THE HISTORY OF ALBERT PARK
In 1937 local businessman and entrepreneur, Jacob Albert, donated the land that became Albert Park for a sports field for young people. Crowds thronged to Albert Field on July 16, 1940 for a grand celebration of Jacob Albert and his civic accomplishments. The Marin Journal reported, “While this ovation was going on, Mr. Albert sat, modestly smiling, appreciative. When it was all over, he thanked the people of San Rafael and those gathered, “from the bottom of my heart,” and said he hoped that the people of the city of his choice, would make use of the grounds, improve it, so that it would one day become one of the best recreational centers of this section of the state.”
Since its construction in the early 1950’s, Albert Park Field has hosted thousands of games and events while establishing itself as the primary baseball venue for the County’s many youth leagues, high school teams and softball leagues. Indeed, the ballpark itself has hosted a wide range of professional and amateur sports and entertainment events including professional wrestling, boxing and graduations.
The park, located in downtown San Rafael between the business district and the Gerstle Park community, is a charming throw-back to the days of small “band box” ballparks where the game was played close to the fans; where the cost of a ticket, a drink and a hot dog was affordable; where the players were thankful to the fans for coming to see them play and where the team was a real part of the community.
“From the 1920s through the 1960s, Marin boasted as many as a dozen town teams from Tiburon, Mill Valley, Fairfax, San Rafael and Novato. Marin teams got to be so good that for many years the top teams chose their best players, formed all-star squads and then invited other top amateur clubs to come over to San Rafael's Albert Park to play a series of games. In 1954, a visiting team from El Cerrito that featured future major-league stars Frank Robinson, Vada Pinson, Curt Flood, Ernie Broglio and Tommy Harper came in for a memorable visit.” MARIN IJ, 6/21/08
Unfortunately, when the Pacifics first began to consider Albert Park for its home the ballpark was showing signs of age. It had suffered over time not through neglect but as a result of insufficient resources to maintain and repair it in order to restore its bygone luster. Like City staff, which lovingly cares for the facility to the best their budgets will allow, the Pacifics original proposal to the City reflected a deep appreciation for its charm and utility as a home ballpark for minor league games.
In partnership with the City, the Pacifics and several community-minded local businesses invested significant resources to provide aesthetic, safety and upgrade improvements to the ballpark to accommodate the planned use as a minor league facility and to restore Albert Park back to its historic charm.
Today, Albert Park has been restored and improved with new locker rooms, backstop netting, dugouts, concession areas, PA system and a fresh coat of paint. Each year the Pacifics and the City of San Rafael add new improvements and features to the ballpark to enhance the experience of coming to Albert Park for a ballgame or any of the other uses the park hosts. It is a true example of how a public/private partnership can work to improve a public recreational asset.