Dickson Stadium was built in 2013 and is home to the St. Mary’s Rattler baseball team. It is an integral part of the same project that developed The Park at St. Mary’s. The Park is host to the St. Mary’s softball team. The newer 2,260-seat stadium is a successor to V.J Keefe Field. Dickson Stadium is built on the steel structure of V.J Keefe Field. The design of the beautiful facility harkens back to the days of V.J Keefe Field, and in that capacity, it is a vital community space.
V.J Keefe Field used to host close to 300 events a year ranging from high school and summer youth league baseball games to minor league baseball games. Dickson Stadium was built around the university’s relationship with the community. The seats all provide great views and angles to view the games and the closeness of the seats to the field provide a wonderful intimacy between players and fans.
V.J Keefe Field was completed in 1958 and hosted St. Mary’s baseball for 58 years. After a great run, the stadium closed its doors in 2011. One of the best players to play for the school was Fernando Valenzuela. Nicknamed “El Toro”, he played Major League Baseball for 17 seasons and was inducted into the Hispanic Hall of Fame in 2003. The Rattlers also won the Division II National Championship in 2001 defeating Central Missouri State 11-3. The old field was also home to minor league baseball teams such as The San Antonio Dodgers (1977-1987) and the San Antonio Tejanos that played one season there in 1994.
St. Mary’s University may be a small Marianist school in San Antonio, known largely for its School of Law but it does have a couple of sports stories that stand out. There was the time that Dwight Eisenhower (yes, the United States president) coached the 1916 Rattler football team. Then, there was the moment in 1909 that an amazing St. Mary’s baseball team steamrolled the competition, beating everyone but a Ty Cobb-led Detroit Tigers team in an exhibition game. It was certainly a cool moment for the university and more incredible for the players that shared the field that day.
In 1909, the Detroit Tigers came to San Antonio for spring training. Over the course of training, they played exhibition games with local teams. The best of those local teams in 1909 was the team from St. Mary’s University (known as St. Louis College at the time). During the training the Detroit Tigers played a game that played out like something written for Hollywood; at least according to witnesses of the game.
On March 18, 1909, an electrical engineering major named Allys “Bert” Gallia stepped to the mound against arguably the best baseball player in MLB history in Ty Cobbs and struck him out. Gallia had a great game this day. He was not only the pitcher but also the best hitter on the team. He had already hit a double and stolen a base in the first inning to give the students a 2-0 lead. The San Antonio Daily Express mentioned, “Gallia pitched a good ball for St. Louis. He had the pleasure of fanning of the mighty Ty Cobbs and several others just as dangerous.” The Detroit Tigers would win the game, but that was expected. The newspaper noted, “the Collegians arose to the occasion with a spirit that surprised even their most hearty rooters. The game was a credit to the school and the Tigers complimented them on their showing.”
When visiting Dickson Stadium, think of the accomplishments and memories of the games played there. Moments like these need to be preserved and hopefully new championships and games will have oral histories to fully conserve epic sports moments in their rightful place in St. University lore.