Remembering the Reds
MUNCIE, IND.–The afternoon sun beats down on Francis Lafferty Field at McCullough Park. However, tarps remain on the pitching mound and home plate.
It’s been nearly 60 years since McCullough Park was vacated by the Muncie Reds, a Class D affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds in the Ohio-Indiana League.
The Reds left in 1950, and the Grandstand burned down along with the rest of the hopes for another Minor-League team in 1952.
But the Muncie baseball fans don’t forget the Reds. One of the Reds biggest fans, Jerry Quirk, remembers attending almost every game in their four-year tenure.
“I lived at the ballpark because I only lived eight or nine blocks away from the ballpark,” Quirk said. “I used to climb under the fence so I didn’t have to pay.”
Quirk laughed recalling begging his dad to let him go over to the night games, citing McCullough Park as the popular hotspot in Muncie. What he won’t forget is the closeness that Reds fans gained with the love of their team.
“A lot of good times and a lot of good friends,” Quirk said. “You saw the same people there every night sitting in the same seats.”
There are no recorded championships for the Muncie Reds. According to Baseball Reference’s records, the Reds had no more than 75 wins.
While the on the field product was not the best, McCullough Park had some unusual legends to go along to the team.
Quirk said that he once saw Joe Nuxhall, former Reds pitcher and youngest player to ever play Major League Baseball, throw a ball over the backstop and land in the White River.
While many people in the Lost Muncie Facebook group said they had also heard the story, Nuxhall would never confirm the event.
Quirk also said that he saw Jessie Owens racing a horse around the diamond. Owens often did this as part of a “runner-for-hire” barnstorming tour, to make money because he was not given endorsement deals due to his skin color.
The story of McCullough Park does have a happy ending. Former Northside Middle School teacher and basketball coach Francis Lafferty and his friend Odie Barnett restored the field, keeping the original dimensions and diamond from the Muncie Reds.
The field was named after Lafferty in 1995, and has been recently used by Muncie Burris High School and the Muncie Babe Ruth League.
In 2017, Mayor Dennis Tyler announced an economic study to return Minor League Baseball to Muncie. No further announcements have been made about the findings.