White Center Stadium was built in the Summer of 1940 and would soon become the center of the communities’ entertainment. The full wooden stadium held upwards of 2,000 people on Friday and Saturday nights, usually overflowing with people down the left and right field lines.
Kids would attend the games, running in and out of the stadium. Inside they would watch their hero’s, and outside they would play on the small field #2, in the shadow of the lights from the main stadium. They would ask their parents for money to get something from the snack shack and would watch baseball day and night during the summer months. When not watching or playing baseball, kids would play on the playground outside the left field fence, known as “Astroland”.
Late in the evening on May 22, 1977 White Center Stadium caught fire, black smoke could be seen from miles away. The local fire department responded but it was too late. The flames engulfed the beloved stadium, and all they could do was drive out on to the infield and open the hoses to put the fire out.
After the fire, community baseball became somewhat of a memory at White Center Stadium. But one man was determined to replace the stadium, his name was Mel Olson. Head of the White Center Chamber of Commerce and the man responsible for starting Southwest Little League, Olson relentlessly campaigned to rebuild the stadium. Initial bids came in thirty percent over what was available. Finally in late 1978, with the help of King County Councilman Bob Greive, and funds from the Forward Thrust Fund the stadium was rebuilt, this time with concrete and metal bleachers. The new stadium Opened on April 2, 1979. In the summer of 1985 the stadium was renamed after Mel Olson. Mel Olson stadium now seats 1,100 people. Baseball was never the same in the area, teams would still use the stadium but it was never packed like it had been. The stadium was on the decline with little to no maintenance or improvements to the field for twenty plus years.
In 2008, King County Parks, Seattle Prep High School, King County Sheriffs and the Puget Sound Senior Baseball League, Seattle Mariners, along with many other groups and volunteers organized a remodel of the field. They dedicated the park to long time community leader and slain officer, Steve Cox.
Today, the Mel Olson Stadium inside of Steve Cox Memorial Park is used by Seattle Prep High School, South West Little League, select baseball programs, and the PSSBL to name a few. The Highline Bears brought back semi-pro and summer collegiate baseball to the community in the summer of 2015 and is today one of its primary user groups in the summer months. Drawing average crowds between 250-400 fans with attendance nearing 600 on Friday and Saturday evenings. The Bears continue work with other user groups and hope to remodel/update other parts of the field in the next few years as they continue to grow their reach within the community.
Connect with US