Baseball In Hendersonville: Part I
By: Dan Gibbs
Professional and Semi-Pro Baseball got its start in Hendersonville in 1948 with the formation of the Hendersonville Skylarks of the Class D Western Carolina League and the Berkeley Spinners of the Western North Carolina Industrial League. The Spinners were sponsored by Berkely Mills and the team was composed mostly of players that worked at the mill.
The teams shared the Western North Carolina Fairgrounds in East Flat Rock where East Henderson High School stands today for their home field. The Spinners also played at Hendersonville High School when the Skylarks were at home.
The Skylarks were not a good team. They posted records of 36-70 in 1948 and 29-78 in 1949 and they were not drawing well at the gate either. The Berkeley team was doing much better on the field and at the gate and by mid-season of 1948, the Skylarks eliminated their hometown competition by not allowing the Spinners to play at the Fairgrounds for the rest of the season.
Berkeley solved that problem by constructing their own field that was ready a few weeks into the 1949 season. On May 28, 1949, Berkeley Mills Ballpark was officially opened. Berkeley Mills Ballpark was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2016, almost 70 years after its opening.
The Hendersonville Skylarks left Hendersonville in 1950 and moved to Gastonia where they became the Gastonia Browns.
The Spinners played with great success until 1961, winning seven regular season championships and eight playoff championships in their 14 years of existence. The Western Carolina League suspended operations early in 1962 after Berkeley and several other teams in the WCL decided they would no longer field teams.
It was announced in late November of 2021 that Semi-Pro baseball would return to Hendersonville in the summer of 2022 starting play in June. Hendersonville is fielding a team called the Hendersonville Honeycrisps and they will be playing in the 14-team Old North State League. The Old North State League was formed in 2018. The Honeycrisps will be coached by former West Henderson High School baseball player Will Lindsey and the roster will be made up of college players.
I was excited to learn that baseball of this caliber was coming to Hendersonville. Most college players play in a summer league such as this and these types of leagues produce major league caliber talent every year. The Cape Cod League and the Coastal Plains League are two of the more famous summer leagues.
Local historian Patrick W. Gallagher, Jr., wrote The Berkeley Spinners: A Baseball History 1948-1961 covering the entire history of the team complete with stats, player bios, and pictures and is a great place to start for local baseball history. The Hendersonville Honeycrisps already have a Twitter page @HoneycrispsONSL and they start their season in early June.