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State and local officials gathered Friday at a ceremony to unveil and dedicate a special marker in honor of Danville’s Peters Park, also known as Almagro Baseball Stadium, and once home to the African American Danville All-Stars.
The marker stands on Foster Street beyond the Boys and Girls Club and Gibson Middle School. The ceremony was held at Shiloh Baptist Church on Betts Street.
“I am glad today that we have the opportunity to celebrate the legacy of this park and James Peters Sr. He was a man before his time,” said Mel Battle, whose father played for the Danville All-Stars.
“I have gotten many bats up on this field right here,” Battle said. “That is history that will never be replaced.”
In addition to Battle, participants in the ceremony included Earl Reynolds, director of community development for the city of Danville; Sarah Latham, president of Danville Historical Society; Margaret Peters, daughter-in-law of James Peters Sr.; and Michael Pulice an architectural historian for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Former All-Stars player Eloyd Robinson attended the ceremony.
Latham called James Peters Sr. a “visionary who used his time, abilities and funds to enrich Danville.”
The “Peters Park” marker recalls that in 1948 James Peters Sr. opened Peters Park and sponsored the Danville All-Stars during the era of segregated baseball. “The stadium was state of the art when it opened, being one of the first in the country to boast lights to permit nighttime usage,” the marker states. “In 1952 the park closed because of the racial integration of baseball and the ability to watch the sport on television,” the marker explains.
The “Peters Park” sign was sponsored by the city of Danville and approved in December by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Friday’s ceremony was part of the city’s celebration of Black History Month.
Virginia’s historical highway marker program, which began in 1927 with the installation of the first historical markers along U.S. Route 1, is considered the oldest such program in the nation. Currently there are more than 2,200 official state markers, most maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation, as well as by local partners in jurisdictions outside of VDOT’s authority.
Text of the marker:
Peters ParkJames Peters Sr. (ca.1883-1970) opened Peters Park, also called the Almagro Baseball Stadium, at this site in 1948. The park was home to the Danville All-Stars, an African American baseball team that Peters sponsored. The stadium was state of the art when it opened, being one of the first in the country to boast lights to permit nighttime usage. Peters Park became an important part of the African American community, hosting Sunday afternoon baseball games as well as community events. In 1952 the park closed because of the racial integration of baseball and the ability to watch the sport on television.