This is the first of an occasional series of historical
pieces by Ross Jones, vice president and secretary
emeritus. A 1953 graduate of Johns Hopkins, Jones returned
to the university in 1961 as assistant to President Milton
S. Eisenhower and was a close aide to six of the
university's 13 presidents.
Anyone looking out a window on the south side of
Garland Hall on the Homewood campus these days will see
nothing but construction workers, heavy equipment and a
huge hole in the ground.
It might be difficult to believe that Garland Field,
to be known when completed as the Alonzo G. and Virginia G.
Decker Quadrangle, was the site of Hopkins' first baseball
diamond. And that the field, opened in the spring of 1939,
turned around the fortunes of an otherwise dreary, and
losing, baseball team.
The story of baseball's rehabilitation and the
creation of a new field began on May 23, 1938, when P.
Stewart Macaulay, then secretary of the university (later
to become provost), recorded in a memorandum to President
Isaiah Bowman that he had had lunch that day with "a Mr.
Callahan of the firm Potts and Callahan, general
contractors." Callahan's son played first base for the
Jays, and Macaulay described the older Callahan as being
"much distressed at the condition of the so-called baseball
"You know," Macaulay wrote to Bowman, "that it is used
only for practice and that because of its condition, all
regular games are played on borrowed fields."
Callahan had informed Macaulay that he "had a job
coming up" that would provide 5,000 to 6,000 cubic feet of
fill, which he would be glad to dump on the existing field
and then grade it and turn it into a respectable field. The
cost would be negligible.
Engineering professors Truman Thompson and Thomas
Hubbard agreed to supervise the job.
The field was constructed during the summer of 1938.
By spring of 1939, the Blue Jays were able to play on their
new field. Here is what the 1939 Hullabaloo yearbook said
of the new site:
"Opening the season April 12, with only a polar bear
missing to complete the Arctic atmosphere, the nine trotted
around the bases 17 times in order to keep warm. It was the
first baseball game in the history of Hopkins to be played
on the Hopkins campus, and the squad downed Wilson State by
a score of 17-1 while christening the new diamond."
The editors added: "With a brand-new field and several
veterans back in the fold, Coach Bob Owings ... has built
up baseball to such a height that for the first time since
its inauguration five years ago, the American pastime
loomed as a threat to the dominance of lacrosse at Hopkins
as a popular and most successful spring sport."
There was an amusing postscript to the creation of the
The site had no name. But, for unexplained reasons,
the manager of the bookstore, who in those days was
responsible for the creation of a campus map, put the name
Owings Field on the map, presumably to honor the coach.
That map appeared in the 1940 summer school catalog. A
Baltimore Sun sports writer, Craig Taylor, noticed that and
used the name in one of his stories about the Hopkins team.
Macaulay, a former Sun staff member, saw Taylor on a
bus and told him he had better get his facts straight; the
field had no name. Taylor referred Macaulay to the catalog
and the map, which Macaulay had not seen.
Macaulay wrote Taylor: "You've got me. I don't
remember when I have had an argument bounce back with such
force. My only consolation is that (a) it comes from an old
colleague and (b) that colleague works on The Sun, where
also the right hand never knows what the left hand is
Macaulay told Taylor that while he was taking steps to
correct the map, he felt "so beaten down" by Taylor that he
might "seriously consider a proposal to rechristen that
part of the campus Taylor Field."
Blue Jays open their 2006 baseball season this
week in a game against Messiah. For details, see
Calendar, in this issue.