The Home of the Tigers
Click on any of the pictures to view a larger version.
- Left Field: 342 ft
- Left-Center: 385 ft
- Center Field: 452 ft
- Right-Center: 370 ft
- Right Field: 318 ft
Riverside Park was born in 1907. The land on which the ballpark exists was bought by Otto Lehne and leased to the baseball team. In 1915 and 1916, the Springfield Athletic Association was formed to purchase the land. On November 9, 1923, the board of the Springfield Athletic Association voted to turn the land over to the city of Springfield.
In 1959, the ballpark was given it's official name, "Baldy Altermatt Park". Altermatt was a stand-out ballplayer in Springfield around the turn of the century.
Major improvements were made to the park in the 1950s. The quality of the facility is supported by the fact that Springfield hosted the Minnesota State Amateur Baseball Tournament in 1960, 1962, and 1968 at Riverside Park.
The work continued at Riverside Park to make sure that the diamond remained a real gem. The late 1990s ushered in a stream of improvements that continued to make the park a great place to watch and play a baseball game. Yellow tile was installed on the fence. New dugouts were built. The wooden bleachers and press-box behind the third base dugout were removed and replaced with a paved area complete with picnic tables. The press-box was moved to the top of the main grandstand. Bullpen pitching mounds were built and the batting cage was improved. New sod was laid, on-deck circles added, a black batter's eye installed, and advertising signs hung on the outfield fence.
The mid to late 2010s saw many big things going on at Riverside Park. A new inning-by-inning scoreboard was the first big improvement as part of the "Renew Riverside Park" fundraising campaign. The scoreboard was installed in the spring of 2014. In-ground dugouts, the best this side of Target Field, were built in 2015. The dugout construction included local bricks which were also used to make up the backstop and walls from the first base dugout to the third base dugout.
All of the improvements were working toward the goal of hosting the Minnesota State Amateur Baseball Tournament, just as Springfield had done 3 times during the 1960s. Things were coming together and improvements took into account the water that would occasionally leave the banks of the river. A devastating flood in 2018 led to a completely new playing surface, required the lights to be rewired, and kept the Tigers town team from playing a home game for 364 days. In fact, the lights were not fixed until after the completion of the 2019 season. So all home games were played during the day, or in Leavenworth, which became the Tigers home away from home during this challenging time.
Post 2018 flood also saw new fenced-in bullpens with two mounds and artifical turf, the pressbox doubled in size, and the grandstand received a fresh paint job. Finally, everything was coming together. The last huge improvement was a new concession stand, bathrooms and plaza area behind the first base dugout. Springfield was scheduled to co-host the 2020 MN State Amateur Baseball Tournament with New Ulm. COVID-19 threw a wrench in that plan and suddenly Springfield and the Milroy Yankees were the hosts for the Class C tournament. With just a few weeks to prepare, Springfield and Milroy hit one out of the park with a fantastic event that people will remember for years.
With all these pieces in place, Riverside Park is a source of great community pride in Springfield. Look for many more high school, amateur, Legion games and tournaments to be hosted at Riverside Park in the years to come!
Because of the field's unique placement on the banks of the Cottonwood River, there are many epic tales of home runs ending up in the river. Hitting a homer over the centerfield fence would be a super-human feat, given the extreme distance. The 452 feet to the centerfield corner is topped by only a few classic Major League ballparks, such as the 463 foot expanse to center in old Yankee Stadium. The distance to centerfield was a topic of great debate until it was measured and marked in 2001.
Weather is also sometimes a factor at Riverside Park. Several summer night contests have been covered by a blanket of fog so thick that outfielders appeared to disappear as they made their way to their positions.
Riverside Park is the home of the Springfield High School Tigers and Springfield American Legion baseball teams in addition to the amateur baseball team. In the fall, the goalposts come out as the park turns into a grid-iron that serves as the home of the Springfield High School football team.
- Over 100 Photos of Riverside Park Through the Years
- 2020 - Drone Photos of Riverside Park - Thanks to Alex Peterson of Video Magic Productions!
- 2012 - Aerial Photos of Riverside Park courtesy of Skyway Helicopters LLC