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Kokernot Field the gem of the Pecos League

2/27/2013-
By Karen Boehler
Pecos League writer

ALPINE — While several of the Pecos League stadiums have a long history, Kokernot Stadium in Alpine has the most storied history of them all.

Dating back to 1947, the field has been called “The Best Little Ballpark In Texas [or Anywhere Else] in a cover story by Sports Illustrated and "the Yankee Stadium of Texas" by Texas Monthly magazine and there’s an entire book devoted to the stadium. So even if you’re headed to Alpine to cheer for the opposition, it’s a field that’s worth admiring.

In 1947, local rancher Herbert Lee Kokernot Jr. decided he wanted a ballpark for his semipro team, the Cats. According to Cowboy general manager Kristen Cavness, the great granddaughter of Kokernot, the initial design wasn’t very fancty.

“He started off with tin walls and wooden stands and stuff, and it kind of looked a little shabby, and my great-great grandfather drove by and said, ‘If you’re going to build this, you need to build it right, if you’re going to put our brand on it and our name.’ And so, he did.”

Kokernot quarried stone from the family ranch and brought in red clay from Georgia for the infield. The ranch brand, 06, was built into wrought-iron decorations throughout the park, and the field was situated to give fans a spectacular view of the Davis Mountains.

“It was quite an effort,” Cavness said. “His teams, they would travel all over via train. Of course, he enjoyed doing it. It was his hobby and he put all his money into it and spent quite a bit.”

Then, as of now, the field seated 1,400 spectators and it was one of the first stadiums in the western U.S. to have lights, which were installed in 1958.

Since then, the field has hosted semi-pro and professional teams, as well as the Sul Ross Lobos and the Alpine High School Bucks, and seen professionals such as Satchel Paige, Norm Cash, Gaylord Perry and Jim Fergosi grace the pitcher’s mound and bases.

Today, Cowboy fans and members of the non-profit organization that run the team are determined to bring the field back to its former glory. Their goal this year is to paint each of the the 1,400 seat backs in the stadium, and the 501(c)(3) organization’s goal is to maintain and preserve the field.

Cavness agrees Kokernot is one of the best fields in the Pecos League.

“I’ve heard every player loves playing in Kokernot Field. It was done right,” she said. “It’s a great thing for the community and I’m really glad we still have it.”