A few months ago, someone asked me via email about the dimensions at Johnston Field, home of the Southeastern League’s Anniston Rams from 1938-1950. Specifically, he wanted to know if they changed during the Rams’ lifespan.
My response: beats me.
What I did know was that Johnston’s 1938 dimensions were 290 feet in right field, 291 in left field, and a whopping 500 feet in center field. The park’s construction within an odd-shaped city block and hard against the surrounding roads caused the exaggerated size of center field.
What I didn’t know, but now do, is that Johnston Field — which was built in 1927 and used by the Anniston Nobles of the Georgia-Alabama League from 1928-30 — underwent a fairly significant alteration after the Rams dissolved in 1950. Adjacent to Anniston High School’s football stadium, Johnston today is home to the school’s baseball team and also includes a running track. None of the Rams-era fencing, bleachers, grandstands or press box remain.
The first photograph above shows Johnston Field in 1949. The wooden fence, grandstands and press box are clearly visible. The fencing does not extend the entire length of the block, leaving a sizable grassy area between the fence and Christine Avenue to the west. The field is oriented roughly to the southwest.
The second photograph shows Johnston Field today. The playing field no longer faces southwest; it faces south. The chain-link fence that long ago replaced the wooden fence mostly follows the block’s road boundaries. And the running track sits to the east.
The pink lines on the photograph exhibit the approximate location of the original Johnston Field diamond. By 1969, when the second photo was taken, the city had reconfigured the complex by adding the running track, moving home plate about 100 feet to the west and slightly to the north, and orienting the diamond roughly on a north-south axis. Johnston’s home plate when the Rams played there sat near the southernmost end of the complex’s batting cage.
And, yes, that laughable 500-plus foot distance to right center is in play for high school games.