Abner Doubleday, an 1842 West Point graduate, is said to have devised the game of baseball while on leave from the U.S. Military Academy in 1839, drawing out the diamond and the rules of the game. He called the game "Base Ball," but it was patterned after a game called rounders which was played by boys and girls in England.
While the origin of baseball has been disputed, Doubleday, nonetheless, is still given credit and the baseball field at the U.S. Military Academy was dedicated in his honor in May 1939, the centennial year of baseball.
Despite the controversy, Doubleday distinguished himself throughout his military career, earning the rank of major general. He served in the Mexican and Civil wars. As a captain, he fired the first gun for the Union side in the Civil War at Fort Sumter. On Nov. 29, 1862, he was made a major general of the volunteers. He retired from the U.S. Army in 1873 and died Jan. 26, 1893 in New Jersey at the age of 74.
Long recognized as one of the finest baseball facilities on the East Coast, Doubleday Field enters its second century of existence in grand style. "The Home of Army Baseball" since games were first contested on its present site in 1909, Doubleday Field underwent a major renovation in 1996. Work was completed six years ago, with the new Johnson Stadium at Doubleday Field formally dedicated at ceremonies on Sept. 13, 1996.
The goal of the project was to provide the U.S. Military Academy with an impressive facility suited to the storied heritage of both West Point and its glorious baseball program.
Highlights of the renovation project included the construction of full locker rooms for both home and visiting teams, fully equipped training rooms, clubhouse facilities, and the addition of 880 fixed chair-back seats.
Great pains were taken in its design to draw an appropriate parallel between the new facility and the historic significance of its physical location on campus. Formal granite facing emulating many of USMA's older academic buildings was tastefully incorporated to address those means.
Internally, spacious locker room and clubhouse facilities provide coaching staff and team members with a sparkling new home.
Landscaping and sitework around the facility were intentionally subdued with the historic parade ground known as "The Plain" remaining dominant. In order to ensure that, overall height of the structure was minimized.
While the renovated version of Doubleday Field provides a facility worthy of the Army program's rich heritage, it also remains a structure conscious of its import relative to the overall mission of the U.S. Military Academy.
During the summer of 2011, Doubleday Field put the finishing touches on the facility when an enclosed multi-level press box weighing approximately 12 tons left the factory of Sportsfield Specialties Inc. (SSI) in Delhi, N.Y., where it was manufactured. The press box journeyed via flat-bed truck to Johnson Stadium, where the facility was hoisted by crane and placed into position behind home plate.
SSI also manufactured and installed a redesigned ball safety (netting) system to protect spectators from foul balls and errant throws. The new system features thin fiber netting that is much less visible and therefore more conducive to allowing fans and would-be photographers a clearer look at the playing field.
Some of the finest athletic facilities in the nation greet an Army baseball player upon his arrival at the U.S. Military Academy.
The history and tradition of nostalgic Johnson Stadium at Doubleday Field has been well-documented. The fabled structure can seat 880 in its fixed chair-back seating, and is regarded as one of the finest ballparks in the nation. A staff of dedicated groundskeepers groom the natural playing surface year-round. Its dimensions read 327 feet down the lines, 370 feet to the left-center field power alley, 375 feet to the gap in right-center and 400 feet to straightaway center field.
Additionally, the major renovation project completed in 1996 enhanced the overall beauty and practical usage of the park. Highlights of the project included the construction of full clubhouse, locker room and training room facilities, along with the installation of a sparkling electronic scoreboard.
During the offseason period, spacious Foley Athletic Center transforms into the Black Knights' part-time home. The massive 77,000-square-foot structure is located across the street from the Holleder Center and provides Army athletics teams with a state-of-the-art indoor practice facility and allows them to practice in a climate-controlled environment.