Volunteers, staff renovate Royal Giants Park in East Spencer
By Karissa Minn
EAST SPENCER — A new and improved Royal Giants Park will be revealed Saturday at a community celebration.
Community volunteers, East Spencer town staff and the town Board of Aldermen have been working since early spring to renovate the park.
“All the things we planned have been accomplished, have been completed and more,” Mayor Barbara Mallett said. “Royal Giants has a brand new look, and it’s open for activities.”
Starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, there will be free food, games, music and activities for children and adults at the park, which is located off Long Street one block north of Andrews Street.
Mason Reddick is leading a softball reunion. Anyone who ever played with the Royal Giants, or any other team that has played at the park, is encouraged to attend.
Several teams from Salisbury, East Spencer, Cleveland, Kannapolis and the surrounding area will be in attendance.
Mallett said prizes will be awarded in batting and pitching contests. There will also be a horseshoe contest, sack races and prize drawings, and some churches in the area are providing food and drinks. The local fire department will be there to cool children off by letting them play in the water.
Since work began in March, Mallett said, the grounds of Royal Giants Park have been cleaned, cleared and trimmed. The baseball field is graded and lined.
The concession stand has been painted, and the bathrooms have been painted and repaired. New lines now appear on the basketball court, which also has new goals.
On the playgrounds, the equipment has been upgraded and the ground cover has been redone.
Mallett especially credits aldermen Curtis Cowan and Tammy Corpening for their efforts.
Some groups are already taking advantage of the renewed facilities, she said. A lunch program for East Spencer children is held in the park from noon to 1 p.m. every day.
“We’re just really so appreciative of everybody that has helped,” Mallett said. “All it takes is just a little effort to start the work. Once that started, look what we have now — a wonderful facility that has come alive.”
The park is named for the Royal Giants baseball team.
According to a brief history written by Albert S. Stout, the all-black Royal Giants baseball team began in 1945 and disbanded in 1953. The team did not have equipment, uniforms or a place to play when it first began.
The town of Spencer allowed the Royal Giants to play in its park until a home park for the team could be built.
The men of the club chipped in monthly to buy bats, balls and other needed equipment.
The manager’s wife offered to make the team’s first uniforms, and the team members contributed enough money to purchase gray denim cloth to make suits for all of the members for a very small fee.
To help purchase land for a ball park, some of the other wives of team members organized themselves and named their club “The Royaletts.” Their fundraisers helped the team buy 9 acres of land from Lillie Mae Ward, who lived in New York.
Fans came from far and near to see the Royal Giants play. The team was winning so many games that it began playing touring teams, which brought stiffer competition.
After the team disbanded, its trustees donated the land to East Spencer in 1978, on the condition that it be used as a public park. That’s when Royal Giants Park was born.
For more information about Royal Giants Park or Saturday’s community event and reunion, call the town of East Spencer at 704-636-7111.