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Disch Field and Willie Wells Field, located in South Austin are stunningly beautiful. And a great place to catch a University of Texas baseball game or to enjoy a picnic with your entire family.
Austin's minor league baseball teams called Disch Field home until 1975, when a new field was built. Prior to desegregation, only white players played at Disch Field. However, after a judge made segregation illegal, the old field was replaced by a nicer facility.
Disch Field replaced Clark Field as the UT baseball home field. In 2008, the ballpark was renovated and upgraded. DLR Group completed the construction for $21 million. The renovations include 107 premium seats, 17 suites, a team store, new ticket booth, expanded concessions, additional and upgraded restrooms, new bullpens, a new weight training facility, team training area, new coach offices, and FieldTurf to replace the existing AstroTurf.
Willie Wells Field at Disch Field is an outdoor field named after famous Negro League player, Willie Wells. Wells was an Austin native that attended Anderson High School and Samuel Huston College and played with the Austin Senators in the Texas Negro League before being drafted to the St. Louis Negro League. In addition to the Negro League, Wells played baseball in Canada, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Mexico. It was in Mexico that he received the nickname "El Diablo," and today, many still consider Wells to be the greatest shortstop who ever lived. In the United States, he was known as the "Shakespeare of Shortstops," but despite his talents, he was excluded from Major League Baseball. It was Willie Wells who taught Jackie Robinson second base in the season before Robinson broke the MLB color barrier.
During his career, he played for the St. Louis Stars, Chicago American Giants, and Newark Eagles. Even if you haven't heard of Willie Wells before, you've seen evidence of his legacy every time you watch baseball. He was one of the first players to use a batting helmet after suffering a concussion. He used a construction helmet. In 1997, the Veterans Committee inducted Wells into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He is also recognized in the Mexican and Cuban Halls of Fame.
Disch Field is an example of "separate but equal," in action. While the local government provided its ballparks with public amenities, they were not equal. The city invested in Disch Field, while few improvements were made to the East Austin fields that Austin's Negro League called home.
Cover photo credit: @sprinklerfitters via Instagram