Driller Park (Kilgore, Texas)

Driller Park is a baseball park in Kilgore, TX constructed in 1947 for the Kilgore Drillers and refurbished in 2008 for the East Texas Pump Jacks of the Texas Collegiate League. Also, the park has been used for numerous East Texas college and high school baseball matchups through the years. The park has a capacity of 3,000. [1]

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Driller Park Plaque

On April 24, 1947, the Drillers played their first game in front of a full house. As depicted on the Texas Historical Commission plague outside Driller Park, it states:

On April 24, 1947, more than 3,100 fans celebrated the postwar return of baseball as the Kilgore Drillers played the Henderson Oilers on Driller Park's opening day. Erected by the Kilgore Baseball Club for $100,000 on land deeded to the city of Kilgore by S. S. Laird, the park straddles the line between Gregg and Rusk Counties. An excellent example of small stadium engineering, the ballpark was constructed of oil field pipe, tank steel, and concrete with an infield underground drainage system. Though the Drillers disbanded in 1950, Driller Park continues to be a haven for baseball in the city of Kilgore. [2]

Kilgore Drillers

The Kilgore Drillers existed briefly for four seasons, playing their first two seasons in the Lone Star League and the last two in the East Texas League. The Drillers were successful in their years in the Lone Star League and the East Texas League.

1947 Season

They finished the regular season at the top of the standings with an 78-60 record. In the playoffs, they swept the Tyler Trojans while the Marshall Comets beat the Longview Texans, 4-1. In the championship series, the Drillers defeated the Comets 4 games to 2 to become the 1947 Lone Star League champions.

1948 Season

Again, they finished the regular season at the top of the standings with an 94-44 record. In the playoffs, they defeated the Henderson Oilers 4 games to 3 while the Longview Texans defeated the Tyler Trojans 4 games to 3 also. In the championship series, the Drillers swept the Texans to repeat as Lone Star League champions. [3]

1949 Season

In their first season in the East Texas League, the Drillers finished in 4th place with a record of 75-65. In the playoffs, they won over the Longview Texans 4 games to 3; the Gladewater Bears defeated the Paris Panthers 4 games to 3 also. In the championship series, Kilgore finished as the runner-up to Gladewater being swept in four games.

1950 Season

The Drillers finished 3rd the next season. In the playoffs, Kilgore was ousted by the Marshall Browns 4 games to one in the first round. The Kilgore Drillers were no more after the 1950 season. Driller Park saw the Kilgore Drillers play consistently winning baseball claiming two consecutive championships in the Lone Star League, wind up as the runner-up in 1949, and have a respectable finish in 1950 before being disbanded. [4] It would be 58 years before Driller Park saw another team take residence.

The Return of Professional Baseball

In January 2008, it was announced that the Texas Collegiate League would add a team in Kilgore for the upcoming season. Fans got to make suggestions to the front office of the new club in the "Name Your Team" contest. In early April 2008, general manager Mike Lieberman announced the new team would be called the East Texas Pump Jacks, complete with dual logos representing East Texas' vast history in the oil industry. [5] One is a donkey representing the pumping unit or horseheard pump, the over ground for a reciprocating piston installed in a borehole. It is used to mechanically lift liquid out of the well if there is not enough bottom hole pressure for the liquid to flow all the way to the surface. The other is a dinosaur representing the fossil fuels used in oil drilling. [6]

In their first season at Driller Park, the Pump Jacks finished third with a 22-26 record before being swept by the Coppell Copperheads in the first round. [7] [8]

References


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