"When Every Town Big Enough to Have a Bank
Also Had a Professional Baseball Team": The
Game Returns to Austin After World War II
ALAN C. ATCHISON*
ONE OF THE BEST ECONOMIC DECISIONS WE'VE MADE," MAYOR BRUCE
Todd commented in March of 1995 after the Austin City Council
unanimously voted to fund the construction of a baseball stadium. Such
an investment would guarantee the AAA Phoenix Firebirds' relocation
to Austin. Citizens and civic groups vehemently opposed the plan. The
following October, after public outcry forced a referendum, 49,111
Austinites cast ballots against a ten-million-dollar bond needed to build
a twenty-two million-dollar ball park; only 18,oi9 supported the bond.
Firebirds owner Martin Stone refused to relocate to Central Texas with-
out such a facility and Austin remained the largest city in the U.S. with-
out a professional baseball franchise.2
In contrast to the difficulties of reestablishing minor league baseball
in the Texas capital in 1995, Mayor Tom Miller and his council found a
more supportive environment for the national pastime during the post-
war years of baseball's second "Golden Age." In 1947 Miller united a
group of Austin civic, business, and political leaders in order to secure a
minor league franchise in the Class B Big State League. Their combined
support not only made it possible for the new owner Edmund P. Knebel
* Alan C. Atchison is an instructor of history at Southwest Texas State University.
Furman Bisher quoted in Neill J. Sullivan, The Manors: The Struggles and the Trsumph of
Baseball's Poor Relation From 1876 To Present (New York- St. Martin's Press, 1990), 167. An earlier
version of this essay was presented at the Southwestern Social Science Convention in New
Orleans in March of 1997.
2 Debbie Hiott, "City OKs $io Million in Funds Toward New Baseball Stadium," Austin
American Statesman , Mar. 31, 1995, p. iiA (quotation); Nina Reyes and Jeff South, "Voters
Explain Stadium Decision: 13 Precincts in East and Southeast Austin Supported bonds to Build
Ballpark," ibid., Oct. 8, 1995, p. 17A; Diana Dworin, "Investor Seeks Stadium for Double-A Ball:
Williamson Voters Might Be Asked To Pay for a Stadium After Defeat of Austin Plan," ibid., Oct.
8, 1995, p. 1A.
VOL. CIII, NO. 2 SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY OCTOBER, 1999
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101220/. Accessed January 26, 2015.