Shreveport, LA used to be a baseball town. For many, many years we had at least one minor league team. For some of that time, we had more than one. You mention the abandoned park at Fairgrounds Field, there's a good chance you'll stir emotions. Heck, most recently, people were up in arms with the Mayor for shutting down a deal to bring pro baseball back to town. We've produced several big league players including Albert Belle, Seth Lugo, Vernon Wells, and Lee Smith...just to name a few. This was a baseball town, for sure.

When it comes to baseball, there's one name that is synonymous with the sport - Babe Ruth. Despite playing his last game in 1935 and the simple fact that most of us weren't alive to watch him play, he's arguably still the biggest name in the history of the sport.

The Great Bambino's legacy has been passed down from generation to generation. Despite Hank Aaron & Barry Bonds breaking his home run record, he's still the Sultan of Swat and the Home Run King. His career, his legacy, his mythos is a part of America and has stood the test of time.

But, what you may not know is that once upon a time the Wizard of Whack came to Shreveport for an exhibition game.

What Brought Babe Ruth to Shreveport, LA?


As mentioned above, Shreveport used to be a big time baseball town. And before the creation of the Grapefruit & Cactus Leagues for spring training, most teams would visit 'Baseball Towns' to play exhibition games against the local ball club. Shreveport was no different. The Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Athletics, St. Louis Browns and Cincinnati Reds all played spring training games here at one point or another.

But, historically speaking, the most notable spring training series to ever take place in Shreveport happened in March 1921 with the New York Yankees. Because these weren't the New York Yankees we know today. This was just the beginning of the Yankees Dynasty. George Herman Ruth wasn't quite the Great Bambino yet. He was already the most popular player in the league, but he hadn't quite become an American Icon yet. The Yankees haven't yet built a palace to baseball...they still shared the Polo Grounds with the New York Giants. But this was the year when all that changed. When George really became the Babe and the Yankees became the Yankees.

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The New York Yankees vs The Shreveport Gassers in March of 1921

In March of 1921, Babe Ruth was coming off his first year with Yankees. He just set the MLB home run record at 54. He was quickly becoming a household name, but wasn't quite there yet (by the end of 1921, his popularity would explode by breaking his own Home Run record with 59 bombs).

The Yankees were in town to play a Spring Training Exhibition series with the Shreveport Gassers at Gasser Park. Now, before we really get into it, you're probably think 'who the heck are the Gassers and where is Gasser Park?'. The Gassers were the Texas League team from 1915 to 1924 and were an affiliate of the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1923 & 24 seasons. Gasser Park is now known as SPAR stadium (where the Shreveport Braves played in the 60s).

READ MORE: Louisiana Natives With Their Numbers Retired By the Yankees

According to reports from the time, hundreds of fans mobbed the Yankees & the Babe at the train station when they arrived to town on March 5th. The Sporting News reported that Babe spent the trip playing with kids, signing autographs and "batting imaginary balls over the chandelier" to keep the kids entertained. The Yankees were in Shreveport for a month to get ready for the 21 season.

I dug and dug and dug...and couldn't find an exact number of games the Yankees played against the Gassers during the month of March. However, here's the breakdown of the box scores I could find.

  • March 12, 1921 - Yanks beat the Gassers 7-3. Babe Ruth went 0-5.
  • March 13, 1921 - Yanks Beat The Gassers 21-3. Ruth went 6-6 with 3 Home Runs & 3 Singles. According to reports, Shreveport Gassers manager Billy Smith said he'd never seen a ball hit further than the one Ruth hit on that day.

Apparently, there was at least one more game in the series. Allegedly, the Gassers took the finally, winning 3-2 in 11 innings. However, I couldn't find an actual box score for that particular game. Just read stories recounting the game.

What Happened the Rest of the 1921 Season?

1921 was not a good year for the Shreveport Gassers. Once the regular season started, things did not go well. The Gassers finished the season in 5th place, with a 74-84 record. It was the last full season manager Billy Smith would have with the Gassers, after a rough start to the 1922 season, he would be relieved of his duties. By 1924, the Gassers would be no more.

On the other side of this, the New York Yankees & Babe Ruth were just starting to hit their strides. In 1921, Babe Ruth once again set the MLB single season home run record at 59. That record would stand until it was broken in none other than Babe Ruth with 60.

At this point, the Yankees had only been in existence for 19 seasons. They weren't the Yankees we know today. But, in 1921, they took their first step down that path. For the first time in team history, the won an American League pennant. They did end up losing the World Series that year 5 games to 3 (21 was the last year of the 'Best of 9' series. 22 was the first year of the best of 7 series we're familiar with today).

After 21, Babe Ruth became a National Icon. The Yankees became the Bronx Bombers. And Shreveport had several more decades of baseball memories.

Will Shreveport Ever See Pro Baseball Again?

That is a difficult question to answer. There does seem to be a desire for it. If nothing else, the debate over what to do with Fairgrounds & the almost deal with REV Entertainment proved there's still a passion for it here. Will we ever see affiliated ball here again? Will we ever have another moment where an all-time great comes to town to play ball? Only time will tell.

But, if there's one thing I've learned from "Field of Dreams", if you build it they will come.

LOOK: MLB history from the year you were born

Stacker compiled key moments from Major League Baseball's history over the past 100 years. Using a variety of sources from Major League Baseball (MLB) record books, the Baseball Hall of Fame, and audio and video from events, we've listed the iconic moments that shaped a sport and a nation. Read through to find out what happened in MLB history the year you were born.

Gallery Credit: Seth Berkman

The Best Professional Baseball Players From Louisiana

Louisiana has produced some incredible athletes over the years. In fact, many called the Bayou State a "quarterback factory", but let's not forget just how many amazing MLB baseball players have roots right here. See if your favorite made this list.

Gallery Credit: Gary McCoy

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