Posts Tagged ‘Pittsburgh Crawfords’

Henninger Field And 120 Years of Baseball in Chambersburg PA

August 3rd, 2015

Henninger Field is located at the intersection of Vine Street and Riddle Alley in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

Herringer Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The ball field dates back to 1895 and originally was known as Wolf Park, part of the Wolf Lake Park development named after Chambersburg businessman Augustus Wolf.

Herringer Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Located at the Intersection of Vine and Poplar Street

Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Located at the Intersection of Vine and Poplar Street

In 1895, Clay Henninger, a Chambersburg businessman and local baseball promoter, founded the Chambersburg Maroons. The team began play at Wolf Park that same season.

Herringer Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Herringer Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Originally an amateur team, over the years the Maroons played both semi-professional and a minor league baseball. In 1896, the Maroons joined the independent Cumberland Valley League and won the the championship that season. The following year, the Maroons joined the Industrial League.

The 1914 Chambersburg Maroons With Manager Clay Henninger (wearing suit) (photograph from display at Herringer Field, Franklin County Historical Society)

The 1914 Chambersburg Maroons With Manager Clay Henninger (wearing suit) (photograph from display at Herringer Field, Franklin County Historical Society)

In 1915, the Maroons joined the Class D Blue Ridge League, where they played through the 1917 season. With baseball operations suspended during World War I, the Maroons returned to Chambersburg and the Blue Ridge League in 1920, after the end of the war. That same year the ballpark was renamed Henninger Field in honor of Clay Henninger.

Scoreboard, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Scoreboard, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

In 1929 and 1930 the team was owned by the New York Yankees and its name was changed to the Chambersburg Young Yanks. The Young Yanks were the New York Yankees first farm team.

Backstop, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Backstop, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

May 31, 1929, the World Champion New York Yankees played an exhibition game at Henninger Field. The Yankees arrived in Chambersburg earlier in the day and, after a brief rest at the Hotel Washington, traveled to Henninger Field for a 3:30 game against the Chambersburg Young Yanks.

Hotel Washington, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania (Postcard Curt Teich & Co., Published by Louis Kaufmann & Sons)

Hotel Washington, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania (Postcard Curt Teich & Co., Published by Louis Kaufmann & Sons)

Babe Ruth played first base and hit a home run in the fifth inning over the center field fence, with Lou Gehrig and one other player aboard.

Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The Yankees won the exhibition 8-1. After the game, Ruth reportedly visited a Waters Street speakeasy while Gehrig signed autographs at a local drug store.

First Base, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

First Base, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

First Base Bleachers, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

First Base Bleachers, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Reportedly the Negro American League Pittsburgh Crawfords played some exhibition games at Henninger Field as well.

Third Base Foul Line, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Third Base Foul Line, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Several Major League players have called Henninger Field home, including third baseman Mike Mowery, a 15 year veteran who played for the Cincinnati Reds, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Third Base, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Third Base, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Presumably future Hall of Famer Nellie Fox, who was born and raised just one town over from Chambersburg in St. Thomas, Pennsylvania, played baseball at Henninger Field, perhaps the year he played in the Chambersburg Twilight League.

First Base Dugout, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

First Base Dugout, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The bowling alley Fox once owned, which still bears his name, is located in Chambersburg, just four and a half miles south of Henninger Field on Molly Pitcher Highway.

Nelly Fox Bowl in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Nelly Fox Bowl in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The Chambersburg Maroons ceased playing at Henninger Field after the 2010 season. The Chambersburg High School Trojans football, baseball, and soccer teams also played their games at Henninger Field, although in the last decade the school has played elsewhere.

A Left Field Backdrop of Warehouses, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

A Left Field Backdrop of Warehouses, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Henninger Field is a little-known, historic ballpark that represents a part of baseball’s bygone era of town baseball. The Borough of Chambersburg has owned and operated the property since the early 1930s, once professional baseball departed the borough. Chambersburg is rightly proud of its historic ballpark and should be commended for maintaining the field for the last 80-plus years.

Historical Display at Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Historical Display at Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The ballpark is just two miles west of I-81 at the interchange for Stoufferstown, Pennsylvania, should you find yourself traveling that highway. Take a moment to soak in the history of this modest ballpark. And while you are at it, stand on the same spot where Babe Ruth once hit one of his famous exhibition game home runs.

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Pullman Park – From Railroad Cars to Kelly Automotive Park

May 5th, 2015

Pullman Park was located at 100 Pullman Park Place near the intersection of Pillow Street and Plum Street in Butler, Pennsylvania.

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

The ballpark (first base side) was located alongside the former Standard Steel Car Company plant which manufactured railroad rolling stock (railroad cars) beginning in 1902.  Standard Steel was acquired by Pullman Car and Manufacturing Company in 1929 and merged in 1934 to become the Pullman-Standard Car Manufacturing Company.

Building that Once Housed Pullman Standard Manufacturing Company, Butler, Pennsylvania

Cut Stone Office Building that Once Housed Pullman Standard Manufacturing Company, Butler, Pennsylvania

In 1934 Pullman-Standard provided the land and and constructed Pullman Park. The company then donated the ballpark to the City of Butler.

Ticket Window, Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Ticket Window, Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

In 1935, Pullman Park was the home of the Class-D Pennsylvania State Association (PSA) Butler Indians, an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

In 1936 the PSA Butler Yankees arrived in Butler and played their home games at Pullman Park. The Butler Yankees played through the 1942 season in Butler. During World War II, Butler did not field a team. The Butler Yankees returned to Pullman Park in 1946, playing in the Middle Atlantic League. The 1947 season was notable because it saw the professional debut of future Hall of Famer Whitey Ford who pitched for Butler that season. The Butler Yankees departed after the 1948 season.

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

From 1949 to 1951, the Butler Tigers played their home games at Pullman Park. In 1949 and 1950, the Butler Tigers were an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. In 1951 they were an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

First Base Seating, Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

First Base Grandstand Bleacher Seating, Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Negro League exhibition games also were played at Pullman Park. At least one such game was played on July 8, 1937, when the Negro National League Homestead Grays played the NNL Pittsburgh Crawfords at Pullman Park.

Homestead Grays Poster (On Display at Kelly Automotive Park), Butler, Pennsylvania

Homestead Grays Poster (On Display at Kelly Automotive Park), Butler, Pennsylvania

Professional baseball departed Pullman Park after the 1951 season, and the ballpark thereafter was used primarily for high school baseball.

Light Stanchion, Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Light Stanchion, Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

In 2005, the city closed Pullman Park. The ballpark was demolished in 2007 to make way for an entirely new baseball facility at the site. Below is a video of Pullman Park filmed in 2006, after the city had stopped utilizing Pullman Park for high school baseball, but before demolition had begun on the ballpark.

In 2007, the City of Butler began construction of new Pullman Park, designed to host both high school and college games. The ballpark includes a turf infield and natural grass outfield. In 2014, the name of the ballpark was changed to Kelly Automotive Park. The transformation of the ballpark from old Pullman Park to Kelly Automotive was remarkable. Although it is unfortunate that none of the original ballpark could be saved and preserved, by 2007 apparently there wasn’t much that could be reused, other than the field itself.

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Grandstand, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Grandstand, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

To get a sense of the transformation from Pullman Park to Kelly Automotive Park, below are before and after pictures of the ballpark taken from approximately the same angle and location. In 2006 I was unable to gain access to the park, so all the pictures of the old park are from outside looking in.

The front entrance from the third base side:

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

The exterior of the third base grandstand:

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

The front entrance from the first base side:

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Exterior of the ballpark looking south:

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler,  Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

The first base grandstand:

First Base Grandstand, Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

First Base Grandstand, Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

First Base Grandstand, Kelly Automotive Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

First Base Grandstand, Kelly Automotive Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Interior of the first base grandstand:

Pullman Park Grandstand, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park Grandstand, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

View of right field with former American Bantam Car Company visible beyond the right field fence (in 1940, the American Bantam Car Company developed a Reconnaissance Car for the Army which was the prototype of the Jeep):

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Industry Beyond Outfield Wall, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Industrial Buildings Beyond Right Field Wall, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

View of center field:

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Looking Through Grandstand Toward Center Field, Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

View of left field:

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Park includes several displays on the concourse behind home plate that celebrate the history of Pullman Park.

Pullman Park History Display at Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park History Display at Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park History Display at Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park History Display at Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park History Display at Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park History Display at Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park History Display at Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park History Display at Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

The ballpark is surrounded by the buildings and industry that date to the time of Pullman Park.

My Buddy's Bar, With Pullman Park Mural, Across Street From Kelly Automotive Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

My Buddy’s Bar, With Pullman Park Mural, Across Street From Kelly Automotive Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

View of Houses Fronting Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

View of Houses Fronting Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Concrete Plant, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

DuBrook Concrete Plant, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Although the original ballpark is long gone, Kelly Automotive Park is a wonderful place to watch a high school or college game.

PSAC Baseball Tournament Banner at Kelly Automotive Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

PSAC Baseball Tournament Banner at Kelly Automotive Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

During summer months, Kelly Automotive Park is the home of the Butler Blue Sox of the collegiate wooden-bat rospect League.

Prospect League Standings Board at Kelly Automotive Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Prospect League Standings Board at Kelly Automotive Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

And if you do see a game at Kelly Automotive Park, be sure to notice the outfield advertisement for Jones Turkey Farm posted on the right field fence. It certainly gives new meaning to the term “fowl ball.”

Turkey Farm Wall Sign - The First Such Ad I Have Ever Seen in a Ballpark, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Fowl Ball! East Stroudsburg University Right Fielder Christian Rishel Playing Under the Watchful Eye of a Jones Turkey Farm Turkey, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

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Posted in Pennsylvania ballparks, Pullman Park/Kelly Automotive Park | Comments (0)

Gus Greenlee’s Field In Pittsburgh’s Hill District

March 25th, 2015

Greenlee Field was located at the intersection of Bedford Avenue and Junilla Street in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. From 1932 until 1938 it was the home of the Pittsburgh Crawfords of the Negro National League (the Crawfords joined the NNL in 1933).

Former Site of Greenlee Field, Intersection of Bedford Avenue and Julian Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Former Site of Greenlee Field, Intersection of Bedford Avenue and Junilla Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Greenlee Field is important not just because it was the home field of arguably the greatest Negro League team of all time – the 1935 Pittsburgh Crawfords – but because it was the first major league ballpark owned and operated by an African American. Gus Greenlee, the owner of the Crawfords, began construction of Greenlee Field in 1931, the same year he bought the team. Greenlee, a WWI veteran, wore many hats. In addition to owning the Crawfords, he was a boxing promoter, nightclub owner (the Crawford Grill), and a pioneer in Pittsburgh’s numbers racket (an illegal lottery).

Gus Greenlee, Owner of the Pittsburgh Crawfords (photographer unknown)

Gus Greenlee, Owner of the Pittsburgh Crawfords (photographer unknown)

Crawford Grill No. 1, which Greenlee opened in 1930, was located at the intersection of Crawford Street and Wylie Avenue at 1401 Wylie Avenue. Crawford Grill No. 1 was destroyed by fire in 1951 and subsequently demolished to make way for the Civic Arena parking lot. Crawford Street was an important part of the Hill District and provided the inspiration for the team’s name, the Pittsburgh Crawfords. At the intersection of Crawford Street and Wylie Avenue also stood the Pittsburgh Bath House and Recreation Center, which was the original sponsor of the then semi-professional Pittsburgh Crawfords.

Melon Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Civic Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

The building in which Greenlee opened Crawford Grill No. 2, beginning in 1943, still stands in Pittsburgh’s Hill District at the intersection of Wylie Avenue and Elmore Street, just  a half mile southwest of the Greenlee Field site.

Crawford Grill No. 2, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Crawford Grill No. 2, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Historical Marker for Crawford Grill No. 2, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Historical Marker for Crawford Grill No. 2, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

In 1933, Greenlee founded the Negro National League and was instrumental in establishing the East-West Classic, an annual Negro League all-star game played in Chicago. During his tenure as owner of the Crawfords, which ceased after the 1938 season, Greenlee stocked his team with many future Hall of Fame players including Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Oscar Charlestown, Judy Johnson and James T. “Cool Papa” Bell. The 1935 Crawfords, which included the above Hall of Famers, except Paige, is considered by many to be the greatest Negro League team ever to play the game.

Historical Marker, Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Historical Marker, Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Greenlee Field’s home plate, and the entrance to its grandstand, was located near the intersection Bedford Avenue and Junilla Street.

Entrance to Greenlee Field on Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Associated Press Photo)

Entrance to Greenlee Field on Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Associated Press Photo)

After the 1938 season, Greenlee Field was demolished. Several images of the ballpark in its hey day can be viewed on line by searching “Greenlee Field” in the Teenie Harris Archives, Carnegie Museum of Art (Charles “Teenie” Harris was one of the founders of the semi-pro Pittsburgh Crawfords in 1926). Soon after demolition of Greenlee Field, the City of Pittsburgh began construction of the Bedford Dwellings housing project, which remains today at the ballpark’s former site.

Former Site of Greenlee FIeld, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Former Site of Greenlee FIeld, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Greenlee Field’s left field corner was located at what is now the intersection of Bedford Avenue and Barnett Way. At the time of Greenlee Field, Watt Street intersected Bedford Avenue where what is now Barnett Way.

Former Site of Left Field Corner, Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Former Site of Left Field Corner, Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Because Greenlee Field was built on a hill, the playing field was located several feet above street grade.

Former Site of Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Looking from Left Field Corner Toward Home Plate

Former Site of Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Looking from Left Field Corner Toward Home Plate

Just to the east of Watt Street (which no  longer runs through the site) was the Pittsburgh Municipal Hospital, which can be seen in some of the photos of Greenlee Field available in the Teenie Harris Archives.

Team Picture of 1937 Homestead Grays Taken at Greenlee Field With Hospital Visible Beyond Right Field Fence

Team Picture of 1937 Homestead Grays Taken at Greenlee Field With Pittsburgh Hospital Visible Beyond Right Field Fence (photo from diversity.appstate.edu and courtesy of National Baseball Hall of Fame Cooperstown)

A park known as “The Garden of Hope” now sits at the former site of the hospital.

Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Looking Toward Former Site of Center Field Corner from Left Field Corner

Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Looking Toward Former Site of Center Field Corner from Left Field Corner

Greenlee Field’s former infield site is accessible from Chauncey Drive.

Chauncey Drive, Former Site of First Base, Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Chauncey Drive and Beford Avenue, Near Former Site of First Base, Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Where Chauncey Drive makes a 45 degree turn is the approximate location of second base.

Chauncey Drive Intersection Near Former Site of Second Base, Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Intersection Where Chauncey Drive Makes a 45 Degree Turn, Bedford Dwellings, Near Former Site of Second Base, Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Chauncey Drive, Looking Toward Downtown Pittsburgh, Near Former Site of Second Base, Greenlee Field

Chauncey Drive, Looking West Toward Downtown Pittsburgh, Near Former Site of Second Base, Greenlee Field

Some buildings located along Bedford Avenue date back to Greenlee Field. Three row houses at the intersection of Junilla Street and Bedford Avenue are located across the street from what would have been the home plate grandstand.

Row Houses at 2500-04 Bedford Avenue, Dating Back to Time of Greenlee Field

Row Houses at 2500-04 Bedford Avenue, Dating Back to Time of Greenlee Field

Three townhouses located 2520-24 Bedford Avenue are located across the street from what was once left field.

2420-22 Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

2420-22 Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The townhouse on the corner of Bedford Avenue and Watt Street (Watt Street was relocated after demolition of Greenlee Field) is now a market. With a little imagination, it is not hard to picture what Greenlee Field might have looked like standing at the entrance to that market.

2420 Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Samba Market, 2420 Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Just three blocks west of the former site of Greenlee Field, at the northwest corner of Somers Street and Bedford Avenue, was another Negro League ballpark, Ammons Field. The semi-pro Pittsburgh Crawfords played at this field, beginning in about 1926, as did the professional level Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays beginning in 1930. Ammons Field also is notable as the field where Josh Gibson first played baseball for the semi-pro Crawfords in 1928. For more information about Ammons Field and the history of the Crawfords, see James Bankes’ fine book The Pittsburgh Crawfords.

Historical Marker for Ammons Field

Historical Marker for Ammons Field

The City of Pittsburgh has paid tribute to Ammons Field and Josh Gibson with a historical marker. Located behind the Ammons Recreation Center at Bedford Avenue and Kirkpatrick Street is a youth baseball field dedicated to Josh Gibson.

Josh Gibson Field, Ammons Recreation Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Josh Gibson Field, Ammons Recreation Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

As noted in the informative website Agatetype.typepad.com, the actual location of the original Ammons Field utilized by the Crawfords was one block east of Josh Gibson Field, the current park. The former location of the modest grandstand and home plate is visible on the bluff beyond Josh Gibson Field’s left field fence.

Josh Gibson Field Looking Toward Former Site of Ammons Field Home Plate, Somers Drive and Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Josh Gibson Field Looking Toward Former Site of Ammons Field Grandstand and Home Plate at Somers Drive and Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Former Site of Ammons Field Home Plate, Somers Drive and Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Former Site of Ammons Field Grandstand and Home Plate, Somers Drive and Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh’s Hill District, and the former site of Greenlee Field, is located just two miles west of the former site of Forbes Field, and one and a half miles southwest of the former sites of Three Rivers Stadium and Exposition Park, as well as the Pirates current ballpark, PNC Park. If you are a fan of  the game and the history of the game, and you find yourself in Pittsburgh on a baseball trip, a stop at the former site of Greenlee Field and Ammons Field, is a must.

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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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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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