is a quote from one of the competitors, "Most of our competitions are in flat water," said Jason Stoyer (a South Floridian) "We came out preparing our engines and light-weight hulls for flat water. With this surf, it's going to be a big aerial show. The surf is always changing and this will be exciting."
This is "MAVERICK", the Ice Flyers mascot.
Wingspan: 6'2" Weight: 190 Feathers Shoots: Left Hometown: Pensacola, FL.
Favorite Food: Fried Ice Gator, Chocolate covered FireAntz and IceBear-on-a-stick
T.V. Shows: The Animal Planet, NHL games, nature shows (except for hunting shows!)
Music Group: The Eagles
Song: Fly Like an Eagle – Steve Miller Band
Favorite Movies: Eagle Eye, Top Gun, UP, and Flight
Likes: Dancing to the goal song, skating around on the ice and giving out high-fives
Dislikes: Dull skates, cheap shots on the ice and frowning faces
UNIVERSITY OF WEST FLORIDA, UWF
Okay. When I said we would cover UWF further below... here we go!
Ground was broken on April 16, 1965 for the Division 2 college, and in the same year the Chambered Nautilus was adopted as the official UWF emblem. Current facilities at UWF include: 35 academic buildings, 21 student services facilities, 25 dormitories, two university village student apartment complexes and 20 plant support facilities. The Pensacola campus to 1,600 acres, the second largest main campus in the State University System.
UWF's Underwater Archaeology found the shipwreck, which was discovered in Pensacola Bay by two university students, is the remains of one of the colonization ships of the Tristan de Luna fleet that sank during a hurricane in 1559. UWF has one of the best underwater archaeology programs in the country because Pensacola has such rich, historically significant archaeological sites. In 2001, UWF Historic Pensacola Village the university acquired West Florida Historic Preservation, Inc. The was previously a state-controlled group that managed the Historic Pensacola Village. The university has created several classes taught by and/or in conjunction with the staff at Historic Pensacola. UWF intercollegiate athletics compete in the NCAA Division II Gulf South Conference. Men's intercollegiate sports include football, baseball, soccer, basketball, tennis, cross country, and golf. The UWF men's baseball team won the National 2011 NCAA Division II Baseball Championship. The UWF women's soccer team won the National 2012 NCAA Division II Soccer Championship. The UWF men’s tennis team has won the National 2004, 2005 & 2014 NCAA Division II Championship.
The UWF men’s golf team has won the National 2001 & 2008 NCAA Division II Championship. Tennis Head Coach Derrick Racine, Golf Head Coach Steve Fell (named twice) and Soccer Head Coach Joe Bartlinski are all named National Coach's of the Year. In 2016 UWF started their NCAA Division II football team. The team will compete in the Gulf South Division II Conference. UWF even offers a trolley service and public bicycles around campus. The bikes are known as the "Yellow Bikes".
Pensacola State College Pirates
1. Welcome Center 2. Crowne Centre (Campus Church) 3. MacKenzie Great Hall
4. MacKenzie Building 5. Planetarium 6. Dale Horton Auditorium 7.Visual and Performing Arts
8. Radio/Video Studios 9. Parking Garage (women) 10. A Beka Building
11. College Field 12. Griffith Tower (women) 13. Campanile 14. Dixon Tower (women)
15. Bradley Tower (women) 17. Graf Clinic 18. Coberly Hall (men) 19. Ballard Hall (men)
20. Rebekah Horton Library 21. Academic Center 22. Administration Building (Info Desk)
23. Commons (Campus Store, The Palms Grille, Post Office) 24. Varsity (dining hall)
25. Standby Generator Facility 26. Swim Center 27. Field House 28. Lyceum
29. Tennis Courts 30. Four Winds (dining hall) 31. Sports Center 32. Rand House
33. Young Tower (men) 34. Skywalk 35. Skywalk 36. Rawson Chapel/Fellowship Hall
37. Rawson Center 38. Parking (men) 39. East Campus (men’s playing fields)
40. Campus House 41. Standby Generator Facility II
Pensacola State College, PSC
Pensacola State College was formerly known as Pensacola Junior College and is a public state college located in and around Pensacola. The main campus, located in Pensacola, was opened in 1948 and was the first institute of higher learning in Pensacola. Pensacola State quickly expanded to include a downtown campus in 1957, a Milton campus in 1971, and a Warrington campus in 1977, with centers in Santa Rosa County and Century. A mini-campus opened on Naval Air Station Pensacola in 1981 but was destroyed during hurricane Ivan in 2004. In July 2010, the college changed its name to Pensacola State College in order to reflect its transition into offering 4-year degrees. Pensacola State College has a few National Championships won on their turf as well. Men's Basketball in 1993, Men's Golf and Women's Slow Pitch Softball 1988.
3 students to Major League Baseball (MLB)
1 to the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA)
I wish I could have found more photos, but have been unable to do so.
I've even had a close friend of mine that was an Assistant Football Coach
(even though I'm a "Tater"... a Tate High School graduate).
He was close enough to be a groomsman in my wedding.
Don Sutton (THS) graduate
at 2012 Homecoming
Carl Schwartzel, right, helps Bubba Watson put the green jacket after winning the 2012 Masters Golf Tournament. He also won the Masters in 2014!
In 2012, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos honor Masters Champion Bubba Watson with a "green-out" game (all the fans were encouraged to wear green and almost everyone did) at Community Maratime Park. They did this to honor him for his winning the Masters Golf Tournament.
The Blue Wahoos staff and personnel wore green for the game against the Birmingham Barons, and Bubba attended getting to throw out the cereminial first pitch. Fans were also encouraged to wear green. Well, just about everyone did!
OH, and YES, that really is Bubba in his personnaly purchased REAL LIFE General Lee! He's wanted one since the show aired and he finally got a chance to fulfill the dream. He now owns 1 of only 25 actual General Lee's (Dodge Challengers) that are still around from the hit TV show "The Dukes of Hazzard". Now how is that for a local boy!? What do ya know? He's just a good ol' boy! Since I just made mention of golf, let's now cover...
Pensacola High School football team
Class 3A State Champions 2009
TATE HIGH SCHOOL
The Second School of Pensacola/Escambia County and still at it's original location... the Gonzalez area.
Tate High School was founded in 1878 by James Madison Tate Sr., a Civil War veteran, minister and a former lawyer. This is just 8 years older than Pensacola High School and just like PHS, it didn't start with the name it now has. The school was originally called Roberts High School and was the second high school established in Escambia County. The original school building was one room with a sawdust floor; students sat on wooden benches. Initially, Mr. Tate taught all of the grades himself. He taught at Roberts High until 1913, when he retired. In 1917, the James Madison Tate Sr. Agricultural School was completed. The school was a two-story brick building with eight classrooms. Establishment of the agricultural school advanced the agricultural programs already in place at the original Roberts High. In 1927, O.A. Strange became principal of Tate High School. During his 24-year tenure as head of the school, 10 buildings were added to the campus and the school transformed from a small rural school to a modern high school. Tate H.S. may have started small, but the enrollment for 2014 was 2000 students. This brings it to the 7A Level in Florida's High Schools. Tate's baseball team won the national championships in 1984 (being Number 1 in the Nation for a 4A school) and has won seven STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS since 1960. One of the school's most accomplished baseball players, Don Sutton, went on to major league fame with the Los Angeles Dodgers. A football team was established at Tate High School in 1962. The team was coached by Carl Madison, who has the second highest win count of ANY football coach in the State of Florida's football history at 326-129-7 and... AND in the top 30 in the entire nation. He coached the Aggies to the Tate Aggies 4A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP and NUMBER 4 IN THE NATIONAL RANKING in 1980. Tate High Schools "Pete Gindle Football Stadium" is the largest football stadium between Ladd Stadium (in Mobile, Alabama) and Doak Cambell-Bobby Bowden Field (at Florida State University). Try running the bleachers there! It's called the Aggie Mile. You run the bleachers up & down all the steps on both the home and visitors side. You have to make 4 laps around the track that surrounds the field... this makes 1 mile (a little bit further considering the bleachers). It takes focus and commitment. I can say this because I've experienced this first hand! Last note, Tate High School won "The Most Spirited School in the Nation" in 1985 (as seen below on the school sign at the main entrance to the school). In 2015, the Tate's Girls Fast Pitch Softball team won the 7A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP.
Tate's marching band, The Showband of the South. The Showband has received many top level awards over the years. Here are some (not all) of their accomplishments:
Marched in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin, Ireland
Has Performed TWICE at the Pearl Harbor Memorial in Hawaii for the December 7, 1941 Memorial Ceremony
1980 Grand National Champions
Tate is also known for its drum line which has competed in annual world championship competitions in Dayton, Ohio.
Tate's color guard the "Tate Chaparrals."In 1989, the Tate Chaparrals won the National Championship in the WGI Scholastic World Class Competition.
NOW, Pensacola High School 2014
located at 500 West Maxwell Street
Here is the 2nd Pensacola High School in Lee Square. It burned down in 1969.
1886, Public School No.1 in Lee Square. It burned down in 1917.
Pensacola High School football team 1953
Pensacola High School
West Florida Champions 1926
Pensacola High School football team 1924
Pensacola Athletic Club 1900
Pensacola High School football team 1921
Pensacola High School football team 1919
Pensacola Athletic Club football team 1905
Kids Scrub Team 1898
Pensacola Athletic Club 1895
The history of those that started their path to football "stardome" is just about as big as the history of baseball.
By all practical purpose, the history of baseball and football in Pensacola could fill this who page!
Pensacola Football (high school and beyond)
Well, for starters, the first public school in Pensacola was the Pensacola Academy in 1870. This was a two-story building on Wright Street and it was erected by the School Board in 1875. In 1886, a new building was erected on Lee Square, known as Public School No. 1. Its first graduating class consisted of Albert Reed and J. Whiting Hyer. Yep, just two kids! My how times have changed. In 1905, Pensacola High School was organized in the same building (Public School No. 1). The school was a four-year high school. Pensacola High School's (PHS) first graduating class consisted of Dudley Barrow and Nell Richards. Again, just two boys. 1905 was when football began in Pensacola. In 2009, PHS won the Class 3A Florida Football Championship Game!
PENSACOLA HIGH SCHOOL (the very first high school of Pensacola/Escambia County)
Pensacola High School football team has the distinction of being the oldest football program in the state: pro, college or high school.
Here is a brief look at the "change of times".
This is the history of football from its start in Pensacola, even before high school football. High School football is further down.
In golf, this area's 22 PGA Tour wins include; Bubba Watson (winning the 2012 and 2014 Masters), Jerry Pate (1976 US Open & 1974 US Amateur), Heath Slocum, Joe Durant and Boo Weekley on the PGA Tour. Being a resident of this area, These guys have had first hand playing at local golf courses, tournaments and on local mini tours over the past years.
One of the longest of the two mini tours in the North West Florida area is the Emerald Coast Golf Tour and the other is the Miller Lite Scratch Tour. These two where not around when Pate was up and coming, but... these two tours saw Bubba Watson, Joe Durant, Heath Slocum and Boo Weekley compete on them.
These players honed their now PGA Tour talent, on these tours, working hard, grinding it out before they made their ways to the big tour. The big tour is the Professional Golfers' Association. Here are those gentlemen that are mentioned above. Pate, the 1976 U.S. Open Champion, set up shop with his company, Jery Pate Golf right here in Pensacola. As you can see, this small area of North West Florida has produced some huge talent across all facets of sports.
Don "Newt" Newcombe
MLB Hall of Fame
Home town boy
Frank "Buck" Weaver
Cal Ripkin Sr.
Ted Williams, a Marine Corps aviator
In 1929, the New York Yankees — including star players Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig — played the Fliers as part of a spring training tour of the South. More than 3,000 fans turned out for the game, which the Yankees won 12-2. You can't really call that a real win for the Yankees or a real loss for the Fliers. This was the Majors against the Minors.
The Stadium and Park After
Pensacola Bayfront Stadium and Meritime Park, home Cincinnati Reds Double A Minor League Baseball Team
After just one season, Pensacola Bayfront Stadium is now considered one of the most premier facilities in Minor League Baseball. The stadium was designed by Populus (formerly known as HOK Sport), which is renowned for creating many outstanding sports facilities including Major League Baseball, as well as NFL, NBA and NHL among other projects. With a seating capacity of 5,038, Pensacola Bayfront Stadium consistently hosted large crowds throughout the Blue Wahoos' inaugural season including 40 sellout crowds in the team's 68 home dates in 2012. The club also led the league in attendance, with a total of 328,147 fans coming through the gates, equating to a league-leading average of 4,826. The multi-use facility was also designed to host a wide range of events besides baseball, including football, as well as concerts and many other possibilities. The stadium also provides one of the best views in sports, with the scenic Pensacola Bay beyond the outfield walls, creating a unique backdrop. It did not take long for the bayfront stadium to begin receiving accolades, with Baseballparks.com naming the facility its 2012 Ballpark of the Year, which included facilities within the entire realm of baseball, including the Major Leagues. The stadium beat out new stadiums such as the Florida Marlins new park, Brooklyn Field, as well as the Boston Red Sox new spring training facility in Fort Myers.
Here are a few of the reviews that Pensacola Maritime Park received upon its completion.
> "This is over the top, I can't believe it. What a great job everyone has done. Everyone should be real proud." - Cincinnati Reds owner Bob Castellini
> "I couldn't imagine a better place for a stadium and a team." - Cincinnati Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty
> "With a uniquely different ballpark - one on the short list of having the best view in all of sports - as a blueprint for progress and additional financial development, the future is incredibly bright in Pensacola" - Joe Mock, Baseballparks.com
> "It might be the nicest, fanciest, and most beautiful minor league park in America." - Stadium Journey
The Pensacola Pelicans were a minor league baseball team based in Pensacola, Florida. In various incarnations, they played in three different independent baseball leagues (none of the leagues being affiliated with Major League Baseball) from 2002–2010. They played their games at Jim Spooner Field at (the nicknamed) Pelican Park on University of West Florida campus (We will cover more in a bit regarding the University of West Florida Argonauts... and FOOTBALL... as it unfolds); the Trillium property in Downtown Pensacola had not been refurbished and built upon the Pelicans inception. Due to the minor league having different playing seasons, the field was made available by UWF for the Pensacola Pelicans baseball team.
The initial Pelicans began play in 2002 as charter members of the new, independent Southeastern League. They won the Southeastern League championship in 2002. The league folded after the 2003 season, and team owner Quint Studer purchased a franchise in the Central Baseball League (CBL), moving the Pelicans to the new organization and staying in their location. When the CBL folded in 2004 the Pelicans joined the new American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. In 2010 Studer sold his American Association franchise to a group in Amarillo, Texas as part of a move to bring Major League Baseball's Class Double-A Minor League affiliated baseball to Pensacola. Pensacola's new team, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos began play in 2012 and is the Major League Baseball Double-A team for the Cincinnati Reds.
The following images are of the stadium being constructed, then the team logo(s). Oh, and their mascot... KAZOO!!!
Preliminary Park work brought in dump truck loads of fill dirt, just as was done where the Pensacola Municipal Auditorium was built on Palafox Street, to the property before it was overturned by voter referendum. Much the same actions were needed for “modern” growth with several sites in Pensacola. On May 31, 2001, a Festival Park project was proposed by Bullock Tice Associates to occupy the site. The $40 million plan, which included a 16-acre public park, an $18 million auditorium (to replace the aging Bayfront Auditorium on Palafox Street) and space for future development, was approved by the Pensacola City Council on November 21, 2002. Initial work had already begun, including a massive concrete group called Citizens against Trillium petitioned for a referendum on the project. On March 25, 2003 the citizens of Pensacola voted to overturn the Council's decision and scrap the plan. In late 2004, months after Hurricane Ivan devastated the Pensacola area, city leaders including City Manager Tom Bonfield and Mayor John Fogg met with retired Vice Admiral Jack Fetterman and others to discuss ideas about a possible "maritime park" project for the Trillium site. The Community Maritime Park Associates (CMPA) was formed and presented a preliminary proposal to the Pensacola City Council, which approved the concept on January 18, 2005.
In opposition to the proposed development, Charles Fairchild (a leader of the earlier Citizens against Trillium group) organized another group called Save Our City with Marty Donovan, the only Pensacola City Council member to vote against the plan. The group gathered enough petitions to force a voter referendum on the issue. The Community Maritime Park project survived the September 5, 2006 election. Under the plan, the Trillium property will be managed by the non-profit CMPA organization (for a perfunctory $1 a year lease) and will include a multi-use stadium and ballpark and a few other mixed use functions and availability, and a large open grassy public space along Pensacola Bay. All net revenue collected by the Park will be deposited into the City of Pensacola budget. Obviously, there are still projected plans that have not taken place. But, for what has come to fruition for the Maritime Park, it has been a BIG success!
Now let's take a look at the "modern growth" of baseball.
THEN, Trillium Property
Community Maritime Park
Admiral Mason Park and the Veteran's Memorial Park / Veteran's Memorial Park 2014.
The stadium was located at 9th Avenue and Bayfront Parkway where "Veteran's Park" is today. It was there by the 1950's. The Pensacola team was part of the minor league baseball leagues. They started out as the Pensacola Dons and getting their name in remembrance of the founde of Pensacola, Don Tristan De Luna (affiliation with the Baltimore Orioles),Pensacola Angels (affiliation with the Chicago White Sox) and the Pensacola Senators (affiliation with the Washington Senators). The stadium sat 2,000 patrons. Pensacola lost their pro team in 1962 "due to problems with fielding black ball players" according to the league's history web site. This was about the time of the civil rights movement. The stadium fell into disrepair and was torn down in the early 1980's. Part of the land is now Veteran's Park, the Wall South, and for several years an open field on the west side of the park. A small sewer treatment plant was across the street to add to the "atmosphere"! Obviously, like many other things of Pensacola, the sewer treatment facility has been removed. I guess the idea of it really stunk! Sorry, just a chuckle. A large public housing project was behind the plant
where the Pensacola Civic Center parking field is today. Bayfront Parkway runs east and west from the 3-Mile Bridge and over to Palafox. The street name changes to Main Street at the railroad tracks and proceeds on to Barrancas Avenue. Keep reading and looking, because it continues to change and grow.
CHECK OUT THE PAGE TABS ABOVE TO SEE OUR HISTORY
Legion Field moved to Admiral Mason Park in 1952 at 9th Av. and Bayfront Parkway. Above is Pensacola's minor league baseball park.
The “Admiral Mason Park" was named after Charles P. Mason; he was Vice Admiral of the Navy and a huge baseball fan!
Here are but just a few of the BIG TIME MAJOR LEAGUE PLAYERS and a few of those players that would aspire to be Baseball Hall of Famers that played here in Pensacola. Some of these photos are when the players played at Legion Field and Admiral Mason Park. Some for a pick-up game and some with the a local minor league team before they went Pro. The 3rd and 4th row are those that grew up playing here... and went PRO! This is just some... not all.
This is Pensacola’s Sports History. So let’s... PLAY BALL!
Baseball in Pensacola started in 1890, possibly a bit earlier, with the Pensacola Dudes Baseball team. Baseball later grew when the Pensacola Fliers started. Baseball was played on Fort Pickens and at Legion Field, located at Gregory Street and “H” Street. The photos below show what you (or your parents / grandparents / great grandparents / and going) would have seen, what was seen or what is seen.
The original Waterboyz were a group of Pensacola Beach surfing talent that surfed the Emerald Coast in the mid-80's. And the group probably would have stayed just that had it not been for vision and determination of one of its members.
Growing out of a single-car garage in the late eighties to the modern day 10,000 square foot facility on 9th Avenue, Waterboyz has been the premier surf, skate, and skim outfitter in Pensacola for over twenty years. Known by the signature trident logo, Waterboyz has utilized a grassroots approach to business and manufacturing to set itself apart from the rest of the surf and skate industry. Sean, Rick, and the entire crew have always taken pride in being a home-grown brand where everyone is always welcome.
Now, instead of only getting local business, the Waterboyz brand is being sold as far away as California, Texas, and even Puerto Rico. Waterboyz is a local and an online surf shop/skate shop serving up the latest surf, skate, skimboard and paddleboard gear as well as the newest styles in clothing and accessories from the top brands in the inudstry. The shop, with everything under one roof, allows Sean to be a part of all aspects of Waterboyz, keeping his vision of the brand focused.
And, there is...
Waterboyz For Jesus
In a way skate-and-surf-ministries might seem contradictory. The subverters are themselves being subverted by the very thing they were rebelling against: People telling them, not necessarily how to dress, but who to be. However, the point of Sparrow Skate Church and others like it is to accept the skaters for who they are and reach them on their turf. "They would never be accepted in regular church," Buck Waters says. "These are different kids. Some are on the fringe and from broken homes. Skate outreach locally and globally is certainly unique."
The issue here is not religious or spiritual freedom, however. Instead it involves the core idea of skate-and-surf ministries and other alternative Christian groups; the idea that the way one dresses does not necessarily make that person a bad one. "It's fun," the Gulf Breeze teenager says. And he likes the idea of the service being at a skate park. "It's good so that we don't have to go back to Gulf Breeze," Josh says. "We can stay here." For Pensacola, Sparrow Skate Church is a hint of what may come. The Rolling Stone's Magazine had an article on BattleCry, a growing Christian group that battles the influence of pop culture with members in the tens of thousands, as well as the trend of mega-churches, reflect the new marketing of Christianity and the ability of religious organizations to adapt to the times. It may seem like such a small thing for us, but in God’s hands greater things are possible.
Here is a quote from Yancy Spencer, himself. "The pastor called forward people who wanted to make a commitment to Christ. I resisted. I had grown up in church and walked that path before out of fear of Hell. This time was different. I wanted to know the God who created the waves that I loved to surf so much. If He expected me to live a certain way, then I wanted to live that way to please Him. I no longer wanted to control my life; I wanted Him to have control. The pastor then called for people to come down who once thought that they knew Christ, but weren’t sure anymore – that was me. I went forward, closed my eyes and started to pray. Instantly, in my mind, I saw my friends back in Pensacola Beach laughing and pointing their fingers at me for becoming a Christian. I started to get cold feet, but a voice rose up in me and said, “No, if this is real, I want it.” So I shook that mental picture off and said in deep prayer, “Jesus, if you are really the Son of God, come into my life and prove it.”
“That day, Jesus Christ forgave me of my sins and put me on a new path to please Him ,” and with much conviction stated, “He will do the same for you.”
Brother, I'll see you in heaven. 'Til then, rest in peace.
Want to learn how to Surf! Check out Innerlight's 1 hour Surf lessons. They are available Monday-Saturday in a Private, Semi Private, or Groups Setting.
About Surf Lessons: Have you always wanted to learn how to surf or have your kids learn how? Let 'em help you. Their instructors are lifeguard certified and have been surfing and instructing for 15 plus years. All participants must be at least 6 years old and a strong swimmer. The lessons will vary based on availability.
All lessons include:
1 hour of instruction
Sunscreen, Polarized Sunglasses, a hat, and a water proof camera are HIGHLY suggested.
Rates: Private(1 person) $55, Semi Private (2-4 people) $45 each and Group (5 or more) is $35 each
The lesson locations are available on Pensacola Beach, FL at Innerlights lesson site.
This crash happened in the 1976 Snowball Derby. You can see that the crash happened on the front staightaway right at the flag stand.
NO ONE WAS HURT! Not the driver, none of the spectator or the flagman!
Well, I shouldn't get ahead of myself. But, truth be told, most fans watch the races to see at least one crash.
Here is pre-1976 Snowball Derby race in the 5 Flags Speedway pits.
1969 Snowball Derby
1975 Snowball Derby,
#12 Bobby Allison, #88 Donnie Allison & #98 Red Farmer
1969, Donnie Allison's turn 3 wreck
Former Florida State Quarterback & 12 year NBA Player
1993 NCAA National Champions & Heisman Trophy Winner
He and Derrick Brooks shared in the National Championship
with FSU, under Head Coach Bobby Bowden (a great man too).
2014 he became Head Coach for Washington H.S. football
2015 Pensacola Blue Wahoo's Community Coach and Ambassador
Tate H.S. former football Head Coach,
1980 Florida Class 4A Champions
2nd highest winning record in ALL of
Florida's football. That's high school,
college and the NFL.
Kansas City Chiefs
NFL Hall of Fame 2010
2008 NCAA Division II
National Tennis Champions
Temporary football stadium at
Pensacola Blue Wahoos baseball stadium
Fort Pickens Baseball Team 1911
Pensacola Fliers 1925
2013-2014 SPHL Champions
2012-2013 SPHL Champions
1985, Billy Bigley & Joe Nemechek
1989, Rick Crawford
1981, Mark Martin
1984, Bobby Allison
Since I just mentioned Roy Jones, Jr. here is the overall rundown of his career in Professional Boxing. This being in America and worldwide.
Roy Jones, Jr., was born in Pensacola, Florida, to two very different parents. His mother, Carol, was warm and easy-going, whereas his father, Roy Sr., was much like a Marine Drill Instructor with respect to his son. A decorated Vietnam veteran, ex-club fighter and retired aircraft engineer who had taken up hog farming.
Former Heavyweight Champion George Foreman said Jones, "hits like a heavyweight and moves like a lightweight."Boxer Montell Griffin, who faced Jones twice at 175 lbs and sparred with Floyd Mayweather Jr. at 140 lbs said, "Floyd was no comparison as far as speed. Roy was much faster."
In 1996, High Frequency Boxing's John DiMaio wrote "The early evidence points toward the real possibility that Jones is the greatest talent this sport has ever seen. His skill so dwarfs that of his nearest ranked opposition...that providing competitive opponents is a more challenging dilemma than the fights themselves." The expert opinion of Boxing magazine's editor, Bert Sugar, is provided on Jones' website: "He possesses the fastest hands in boxing with lightning fast moves and explosive power in both hands." After Mike MacCallum lost the World Boxing Council light heavyweight crown to Roy Jones in a 1996 unanimous decision, he called Jones "the greatest fighter of all time."
Major World Titles: IBF Middleweight Champion (160 lbs), IBF Super Middleweight Champion (168 lbs), WBC Light Heavyweight Interim Champion (175 lbs), WBC Light Heavyweight Champion (175 lbs)(2), WBC Light Heavyweight Champion (175 lbs), WBA Light Heavyweight Champion (175 lbs), IBF Light Heavyweight Champion (175 lbs), WBA Heavyweight Champion (+200 lbs)(3), WBC Light Heavyweight Champion (175 lbs)(2), WBA Light Heavyweight Champion (175 lbs)
Minor World Titles: WBU Cruiserweight Champion (200 lbs), IBO Light Heavyweight Champion (175 lbs), NBA Light Heavyweight Champion (175 lbs), WBF Light Heavyweight Champion (175 lbs), IBA Light Heavyweight Champion (175 lbs), IBC Light Heavyweight Champion (175 lbs),
The Ring/Lineal Championship Titles: The Ring Light Heavyweight Champion (175 lbs),
Regional/International Titles: WBC Continental Americas Super Middleweight Champion (168 lbs), WBO NABO Light Heavyweight Champion (175 lbs)(2), WBO NABO Light Heavyweight Champion (175 lbs), UBO Intercontinental Cruiserweight Champion (200 lbs)
Selected Awards: Ring Sports Magazine—1993 Fighter of the Year; 1995 Man of the Year; 1996 Sportsman of the Year. Ring, Boxing Illustrated, and Boxing Scene magazines—1994 Fighter of the Year. International Boxing Federation—1995 Fighter of the Year and 1995 Fighter of Unlimited Potential. ESPN ESPY Award—1995 Boxer of the Year. The Sports Network-Boxer of the Decade. Boxing Illustrated's Budweiser ratings, June 1995 onward—Best Pound-for-Pound Fighter in the World. March of Dimes—1995 Honorary Chairman. KO—1996 Best Pound-for-Pound Fighter in the World and 1996 Best Fighter in the World. Congress of Racial Equality—1996 Outstanding Achievement Award. American Association for the Improvement of Boxing (the Marciano Foundation)--1996 Humanitarian of the Year. Boxing 1996—Best Pound-for Pound Fighter in the World. Harlem Globetrotters—Honorary Ambassador of Goodwill (1997). Escambia-Pensacola Human Relations Commission—1997 Olive Branch Award, for humanitarianism.
HISTORY OF STOCK CAR RACING IN PENSACOLA
The photo above is from 1968 and, obviously, it is from the Pensacola Navy Goshawks Team. It just happens to be signed by one of the team members who was Roger Staubach! When he was in the Naval Academy (college), he's the last player from a military academy to win the Heisman Trophy. He spent a year as a Supply Officer in Viet Nam. When he came back to the U.S. he was stationed at NAS Pensacola as a Supply Officer and still played football. This was the Goshawks. While being stationed here, he had his Heisman Trophy on the fireplace mantle of his Officer's Quarters. A rectangular outlined was made where it once was. I guess it is easy to understand the importance this trophy had for him and anyone else who wins it. There is no bigger sporting hero in Heritage's hometown of Dallas, Texas than Roger Staubach. He confirmed that not only did he not have a Goshawks team signed football from the team he represented just after his Vietnam tour of duty, he was not aware of anyone who did. The ball is signed by about fifty members of the Navy squad based out of Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. It goes without saying that Roger Staubach was and is the key autograph on this football. Personally speaking, one would be hard-pressed to find one better than this or any others of the Hall of Fame quarterbacks.
San Diego Chargers 2012
San Diego Chargers 2009
Greenbay Packers 2008
New York Jets
This, one of a kind, photo is from the
UWF University Archives and
West Florida History Center. Amazing!
2011 NCAA Division II
National Baseball Champions
Legion Field 1926
Pensacola Dudes 1890
Pine Forest H.S.
Gulf Breeze H.S.
The win also solidified the City of Pensacola's first ever professional sports championship. This is yet another of the many reason's of how Pensacola got another nickname... The City of Champions. Hockey fits right in there with Baseball, Football, Golf, Boxing and the Olympics. (Plus, a few other sports not mentioned... sorry.)
1988, Ted Musgrave
2005, Eddie Mercer
1994 Tammy Jo Kirk
The first female to win the Snowball Derby
2004, Steve & his dad Rusty Wallace, who has also raced here.
This, just like Baseball and Football, is a look back in time. More of a true grit THEN & NOW of Pensacola's history.
This is the history of where it started to where it is now. The start of Pensacola’s stock car racing began in the west side of Pensacola. This track was used a bit before Five Flags Speedway. Pensacola Raceway, at 910 Old Corry Field Road, is the location for racing... still. The difference from then and now is that the racing is comprised of go-carts, not stock cars. That being said, go-cart racing is still a starting point for loads of future race car drivers across America. Research for yourself and you will see. Taking a look at the track, the Pensacola Raceway is a 1/5-mile red clay high-banked (for a go-carts that is) track. Here is a look at the Pensacola Raceway as it is now. With extensive research, I have been unable to find ANY photographs of the "good 'ol days".
Professional Golfers' Association
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
NFL Hall of Fame 2014
Now, let's see the football stars that went to the NFL...
from our local high schools.
Women's National Basketball Assocoiation, WNBA
2004 & 2005
He was the Jesse Owens Award winner and holds the 4 x 100m American record at 37.04
Now that Is very IMPRESSIVE!!!
Pine Forest H.S.
St. Louis Rams
2010, Johanna Long
2009, Kyle Busch
Bobby Allison's race car
The track opened on May 31st, 1953 as a 1/2 mile dirt oval. It was paved shortly thereafter, opening in that form on June 13th, 1953. A 1/4 mile paved oval, located in the infield, operated during the 1970's. Before you get to see from years past, I thank Bob Appleget for the history he has captured and a chance for us to see some of the men who have made history in NASCAR that raced at 5 Flags Speedway. This half mile track is located on Pine Forrest Road, just south of I-10 (Exit 2 if on I-10) and is the fastest one-half mile track in the country. On a side note, there quite a few hotels, eating establishments, gas stations and grocery stores (good ones & inexpensive). The track is made of asphalt and is the home of the snowball derby. Top NASCAR drivers have raced at this speedway. Here are some (not all) that have raced here; Dale Earnhardt Sr., Carl Yarborough, Bill Elliott, Chase Elliot, Bobby Labonte, Terry Labonte, Harry Gant, Davey Allison, Bobby Allison, Clifford Allison, Darrell Waltrip, Jody Ridley, Rusty Wallace, Steve Wallace, Ted Musgrave, Rick Crawford, Rich Bickle Jr., Gary St. Amant, Bobby Gill, Kyle Bush, Dave Stremme, Lee Petty, Kyle Petty, David Ragan, Freddie Fryar, Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Pete Hamilton, Butch Miller, Buddy Baker, Neil Bonnet, Stan Fox, Bobby Hamilton, Tommy Houston, Jack Ingram, Ernie Irvin, Tiny Lund, Ken Schrader, Dick Trickle, Sterling Marlin and Red Farmer. Plenty of others compete or have competed here that are not listed.
I took the photographs below in 2012. I couldn't get a broad view of the track.
So (as you can see), I graphed them together so you can get a full view of a track that has been there for over half a century.
Seattle Supersonics 2002
Founder of his charity The Reggie James Foundation
and has been awarded the Gold Star by
The Starlight Childrens Foundation
Washington Bullets 1998
Pine Forest H.S.
Washington Redskins 2012
5 FLAGS SPEEDWAY
In 2015 he became
Pensacola Blue Wahoos
The monument in his honor on Pensacola Beach
Yancy... a great surfer, a great father, a great man.
Yancy IV, like father like sons
2011, Chase & his dad Bill Elliot,
who has also raced here.
2012 & 2013, Erik Jones
Bobby & Davey Allison
Darrell Waltrip's race car
1953, the VERY FIRST race
at FIVE FLAGS
Roy Jones, Jr.
Pine Forest H.S.
Won the 1984 United States National Junior Olympics in the 119 lb weight division
1986 United States National Golden Gloves in the 139 lb division
1987 United States National Golden Gloves in the 156 lb (71 kg) division.
1988 Olympic Games SILVER MEDAL. Jones was awarded the Val Barker trophy, as the best stylistic boxer of the 1988 games, which was only the 3rd (and to this day the last) time in the competition's history when the award did not go to the gold medal winner.
PROFESSIONAL BOXING: Middleweight. Super Middleweight, Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight divisions. He is the only boxer in history to start his career as a Light Middleweight (154 lbs) and go on to win a heavyweight title.
Jones left his mark in boxing history when he won the WBA Heavyweight title, becoming the FIRST former middleweight champion to win a heavyweight title in 106 years. Jones was named "Fighter of the Decade" for the 1990s by the Boxing Writers Association of America.
National Basketball Association, NBA
Since we have covered the professional leagues for baseball and football, let's see how basketball has come about.
Innerlight Surf & Skate is the Gulf Coast's oldest Surf Shop. It was established in 1969. Innerlight is locally owned and operated with what started at just one location on Pensacola Beach. Now they have 4 locations. Innerlight began with Yancy Spencer III. Not only was he a great surfer, he was a great God fearing man! He had a passion for surfing and the water. He was a surfer from Pensacola, Florida who was widely regarded as the father of Gulf Coast surfing. Boardworks Surf still honors the life of Yancy Spencer. Yancy Spencer was one of the first signature shapers/brands, and for a time his 6’10″ Yancy Big Guy Fish was a best selling model. Yancy was a dedicated family man, businessman and an exceptional surfer. Widely regarded as the Father of Surfing on the Gulf Coast, Yancy had an impressive career including Gulf Coast Champ, East Coast Champ, US Pro Longboard Champ, and East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame inductee. One of Yancy's brothers is the pastor of a Christian church, His other brother a Gulf Breeze, Florida City Council member. He has three children, his daughter (an actress) Abigail Spencer and two sons pro surfer Yancy Spencer IV (won the East Coast Longboard Championship) and pro surfer Sterling Spencer. Sterling is one of TransWorld SURF‘s favorite surfers and is an icon in the Gulf region. Yancy died while surfing at County Line, California (in Los Angeles County) in 2011. According to reports, Spencer came in from the surf spot after suffering from chest pains. He called 911 himself and was given CPR by firefighters but suffered a major heart attack shortly after calling. Yancy is one of the best ever to ever come out of the Gulf region. He is still greatly missed and his family carries on his passion. Innerlight has become the largest Surf, Skate, and Standup Paddle headquarter for the Gulf Coast of Florida. They specialize in: Surfboards, Skatebords, Skimboards, & Standup Paddleboards and also carry Boardshorts, Bikinis, Swimwear, Sandals, Sunglasses, Dress, and much more available from size 6 month to XXL. So, it is pretty plain to see that Innerlight covers a broad band... and are pretty good at it! Go by and see their store(s) for yourself and you'll see. It's pretty awesome!
This REALLY is surfing, Pensacola Style! Well, sometimes the surf is good rideable waves. Sometimes it is flat. And, sometimes the waves are really “kickin”. The “kickin” is due to a major Tropical Storm or a Hurricane and riding waves in that type of environment is definitely NOT A GOOD IDEA! Rip currents are normal during this type of weather and are very deadly. Actually, rip currents can happen when the weather seems just right. The bottom line is that rip currents can happen when and where you least expect. They have a natural pull from the coast line, out to sea. The best way to counter a rip current is to swim parallel to the coast until you no longer feel the pull of the current and then swim to shore. These have taken the lives of many locals and tourist (I know first hand), so be very mindful of rip currents and avoid them all together by opting to not enter the water when there are warnings of such conditions. Wait for the green or yellow flags to fly, steer clear when red flags are up!
SURFING on PENSACOLA BEACH
1979, Skip Manning & Bill Elliot
1977, Neil Bonnet (in his white racing suit)
at his car #15
1977 race day, Mark Martin & Darrell Waltrip
1971, Snowball Derby
1972, Snowball Derby
1974, Red Farmer
1998 PHS becomes State Champions and named "Miss Basketball"
Women's Basketball Coach's Association (WBCA) All-American
Houston Comets 2002
2002 FIBA Women's World Championship Gold Medal Winner
2015-2016 SPHL Champions
2014, John Nemechek & his dad
Joe Nemechek, who also raced here.
2014 NCAA Division II
National Tennis Champions
If you or your kids want to learn the art of surfing, you can take lessons. Check it out.
Yancy & Sterling
Yancy III, Sterling & Yancy IV
1984, Bobby Labonte & Ernie Irvan
1975, "The Alabama Gang" (from left to right)
Donnie Allison, Red Farmer, Neil Bonnet, Bobby Allison
1975, David Rogers &
State High School Track & Feild Champions
6 consecutive NCAA sprint titles while at the University of Tennessee
2004 Olympic Games GOLD MEDAL 100-meter sprint
His 9.85 finish was the 3rd fastest in Olympic history.
SILVER MEDAL in the 4-by-100 relay and a BRONZE in the 200-meter race.
Extended his dominance at the 2005 World Championships capturing GOLD
2016 Olympic Games SILVER MEDAL 100-meter sprint