Cramton Bowl – Montgomery, Alabama

Opened In: 1922

Location: 1022 Madison Avenue

Seating Capacity: 12,000 in the 1950s. 25,000 – currently

 

Cramton Bowl is named for Fred J. Cramton, a local businessman who donated the land on which the stadium is built. After a conversation with friends about the need for a baseball stadium, Cramton donated his sanitary landfill to the city so a facility could be constructed there. The city held the land for a time and then returned it, stating that Cramton’s stadium idea was too big of a project for the city to undertake. Cramton then decided to take matters into his own hands; with the help of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, Cramton raised $33,000 to build the sports venue.

The first baseball game played on the new field was in May 1922 between Auburn University and Vanderbilt University. Shortly after its completion in 1922 the Philadelphia Athletics decided to move their spring training operations from Eagle Pass, Texas to Montgomery. They used the facility for their 1923 and 1924 spring training and exhibition games before moving to a newer stadium in Fort Myers, Florida.

After the departure of the Philadelphia Athletics spring training, Minor League Baseball’s newly formed Southeastern League placed a team in Montgomery. They became known as the Montgomery Lions. The Lions played in Cramton Bowl from 1927 to 1930. There was no team from 1931 to 1936 due to problems within the Southeastern League and the ongoing negative economic effects of the Great Depression. The team returned for the 1937 season as the Montgomery Bombers and garnered their first major league baseball affiliation with the Cleveland Indians. The Indians pulled out for the 1938 season and were replaced by the Philadelphia Phillies. After one season the Phillies dropped their affiliation; the team became a co-op franchise and were renamed the Montgomery Rebels. In 1943, the Rebels would disband due to the manpower shortage caused by World War II. On July 11 of that year, the Chattanooga Lookouts moved their home games to Cramton Bowl to play out the rest of the season. The Lookouts managed to move back to Chattanooga and reverse the trend of declining attendance sometime later in the 1940s. The Rebels returned in 1946 through 1949 before moving to the newly constructed Paterson Field located just across the street.

The eighth and deciding game of the 1943 Negro World Series was held at the Cramton Bowl, with the Homestead Grays defeating the Birmingham Black Barons, 8-4.

Cramton Bowl was host to all home games for Alabama State Hornets football, and is the host to all of those for the Faulkner University Eagles. It was also home to the Turkey Day Classic and in 2009 hosted the inaugural HBCU All-star Bowl.

Cramton Bowl also provided a location for Alabama Crimson Tide football home games in the capital city. The Crimson Tide played home games at Cramton Bowl in the 1922 through 1932 seasons, in 1934, from 1944 through 1946 and again from 1951 through 1954. Alabama’s all-time record at Cramton Bowl was 17 wins and 3 losses.

Cramton Bowl probably achieved its greatest fame as the home of the Blue–Gray Football Classic, an annual college football all-star game which was held there each December from 1938 until 2001.

Beginning in 2014, Cramton Bowl began hosting the Camellia Bowl, a college football bowl game which features teams from the Sun Belt Conference and Mid-American Conference.

 

Main entrance to the Cramton Bowl.

 

Aerial view of the Cramton Bowl.