Posts Tagged ‘Deadball’

A Tiger Stadium Drive Around

October 15th, 2014

Five years ago the last vestiges of Tiger Stadium met the wrecking ball.  The decade-long march toward that moment, beginning with the final game on September 27, 1999, culminated with the demolition and removal of the last standing section of the stadium on September 21, 2009.

Tiger Stadium, Saturday August 28, 1999

Tiger Stadium, Saturday August 28, 1999

The following video was taken in December 2002, over three years after the American League Tigers abandoned the stadium, but several years before Detroit city officials began their assault on the historic structure. The four minute video is a drive around Tiger Stadium, starting east on Michigan Avenue and turning left on Cochrane Street, right on Fisher Drive, right on Trumbull Avenue, and right again on Michigan.

In the five years since the stadium’s demolition, the Navins Field Grounds Crew has kept alive the actual field and, in the process, perhaps helped fend off attempts to pave paradise.

Tiger Stadium, December 2002

Tiger Stadium, December 2002

It is hoped that the efforts of the NFGC will help convince city officials that the playing field (and the center field flag pole) is worth preserving for future generations of baseball fans who travel to the Corner of Michigan and Trumbull.

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Posted in Michigan ballparks, TIger Stadium | Comments (0)

Hartford’s Bulkeley Stadium – Now A Nursing Home With A Home Plate

September 11th, 2014

Morgan M. Bulkeley Stadium was located on the southeast corner of Hanmer Street and George Street in Hartford, Connecticut.

Bulkeley Stadium (photo courtesy of Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center)

Bulkeley Stadium (photo courtesy of Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center)

The ballpark originated in 1921 as Clarkin Field, named in honor of its builder, Jim Clarkin, the owner of the Eastern League Hartford Senators. After a fire in 1927,  the ballpark was rebuilt. Clarkin sold the team the following year and the ballpark was renamed Bulkeley Stadium in honor of Baseball Hall of Famer Morgan G. Bulkeley, the first president of the National League as well as a former president of Aetna Insurance Company, and a former politician (Connecticut Governor, U.S. Senator, and Hartford Mayor). Bulkeley had lived in Hartford and died  in 1922.

Buckeley Stadium Historical Marker at Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Bulkeley Stadium Historical Marker at Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

The site today is occupied primarily by Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Hartford native Norm Hausmann spearheaded a drive to get a historic marker placed at the former site of Bulkeley Stadium. The marker sits at the entrance to Ellis Manor on George Street in what was once left field.

Ellis Manor Marker Honoring Buckeley Stadium

Ellis Manor Marker Honoring Bulkeley Stadium

Clarkin Field/Bulkeley Stadium was home to the Eastern League Hartford Senators from 1921 to 1932 (in 1934 the Senators returned for one season to Bulkeley Stadium as part of the Northeastern League). Bulkeley Stadium also was home to the Eastern League Hartford Bees from 1939 to 1945 (also known as the Laurels), and the Eastern League Hartford Chiefs from 1946 to 1952. The Bees, Laurels, and Chiefs all were affiliated with the National League Boston Braves. The integrated semi-pro Savitt Gems (named after long time Hartford jeweler Bill Savitt) also played at Bulkeley Stadium. One of the stars of Savitt Gems was Johnny “Schoolboy” Taylor, a high school phenomenon who pitched for Bulkeley High School and later for the Negro National League Pittsburgh Crawfords and the Negro National League New York Cubans. In 1949, Taylor pitched for the Hartford Chiefs at Bulkeley Stadium.

Buckeley Stadium Home Plate Marker

Bulkeley Stadium Home Plate Marker

Clarkin Field also was home to the Hartford Blues football team in 1925 (the following season the Blues played their one professional season in the National Football League).

Buckeley Stadium Home Plate Marker, Looking Toward Pitcher's Mound

Bulkeley Stadium Home Plate Marker, Looking Toward Pitcher’s Mound

The location of home plate is marked with a granite plaque near the northeast corner of Ellis Manor, to the left of the front entrance. To better appreciate the former site of Bulkeley Stadium, click here: Courant.com for a vintage aerial photo of Bulkeley Stadium.

Bulkeley Stadium (photo courtesy of Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center)

Bulkeley Stadium (photo courtesy of Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center)

The grandstand directly behind home plate was located where Hanmer Street terminates just northeast of Ellis Manor.

Hanmer Street Terminating at Former Location of Grandstand  Buckeley Stadium Behind Home Plate

Hanmer Street Terminating at Former Location of Bulkeley Stadium Home Plate Grandstand

Although the ballpark was demolished in 1960, a chain link fence that ran alongside the third base grandstand dating back to Bulkeley Stadium remains on the site. The fence is clearly visible in the vintage photograph of Bulkeley Stadium that appears at the beginning of this blog. Although not quite as historically significant as the John T. Brush Memorial Stairway located near the former site of the Polo Grounds, the fence certainly is worth noting given its connection to Bulkeley Stadium.

Chain Link Fence Remaining from Buckeley Stadium Behind Former Location of Third Base Grandstand

Chain Link Fence Remaining from Bulkeley Stadium Behind Former Location of Third Base Grandstand

The third base grandstand paralleled a driveway that now runs north and south along the eastern side of the Ellis Manor.

Ellis Manor Driveway Running Parallel to Former Location of Third Base Grandstand

Ellis Manor Driveway Running Parallel to Former Location of Bulkeley Stadium Third Base Grandstand

Bulkeley Stadium was a basic, no frills ballpark. A single deck, covered grandstand ran from third base to the left field corner. Uncovered wood bleachers continued from third base to the right field corner.

Bulkeley Stadium (photo courtesy of Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center)

Bulkeley Stadium (photo courtesy of Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center)

First base was located in front of what is now a covered driveway near the front door entrance to Ellis Manor.

Former Location of First Base at Buckeley Stadium Looking Toward Home Plate

Former Location of First Base at Bulkeley Stadium Looking Toward Home Plate

The driveway from George Street into Ellis Manor was once left field.

Former Location of Buckeley Stadium Left Field Looking Toward Home Plate

Former Location of Bulkeley Stadium Left Field Looking Toward Home Plate

Some residences that ring the parameter of the ballpark site date to the time of Bulkeley Stadium. A few “new” houses actually sit on the former stadium site. One such house, at 204 George Street, sits in what was once the left field grandstand.

House at 204 George Street  Which Sits in Former Location of  Buckeley Stadium Left Field Grand Stand

House at 204 George Street Which Sits in Former Location of Bulkeley Stadium Left Field Grandstand

The open side yard at 204 George Street was once the left field corner.

Former Location of Buckeley Stadium Left Field Corner

Former Location of Bulkeley Stadium Left Field Corner

Right Field to Center field ran north to south along George Street.

Looking South Down George Street Which Ran Parallel to RIght Field Toward Center Field

Looking South Down George Street Which Ran Parallel to Bulkeley Stadium’s Right Field (Toward Center Field)

The center field was located across from the intersection of George Street and Goodrich Street where a grove of trees now sits.

Former Location of Buckeley Stadium Center Field Corner at Intersection of Goodrich Street and George Street

Former Location of Bulkeley Stadium Center Field Corner at Intersection of Goodrich Street and George Street

Inside the front entrance to Ellis Manor, across from the reception desk, is a wall of fame honoring the memory of Bulkeley Stadium. Many future Baseball Hall of Famers played for Hartford at Bulkeley Stadium, including Lou Gehrig, Leo Durocher, Hank Greenberg, Johnny Sain, and Warren Spahn. The wonderful staff at the nursing home and rehabilitation center are proud of their facility’s connection to professional baseball and are very helpful answering questions about the ballpark.

Buckeley Stadium Wall of Fame Display at Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Bulkeley Stadium Wall of Fame Display at Ellis Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

After 65 seasons without professional baseball, Hartford once again will have professional team beginning in 2016. The Eastern League Rock Cats are moving from their current home in New Britain Stadium to a new ballpark located at Main Street and Trumbull Street in the “Downtown North” section of Hartford, just five miles north of the former site of Bulkeley Stadium.

New Britain Stadium, Home of the Eastern League Rock Cats

New Britain Stadium, Home of the Eastern League Rock Cats

The City recently secured property in downtown Hartford at the intersection of Main Street and Trumbell Street, approximately three miles north of Bulkeley Stadium. Although professional baseball will never return to the site of Bulkeley Stadium, it is still possible to play catch in the left field corner of the old ballpark site – that is, as long as the folks who own the side yard at 204 George Street don’t mind you doing so.

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Posted in Buckeley Stadium, Connecticut ballparks | Comments (4)

Paterson New Jersey’s Hinchliffe Stadium – A Diamond In The Rough

September 10th, 2014

Hinchliffe Stadium is located at the intersection of Liberty Street and Maple Street in Paterson, New Jersey.

Entrance to Hinchiffe Stadium at Intersection of  Liberty and Maple Street

Entrance to Hinchliffe Stadium at Intersection of Liberty and Maple Street

The ballpark is set directly behind Paterson Public School No. 5, located at 430 Totowa Avenue, just three blocks northeast of the entrance on Maple Street to Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park.

Paterson Public School No. 5, Paterson, NJ

Side View of Paterson Public School No. 5, Paterson, NJ

Hinchliffe Stadium is named after Paterson’s former Mayor John V. Hinchliffe (although the mayor himself once claimed that the stadium was named after his Uncle John, also once the mayor of Paterson).

Exterior of Hinchliffe Stadium Looking Northwest  Along Maple Street

Exterior of Hinchliffe Stadium Looking Northwest Along Maple Street

Constructed in 1931 and 1932, the ballpark was financed by the City of Paterson at a cost of approximately $250,000.

Panoramic Photo of Exterior of Hinchliffe Stadium Facing Maple Street

Panoramic Photo of Exterior of Hinchliffe Stadium Facing Maple Street

The ballpark was designed by Fanning & Shaw, a local architectural firm, in the Art Deco style.

Exterior of Hinchliffe Stadium Near Corner of Liberty and Jasper Streets

Exterior of Hinchliffe Stadium Near Corner of Liberty and Jasper Streets

The stadium’s exterior walls are constructed of poured concrete.

Exterior of Hinchliffe Stadium Fronting Liberty Street

Exterior of Hinchliffe Stadium Fronting Liberty Street

The exterior walls include many architectural flourishes such as clay tile roofing and plaster inlay plaques created by Paterson native Gaetano Federici.

Detail of Hinchliffe Stadium Exterior Fronting Liberty Street

Detail of Hinchliffe Stadium Exterior Fronting Liberty Street

Ownership of the ballpark was transferred from the city to the Paterson School District in 1963. In 1997 the school district closed Hinchliffe Stadium, unable to pay for its continued upkeep.

Entrance Gates to Hinchliffe Stadium Near Corner of Liberty and Jasper Streets

Entrance Gates to Hinchliffe Stadium Near Corner of Liberty and Jasper Streets

In the last 20 years, the stadium’s structure has continued to deteriorate from neglect. Were this just another aging high school athletic stadium, Hinchliffe might already have been lost to time.

Hinchliffe Stadium Ticket Windows Facing Jasper Street

Hinchliffe Stadium Ticket Windows Facing Jasper Street

However, Hinchliffe’s rich history is what may just save it from demolition and ultimately what might ensure its restoration for future generations to appreciate.

Detail of Ticket Window Facing Jasper Street, Hinchliffe Stadium

Detail of Ticket Window Facing Jasper Street, Hinchliffe Stadium

Most notably, Hinchliffe is recognized as one of the last surviving ballparks where a significant number of Negro League games were played.

Inside Ticket Booth, Hinchliffe Stadium

Inside Ticket Booth, Hinchliffe Stadium

Starting in 1933, the Negro National League New York Black Yankees called Hinchliffe their home, continuing for 12 seasons until they departed at the end of 1945 (the Black Yankees played their home games at Triborough Stadium in 1937). Many Negro League greats played at Hinchliffe, including one 1934 contest between the Black Yankees and the Pittsburgh Crawfords featuring future Hall of Famers James “Cool Papa” Bell, Oscar Charleston, Josh Gibson, and Judy Johnson. Other Hall of Famers who played at Hinchliffe Stadium include Martín Dihigo, Monte Irwin, Buck Leonard, and Satchel Paige (note: it is unclear whether Paige actually played in a game at Hinchliffe). Hinchliffe also was home to the Negro National League New York Cubans in the mid 1930s.

Detail of Hinchliffe Stadium Ticket Booth From Inside Stadium

Detail of Hinchliffe Stadium Ticket Booth

Future Hall of Famer and Paterson native Larry Doby grew up playing at Hinchliffe Stadium, first as a star at Eastside High School playing both football and baseball, and later as a member of the Negro National League Newark Eagles, beginning in 1942.

Entrance of Hinchliffe Stadium Near Corner of Liberty and Jasper Streets

Entrance of Hinchliffe Stadium (Interior) Near Corner of Liberty and Jasper Streets

In addition to Negro League baseball, Hinchliffe stadium hosted professional soccer (the New Jersey Stallions and New Jersey Eagles) and football (Paterson Giants, the Silk City Bears, the Paterson Panthers and the Paterson Nighthawks), as well as boxing and auto racing. Notable athletes who played at Hinchliffe include future football Hall of Famers Vince Lombardi playing for the Brooklyn Eagles in a game against the Panthers, Earl Clark playing for the Portsmouth Spartans in a game against the Giants, and Bill Dudley playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game against the Panthers. For more information about Hinchliffe’s rich history, see Hinchliffe’s Stadium’s application filed with National Trust For Historic Preservation Application which provided much of the history outlined above and Friends of Hinchliffe Stadium.

Hinchliffe Stadium Grandstand With Paterson Public School No. 5 in Background

Hinchliffe Stadium Grandstand With Paterson Public School No. 5 in Background

Thankfully, many historians and fans of the game have stepped in to help protect Hinchliffe including Brian LoPinto, founder of Friends of Hinchliffe Stadium.

Hinchliffe Stadium, View of First Base Grandstand From Home Plate Grandstand

Hinchliffe Stadium, View of First Base Grandstand From Home Plate Grandstand

In 2004, Hinchliffe Stadium was added to the National Register of Historic Places and the New Jersey Register of Historic Places.

Scoreboard, Hinchliffe Stadium

Scoreboard, Hinchliffe Stadium

In 2013 it was designated a National Historic Landmark. On July 22, 2014, the Hinchliffe Stadium Heritage Act sponsored by Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr., passed the U.S. House of Representatives. That bill would expand Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park – which sits just south of the ballpark – to include Hinchliffe Stadium.

Hinchliffe Stadium Looking Toward Former Center Field With Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park in Background

Hinchliffe Stadium Looking Toward Former Center Field With Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park in Background

Even with all that has been done to help ensure Hinchliffe Stadium’s future, the current condition of the ballpark, and the passage of time, continue to  work against it.

Third Base Grandstand, Hinchliffe Stadium

Third Base Grandstand, Hinchliffe Stadium

The poured concrete structure that helped sustain the ballpark since it’s construction in the early 1930’s is crumbling, which will require extensive repair or replacement of the actual concrete.

Hinchliffe Stadium Grandstand Staircase

Hinchliffe Stadium Grandstand Staircase

An assessment of the stadium conducted by the City of Paterson concluded that although much of the concrete is salvageable, the cost of restoration and modernization could be as high as $44 million. The City of Greensboro, North Carolina, is facing a similar challenge as it grapples with how best to restore historic War Memorial Stadium which, like Hinchliffe, is constructed mainly of poured concrete.

Hinchliffe Stadium Bathroom

Hinchliffe Stadium Bathroom

Although the continued existence of Hinchliffe Stadium is not yet a certainty, the good news on many fronts suggests that the ballpark might just stand the test of time.

Houses Fronting Totowa Avenue, Paterson, NJ

Houses Fronting Totowa Avenue Near Hinchliffe Stadium, Paterson, NJ

Restoration of the ballpark would be good news not only for the citizens of Paterson, New Jersey, but for baseball fans and historians far and wide. However, to paraphrase Nelson Wilbury, “it’s gonna take a whole lot of spending money to do it right.” If you are interested in helping preserve Hinchliffe Stadium, contact Friends of Hinchliffe Stadium. And while you are at it, be sure to thank them as well.

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Posted in Hinchliffe Stadium, New Jersey ballparks | Comments (2)

Payne Park – Spring Training In Sarasota From John McGraw to Tony LaRussa

January 23rd, 2014

Payne Park was located at the southeast corner of Adams Lane and South Washington Boulevard in Sarasota, Florida. The stadium was part of a 60 acre park named in honor of Calvin Payne, a Sarasota winter resident  who donated the land to the city in 1923. From 1924 to 1988, the ballpark was the spring training home of four major league teams.

Payne Park, Sarasota, Florida (Sarasota County Government, scgov.net/History/Pages/PaynePark.aspx

John McGraw’s New York Giants were the first team to train at Payne Park. John Ringling (of Ringling Brothers Circus), who was a friend of McGraw’s and a Sarasota resident, convinced McGraw to bring his team to Florida.

Payne Park Postcard (M.E. Russell, Sarasota FL, Photo by Burnell. Cureich-Chicago C.T. Art-Colortone

McGraw was so enamored with Sarasota that he invested in local real estate with the hopes of constructing  a housing development  known as Pennant Park on Sarasota Bay. When the Florida real estate bubble burst in 1927, McGraw left Sarasota and the following season his Giants trained in Augusta, Georgia.

Sarasota's "Payne Park" Home of the Chicago White Sox (West Coast Card Distributors, Sarasota FL, Mirror-Chrome Card, H.S. Crocker, Inc.)

From 1929 to 1932, the American Association Indianapolis Indians held spring training at Payne Park. In 1933 the Boston Red Sox moved their spring training operations from Savannah, Georgia, to Sarasota. The Red Sox trained at Payne Park for the next 25 years, until 1958, with the exception of the war years, 1943 to 1945.

Aerial View of Payne Park Circa 1960s (Photo Courtesy of Payne Park Tennis Center)

Once the Red Sox departed, the Los Angeles Dodgers played a few spring training games at Payne Park during the 1959 season, although they also continued to train at their facility in Vero Beach. The Chicago White Sox arrived at Payne Park in 1960, training there until 1988. In 1979, Tony LaRussa began his first of eight seasons training at Payne Park as manager of the Chicago White Sox. LaRussa eventually would win 2,728 games as manager, third on the all time list and just behind fellow former Payne Park resident John McGraw (2,763).

Payne Park, Sarasota County, Florida

Sarasota constructed a new ballpark two miles northeast of Payne Park to replace what was considered, after 65 season, to be an antiquated facility. Ed Smith Stadium, located at 2700 12th Street, opened in 1989 as the new spring training home for the White Sox, where they trained until 1997. Both the Cincinnati Reds (1998-2009) and the Baltimore Orioles (1991) trained there as well.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Florida, Pre-Renovation (Circa 2004)

After the Reds departed Sarasota in 2009, the Orioles returned, moving into a completely refurbished ballpark in 2010.

Ed Smith Stadium, Spring Training Home of the Baltimore Orioles, Post-Renovation 2013

Payne Park was demolished in 1990. Sarasota constructed a tennis center on a portion of the former ballpark site.

Payne Park Tennis Center, Located on Former Site of Payne Park

Although the ballpark itself is gone, the player’s clubhouse, located at the intersection of Adams Lane and South Washington Boulevard, was preserved and is used today as offices and a clubhouse for the tennis center.

City of Sarasota Employee Health Center Located in a Portion of the Former Payne Park Clubhouse

In 2011, the City of Sarasota Employee Health Center was opened in a section of the building.

Payne Park Tennis Center Offices and Clubhouse

The tennis center  includes a memorial wall inside the clubhouse that tells the history of the site.

Interior of Payne Park Tennis Center

Included in the display are pictures of the ballpark and the players who called it their home.

Payne Park Tennis Center Wall of Fame Honoring Former Ball Field

Also included is a blueprint for the redevelopment of Payne Park, which shows the former location of the ballpark, and the tennis center that replaced it.

Blue Prints for Construction of Payne Park Tennis Center

The former Sarasota Terrace Inn, seen to the left in the postcard below, once dominated the Sarasota skyline surrounding the ballpark .

"Baseball Spring Training Boston Red Sox in Action, Sarasota, Fla." (Postcard M.E. Russell, Sarasota FL, Photo by Burnell. Cureich-Chicago C.T. Art-Colortone

Built in 1925 by John Ringling, the landmark, along with the old Sarasota County Courthouse tower (both seen in the postcard above), once dominated the skyline.

The former Sarasota Terrace Inn

The hotel was purchased in 1962 by Arthur Allyn, Jr., co-owner of the Chicago White Sox, to house the team during spring training.

The former Sarasota Terrace Inn, Now a County Administrative Building

The former hotel (seen behind the larger office building to the right in the picture below) is useful in determining where the ballpark once sat.

Former Site of Payne Park, Approximate Location of Third Base Foul Territory, With former Terrace Park Hotel in Background

In 1972, Sarasota County purchased the building. It currently is used as a Sarasota County administration building.

Plaque Commemorating the Sarasota Terrace Hotel (Now the Sarasota County Administration Center)

Payne Park’s former infield, and a portion of the outfield, is covered by 12 regulation-size tennis courts (there are four rows of three courts each).

Former Site of Payne Park, Looking Toward Approximate Location of Home Plate

The former site of home plate is located in what is now the second row of tennis courts closer to Adams Lane.

Former Site of Payne Park, Infield between First and Second Base

The former outfield is encircled by two roads that date back to the time of Payne Park.

Parking Lot Adjacent to Payne Parkway that was Once On-site Parking for Payne Park

The first is Payne Parkway, which straddles the right field corner.

Payne Parkway, Looking South, From Right Field Corner

The second is Laurel Street, which intersects Payne Parkway and runs behind what was once center field, terminating at the former left field corner.

Termination of Laurel Street at Payne Park's Former Left Field Corner

A grass field occupies what was once the deepest part of center field.

Payne Park - Former Site of Center Field

Just to the east of Payne Park was once a mobile home park which opened in the 1920s.

"General View of Sarasota Trailer Park Alongside Baseball Park, Sarasota, Florida" (Marion Post Wolcott, Library of Congress Division of Prints and Photographs, Washington, D.C.)

Although the trailer park is now gone, one vestige remains – the Payne Park Auditorium, formerly known as the Sarasota Mobile Home Park Auditorium. Constructed in 1962, it  is located just beyond what was once center field at 2062 Laurel Street. The auditorium was built as a meeting place for mobile home park residents.

Payne Park Mobile Park and Auditorium

At the intersection of Adams Lane and East Avenue is a historic maker for Payne Park.

Sarasota County Historical Commission Plaque Honoring Payne Park

Behind the historical marker is a small outline of a ball field set in pavers.

Baseball Diamond at Payne Park

The sign is located in what was once a parking lot behind third base. Although Payne Park is long gone, it is still possible to play ball where some of baseball’s greatest stars once trained. You just need racket, not a bat and glove, in order to play.

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Bugle Field – Home of the Baltimore Elite Giants

October 6th, 2013

Bugle Field was located in East Baltimore at the intersection of Federal Street and Edison Highway, just a few blocks south of Baltimore Cemetery and approximately one and a half miles off I-895.

1601 Edison Highway, Baltimore, Maryland, Former Site of Bugle Field

In 1912, Edward C. Lastner of the Simpson and Doeller Company (a company that printed can labels), with seed money provided by his employer, leased a cow pasture from Mrs. Carrie Snyder at what is now Edison Highway and Federal Street and constructed the ballpark. From 1912 to 1917, the ballpark, known as “Label Men’s Oval,” was home to a semi pro club known as the Label Men.

Label Men at Label Men's Oval, Edward C. Lastner in Inset and Wearing Straw hat (Sun Papers)

The Label Men at Label Men’s Oval Circa 1913, Edward C. Lastner in Inset and Wearing Straw hat (Sun Papers)

About 1924, the ballpark was purchased by Joe Cambria, a scout for the Washington Senators. Cambria christened his ballpark Bugle Field, after the Bugle Coat and Apron Supply Company, a company he owned. In addition to football, boxing, and wrestling matches, Cambria brought baseball teams he owned to Bugle Field, including the Bugle Coat and Apron Nine,  at first a member of the Baltimore Amateur League and later a semipro team, and  the Hagerstown Hubs (exhibition games), a minor league team that played in the Class D Blue Ridge League (see Brian McKenna’s SABR Biography of Cambria for additional information).

According to newspaper accounts of the Baltimore Sun and the Baltimore Afro-American, the Black Sox first began playing games at Bugle Field in 1930. On September 2, 1930, the first night game was played at Bugle Field, a contest between the Black Sox and the Bugles. In 1932, Cambria purchased an interest in the Black Sox and became their general manager. Cambria made Bugle Field the Black Sox’s home field starting in 1932 (that year the Black Sox were members of the East-West League). Previously, the Black Sox had played their home games at Westport Park and Maryland Baseball Park.The Black Sox played at Bugle Field in 1933 as well, as members of the Negro National League. By 1934, the Black Sox were playing under new ownership and the team disbanded later that same year.

In 1938 a new negro league team arrived in Baltimore, making Bugle Field their home park. The Baltimore Elite Giants (pronounced EE-lite) originated in 1918 in Nashville, Tennessee. They played their home games in Nashville through the 1935 season. The Elite Giants then moved to Columbus, Ohio, in 1937, and Washington, D.C. , in 1937.

Baltimore Elite Giants Circa 1949 (Paul Henderson Photographer, courtesy of Maryland Historical Society and hendersonphotos.wordpress.com)

According to hendersonphotos.wordpress.com, the Elite Giant players in the above picture are:

Top row, left: Joe Black; Leroy Ferrell; Charles (Specs) Davidson; Lenny Pearson; Al Wilmore; Bob Romby; Johnny Hayes; Jim Gilliam; Jesse (Hoss) Walker;

Bottom row: Butch Davis; Silvester Rodgers; Henry Kimbro; Vic Harris; Henry Bayliss; Henry (Frazier) Robinson; Frank Russell; Tom (Pee Wee) Butts; Leon Day.

Baltimore Elite Giants Standing in Front of Bugle Field Scoreboard (Paul Henderson Photographer, courtesy of Maryland Historical Society and hendersonphotos.wordpress.com)

The Elite Giants played in the Negro National League from the time of their arrival in Baltimore in 1938, through the 1948 season. In 1949 the played in the Negro American League. The team brought Baltimore two league titles, the Negro National League championship in 1939, and the Negro American League championship in 1949.

Baltimore Elite Giants (Paul Henderson Photographer, courtesy of Maryland Historical Society and hendersonphotos.wordpress.com)

Elite Giant players of note include Hall of Famers Roy Campanella and Leon Day, Joe Black (1952 NL ROY), Junior Gilliam (1953 NL ROY), Lester Locket, and Bill Wright.

Hall of Famer Leon Day

The first two games of the 1949 Negro American League Championships were played at Bugle Field. After the Elite Giants went on the road to play the remaining games, the owners of the property began demolition of the ballpark in preparation for sale of the land. From newspaper accounts, it appears that the last sporting events held in Bugle Field were a exhibition by Daredevil Don Robey (automobile demolition) on September 30, 1949, and a Baltimore Soccer Club match on December 28, 1949.

Demolition of Bugle Field Commencing in Late September, early October 1949. The Third Base Grandstand Ran Parallel to Edison Highway

Demolition of Bugle Field Commencing in Late September, early October 1949. The Third Base Grandstand Ran Parallel to Edison Highway

A classified ad that ran in the Baltimore Sun on September 30 and October 1, 1949, announced the quick demise of Bugle Field:

“WRECKING BALL PARK – Used 2×4 to 8×8, 10, 60 foot Creosoted poles,

plus other lumber. Apply Bugle Field. See Mr. Reinhold PE 0371″

As shown in the Sanborn Map below, Bugle Field’s grandstand sat near the intersection of Federal Street and Edison Highway.

1936 Sandborn Map Showing Location of Bugle Field

The 1937 aerial view (thanks to Bernard McKenna) shows Bugle Field and its irregularly shaped outfield fence.

Maryland Port Administration Aerial View of Bugle Field Circa 1937 (Thanks to Bernard McKenna) (Map Located at jscholarship.library.jhu.edu)

The southwest corner of the Rockland Industries Building near the intersection of Federal Street and Edison Highway sits in the footprint of the original grandstand.

Rockland Industries Building, Former Site of Bugle Field Grandstand

The asphalt parking lot in front of Rockland Industries was once the gravel parking lot for Bugle Field.

Rockland Industries, Former Site of Bugle Field

The first base line to the right field corner ran parallel to Edison Highway.

Former Site of Bugle Field, First Base Side and Right Field Corner

Some references to Bugle Field identify its location as being the Intersection of Edison Highway and Biddle Street. However, Biddle Street, which runs parallel to Federal Street, sits four blocks south of the ballpark site. Beyond what was once right and center field is a line of trees that most likely mark the outer limits of the ballpark site.

Former Site of Bugle Field Looking from Former Right Field Corner Toward Center Field

The Sports Legends Museum, located next to Orioles Park at Camden Yards, includes a tribute to the Elite Giants, including a mock up of a bus similar to the type that Negro League players once road.

Sports Legends Museum Negro Leagues Display

In 1950, the Elite Giants moved their home games to Westport Stadium, which was located on Annapolis Road between the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and Patapsco Avenue. This should not be confused with Westport Park, which was located on Russell Street, and is where the Baltimore Black Sox played their home games from 1917 to 1920.

Bugle Field has been gone for more than half a century. No portion of the old ballpark remains at the site, nor does it appear that there are any buildings surrounding the site that date back to the days of Bugle Field. Even without any tangible ties to the old ballpark, its former site certainly is deserving of at least a Maryland historical marker noting the significance the area once had to Baltimore history and the history of baseball in the United States.

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Rickwood Field – Baseball’s Time Capsule

September 19th, 2013

Rickwood Field, located at 1137 2nd St W, in Birmingham, Alabama, is a century-old time capsule of America’s National Pastime. It is recognized by the Historic American Building Survey as the country’s oldest surviving baseball park.

Rickwood Field, Birmingham, Alabama

Constructed by Birmingham Barons owner Rick Woodward (hence the name), the first professional game  played there was a contest between the Barons and the Montgomery Climbers on August 18, 1910. This was approximately two years before the opening of Fenway Park, major league baseball’s oldest surviving ballpark.

Ridkwood Field, As Seen From 11th Street

Rickwood was the first concrete and steel minor league ballpark constructed in the United States. The stadium’s facade is truly remarkable for its unspoiled, vintage appearance, and would be worthy of a photo essay all its own.

Rickwood Field Third Base Side Grandstand

The first base side grandstand runs the length of the ballfield and wraps around behind right field.

Rickwood Field First Base Side Grandstand

Two historic plaques honor the history of Rickwood Field. The first plaque, erected by the Alabama Historical Commission in 1996, recognizes Rickwood Field’s placement on the National Register for Historic Places.

Rickwood Field Historic Marker

The second plaque, erected by the Alabama Tourism Department in 2010, celebrates the 100th anniversary of the first game played at Rickwood Field.

Rickwood Field Historic Marker Noting Opening Day 1910

The distinctive Mission style front entrance to Rickwood Field was added in 1928.

Mission Style Front Entrance to Rickwood Field

On the first base side of the ballpark, past the front entrance, is a sign welcoming visitors to a guided tour of the ballpark. Free pamphlets are available there for visitors to take along on their tour.

Rickwood Field's Self Guided Tour

The main entrance way to the ballpark appears much as it did in 1940.

Rickwood Field Front Entrance Turnstiles

A chalkboard listing the players for the day’s contest sits just to the right beyond the turnstiles.

Lineup From 2013 Rickwood Classic

Rickwood was home to the Southern Association (later Southern League) Birmingham Barons from 1910 until 1987.

Field of Dreams, Alabama Style

It also was home to the Birmingham Black Barons from 1920 until 1963. The Black Barons played in various leagues over the years including the Negro Southern League, the Negro National League, and the Negro American League.

Rickwood Field Tower

Notable players who called Rickwood Field their home included Hall of Famers Willie Mays (a native of Birmingham), Sachel Paige, Willie Wells, George Suttles, Bill Foster, Pie Traynor, Rollie Fingers, Reggie Jackson, and Burleigh Grimes.

Rickwood Field Third Base Dugout

During the design phase of Rickwood Field, Philadelphia Athletics Manager Connie Mack served as a consultant. The field and stadium were patterned after Forbes Field and Shibe Park. Both the Philadelphia Phillies (1911, 1920) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (1919) held their spring training at Rickwood Field.

Rickwood Field View From the First Base Dugout

The distinctive cantilevered light stanchions date to 1936, when Rickwood became one of the first minor league facilities to host night baseball.

Louvered Windows at Rickwood Field

The steel and wood roof is a visual masterpiece. The supports for that roof, placed one per section, provide vintage obstructed views of the field.

Right Field Seating Rickwood Field

Rickwood Field currently has a seating capacity of 10,800. All of the original seating has long since been replaced.

Obstructed View At Rickwood Field Is Part of the Charm

The first base side grandstand, which wraps around to right field, was designed after Forbes Field, which had a similar wrap around, right field grandstand.

View From the Right Field Grandstand

The concrete outfield fence dating to 1928 sits behind the “newer” wooden fence. In 1948 Walt Dropo famously hit a home run over the wooden fence that hit the concrete fence on the fly.

Original Outfield Wall at Rickwood Field

Although long since replaced, at one time Rickwood Field could boast having wooden box seats and wooden row seats from the Polo Grounds, with wrought iron “NY” emblems at the end of each row. In the 1970s the seats were replaced and, for a time, could be purchased at nearby Legion Field in Birmingham.

Gambling Not Permitted at Rickwood Field

Because Rickwood Field offers so much to see, including the colorful outfield wall signage  and the recreated scoreboard, as well as so many great angles from which to photograph the ballpark, I have included a four minute video meant to capture the feel of the ballpark.

If you would like to see more photographs of Rickwood Field taken by a professional photographer, please visit Lou Dina at dinagraphics.com. As you can see from the picture below, Lou has an amazing eye for detail.

Today the Birmingham Barons play their home games at Regions Field. From 1988 until 2012, they played at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. Once a year, since 1996, however, the Barons return to Rickwood Field to take part in the Rickwood Classic. Held typically on a Wednesday around the last week of May, the game is an official Southern League contest that helps insure professional baseball is still a part of Rickwood’s present and future.

Regions Field, Home of the Birmingham Barons

Friends of Rickwood has been the caretaker of Rickwood Field since 1992. If you are interested in reading more about their organization or how you can help insure the preservation of the ballpark, visit them at rickwood.com. Baseball fans owe that organization a debt of gratitude helping insure that Rickwood Field never becomes just another lost ballpark.

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Chicago’s West Side Grounds – Where The Cubs Last Won the World Series

March 20th, 2013

West Side Grounds (also called West Side Park) at the intersection of S Wolcott Avenue and W Polk Street was the home of the Chicago Cubs from 1893 until 1915. It was the second ballpark in Chicago known by that name, the first being located a mile to the northeast at the intersection of South Loomis and West Harrison Streets, which was home to the Cubs from 1885 until 1891. From  1891-1893, the Cubs played at South Side Park II, which was located at the southeast corner of W 35th Street and S Wentworth Avenue and is now consumed by Interstate 94 just to the east of Cellular One Field.

West Side Grounds Postcard (Facing Toward Polk Street and Old Cook County Hospital Behind Grandstand)

While resident at the second West Side Park, the Cubs won four National League pennants from 1906 to 1910 and two World Series championships in 1907 and 1908. The 1906 World Series, which the Cubs lost to the cross-town Chicago White Sox, was the only match up in series history between those two clubs. In the time since the Cubs abandoned West Side Grounds for the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, the team has never won a world series.

West Side Grounds (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.) Facing Toward Taylor Street

The former site of West Side Grounds is now the University of Illinois Medical Center.

Former Site of West Side Grounds - Looking Toward Southeast Corner of Wolcott Avenue and Polk

The grandstand from home plate to left field ran parallel to S Polk Street, although it did not abut the road. Rather, it was set back from S Polk Street behind row houses that lined the street.

Former Site of West Side Grounds at Wolcott Avenue - Former Location of First Base Grandstand

The first base grandstand ran parallel to  W Wolcott Street. At the time of West Side Ground, Wolcott street was known as Lincoln Street. It was renamed in 1939 in honor of Dr. Alexander Wolcott, Jr., who was the first physician in Chicago.

Former Site of West Side Grounds - Now Occupied By the University of Illinois Medical Center

Although nothing of West Side Grounds remains on site, much of the outfield area remains a park in the middle of the University’s medical complex.

Former Site of West Side Grounds - Standing In Former Location of Center Field Looking Toward Home Plate

The park can be accessed from an entrance near the corner of W Taylor Street and S Wood Street behind the University’s Biologic Resources Laboratory.

Former Site of West Side Grounds Standing in Former Location of Left Field Looking Toward Second Base

The infield and much of the grandstand area are now consumed by the Illinois College of Medicine.

Former Site of West Side Grounds - Standing In Former Location of Second Base Looking Toward Right Field

Second base was once located in the northwest corner of the medical center park on what is now a concrete patio.

Former Site of West Side Grounds - Standing in Approximate Location of Second Base Looking Toward Home Plate Somewhere Through That Door

Center field was once located in the southeast corner of the medical center park. The building housing the Medical Center Administration (the old Nurses’ Home) resides in what was once deep center field.

Former Site of West Side Grounds - Standing In Approximate Location of Second Base Lookiing Out Toward Center Field

The right field corner was once located behind the building at 835 South Wolcott, which houses the university health services and other departments.

Former Site of West Side Grounds - Standing in Right/Center Field Looking Toward Former Location of Right Field Pavilion

A plaque commemorating the West End Grounds was placed in front of the  University of Illinois Chicago Neuro Psychiatric Institute at 912 S Wood St.

West Side Grounds Plaque (Illinois State Historical Society - www.historyillinois.org)

The plaque dedication in 2009 was attended by none other than Mr. Cub himself, Ernie Banks.

Former Site of West Side Grounds Looking South Down Wood Street Toward Location of Historical Plaque

West Side Grounds is one of the original lost ballparks, having been home to the Cubs almost 100 years ago. It’s location is less than file miles northwest of U.S. Cellular Field (old Comiskey Park), home of the Chicago White Sox and is certainly worth a visit, especially for Cubs fans wondering where it was that their team last won the World Series.

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Ted Williams – His Boyhood Home When “The Kid” Was Just A Kid

January 18th, 2013

Ted Williams, the Splendid Splinter, grew up in the North Park section of San Diego, California.

Ted Williams’s Boyhood Home at 4121 Utah Street

His boyhood home is located at 4121 Utah Street.

Front Door Entrance to Boyhood Home of Ted Williams

His home on Utah Street is located in the North Park section of San Diego, just northeast of Balboa Park.

North Park Section of San Diego, California, Location of Ted Williams Boyhood Home

North Park Section of San Diego, California, Location of Ted Williams Boyhood Home

The home is a modest, one story bungalow.

Side View of Ted Williams’s Boyhood Home

Williams lived there with his family from 1924 until left San Diego to play for the Boston Red Sox in 1939.

Detached Garage Behind Boyhood Home of Ted Williams

One half block south down Utah Street and one block west on Polk Avenue is North Park Community Park, where Williams played as a child. The park includes a baseball field named in Williams’s honor.

Sign Commemorating Ted Williams and the Ball Field Where He Played as a Child

The Kid played youth baseball on this same field when he was just a kid.

Ted Williams Field, San Diego, California

Both Williams’s house and the ball field look much like they did when Williams lived in the neighborhood.

First Base Side, Ted Williams Field

Williams played baseball for Herbert Hoover High School in San Diego and signed with the minor league San Diego Padres in 1936 when he was just 17 years old. He played two seasons for the Padres, in 1936 and 1937.

Third Base Side, Ted Williams Field

Twenty miles north of William’s boyhood home is the Ted Williams Freeway, California State Route 56, which runs east-west between I-5 and I-15.

Ted Williams Parkway, Route 56, San Diego, California

Ted Williams Parkway, Route 56, San Diego, California

Lane Field, home of the San Diego Padres, was located just five miles south of Williams’s house. Williams played for the Padres at Lane Field the year that it opened in 1936. It was his first season of professional ball. While the ballpark has been gone now for over 50 years, recently the city has constructed a monument to Lane Field, including a historic marker and a granite outline of the infield and the former site of home plate. On top of the home plate monument is a quote from Ted Williams” “There’s only one way to become a hitter. Go up to the plate and get mad. Get mad at yourself and mad at the pitcher.”

Historical Marker, Lane Field, San Diego, California

Historical Marker, Lane Field, San Diego, California (photo courtesy of Jason Papka)

If you are interested in baseball history, certainly Williams’s former home and youth baseball field are worth a stop. They are both just five and a half miles north of Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres, and easily accessible by taking the Cabrillo Freeway north to Washington Street east and then east on El Cajon Boulevard. Lane Field’s former site is located just a mile and a half northwest of Petco Park, straight up North Harbor Drive.

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Charlie Ebbets’s Field

January 17th, 2013

Ebbets Field was home to the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1913 until 1957. The ballpark was the brainchild of Dodgers owner Charlie Ebbet. He spent four years piecing together the land necessary to construct the ballpark when it became clear that the Dodgers’ home at Washington Park was no longer suitable.

Ebbets Field Post Card (Acacia Card Co. NY)

Located in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, the stadium’s front entrance was at the northeast corner of McKeever and Sullivan Place.

Entrance to Ebbets Field, McKeever and Sullivan Place (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

Ebbets Field Apartments, a housing project constructed pursuant to the Mitchell-Lama Program and rising 25 stories above the former playing field, now occupies the site.

Corner of McKeever and Sullivan Place Circa 2001

Although no part of the former ballpark remains, the apartment building does pay homage to the former occupant of the site. The front entrance of the building near the northwest corner of Bedford Avenue and Sullivan Place includes a marble plaque honoring Ebbets Field.

Ebbets Field Apartments Plaque

Dated 1962, the inscription states: “This is the former site of Ebbets Field.”

Plaque Honoring Ebbets Field

The memory of Jackie Robinson and the ballpark are honored with the Jackie Robinson Elementary School and Ebbets Field Middle School, both located opposite the ballpark site on McKeever Place. Both schools were built in the 1960’s.

Jackie Robinson Elementary School on McKeever Place

When Ebbets Field was constructed in 1912, much of the land and buildings surrounding the ballpark still had a small town feel.

Entrance to Ebbets Field Looking Toward McKeever Place (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

The ballpark’s opening in 1913 brought with it construction of block-long, one story brick buildings surrounding the site.

One Story Industrial Buildings Located One Block South of Ebbets Field on McKeever and Dating to Time of Ebbets Field

The right field corner of the ballpark was located at the northwest corner of Bedford Avenue and Sullivan Place.

Bedford Avenue and Sullivan Place, Ebbets Field’s Former Right Field Corner

The only portion of the ballpark not surrounded by grandstands was right field.

Right Field Wall Ebbets Field, Bedford Avenue (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

A brown brick wall with the letters “EBBETS FIELD”  runs parallel to former site of the right field wall along Bedford Avenue, approximately 15 feet from original wall’s location.

Parking Lot Located in Former Location of Right Field

Two buildings dating from the time of Ebbets Field remain on Bedford Avenue. The first, at the corner of Montgomery and Bedford, is a four-story walk up.

Four-story Walk Up at Coerner of Montgomery and Bedford

The second, attached to the four-story walk up at mid block, is a one story building currently housing a pharmacy.

Corner of Bedford Avenue and Sullivan Place with Rite Aid Pharmacy Located in Building that Dates to Ebbets Field

First base once ran parallel to Sullivan Place.

Former Location of  Ebbets Field First Base Grandstand Along Sullivan Place, Looking in Direction of Home Plate.

Across the street from the Ebbets Field Apartments on Sullivan Place are several one-story buildings that also date to the time of Ebbets Field.

Sullivan Place Across the Street from Former Site of Ebbets Field’s First Base

At the southwest corner of Sullivan Place and Bedford Avenue is a unique one story building that currently houses a Firestone Tire Store. This building also dates to the time of Ebbets Field. The corner of the building includes a mural and a painted tribute to New York City police officers.

Tire Store at Corner of Sullivan Place and Bedford Avenue

Much of the former site of right and center fields is a plaza located one story above the former playing field, on top of a parking garage.

Right Field Line Looking Toward Second Base

Up until at least 2001, a sign in the courtyard above what would have been the infield cautioned:

Please NO
Ball Playing
Dogs Allowed
Bicycle Riding
This Area For Tenants Of Ebbets Field Appts Only

Sign Located in Ebbets Field Apartments Near Former Location of Second Base, Circa 2001

Ebbets Field is one of the most storied lost ballparks. Unfortunately, no piece or artifact of the old ballpark remains at the site. However, just two miles south of the Ebbets Field Apartments, down Flatbush Avenue, is a flag pole that once sat in center field, now residing in front of the Barclay Center. For more information on the well-traveled flag pole, see: Ebbets Field Flag Pole.

The New York Mets current stadium, Citi Field, pays homage to Ebbets Field with a front entrance and rotunda that evoke the lost ballpark.

Citi Field, Home of the New York Mets

Should you find yourself with extra time before or after a Mets game, the former site of Ebbets Field is only 13 miles southwest of Citi Field down Grand Central Parkway and the Jackie Robinson Parkway. For any true fan of the National Pastime, it is well worth the trip.

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The Polo Grounds, Coogan’s Bluff, and the Brush Memorial Stairway

January 9th, 2013

The Polo Grounds was located in Harlem, New York, at 157th Street and 8th Avenue. Various incarnations of ballparks at that location were home to three different major league teams: the National League New York Giants from 1891 to 1957, the New York Yankees from 1913 to 1922, and the New York Mets in 1962 and 1963, as well as a team from the Players’ League in 1890 also known as the Giants) .   Prior to 1890, a sports venue known as the Polo Grounds was located in Manhattan near Central Park, and a second venue, also known as the Polo Grounds, was located at 155th Street and 8th Avenue on a plot adjacent to the Polo Grounds at 157th Street.

Postcard of the Polo Grounds Postcard Showing Newly Rebuilt Ballpark After Fire Destroyed the Original Ballpark (Success Postal Card Co., photo New York Times)

The original wooden ballpark at 157th Street was destroyed by fire in 1911 and a new concrete and steel ballpark was constructed on the site.

Postcard of the Polo Grounds (H. Pinkelstein & Sons, American Art Publishing)

The new Polo Grounds were the third concrete and steel ballpark in the country.

Polo Ground’s Concrete and Steel Construction (Library of Congress  Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

Coogan’s Bluff  (not to be confused with the movie of the same name starring Clint Eastwood) was located northwest of the Polo Grounds just beyond home plate at 155th Street and Edgecombe Avenue. The playing field of the Polo Grounds sat in Coogan’s Hollow

New York City Park Sign Advertising Coogan’s Bluff

Rock outcroppings just northwest of the ballpark at Harlem River Driveway (which dissects Coogan’s Bluff) provided an excellent vantage point for free viewing of at least portions of the ball field.

View of Polo Grounds From Coogan’s Bluff at Harlem River Driveway (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

Those rock outcroppings remain to this day along Harlem River Driveway, providing an excellent view now of Polo Grounds Towers.

Looking Southeast Toward Polo Grounds Tower No. 4 from Coogan’s Bluff and Harlem River Driveway

In 1913 a stairway at 157th Street and Edgecomb Avenue in Harlem was constructed to allow subway riders who departed the 155th Street station more direct access to the ballpark at Harlem River Driveway. That stairway remains, a lasting baseball relic of the Polo Grounds at its former site.

Stairway at 157th Street and Edgecomb Avenue.

The stairs, whose inscription states  “The John T. Brush Stairway Presented by the New York Giants,” was dedicated in 1913 to the former Giants’ owner.

“The John T. Brush Stairway Presented by the New York Giants”

The Brush Memorial Stairway emptied onto the sidewalk at Harlem River Driveway, allowing fans direct access into the Polo Grounds from Harlem River Driveway.

Polo Grounds and the Harlem River Driveway (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

A second stairway that would have taken fans north of the ballpark at ground level still exists alongside Harlem River Driveway.

Looking Northeast Down Harlem River Driveway and Stairway to Former Site of Polo Grounds

Old Yankee Stadium was located southeast of the Polo Grounds, just across the Harlem River.

Aerial View of Yankee Stadium and Polo Grounds (photo from stuffnobodycaresabout.com)

Aerial View of Old Yankee Stadium and the Polo Ground Towers

Aerial View of Old Yankee Stadium and the Polo Ground Towers

In 1923, Yankee Stadium was visible from inside the Polo Grounds, across the Harlem River.

Polo Grounds, Opening Day 1923, with Yankee Stadium Visible Beyond Center Field (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

Prior to its demise in 2009, Old Yankee Stadium was still visible from Coogan’s Bluff at Harlem River Driveway looking southeast past the Polo Grounds Towers.

View of Old Yankee Stadium Looking Beyond Former Site of Polo Grounds, Circa 2001

The Polo Grounds Towers, which were built on the ballpark’s former site and completed in 1968, consist of four high rise apartments with a total of over 1600 units.

Entrance to Polo Grounds Towers on 8th Avenue

A plaque marking the approximate location of home plate is located on a column of Tower No. 4.

Plaque Honoring Polo Grounds and Former Location of Home Plate

The apartment building located at 155 Edgecombe Avenue is visible from the former location of home plate looking back toward Coogan’s Bluff.

Plaque Marking Location of Home Pate, with Apartment Building at 555 Edgecombe Avenue in Background

A sliver of that same apartment building is visible in top right corner of the postcard below.

Postcard of the Polo Grounds Showing Buildings Lining Edgecombe Avenue on Coogan’s Bluff (Alfred Mainzer, NY, NY, Curteich-Chicago)

The New York Giants abandoned the Polo Grounds in 1957, moving to San Francisco and Seal Stadium in 1958 and then Candlestick Park in 1960. Subsequent to the Mets move to Shea Stadium in 1964, the Polo Grounds was demolished.

Polo Grounds During the 1912 World Series (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

Although nothing remains at the actual ballpark site, the Brush Memorial Stairway does provide a link to the past. The stairway has sat in obscurity and disrepair for years, however an effort is now underway to restore the stairway and, with it, a piece of New York’s baseball past and baseball glory. See MLB.com article about restoration of John T. Brush Stairway [Editor’s Note: The Brush Memorial Stairway has been restored and is open for use. Woods surrounding the stairway have been turned into a small park with lighting, making the stairway quite accessible. A sign has been placed on Edgecombe Avenue at the entrance to the stairway.]

Polo Grounds During the 1913 World Series (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

 

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Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes To Savannah

September 21st, 2012

Shoeless Joe Jackson was born in South Carolina in 1887. He began his professional baseball career in 1908, playing first for the Greenville Spinners and then for the Philadelphia Athletics later that season. In 1909 Shoeless Joe started the year with the Savannah Indians, before once again being called up by the Athletics.

Shoeless Joe Jackson as a Member of the Savannah Indians in 1909

After being banned from baseball in 1921, Jackson and his family moved back to Savannah in 1922, where he established a dry cleaning business known as Savannah Valet Service. One of his company’s two shops was located at 119 Drayton Street.

Former Site of Savannah Valet Service - 119 Drayton Street, Savannah, GA

On a recent trip to Savannah I went looking for the building that once housed the Savannah Valet Service, only to discover that it had been torn down and in 2001 made into a parking lot for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Ascension.

Entrance to Parking Lot for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Ascension

The Church of the Ascension itself is located next door to the former site of Jackson’s dry cleaners business.

Former Site of Jackson's Dry Cleaners Business With Church of the Ascension Visible in Background

Luckily, there is better news regarding two places where Jackson lived while in Savannah. The apartment building where he first lived after moving to Savannah after leaving baseball remains at 143 Abercorn Street .

Apartment Building Where Shoeless Joe Jackson Lived In Savannah, GA

A stucco, three story, center hall walk up, the building was constructed in 1914.

Front Entrance To 143 Abercorn Street, Savannah, GA

Renovation of the building in the mid 2000’s won an Historic Preservation Award by the Historic Savannah Foundation.

Historic Preservation Award For 143 Abercorn Street, Savannah, GA

Jackson later moved to a single family home at 1411 East 39th Street, which is located just four blocks north of Historic Grayson Stadium, current home of the Savannah Sand Gnats.

Shoeless Joe Jackson's Former Home At 1411 East 39th Street, Savannah, GA

Jackson’s former home is a two bedroom, one story bungalow. In front of the house next door to Jackson’s former home is a oak tree draped with Spanish moss, undoubtedly dating back to Jackson’s time living there.

Tree From The Time Of Jackson, 1411 East 39th Street

Should you find yourself in Savannah, Georgia, take a moment to see places where Shoeless Joe Jackson lived. Those buildings are a link to the past and help give fans a little better appreciate of Joe Jackson’s life after he was banned from baseball.

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Baltimore’s First American League Park – Original Home of the Future New York Yankees

August 23rd, 2012

The southwest corner of East 29th Street and Greenmount Avenue in Baltimore, Maryland, is the site of two former major league baseball fields.

Intersection of Greenmount Avenue and East 29th Street, Baltimore, Maryland

From 1890-1891, the site held Oriole Park (II) (the second Oriole Park according to Phillip Lowry and his excellent book Green Cathedrals) and was home to the American Association Baltimore Orioles.

Southwest Corner of East 29th Street and Barclay Street in Baltimore, Former Site of Two Former Major League Ballparks

A second ballpark – American League Park – was constructed on that site (also known as Oriole Park IV) (the fourth, according to Mr. Lowry) and was home to the American League Baltimore Orioles for the 1901 and 1902 seasons.

American League Park (Photo - Babe Ruth Museum) Entrance on Greenmount Avenue (Near 29th Street)

American League Park should not be confused with Terrapin Park, which was located across 29th Street from American League Park at the northwest corner of East 29th Street and Greenmount. Terrapin Park was home to the Federal League Baltimore Terrapins in 1914 and 1915, the International League Orioles from 1916 to 1944, and the Negro American League Baltimore Elite Giants from 1938 to 1944 (see Terrapin Park/Oriole Park). The 1914 map below (with thanks to Bernard McKenna) shows the locations of both parks.

Atlas of the City of Baltimore, Maryland Topographical Survey Commission 1914 (mdhistory.net)

In 1903, Baltimore’s American League franchise was sold to New York interests and became the New York Highlanders, and later the New York Yankees. The Eastern League Baltimore Orioles (the league was renamed the International League in 1911) took over American League Park for the 1903 season.

Opening Day April 26, 1909, at Oriole Park (Library of Congress Division of Prints and Photographs, Washington, D.C.)

The ballpark was also where Babe Ruth, playing for the International League Orioles in 1914, played for Baltimore during his one year of professional minor league baseball.

A Sanborn Insurance Map shows the location of much of the ballpark in 1901.

1901 Sanborn Insurance Map of Baltimore Showing Location of American League Park

A McDonald’s now stands at the site, its restaurant and drive through covering the left field corner and the parking lot behind it covering much of the infield.

Former Site of American League Park, Baltimore - Note the building on the corner is the same building in the above vintage picture of American League Park

Home plate was once located in the southeast corner of East 29th Street and Barclay. No, that is not a young Babe Ruth standing in the approximate location of home plate, it is actually SABR Bob Davids Chapter President Bruce Brown.

Former Site of American League Park's Home Plate

The first-base line ran parallel to Barclay.

American League Park's First Base Line Ran Parallel to Barclay Street (Seen Here Looking South)

The third-base line ran parallel to East 29th Street.

Former Site of American League Park Baltimore, Looking Across Left Field Toward Home Plate/First Base

Two-story row houses fronting both sides of Llchester Road, constructed after the demise of American League Park, cover the remaining portion of the ballpark site.

Back Side Of Houses Facing Llchester Road Located In Former Center Field

The perimeter of the park ran from East 29th Street to the north, to Greenmount Avenue to the east, to East 28th Street to the South and to Barclay Street to the west.

Greenmount Avenue Looking South From Former Left Field Corner Toward Center Field

Six blocks south of the former ballpark site is St. Ann’s Catholic Church (at the corner of Greenmount Avenue and East 22nd Street) which is where former Orioles John McGraw married his second wife, the former Blanche Sindall. The church’s Gothic spiral is visible down Greenmount.

The Steeple Of St. Ann's Church Visible Down Greenmount Avenue (just beyond red traffic light)

The areas surrounding the Harwood section of Baltimore includes several former ballpark sites. To the northwest is the former site of Memorial Stadium, home of the American League Baltimore Orioles from 1954 to 1991. It is located less than a mile from old American League Park – four blocks north on Greenmount and five blocks east on 33rd Street. Four blocks to the south is the former site of Union Park (East 25th and Barclay), home of the National League Baltimore Orioles of the 1890s (see Union Park). If you consider yourself a true fan of Baltimore baseball, be sure to make the effort and visit these former sites. You can even stop for a hamburger and fries and consume them while siting in a booth located in American League Park’s former left field.

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The Field Where Babe Ruth Played – St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys

August 2nd, 2012

The baseball field where Babe Ruth honed his skills as a child still remains to this day in an area just west of downtown Baltimore at 3225 Wilkens Avenue.

Babe Ruth and His Baseball Team, St. Mary’s Industrial School For Boys (Huggins & Scott Auctions image)

With the demise of the House That Ruth Built and the demolition of so many of the major league parks where he once played, there appears to be good news out of Baltimore that the field where Ruth learned to play the game might be spared its uncertain fate and, instead, restored for future generations to appreciate.

The Infield at Babe Ruth Field, Baltimore, Maryland

Near the corner of South Canton Avenue and Route 1 just a half mile north of Interstate 95 is a ball field known as “Babe Ruth Field.”

Babe Ruth Field Scoreboard, Baltimore, Maryland

At the time these pictures were taken in 2007, the field was part of Cardinal Gibbons High School. Formerly, the school had been the St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, an orphanage and reform school run by the Catholic Church.

Dugout at Babe Ruth Field, Baltimore, Maryland

In addition to the cinder block dugouts and the chainlink backstop, one major difference between the field that Ruth played on and the field as it exists today is the orientation of home plate, which in Ruth’s day, was located in what is now centerfield.

Center Field at Babe Ruth Field, Baltimore, Formerly Location of Home Plate, With Industrial Arts Building in Background

Babe Ruth spent the majority of his formative years as a ward of the school, his parents having signed him over to the Xaverian Brothers out of desperation when he was just eight or nine years old.  Brother Matthias Bouttlier, the school’s disciplinarian,  helped harness Ruth’s natural abilities.

Home Plate at Babe Ruth Field, Baltimore, Maryland

Left field was formerly right field in the days of Ruth.

Left Field at Babe Ruth Field, Formerly Right Field

With Cardinal Gibbons High School now closed and the facility no longer in use, the future of Babe Ruth Field was uncertain, but perhaps no more. Plans were announced earlier this year for St. Agnes Hospital, which is located nearby, to purchase the former high school grounds and buildings (including the industrial arts building where Ruth went to school and the St. Mary’s Gymnasium), as well as Babe Ruth Field.

Plans to Save Babe Ruth Field Would Result in Reorienting Field to the Way it Was When Babe Played There

In 2012 St. Agnes Hospital purchased the former Cardinal Gibbons grounds. Bon Secours Baltimore Health System, which owns St. Agnes Hospital, is about to break ground on an apartment complex that hopefully will preserve the field and buildings that date back to Ruth’s time at St. Mary’s.

Panoramic View of Babe Ruth Field at Former Site of St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys

Panoramic View of Babe Ruth Field at Former Site of St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys

In 2017, St. Agnes Hospital, with the assistance of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, built a new turf baseball and football field at the site. The baseball field returns the configuration of the baseball diamond to its original location, during the time Babe Ruth played there.

Panoramic View of Babe Ruth Field, January 2018

Although the natural grass field is now covered with turf, the good news is the area remains a playing field where youth today can play where the Babe once learned his stills.

Babe Ruth Field, January 2018, Located Next to Industrial Arts Building

In 1919, a fire on the St. Mary’s campus destroyed most of the original buildings that dated to Babe Ruth’s time there. One building that remains from the time of Babe Ruth is the Industrial Arts Building where Babe Ruth would have learned to sew shirts.

Industrial Arts Building – Where Babe Ruth Learned Trades Other Than Baseball

A second building that dominates the campus at the southeast intersection of South Canton Avenue and Wilkins Avenue once housed both St. Mary’s Industrial School and Cardinal Gibbons High School.

Stone Building That Once Housed Cardinal Gibbons High School

The building was constructed in 1921 after the 1919 fire, and renovated prior to the arrival of Cardinal Gibbons High School in 1962.

The Former St. Mary’s Industrial School in Baltimore

A third structure, a former boiler house and garage with a distinctive brick smoke stack, exists from the time of Babe Ruth. It is located next to the stone building, out beyond what would have been right field at the time Babe Ruth played there.

Former Site of St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys, Baltimore, Maryland

Former Site of St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, Baltimore, Maryland

The Chapel, which survived the 1919 fire and sat at the corner of Wilkens Avenue and South Canton Avenue, was demolished in 1961 to make way for additional school buildings at Cardinal Gibbons High School.

Demolition of St. Mary's Industrial School Chapel in 1961 (Baltimore Sun Photo, Ralph Robinson photographer)

Demolition of St. Mary’s Industrial School Chapel in 1961 (Baltimore Sun Photo, Ralph Robinson photographer)

Anyone who enjoys the history of baseball should make it a point to see where Babe Ruth lived and played in the years prior to turning professional in 1914. There is much to see at the former site of St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys. With the plans for the campus still not certain, now is the time to make a visit, or pilgrimage, to see this historic landmark. For more local history about Babe Ruth, be sure to check out Babe Ruth’s Band at St. Mary’s Industrial SchoolSt. Paul’s Catholic Church in Ellicott City, Maryland, Where Babe Ruth Got Married and The Goddess “Gentlemen’s Club” – The Bar That Ruth Bought.

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Cleveland’s League Park – The Oldest Former MLB Park Still Standing (Somewhat)

July 20th, 2012

Located at the corner of Lexington and East 66th Street,  just three miles east of the Cleveland Indian’s current home, Progressive Field, is a historical baseball structure unmatched anywhere else in the United States.

League Park Center

For at that corner stands League Park, or what’s left of it. Once home to both Cleveland’s National League and American League teams, League Park remains a ball field, with portions of the original structure still standing (Editors Note: for an update on League Park’s Renovation CLICK HERE).

League Park postcard

The site is anchored by a two-and-a-half story, gabled, stucco and brick building which once held the team’s administrative offices.  A sign above the entrance identifies the building as “League Park Center, 6401 Lexington Ave.” A wall of glazed yellow bricks topped with four rows of four inch square glass windows cordons off the old ticket windows and the standing area immediately in front.

Side View Of League Park Center, Facing 66th Street

Inaugurated on May 1, 1891, League Park was home to the National League Cleveland Spiders until 1899, when the city lost its National League franchise. Baseball returned to League Park in 1901 when Cleveland joined the newly-formed American League along with Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee.

League Park Image From City of Cleveland  Collection

The first floor of building was once partitioned by four concrete, octagonal columns. Long ago, ticket windows were located between the columns.

League Park Image From City of Cleveland  Collection

On the right side of League Park Center are several weathered doors, all of which once opened into the now-demolished right field grandstand. With that structure long gone, the single oak door on the second floor and the double oak doors on the third floor beneath the gable’s peak are, literally, doors to nowhere.

Side View Of League Park Center, Facing East 70th Street

In the later part of the 20th century, League Park Center was used by the city of  Cleveland as a youth center.

View Inside League Park Center

Located behind League Park Center is the first base side of the ballpark.

Former Location Of League Park’s First Base Grandstand

Connected to the back side of the building paralleling East 66th Street is a red brick fence with two archways that once provided entrance to the park between the ticket office and the first base grandstand. As a preservation measure, the archways has been enclosed with additional brick.

League Park’s First Base Grandstand Wall

The brick archways are stabilized by steel bracing.

Steel Bracing Preserves League Park’s First Base Grandstand Wall

Next to the brick archways, further north on East 66th toward Linwood, where the lower grandstand once stood, is  a portion of the dugout stairs.

League Park’s Former Dugout Steps – Now Steps To Nowhere

The dugout steps were connected to a walkway leading to the now-demolished clubhouse.

League Park Tunnel Leading From Dugout To Clubhouse

Home plate was located near the corner of Linwood Avenue and East 66th Street. Up until a  few  years ago, a dirt infield with  home plate and metal backstop sat in the approximate location of the original infield.

League Park Looking North From Right Field  Toward TheFormer Location Of  Home Plate

Right Field, where Shoeless Joe Jackson once roamed the outfield, was located  parallel to Lexington Avenue.

Right Field, League Park, Looking Toward Center Field

An Ohio historical marker located to the east of League Park Center notes the significance of the site:

League Park opened on May 1, 1891, with the legendary Cy Young pitching for the Cleveland Spiders in their win over the Cincinnati Red Legs. The park remained the home of Cleveland’s professional baseball and football teams until 1946. In 1920 the Cleveland Indians’ Elmer Smith hit the first grand slam home run, and Bill Wamby executed the only unassisted triple play in World Series history. Babe Ruth hit his 500th home run over the park’s short right field wall in 1929. With the park as home field, the Cleveland Buckeyes won the Negro World Series in 1945.

While much of League Park is now gone, enough remains to make it one of baseball’s best historical sites. For the true fan of the game, the park is a must-see when visiting Cleveland. An effort is underway by the  City of Cleveland and private interests to restore League Park to a certain level of its earlier glory.  For information on that effort, see LeaguePark.Org. For an article from the New York Times about the restoration, see nytimes.com article about League Park

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Forbes Field – Game Over

March 11th, 2012

My earlier post, Forbes Field and the University of Pittsburgh, focuses on the portion of the original outfield wall that remains at the former site of Forbes Field, now part of the University of Pittsburgh.

Forbes Field Postcard (Published by Minsky Bros. & Co. Pittsburgh) 

The original outfield wall is not the only artifact of Forbes Field remaining at the site.

Pennsylvania Historical Plaque for Forbes Field

The former location of home plate is inside Wesley Posvar Hall, a six-story building constructed by the University of Pittsburgh in the mid 1970’s.

University of Pittsburgh’s Wesley Posvar Hall

A plaque outside Posvar Hall recognizes Barney Dreyfus, owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1900 to 1932.

Pennsylvania Historical Plaque Honoring Barney Dreyfuss

The actual home plate from Forbes Field is encased in glass and set into the floor in its “approximate” former location.

Forbes Field Home Plate

Hung on a wall next to home plate  is a photograph of Forbes Field taken from the Cathedral of Learning, which is located several blocks beyond what was once left field.

Former and Present Location of Forbes Field Home Plate

About 90 feet from the home plate marker inside Posvar Hall is an oil portrait of Wesley W. Posvar, the University’s 15th chancellor.

Oil Painting of Chancellor Posvar

Outside Posvar Hall is a line of of bricks that lead across Roberto Clemente Drive to where the remnants of the outfield wall begin. About 15 feet tall, and perhaps 180 feet long, the wall is constructed of red brick and divided by concrete columns spaced 12 feet apart.  The columns are covered in green paint and the wall is capped with blocks of weathered grey granite. Next to the wall is the original center field flag pole.

Original Forbes Field Wall on Campus of University of Pittsburgh

The wall ends at what once was the right-field pavilion.  For additional pictures of the Forbes Field wall, check out my earlier post, Forbes Field and the University of Pittsburgh.

Backside of Forbes Field Wall with Posvar Hall Visible Beyond Wall

Behind the Forbes Field wall is a youth baseball diamond.

Youth Baseball Diamond Behind Forbes Field Wall (to the right)

Also behind the wall is a replica of the entrance to Forbes Field.

Replica Entrance to Forbes Field

Constructed of wood, the entrance way replicates the cream-colored, tiled facade of Forbes Field.

Sign Attached to Replica of Forbes Field’s Entrance

Behind what would have been the right field pavilion is the top landing of a concrete stairway with painted aqua green pipe hand rails.  The stairway once provided ballpark access for fans arriving from Joncaire Street in Panther Hollow.

Stairway Behind Forbes Field’s Right Field Pavilion

Next to PNC Park, the Pirates current home, is a statute of Bill Mazeroski crossing home plate, in honor of his 1960 World Series walk of home run. Part of the fence surrounding the plaza includes a portion of the Forbes Field brick wall – marked “306 FT” – which was removed during the demolition of the ballpark and resided for a while at Three River Stadium. It was this portion of the Forbes Field wall that Mazeroski’s famous home run cleared for the game winner.

Bill Mazeroski Statue Located Outside PNC Park Just West of Exposition Park's Former Site

Bill Mazeroski Statue Located Outside PNC Park Just West of Exposition Park’s Former Site

Although Forbes Field is now just another lost ballpark, what remains at the site is well worth a stop for any baseball fan passing through Pittsburgh.

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Union Park – Home of the World Champion National League Baltimore Orioles

February 19th, 2012

Union Park lasted as a major league venue for a mere nine seasons, from 1891 to 1899.  Known also as Oriole Park (III) and the Baltimore Baseball and Exhibition Grounds, the ballpark was home of the World Champion (1894-1896) National League Baltimore Orioles. Union Park was located at the corner of East 25th Street and and what is now Hunter Street in the Barclay section of Baltimore, just south of Harwood.

Union Park, Baltimore, Home of the National League Orioles, circa 1897 (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

In the picture above, the houses immediately to the right of the grandstand are located on East 25th Street.  The houses on the right side of the picture, looming behind left center field, are located on Barclay Street.

Location of Union Park's Former Grandstand, Baltimore

Many of those houses remain at the site today, providing a point of reference for the ball field.

Back Side of 321 East 25th Street, Former Site of Union Park, Baltimore

The back side of the building located at 321 East 25th Street, which currently houses the St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center, with its distinctive pitched roof, can seen in the 1897 photograph, immediately to the right of the grandstand.

Houses on East Side of Barclay Street, Baltimore

The houses on the east side of Barclay Street are visible in the 1897 photograph of Union Park, just behind the bleachers in left field.

Corner of East 24th Street and Barclay, Baltimore

In the above photograph – the corner of East 25th Street and Barclay –  the house to the left was built on what would have once been Union Park’s center field.

Former Site of Union Park Left and Center Field Bleachers, Baltimore

The houses on the west side of Barclay Street, looking toward East 25th Street, pictured above, sit in place of Union Park’s left and center field bleachers.

Former Right Field Corner of Union Park, Baltimore

Union Park’s right field was located at the corner of East 24th Street and Guilford Avenue, which is seen in the above photograph, looking on East 24th Street toward Guilford.  The brick buildings to the right of the picture along East 24th Street were constructed after the demolition of Union Park. Indeed, the buildings that line East 24th Street today sit in the southern most point of Union Park’s outfield.

A Sanford Insurance Map from 1901 shows the exact location of Union Park.

1901 Sanborn Insurance Map of Baltimore Showing Location of Union Park

According to the Sanborn map it appears that Guilford Avenue originally dead ended at 24th Street and that a portion of the first base grand stand actually sat in the middle of what is now Guilford Avenue.

Union Park, East 25th Street, Baltimore, circa 1895 (photo courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society)

The above photograph shows the entrance to Union Park on East 25th Street.  The brick building in the background, beyond the wooden ballpark, remains today at the site.  It is the same building mentioned above that was located just to the right of the Union Park grandstand, and sits at 321 East 25th Street.

Former Location of Entrance to Union Park, Baltimore

The red brick building at 321 East 25th Street is visible in the background of the above photograph.   To the right of that building is Falls Alley, which allows entrance into the former playing field from East 25th Street.

Building to the Right of Falls Alley, Gateway to Union Park's Former Playing Field

The row houses contructed on the site of Union Park’s former grandstand date to the early 1920s.

Former Site of Union Park Grandstand

Still remaining at the former site of Union Park is a short red brick wall with an iron gate entrance that once stood next to the Union Park grandstand.  Behind that gate was once a soda stand. That soda stand can be seen above in the 1895 photograph of Union Park, next to 321 East 25th Street.

Iron Gate Remaining from Time of Union Park, Baltimore

It is estimated that home plate sat behind the row house that currently sits at 303 East 25th Street.

Former Location of Home Plate, Union Park, Baltimore

The area that was once the infield is now a parking lot and a collection of brick garages –  an unceremonious use of such hallowed ground.

Former Location of First Base Grandstand, Union Park, Baltimore

Just to the right of the house at 321 East 25th Street, along the left field foul line, was a large, two-story billboard for “A.G. Spalding & Bros.” The billboard advertised Spalding bicycles and athletic equipment.

Union Park Billboard For A. G. Spalding & Bros

Although Union Park was wiped from the landscape over 100 years ago, the neighborhood surrounding the former site offers several clues to the ballpark’s location.  It certainly is worth a trip for any fans of the Baltimore Orioles (click Union Park Demise for a Baltimore Sun article about its impending demolition).

1897 Baltimore Orioles (Huggins and Scott Auctions image)

With the demolition 10 years ago of Memorial Stadium, there currently exists no baseball venue in Baltimore where the Orioles have won a World Championship.

For more baseball history located nearby, see John McGraw and St. Ann’s Catholic Church for pictures and information about where Orioles third baseman John McGraw married his second wife, Blanche Sindall. For pictures and information about American League Park – located just four blocks north Union Park and where McGraw played and managed the 1901-02 American League Baltimore Orioles, see The Orioles First American League Park. To see where McGraw and three of his Hall of Fame teammates are buried just a few miles west, see New Cathedral Cemetery, Final Resting Place of Four Oriole HOFs.

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Hilltop Park And the Church of Baseball

December 17th, 2010

Perched on a hill overlooking the Hudson River at the southwest corner of Broadway and 168th Street in Washington Heights was Hilltop Park, the original home ball field of the New York Yankees (known then as the Highlanders).

Entrance to Hilltop Park (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

The third base grandstand, which once ran parallel to Fort Washington Avenue, is shown in the picture below.

The first base grandstand, depicted in the photograph below, ran parallel to 165th Street.

Kid Gleason of the Chicago White Sox at Hilltop Park (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

The New York Presbyterian/Columbia Medical Center, erected in the 1920’s, now engulfs the entire site.

American League Park Circa 1910 (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

Nothing remains of the old ballpark.

New York Presbyterian/Columbia Medical Center, Former Site of Hilltop Park

In a courtyard just off Fort Washington Avenue, between 165th and 168th Streets, is a bronze plaque marking the former location of home plate.

Former Site of Hilltop Park’s Home Plate

The New York Yankees donated the plaque to the hospital and unveiled it in 1993 during a dedication attended by former Highlanders pitcher Chet Hoff, who was then 102 years old.  Mr. Hoff went on to become the oldest living ex-major-leaguer ever, before his death five years later.

Bronze Plaque Honoring Former Location of Hilltop Park

This famous picture (below) of Ty Cobb sliding into third base, and third baseman Jimmy Austin, was taken at Hilltop Park.

Ty Cobb Sliding Into Third Base at Hilltop Park (photo image courtesy of Mike’s Chicago White Sox website at  www.freewebs.com/karamaxjoe/jimmyaustinjersey.htm  

The location of third base, where this picture was taken, is inside the Presbyterian Building shown in the photo below, just 90 feet beyond where the home plate marker resides.

The Presbyterian Building, Former Site of Third Base at Hilltop Park

The medical center’s chapel – the Pauline A. Hartford Memorial Chapel – is  constructed on what once was Hilltop Park’s right field.  It is, literally, a true “church of baseball.”

Pauline A Hartford Memorial Chapel (With Rose Window Seen Through Trees), Located in Former Site of Hilltop Park Right Field

UPDATE – AUGUST 2011

The courtyard off Fort Washington Street currently is under construction and the bronze plaque honoring the former location of home plate has been removed.

Sign On Fort Washington Street Announcing Construction In Courtyard

As such, the courtyard is closed off to visitors.

Courtyard as seen through chain link fence

 

Although the actual ballpark is long gone, the distinctive, attached apartment buildings at the corner of 168th and Broadway remain from the time of Hilltop Park.  Those buildings appear in the photograph below.

Players Practicing at Hilltop Park (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

The photograph below depicts those same buildings, along with a Victorian style stone building, long gone, that sat along Broadway, just south of 168th Street.

New York Highlander Curt Coleman at Hilltop Park (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

The buildings  as they appear today facing 168th Street, at the intersection of 168th and Broadway.

Apartments Facing 168th Street

The apartment buildings house offices, a restaurant, and Melbran Pharmacy.

Melbran Pharmacy at the Corner of 168th and Broadway

The former ballpark site is easily accessible via the 168th Street Subway Station.

Subway Stop at 168th and Broadway

The lost ballpark located up Broadway, 120 blocks north on Times Square, is worth a visit for any true New York Yankees fan and is only a two mile drive from the Yankees current home at 161st  Street in the Bronx.  Just take the Macombs Dam Bridge across the Harlem River to west 155th Street to Broadway, and head north to 165th  Street. Or, take the subway to 168th Street Station.

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Steps To The Past

March 26th, 2010

A Journey to the Past

They lead nowhere now, but these steps at League Park once took Cleveland players from the dugout, underneath the first base grandstands, to clubhouse, and back again.

And it is here, at League Park, that I will begin recounting the steps I have taken over the years to find the past hidden within this country’s many lost ballparks.

Lawrence Ritter did all baseball fans a great service, not just for his groundbreaking work “The Glory of Their Times,” but also with the publication almost 20 years ago of his book “Lost Ballparks.”  Over the years it has served as an inspiration and a travel guide for my many visits to this country’s long-lost major league ballparks.

There is much to tell about the trips I have taken, tracking down these former ballpark sites.  Some still retain a piece or two of the old ballpark – League Park, Forbes Field,  Braves Field, Sportsman Park.  Others have perhaps an outline, or markings where the field once stood – Fulton County Stadium, old Comiskey Park, Shea Stadium.  But most lost ballparks have nothing, just the memories of the men who played there and those who attended the games.  Pictures of those old ballparks, and understanding of what has been built in their place, and the memories of those fortunate to have seen the vanished ballparks, will aid in my attempt to bring these ballparks back again.

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