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Metro Vancouver Park Series: Quayside Park New Westminster

Vancouver History: Nat Bailey

June 29th, 2008 @ 9:35am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

It’s a pretty rare thing these days to have a sporting venue named after an actual person and not a car manufacturer, internet company or soft drink, but what makes Nat Bailey more than a baseball stadium and the namesake of a Pale Ale at White Spot?


1956 President of the Junior Chamber of Commerce presenting an award for the cleanest kitchen to Nat Bailey for the White Spot. VPL Number: 83008. Photographer: Vic Spooner.

In 1924 Nathaniel Bailey (originally of St Paul, Minnesota) drove around to local baseball games in Vancouver, selling peanuts and refreshments to the crowds. He, “transformed his 1918 Model T truck into a travelling lunch counter, parking every Sunday at Lookout Point on SW Marine Drive… …a dime for a hot dog, a nickel for an ice cream.” [VancouverHistory]

Four years later Bailey opened the first White Spot Barbecue with its main feature – the car hop service located at 67th and Granville. Nine years later he replaced it with the White Spot Restaurant and Drive-in.


Photo credit: John Bollwitt on Flickr

Unfortunately in 1986 this original location burned down, “One of the city’s most beloved buildings, White Spot #1 was more than a restaurant to the people who had grown up with it. As it burned beyond repair, crowds stood on the street with tears in their eyes. Rush-hour traffic in south Vancouver came to a halt, and for a month afterwards, a solemn procession of cars passed through the deserted parking lot.” [WhiteSpotFAQ]

The Vancouver Mounties, who played at Capilano Stadium built in 1951 (on the edge of Queen Elizabeth Park) were sold to local businessmen in 1956, Nat Bailey being one of them. “The Mounties played in the Pacific Coast League from 1956 through 1962 as the relocated Oakland Oaks franchise, and from 1965 through 1969 when the Dallas Rangers moved back to Canada.” [wiki]

In 1978 Cap Stadium, with its new PCL team the Vancouver Canadians, was renamed in Nat’s honor after his passing that year.

Nat Bailey’s contributions to the city in terms of sport and business have been profound. I know that John and I still go to White Spot and although we’re not big into burgers (despite the tempting Triple O) “Nat’s Hearty Brunch” is a tough one to beat.

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12 comments

  1. Tyler Ingram says:

    I haven’t been there for a while. Though I’ve never gotten through a game there for some silly reason I’ve always gotten sick. Though Whitepot on the other hand is yummi, specially their ZooSticks!

  2. Raul says:

    I often walk by the Nat Bailey Stadium, even though I’ve never attended any games there… and I love me some White Spot, too!

  3. Miss604 says:

    @Tyler – we had zoo sticks tonight and I had a huge pint of Nat’s Lager (brewed by Granville Island Brewing exclusively for White Spot)

    @Raul – we have to go to a game! Super cheap tickets and a great way to chill for an afternoon.

  4. fotoeins says:

    Baseball for the whole family, with trees lined up beyond the outfield fence.

    I never knew Nat Bailey hailed from the east-half of the Twin Cities …

  5. We had white spot tonight (chicken wraps), there is one right down the road, so it is so easy to call ahead and grab it on the way home as take out.

    I have always been a big spot fan, all my life… those Zoo sticks rock.

    There was a Spot with the drive up service at the corner of 25th and Cambie and having grown up in the area, my family often ate Spot in the car off those shiny sliver trays when I was a kid. It’s gone now. But what novelty.

    Growing up my friends and I would always meet at the Spot. Coffee and good conversations. I love the story of why it was called “White Spot”. It is a very west coast thing. I’ve had people come from out of town and insist on experiencing White Spot.

  6. Darren says:

    I have a real fondness for Nat Bailey. It’s a terrific stadium. Even if you loathe baseball, it’s worth going once just to enjoy the ambiance and view. Stay until the seventh inning stretch.

  7. [...] most Metro Vancouverites, this is still a rich region when it comes to baseball – just look at our history and our future. Digg it Add to del.icio.us Stumble it add to [...]

  8. [...] afternoon tradition in our family. Heading to the ballpark (to watch the C’s play over at the Nat) or catching a game on WGN, allows for a slow, simple enjoyment of this pass time – even moreso if [...]

  9. [...] living within the Red Sox nation in Boston, combined with having the chance to catch games at Nat Bailey stadium back home. Since that time I’ve also married into a Cubs family and the fact that the [...]

  10. Tawcan says:

    I’m somewhat ashamed that I haven’t been to the stadium yet. I think most Vancouverites will continue calling it by its old name like you mentioned in the post. I don’t like how we keep changing stadium names for the heck of corporate sponsorship.

  11. Jordan says:

    I understand the motivation (from the sponsor side, that is) behind sponsor renaming of stadiums, and the need on the franchise side to cash the accompanying check.

    But doesn’t it seem like “The Nat” should have been spared (today’s) name change? Even with the “Nat Bailey Stadium” part of the name in tact, it seems sacrilegious to me. As the sponsor, I would have tried to find other ways to “own” the stadium, with less disruption to such a time-honored landmark. As it is, most sports broadcasters will find a way around saying “(Sponsor Name) Stadium,” so there seems little point. This kind of corporate territorial pissing should be limited to new construction, imo.

    That said, I’ll be going to the game anyhow.

  12. Tyler says:

    Not sure why I didnt mention this before but…

    I dislike how corporate names are being put on stadiums and such.

    I liked Nat Bailey Stadium, or the Nat as I am sure it will be called forever no matter if it changes.

    Reminds me other ball diamonds in the MLB who’s names have changed due to big corporate sponsors.

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