Santa Paula Times
The naming of Santa Paula’s Sports Stadiums, Fields and Gymnasiums
Published:  July 31, 2019

By Dan Diaz

Santa Paula Times Published 8-02-2019

Have you ever wondered how Santa Paula’s Stadiums, Fields or Gymnasiums were named after and why?

We will explore and give a little history in the naming of the play areas that thousands of Santa Paula residents have enjoyed engaging in by playing, or have participated by watching and rooting their family or friends through the years.

We will start with the oldest named stadium in town called Jones Field. This is where our local football, soccer and track teams participate every year in representing our community.

In an ironic twist of events, back in 1923 Santa Paula’s High School principal Frank Jones originally did not want to bring football into the high school. He believed that the game was too dangerous for young men.

This is like Alfred Nobel the founder of the Nobel Peace Awards who came up with an idea of an award for people who dedicate their lives to ensure peace in the world. Did you know he also was the inventor of dynamite ?

With community interest outweighing Frank Jones’s beliefs, he grudgingly rescinded his original decision and on October 2nd 1924 the first SPHS football game was held on an empty lot west of McKevett School where the small street of Glen Way resides.

Having to clear off rocks and debris from the dirt lot, Santa Paula High School had their first Gridiron game in its history. It is fitting that the Cardinals first opponent were no other than our long time nemeses through history, the Fillmore Flashes.

Starting off on the right foot against “The Dark Side of the Force”, our young gridiron 11 beat the Flashes 20 to 13 in an extremely slow game. This is a time when many players and referees had no experience in the game at all, with television not invented yet there was very few people who had even witnessed a football game let alone know all the rules.

The very next year finding and purchasing a field closer to the high school, the football team played their first game in its current location. This same year a student committee also began considering suggestions for naming the athletic grounds.

Even though Frank Jones was primarily opposed to bringing football in to Santa Paula High, on November 23rd 1926, the field was dedicated in honor of Frank Jones who had been principle of Santa Paula High since 1911.

Frank Jones retired the next year having served 17 years at the high schools helm. In that short time he was in charge of many changes and oversaw the development of the school.

Starting out in the original Old Academy School House, with a student body just under 100 and with only a faculty of 6 teachers he pioneered the school into the 20th century.

By the time he retired the school was now in a new three-story classroom building, increasing the student body to over 300 students and a faculty of 21.

The year of the original football game also brought interesting things to our community. In 1924, Santa Paula’s main street installed 28 lampposts from 7th St. to 12th St. and was illuminated all night long for the first time. Our cities oldest service club, the Rotary was founded locally with 21 members; SPHS students were also transported by buses for the first time using two red-colored 30 passenger Ford Model T’s and our local paper, the Santa Paula Chronicle printed its first Sports section.

A couple of years after the first football game, a tradition started during the homecoming games. Students would climb up to the “SP” on South Mountain and with 100 mounted flares outlining the letters they would one by one light them, gradually bursting forth, until a solid line emerged and a blazing red “SP” shone forth in the night.

Back then the Santa Paula Chronicle stated; “one of the most startling and yet beautiful night sights that has been seen in years.”

This tradition continued every year, going dark during World War II with the last lighting of the “SP” being done in 1954.

With almost 100 years since the first football game being played in Santa Paula and 97 years since it was dedicated Jones Field, many events have encompassed that field with life long memories for students and family members alike.

A special thank you goes out to Jannette Jauregui and her father Joe Juauregui along with Cecil Preciado in assisting with this article.