Kindleberger Park in Parchment was one of the premiere hot spots for local baseball in the Kalamazoo area decades ago, and a new community fundraising effort has been launched intending on bringing back some of that history.

In the early 1980s, a baseball stadium that been used for decades but was no longer in use was converted into a two field softball complex for little league games, tournaments and recreational games. Now the softball fields are rarely used so the Parchment Little League wants to bring the baseball field back in its original location.

Kindleberger Park - May 2018  (Brandon James - Townsquare Media)

Like many cities in in the United States, the popularity of baseball in the Kalamazoo area exploded between the 1920s and 1950s. In the early 1930s, the Kalamazoo Vegetable Parchment Company built what was then called KVP Park for their company baseball team. During its peak popularity, attendance was often more than 8,000 people. The KVP team was occasionally able to bring in major league teams for exhibition games including visits from the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers, who one time brought Hall of Famer Charles Gehringer to town.

Article about Detroit Tigers playing baseball game in Parchment (Courtesy Tom Maas)
Photo of St. Louis Cardinals playing in Parchment in the 1930s (Courtesy Erin Leroy)

The effort to rebuild the baseball field will cost a minimum of $30,000. That would cover creating the infield and installing fences. Parchment Little League President Dodi Elsman Leckie says the effort will be completely funded through donations and grants and that they hope to have the field ready to go by spring of 2019. Along with bringing the field back for historical purposes, there is a much needed practical purpose for it as well. Currently, the only regulation size baseball field in the city is located at Parchment High School, which has led to some scheduling conflicts with the Junior Little League and school teams.

If they exceed their donation goal, several other ideas are out there including a PA system, scoreboards and additional seating. Leckie says that getting the field playable is the first priority, but after that the sky is the limit. They would love to be able to host special baseball games again and maybe even install some kind of historical marker to commemorate Parchment's baseball history at the park.

Remnants of seating areas can be seen around the park (Brandon James - Townsquare Media)

Fundraising is in the early stages and the Parchment Little League hopes to set up a site for online donations soon, possibly through crowdfunding or on Facebook. For now, donations can be made at the Little League complex during the games at the upper end of Kindleberger Park weeknights from 6 to 8pm and Saturdays from 10am to noon. Donations can also be mailed to Parchment Little League PO BOX 612 Parchment, MI 49004. If you have any questions or would like more information, send a private message on the Parchment Little League's Facebook page.

Site of Kindleberger Park baseball field - May 2018 (Brandon James - Townsquare Media)