Two major events occurred on the same day Fraser Field opened its pearly gates for a slice of baseball heaven on June 18, 1940.
On the new Fraser infield that day, the famous Pittsburgh Pirates were planning to battle the Lynn All-Stars in the park's Inaugural Game.
At that same moment, World War Two raged between Germany and England. That afternoon, Britain's Prime Minister Winston Churchill, shook up the world with his historic speech. He said, "We shall fight, fight, fight. We shall never give up. And some will say it is their finest hour."
Meanwhile USA President Franklin Roosevelt declared that America's grand ol' game of baseball continue during wartime as a way of keeping up the people's spirit.
In fact, it was FDR's New Deal that enabled Fraser Field to be built in the first place with many Lynn and North Shore residents working on the construction.
At Fraser that sunny Saturday, June 18 day, the Pirates, with future Hall of Famers in the lineup, handed Lynn a 10-1 defeat, and a guy named DiMaggio hit the ball park's first home run. It was Pirate outfielder Vince DiMaggio -- Joe's brother -- who socked the historic blast. He had to run it out since Fraser didn't have a fence yet!
Fraser Field's Fascinating Facts
*Ted Williams -- the last of the .400 hitters -- and Johnny Pesky played here two games with the Boston Red Sox. In one game, a Lynn team actually beat the Red Sox 4-3.
*Later, the Cleveland Indians drew a record 8000 folks in a game here -- and the Indians catcher that day was Lynn English graduate Jim Hegan, who added more drama by batting in both of Cleveland's runs in a 2-1 triumph.
*Remember when the New York Yankees broke the heart of our beloved Red Sox and its fans in the 1978 playoffs? We all grew to hate the name Bucky Dent, the light-hitting Yankee whose "lucky" home run beat us. Well, at Fraser Field in the 2010 season, North Shore Navigators fans grew to love Bucky Dent and his son Cody. Why? Because Cody Dent played short-stop for the Navs and his pop Bucky was in the stands the night the Navs won the New England Collegiate League championship in a stirring and emotional finish!
*African-American history was made at Fraser Field. When the Lynn Red Sox hosted the Nashua Dodgers in first Minor League game, the Nashua squad featured the first racially intergrated pro team...as catcher Roy Campanella and pitcher Don Newcombe were Dodgers. Campanella walloped his first pro homer here that opening day. The playoffs that year were weirdly scheduled. During the title series, a doubleheader began at Fraser in the afternoon after which both teams rode a bus to Nashua, New Hampshire, to play the nightcap. Lynn had won the pennant but the Dodgers took the playoffs.
*Josh Gibson -- the greatest slugger in Negro baseball history -- hit a 500-foot home run at Fraser back in the 1940s. Jackie Robinson may not have played on this diamond, but he did visit Lynn to speak on civil rights on Union Street.
*Hollywood is making a movie about Red Sox home run champ Tony Conigliaro this year and let's hope they have some footage of Tony batting at Fraser Field for St. Mary's High. Tony, history's youngest home run champ, also pitched a no-hitter!
*Voted New England's best athlete is Harry Agganis who grew up at Fraser Field, as a bat boy, and later sparked Lynn Classical to a state title at Fraser before becoming first baseman for the Boston Red Sox. Jimmie Foxx, whose 560 home runs earned a spot in the Hall of Fame, played his last game here in a contest against a club starring Agganis. Mike Pazik of Lynn English hurled the only perfect game here for Lynn English before winning games for the Minnesota Twins.
*Bob Cain pitched here but never was more stunned than when he faced the world's smallest batter -- Eddie Gardel -- who was 3-foot-7. It happened in a Major League game when Cain hurled for the Detroit Tigers. Cain walked Gardel in four pitches...all high.
*Seven professional and/or college teams have called Fraser Field "home sweet home". They are:
- Lynn (Boston) Red Sox (1946 - 1948)
- Lynn (Detroit) Tigers (1949)
- Lynn (Seattle) Sailors (1980 - 1982)
- Lynn (Pittsburgh) Pirates (1983)
- Massachusetts Mad Dogs (1995 - 1997)
- North Shore Spirit (2003 - 2007)
- North Shore Navigators (2008 - Present)
*In 1948, the Lynn Red Sox featured the Long Ball style as Dale Long, Lynn's first baseman, lashed out 28 homers. Dale joined the Pittsburgh Pirates and set MLB record with home runs in 8 straight games, a mark shared by Junior Griffey and Don Mattingly. In three seasons, Yawkey's "Lynn Red Sox" compiled an impressive 253-118.
*Another famous player from the Fraser Field Red Sox was The Rifleman of television fame...Chuck Connors...who later played for the Boston Celtics. Other stars at Fraser: Carlton Fisk, Bob Feller, Satchel Paige, Bobby Doerr, and The Beach Boys, who brought Good Vibrations in a 1984 centerfield concert.
Click here to read "History of Baseball in Lynn" by local sports historian Bob Keaney. (This article originally appeared in the 2015 Futures Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game Media Guide.)
Former Navigators intern Georgy Shukaylo produced a documentary about Fraser's history in 2019: