Whitecaps ballpark fire was a year ago today

An aerial view of the fire damage at Fifth Third Ballpark, courtesy of WOOD-TV.

An aerial view of the fire damage at Fifth Third Ballpark, courtesy of WOOD-TV.

The 2014 fire that destroyed approximately 40 percent of Fifth Third Ballpark, home of the West Michigan Whitecaps, happened one year ago today.

It still amazes me how quickly the Whitecaps were able to rebuild their stadium. The damaged area of the ballpark went from looking like this a week after the fire …

This is how the damaged area of Fifth Third Ballpark looked on Jan. 10, 2014, one week after the fire. (Photo courtesy of the West Michigan Whitecaps)

This is how the damaged area of Fifth Third Ballpark looked on Jan. 10, 2014, one week after the fire. (Photo courtesy of the West Michigan Whitecaps)

… to this before Opening Day:

The rebuilt Fifth Third Ballpark looked as good as new by Opening Day. (Photo courtesy of the West Michigan Whitecaps)

The rebuilt Fifth Third Ballpark looked as good as new by Opening Day. (Photo courtesy of the Whitecaps)

As if the impressive rebuild wasn’t enough, the Whitecaps won their first post-fire home game, too!

The Whitecaps went on to host the Midwest League All-Star Game as planned. In addition to the host site being ready only five months after a major fire, the game also ended up being memorable for the play on the field, as the Western Division took a no-hitter into the 8th inning in its 7-0 win over the Eastern Division.

Players and coaches lined up as they were introduced prior to the 2014 Midwest League All-Star Game. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Players and coaches lined up as they were introduced prior to the 2014 Midwest League All-Star Game. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

The Whitecaps made it to the playoffs, but were eliminated in the first round by the Fort Wayne TinCaps. The perfect storyline in a triumphant comeback year for the Whitecaps seemed to end there.

Except it didn’t completely end there. The Whitecaps organization went on to win three awards at baseball’s 2014 Winter Meetings, including a Minor League Baseball Presidential Citation presented by MiLB President and CEO Pat O’Conner. The award recognizes exemplary service on behalf of Minor League Baseball and, in this case, was given for the team’s successful efforts in getting its ballpark rebuilt by the time the season started.

Some changes continue to be made at the ballpark in wake of last year’s fire. The most significant one involves the team’s administrative offices. The old front offices were ruined by the fire, so a new administrative building is being constructed outside the stadium this offseason. It is expected to be done in April.

Related reading:

Major blaze damages Whitecaps’ ballpark

Whitecaps announce new manager, begin rebuilding ballpark

Whitecaps announce post-fire improvements to Fifth Third Ballpark

Whitecaps win first game at Fifth Third Ballpark since fire

West nearly no-hits East in 7-0 All-Star Game win

Whitecaps get three awards at Winter Meetings

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This entry was posted in 2014 All-Star Game, 2014 Playoffs, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Midwest League, West Michigan Whitecaps. Bookmark the permalink.

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