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Miles Field was a ballpark, not an airport

I moved here two years ago from Oklahoma and am still getting used to the lay of the land here in the Rogue Valley. Every now and then I hear a reference to Miles Field. Would that be an old airport?

— Vince T., Central Point

Although plenty of baseballs took flight for many years, nothing with wings and pistons flew out of Miles Field. The old ballpark, which is now covered by the south Medford Walmart, was built in the  early 1950s and was known as Jackson County Baseball Park.

In the days before Harry & David Field and U.S. Cellular Park were built farther south, the stadium played host to high school, Babe Ruth, American Legion, and a variety of other amateur leagues, as well as minor league teams.

Claude "Shorty" Miles was the driving force behind the stadium's construction and the ballpark was renamed Miles Field a few months after he died in 1968. The Oakland Athletics' Northwest League affiliate played at Miles Field between 1979 and 1999. Notable players who came through Medford on their way to the big leagues included Miguel Tejada, Scott Spiezio, Jose Canseco and Ryan Christenson.

After the club moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, the ballpark's days were numbered, primarily because the county-owned land was coveted by developers, including Walmart. In 2004, the ballpark was dismantled, and two years ago, the south Medford Walmart opened.

But, Vince, you were not far off when you wondered whether Miles Field was an airport. It wasn't, but Newell Barber Field sat on virtually the same spot 80-plus years ago. Named after a local World War I airman who died in that war, the field was Medford's first airport. It closed in 1930 when the airport was moved to its present location on the north end of  Medford.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.