By Seth Carpenter, Staff Writer—
On Tuesday, Sept. 9, the University unveiled five podiums near Engel Stadium, each one telling a bit of history regarding baseball in the Chattanooga area.
The event was marked by a presentation to reporters and other interested attendants with speakers including UTC’s Chancellor Dr. Steven Angle, Executive Vice Chancellor Dr. Richard Brown, History Department Head Dr. Michael Thompson, Vice Chancellor for Student affairs and Enrollment Management Dr. Yancy Freeman, and Student Government Association President Stan Settles.
“The history that’s part of Engel Stadium, we wanted to commemorate that, to document it. And that’s why we’re here today—to understand where we come from as we plot our course forward,” Angle remarked.
After Angle’s introduction, Brown went on to reflect on the cities past, involving disenfranchisement and alienation of non-white residents.
“UTC has a long history with such neighborhoods as Fort Wood, Archer’s Park, Church Field, Glenwood, Holland Park, and Lincoln Park, along with the ML King Neighborhood and many, many others,” Brown said. “In the past, these were minority neighborhoods. . . [who] weren’t even allowed to sit inside the stadium, but we erased those barriers when we acquired Engel Stadium in 2008.”
Brown also emphasized the significance of Engel Stadium to him personally.
“We knew that Willy Mays and Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth had played there, and we thought the dirt there was magical. So, as an eleven year-old we put the dirt in our pockets and refused to wash our baseball pants,” Brown reminisced.
Thompson took his opportunity to attribute credit and thanks for the Historical markers project to many including the Engel Foundation, the UC Foundation, students and researchers in the History Department, the UTC Communication and Marketing Department, as well as a long list of other individuals and organizations all helping to make this possible.
“What we’re seeing here represents the research and the writing performed by myself and my students, but, ultimately, I could not have produced such beautiful markers on my own,” Thompson said.
After the press presentation by the event’s speakers, attendants were free to explore the site and read the five various podiums.
The plaques on the historical markers cover many small yet important parts of Chattanooga baseball history including Engel Stadium itself, its namesake Joe Engel, black Chattanooga baseball leagues during the twentieth century, a contentious female recruit of Joe Engel named Jackie Mitchell, and Lincoln Park.
This look into the past stands as a significant monument for anyone interested in either history, baseball, or Chattanooga itself.
As Angle stated, “UTC is tied to our community, the past, present, and future. Preserving and acknowledging our past allows us to make better decisions about where we go in the future.”