In September and October of 1983, Norman Jewison and the cast of A Soldier’s Story filmed the movie at various locations in Arkansas. Little Rock’s Lamar Porter Field was the site for the baseball scenes. Adolph Caesar would receive an Oscar nomination for his performance in this movie. Howard Rollins had recently been an Oscar nominee for his performance in Ragtime. Future Oscar winner Denzel Washington was also featured in the cast.
Based on Charles Fuller’s Pulitzer Prize winning A Soldier’s Play, the movie was directed by Jewison from a script adapted by Fuller. The film was nominated for three Oscars: Best Picture, Caesar in the Best Supporting Actor category and Fuller in the Best Adapted Screenplay category.
While the movie was filming in Arkansas, Governor Bill Clinton visited the set. He had also been instrumental in making the Arkansas National Guard and some of the military facilities in the state available. In addition to filming at Lamar Porter, scenes were shot in Fort Smith and at Fort Chaffee.
Lamar Porter Athletic Field is located in the Stifft Station neighborhood. Construction started in 1934 and continued for 18 months by the Works Progress Administration on a 10 acre site.
The 1,500 seat grandstand included club rooms, shower and locker rooms and a concession stand. It was first used by Boys’ Club teams in 1936. By 1937, City leagues and American Legion teams used it. A playground, softball field and tennis courts were constructed next to the baseball field.
Lamar Porter Field is remarkable not only for its architecture, but also for its history. Thousands of boys growing up in Little Rock played ball here. One of those was future Baltimore Oriole Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson. He has come back numerous times and has aided in fundraising efforts to restore the field.
The baseball sequence from A Soldier’s Story with Denzel Washington was filmed at Lamar Porter Field.
The field is named in memory of Lamar Porter, whose family donated the land and some money to help with the construction. A Little Rock native, he was killed in May 1934 while he was attending Washington and Lee University.
Today Lamar Porter Field and the multipurpose field are home to RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner-city) which is an official program of Major League Baseball. Both Catholic High School and Episcopal Collegiate use Lamar Porter as their home field.
Lamar Porter Field was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 6, 1990.
Little Rock connection: Played baseball at Lamar Porter Field while filming scenes for A Soldier’s Story.
Tony Awards connection: Won the 2010 Tony for Actor in a Play for his performance in Fences. Currently starring in A Raisin in the Sun which is nominated for five Tony Awards tonight, including Best Revival of a Play.