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Jack Williams Stadium

Jack Williams Stadium

Jack Williams Stadium has long been considered one of the finest American Legion baseball stadiums in the country. In fact, the Fargo park neighboring the Red River of the North is one of few Legion-owned and -operated stadiums of such quality in the entire United States.

Built exclusively for American Legion baseball, Jack Williams Stadium received rave reviews when Fargo Post 2 first hosted the American Legion Baseball World Series in 1983. Legion officials and fans were awestruck again in 1992 when nearly $100,000 worth of improvements and additions could be seen at Fargo's second World Series.

The stadium has permanent seating for more than 2,000 fans, and with additional bleacher seating and extensive standing room, the park has seen beyond-capacity crowds of more than 5,000 for the World Series.

Needless to say, national tournaments aren't the only ones to be hosted at Jack Williams Stadium. The park has hosted several postseason tournaments at all amateur levels.

The stadium even served as the temporary home for professional baseball's Northern League in 1996 when the expansion Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks moved in for more than 10 games as construction wrapped up at their permanent home on the North Dakota State University campus.

Jack Williams Stadium provides one of the best playing surfaces in the Central Plains. And despite its proximity to the Red River of the North, occasional flooding has never canceled a baseball season. 

Fans appreciate clear view over an 8-foot concrete backstop wall from the chairback seats along both baselines. And for those seeking shade on hot, sunny days at the yard, there's plenty of cool spots along the right field foul line.

An air-conditioned press box towers above home plate, and a similar viewing area and spacious player lounge rest atop the team clubhouse on the first base side.

It's not uncommon for Jack Williams Stadium to host as many as 100 baseball games in a year. Fargo Post 2's American Legion Baseball program plays almost nightly in June and July, and the park hosts multiple tournaments each summer, Moorhead Brewers amateur baseball, Shanley High School baseball, and the FM Ball Yard's fall baseball league.

Without a Home

When the lights first turned on in June 1966, it marked a new era of baseball in Fargo, thanks in large part to Gilbert C. Grafton Post No. 2, the Fargo American Legion post that played the lead role in construction of the facility.

Barnett Field, former home of the Fargo-Moorhead Twins of the Northern League, was used by Post 2 baseball teams and by the Fargo Park League until 1963 when it was razed to provide room for Fargo North High School.

As a result, Fargo's American Legion team moved to an afternoon and twilight schedule, playing its games on the North Dakota State University diamond where there was no seating the first year and only minimum accommodations thereafter. The Park League played on any field it could find -- most of them inadequate.

The situation was untenable and called for action. Legionnaire Lyle Huseby, a Fargo attorney and former Cass County state's attorney, called a meeting at the Fargo Elks Club during which an organization known as Baseball For Youth was formed.

The Fargo American Legion post agreed to spearhead the drive for funds, but a number of those who attended the initial meeting lost interest when finances were brought up. Despite the loss of people, committees for lighting and land design were formed.

Obstacles were encountered in the procurement of a site, but were overcome when the Fargo Park Board made available a plot of seldom-used land near the Red River in then northeast Fargo. The proposed park included a football gridiron across the outfield

Funding the Beginning

In mid-February 1965, a fund drive aimed at raising $75,000 for construction of the new ballpark was kicked off with a 10-percent down payment from American Legion groups in Fargo.

Preliminary work in 1965 was delayed, but before winter set in, a reinforced concrete grandstand to seat 1,000 along with the dugouts, infield and outfield turf were in place.

Late in May 1966, work on restrooms, a press box and concession stand got underway, and shortly after that the light poles were fitted into place.

The lighting system was finished in June 1966 in time for dedication of the facility on June 19 during the department Legion convention. The Drum and Bugle Corps was there to perform as a crowd of more than 3,000 people watched.

The stadium was named that day for veteran North Dakota American Legion Department Adjutant Jack Williams, a manager of amateur baseball teams prior to his service during World War I, and one of the originators and great supporters of American Legion Baseball. He died a year later in June 1967.