Chandler Baseball Camp in Chandler, Okla., renowned for decades for its baseball-only camps run by Bo and Tom Belcher, was listed to the National Register of Historic Places effective Oct. 12, according to an email today from the National Park Service.
The complex, at 2000 W. Park Road in Chandler less than a mile north of Route 66 west of town, held two-week camps amid a setting of bunkhouses, wooded areas, and baseball diamonds from 1958 to 1999. More than 18,000 boys from all 50 states and several countries attended the camps over the years.
Here’s a charming three-part video from the late 1980s by an Oklahoma City TV station about the camp:
Among the alums are Joe Simpson, who had a nine-year career in the major leagues and is a radio and television announcer for the Atlanta Braves; Sam Bradford, winner of the 2008 Heisman Trophy in college football and now a quarterback for the NFL’s St. Louis Rams; and Troy Aikman, a Hall-of-Fame quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys.
In fact, Aikman’s signature still exists among the graffiti in one of the cabins, said Butch Schoenhals, CEO of Scientific Baseball LLC, who leases the property and hopes to reopen the camps someday. Schoenhals also possesses the camp report cards of Aikman and Bradford.
The Chandler Baseball Camp foundered with the deaths of Bo and Tom Belcher. It reopened for a few years from about 2004 to 2007, but closed again after an organizer died.
Schoenhals has a lease with an option to buy the 62-acre property. He said during a telephone interview Friday evening that he learned earlier in the day about the National Register designation.
“We put considerable effort into that,” he said. “It enhanced the value of the property. We’ve got a tremendous legacy with the Belcher family. It’s a story that needs to be told, and we’ve got a chance to do something special with it.” He said he received help from the Chandler City Council and other officials with the National Register designation.
Schoenhals said he knew fellow boys from his northwest Oklahoma hometown who attended the camps. “They came back better baseball players after those two weeks,” he said. Schoenhals never was able to attend one of those camps himself.
He said Chandler Baseball Camp was widely regarded as the finest such camp in the country. Not only did it produce better ballplayers, Schoenhals said, but it also produced future doctors, lawyers, and other professional people.
Many photos, including one home movie, from the camps can be found at the Facebook page of Chandler Baseball Camp Alumni.