Jake Cain is an entrepreneur and writer from Cincinnati, Ohio. He spends his free time driving around the country in his late 90’s conversion van, affectionately known as the “Monster Van” with his wife and 3 boys.
Do you know what the oldest baseball field in the world is?
Most savvy baseball fans would probably answer “Fenway Park.”
Not that long ago, I would have probably said Fenway too. That is until I learned that the Guinness Book of World Records holder for the oldest continuously used baseball diamond is actually in Canada, eh?
I was too when I first received an unexpected invitation from the good folks at Tourism London, in Ontario.
My first thought was, “Canada has a London?” It turns out London, Ontario not only exists but also holds an important piece of baseball history inside of its quaint city.
Filled with curiosity and anticipation, my friend Derek and I embarked on a journey to explore Labatt Park—a quaint, historic gem nestled between Detroit and Toronto.
Join me as I share our remarkable adventure and convince you to add Labatt Park and the city of London to your next baseball road trip.
Journeying into History
Situated just a short drive from major cities, London, Ontario welcomed us with open arms. Labatt Park, the crown jewel of the region, offered an intriguing guided tour that transported us back in time. The 1937 clubhouse, adorned with faded photographs and cherished memorabilia, whispered stories of the rich baseball history in London.
Little did we know that notable players like Deion Sanders and Jeff Bagwell once graced this field. As we wandered around the park, absorbing the stories etched in signs commemorating 150 years of baseball history, we couldn’t help but feel a profound connection to the sport’s past.
A Night at the London Majors Game
Labatt Park isn’t just a place to admire history; it’s also a vibrant hub of baseball activity. Our visit happened to coincide with a London Majors game—a thrilling experience that showcased the local passion for the sport. As we entered the park, the energy in the air was palpable. Seating ourselves behind the visitors’ on-deck circle, we became part of the crowd of around 3,000 enthusiastic Londoners.
Before the game commenced, the customary “Please rise for the national anthem” announcement caught us by surprise. As “Oh Canada” echoed through the park, we realized we were truly immersed in Canadian baseball culture. The crowd at the game was pretty into the action and everyone was super friendly. Overall, the place just has a great vibe of a small, neighborhood baseball park. We enjoyed all the fun differences between Canadian baseball customs and our American baseball experiences. From the cash-only concessions to using Canadian dollars for purchases, every aspect added a touch of novelty to our adventure.
The Legends That Walked the Diamond
Labatt Park’s storied past reaches far beyond local heroes. The field has witnessed the presence of baseball legends, including the iconic Ty Cobb. Unbeknownst to many, Cobb once arrived in London to play an exhibition game. However, to the disappointment of the excited crowd, he remained benched throughout the entire match. Outraged fans demanded a rematch, ensuring that Cobb would take the field for their enjoyment. The local newspaper promptly assured fans that the legendary player would grace the lineup:
“Ty Cobb’s going to play… this time for real!”
These anecdotes capture the essence of Labatt Park—a place where history intertwines with the spirit of the game. Walking the hallowed grounds, we couldn’t help but appreciate the privilege of being part of a timeless tradition.
Delights Beyond the Diamond
Our journey in London extended far beyond the confines of Labatt Park. We indulged in delectable meals and explored the city’s hidden gems. A visit to Milo’s Craft Beer Emporium left an indelible mark on our taste buds. The unassuming menu, absent of flashy photos, showcased a culinary experience that exceeded our expectations. The handcrafted burger and chicken sandwich we ordered were nothing short of extraordinary. The attention to detail and the homemade touch truly elevated our dining experience.
We also discovered a delightful ice cream parlor called Haven’s Creamery. As self-proclaimed ice cream connoisseurs, we savored every spoonful of their remarkable flavors. From the heavenly coffee ice cream to the whimsical brown sugar bourbon peach cobbler, Haven’s Creamery proved to be a delightful indulgence.
Unveiling Treasures at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame
A short drive from London lies the charming town of St. Mary’s, home to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. Here, we immersed ourselves in the stories of baseball’s Canadian heritage. The museum, though modest in size, held a treasure trove of rare memorabilia and fascinating exhibits. From Jackie Robinson’s signed ball from his Montreal days to Babe Ruth’s game-used bat, the Hall of Fame showcased a collection that left us in awe.
As we explored the museum, we discovered that the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame not only celebrates Canadian-born players but also recognizes individuals who made significant contributions to Canadian baseball. Larry Walker, one of the greatest Canadian hitters of all time, took center stage, exemplifying the nation’s passion for the sport. The private archives room, accessible to a select few, fascinated us with its meticulously cataloged game-used gear and intriguing oddities.
An Unforgettable Road Trip Awaits
Our journey to Labatt Park and the city of London exceeded all expectations. The timeless charm of the park, the electric atmosphere of a London Majors game, and the immersive experience at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame left an indelible mark on our baseball-loving souls. If you’re seeking a baseball road trip filled with history, culture, and delectable cuisine, make sure to include Labatt Park and the enchanting city of London on your itinerary. Let the echoes of the past guide you on a captivating journey through the heart of the game.
Join Us on a Baseball Adventure
We had the best time in London.
Look, if you’re a baseball road tripper then Labatt Park and the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame have to be on your list.
So the next time you’re planning a trip up that way, add London to the itinerary and thank me later.
If you’re as captivated by the history of baseball stadiums as we are, we invite you to explore our comprehensive list of the oldest baseball stadiums in the world. Delve into the fascinating stories and unique experiences offered by these iconic venues, and plan your next memorable baseball pilgrimage.