At first glance, not too much is known about this photo, other than it is of a game in Alaska over 100 years ago. You can see the fans literally sitting on top of each other, crowding the roadside and surrounding buildings. Clearly the ballpark wasn’t very big, but it looks like a nice crowd was there to see what was probably the local semipro team. At the time, Ketchikan was a brand new city that sprang up during the western gold rush. Residents here loved their baseball, but there was only one spot flat and level enough for a ballfield, a small patch of mushy land on the banks of the the Ketchikan Creek. It was said that at high tide after a good storm, the water could be as high as 14 feet above home plate! Each time the local ballclub took the field (at low tide), the players would clear the debris left behind and deposit it beyond the outfield. There were no outfield walls, so a batted ball hit into the piles of sawmill rubbish and lumber in right field was ruled a double, and a ball that hit the Burkhart Sawmill’s building was home run. In left field, any ball hit into the part of the creek too deep for the leftfielder to wade into was a home run!
As for the ballclub itself, Ketchikan had no trouble pulling in competition from all over Alaska and western Canada, including Juneau, Anyox, Prince Rupert, and Metkalatka. As word passed north of their exploits, the club from Ketchikan had their train fares paid for games on the road, and passing US Navy ships would make a port visit just to play them. In 1909, a grandstand was built to accommodate the ever growing crowds that poured in. Then the 1920s came along with federal dollars and more land was dredged out and flattened as the town grew. Eventually the club moved to a new, completely dry field further inland in 1921. Today, Ketchikan is home to several youth teams and a Kayhi High School. Baseball Reference lists no players or minor league teams in the town, and The Baseball Cube lists two independent league players with short careers. Ketchikan, located near the southeastern tip of Alaska now has a census population of 8,050, now the 6th-largest city in Alaska.