Tom Bruner Field

Bruner Field DugoutBruner Field, home of the MCC Cardinals baseball team, has a fascinating and colorful history including the year they beat the Chicago Cubs!

Nearly 90 years of baseball mystique are hidden inside the wooden walls of the field, is located on the edge of Kent-Stein Park, 2136 Oneida Street.

Few know the field was constructed and opened in 1910 as League Field. It was built as the home park for the Muscatine Camels, a first-year professional team that played in the Northern League which included Clinton, Iowa, and six teams from Illinois (Freeport, Elgin, Kankakee, Joliet, Jacksonville and Decatur).

The park, which included a three-part grandstand (behind home plate and areas down the first and third base lines), was the best in the league. A Muscatine Journal story described the field as "a thing of beauty and a joy forever in the line of ballparks." Nearly 2,600 noisy fans armed with big megaphones and whistles watched under threatening clouds as the Camels beat Freeport, IL, 4-0.

Muscatine then entered the Central Association League and was called Sterlings (when playing) away and Muskies at home. The Muskies became nationally known three years later when the Muscatine team beat the Chicago Cubs on Monday, June 2, 1913, before 3,600 fans who undoubtedly established the record for the biggest crowd to see a baseball game here.

More than 1,500 fans arrived on out-of-town special trains and others came by car or horse and buggy. School was dismissed and young fans climbed every available tree to see the game.

Chicago's acting manager, Johnny Evers, was quoted in the Journal as saying Muscatine had a fine assortment of players and "the finest infield outside the big leagues I've ever played on." The location of the park also received plaudits because of the Muscatine Slough and a scenic bluff in the background.

The name was changed to honor Tom Bruner, a much-decorated serviceman who was a popular member of the Muscatine High School faculty before he died in the spring of 1956. Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians was among those throwing out the first ball for the renaming of the field.

For two or more decades, Bruner Field was the site of professional events, including a heavyweight fight featuring former world champ Ezzard Charles, games featuring the then-famous Indianapolis Clowns and other touring teams, one of which featured the famed black pitcher, Satchel Paige.

[Taken from a story written by the late Harold Blake, Muscatine Community College alumnus and former Muscatine Journal sports editor.]