Posts Tagged ‘Ty Cobb’

Hamtramck Stadium – Detroit’s Diamond in the Rough

March 16th, 2019

Hamtramck Stadium is located at 3201 Dan Street in Hamtramck, Michigan, one block east of  Joseph Campau Avenue.

Entrance, Grandstand, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

The ballpark was constructed by John Roseink in 1930 on land owned by the Detroit Lumber Company. Roesink was owner of the Detroit Stars, a member of the National Negro League.  Hamtramck Stadium also was known as Roesink Stadium.

Grandstand, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

Located in the Veterans Park, the city of Hamtramck, Michigan, took over ownership of the ballpark in the early 1940s.

Historic Marker, Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

The State of Michigan placed a historic marker near one entrance to Veterans Park, at the northeast corner of Joseph Campau Avenue and Berres Street.

Historic Marker, Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

Hamtramck Stadium is on the National Trust for Historic Places. If you approach the ballpark from Dan Street, the historic marker is located two blocks west on Joseph Campau Avenue.

Historic Marker, Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

It is remarkable that Hamtramck Stadium still exists, given the fate of so many lost ballparks around the country. The distinctive grandstand of Hamtramck Stadium appears almost to hover over the playing field.

Grandstand, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

Hamtramck Stadium, at least the portion nearest the grandstand, has not been used for baseball since the 1990s. The grandstand currently is not open to the public.

Grandstand, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

The history of Hamtramck Stadium is rich and much of the factual history recounted here is from the websites Detroit: the History and Future of the Motor City and Hamtramck Stadium: Historic Negro League Ballpark

Back of Ticket Booth, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

When Hamtramck Stadium opened in 1930, it featured a 12-foot high outfield fence, box seating, and right field bleachers.

Steel Supports, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

The grandstand that remains is constructed of steel beams and girders supporting a mostly wooden floor and ceiling structure.

Steel Supports, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

The first game played was on May 10, 1930, when the Detroit Stars hosted the Cuban Stars. The Cuban Stars won that 13-inning contest 6-4.

Access Ramp to Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

The ballpark’s grand opening was held a day later, on Sunday May 11, 1930, and the Detroit Stars defeated the Cuban Stars 7 to 4. Former Detroit Tiger Ty Cobb threw out the first pitch, with over 9,000 fans in attendance that day.

Grandstand Ramp, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

The Detroit Stars played only two seasons at Hamtramck Stadium, as the team’s league, the Negro National League, folded half way through the 1931 season.

Ball field, as Seen From Center Grandtand, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

However, those two years were remarkable. Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium has determined that 18 members of baseball’s Hall of Fame played at the ballpark.

Grandstand, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

They include Negro League players Turkey Stearnes, Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell, Willie Wells, and Mules Suttles.

Grandstand Railing, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

Portions of the grandstand were renovated by the city in the 1950s and again in the 1970s.

Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

On June 28, 1930, the first night baseball game in the state of Michigan was played in Hamtramck Stadium using a portable lighting system. The Detroit Stars faced the Kansas City Monarchs with a crowd of over 10,000 people in attendance.

Baseball Field Light Stanchion, Located Beyond Outfield of Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan – Editor Note: this is not a light stanchion from the first night game

Hamtramck Stadium is one of the last surviving Negro League baseball parks. Others include Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama and Hinchcliffe Stadium in Patterson, New Jersey.

Grandstand, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

A third stadium, West Field in Munhall, Pennsylvania, recently was demolished in 2015, although the field remains and the site still hosts local and high school baseball and football.

Ramp, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

Rickwood Field is still utilized as a baseball park by the city of Birmingham and hosts a minor league game once every year, known as the Rickwood Classic. Effort is underway to preserve and restore Hinchcliffe Stadium, which, like Hamtramck Stadium, is listed on the National Trust for Historic Places.

Grandstanp Ramp, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

Concession stands and additional storage buildings located along the third base side of the stadium were constructed by the city of Hamtramck in the 1950s.

Mural, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

Those buildings now include murals that help tell the story of the ballpark.

Mural, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

Fun Fact: Right Field is located adjacent to the Grand Trunk Western Railroad Line. Those old enough to remember “We’re An American Band” will recognize the railroad from which the band Grand Funk Railroad got its name.

Grandstand, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

The following video of Hamtramck Stadium includes a walk through the grandstand and a drive around the stadium.

Hamtramck Stadium was home to the city’s 1959 Little League World Series champions, featuring local legend Art “Pinky” Deras, considered one of the greatest Little League World Series players.

Concession Stand, Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

Three years ago, members of the former Navin Field Grounds Crew banded together to form the Hamtramck Stadium Grounds Crew. Their interest in the historic ballpark helped bring renewed attention to the history of Hamtramck Stadium, and helped begin the process of restoring this once-proud ballpark.

Hamtramck Stadium Grounds Crew Members Tom Derry and Elaine Rucinski, with Calvin Stinson at Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

In the northern-most point of Hamtramck Stadium’s center field is a second baseball diamond used and maintained by Hamtrack Public Schools.

Baseball Field Located Beyond Outfield of Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

Like Hamtramck stadium, this smaller ballpark has a certain old-school charm, with its tall, fenced backstop and rustic light stanchions.

Baseball Field Located Beyond Outfield of Historic Hamtramck Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

Also worth visiting is Keyworth Stadium, located in the same complex, Veterans Park, just north of Hamtramck Stadium.

Exterior Wall, Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

Hamtramck Public Schools owns Keyworth Stadium, and hosts athletic events such as local soccer and football, as well as other community events.

Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

The stadium was constructed in 1936 as Michigan’s first Works Progress Administration project.

Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

The first event held at the stadium was a rally featuring President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during his second campaign for President in October 1936.

Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

Keyworth Stadium’s grandstands are a bit rough around the edges, and certain sections are cordoned off by chain link fence. However, the fact that the stadium remains a living part of the city of Hamtramck is a testimony to city and its appreciation of such historic places.

Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, Michigan

hamtramckstadium.org, with the help of assistance of the Piast Institute, Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium, and Detroit’s own  Jack White, have launched campaign to help restore Hamtramck Stadium. The campaign began in early 2019 and has set a goal of raising $50,000. Anyone interested in contributing can contact patronicity.com for more information, and to make a donation. Opportunities such as this to help reclaim a historic, almost lost ballpark, are rare, and truly are worth the effort.

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Welcome to Royston, Home of Baseball’s Immortal Ty Cobb

November 9th, 2011

Born in 1886 in Narrows, Georgia, Tyrus Raymond “Ty” Cobb moved with his family at an early age to Royston, Georgia.

Sign On Highway 8 Welcoming Visitors to Royston, Home of Ty Cobb

The sign located east of the town on Highway 8 is a vinyl reproduction of a painted plywood sign erected by the Royston Chamber of Commerce when Cobb was still alive.

Original Royston Welcome Sign with Ty Cobb Posing Below (copy of photograph on display at Ty Cobb Museum)

At one point there were four of these signs posted on the two major highways that run through Royston, Highways 8 and 17.  The only other sign currently standing is the one located north of the town on Highway 17.

Royston Welcome Sign Located North of Town On Highway 17

The original Welcome to Royston civic  sign sits opposite the Ty Cobb sign  on Highway 17 north of town.

Welcome To Royston Civic Sign

The town of Royston has many monuments and tributes to Cobb.  After retiring from baseball, Cobb donated a significant amount of money in his parent’s name to build a hospital in Royston for the people of Franklin County, Georgia.

Ty Cobb Healthcare System and Museum

Several buildings in Royston now honor Cobb and his philanthropic endeavors on behalf of the people of Franklin County. The Ty Cobb Healthcare System building is located on Highway 8 as you enter town from the west.

Ty Cobb Health Center

The Ty Cobb Museum alone is worth a stop in Royston.  Once located in the Royston Civic Center, the museum now resides in the Joe A. Adams Professional Building on Cook Street, across the street from the building housing the Ty Cobb Healthcare System.

Ty Cobb Museum Located In The Joe A. Adams Professional Building

The museum includes several displays honoring the baseball life  of Ty Cobb.

Display in Ty Cobb Museum

Of note in the museum is a Cobb’s 1907 American League Batting Champion Metal and a pair of his cleats.

Display at the Ty Cobb Museum

The Cobb Theater includes a short movie on the baseball life of Ty Cobb.

Ty Cobb Museum Movie Theater

Unfortunately, there is little  in the town of Royston that actually gives visitors a feel for Cobb as a private citizen living in Royston.  The boyhood home where he lived (and where his mother shot his father to death – allegedly having mistaken him for an intruder) no longer stands.  Its location is now, ironically, the parking lot for a funeral home.  The Pruitt Funeral Home is located at 47 Franklin Springs Street.

Pruitt Funeral Home Royston Georgia

The parking lot where Cobb’s house once stood is between the funeral home and the Royston First United Methodist Church, 137 Franklin Springs Street.

Pruitt Funeral Home Parking Lot - Former Site of Ty Cobb Boyhood Home

Some of the buildings located at the center of town date to the time of Cobb’s boyhood in Royston.  One of the most significant is the Joe T. Cunningham Furniture Store on Church Street, near the corner of Church and Franklin Springs Street.

Cunningham Furniture Store

Cobb and Joe Cunningham were close friends.  Cunningham, a cabinet and casket maker, used to make baseball bats for Cobb.  Inside the furniture store building, which currently houses Joe T. Cunningham Interiors, run by his granddaughter, is a display featuring pictures  of Cobb and his life  in Royston.

Cunningham Display Paying Tribute To Ty Cobb

Other buildings relevant to Cobb’s life in Royston include the former post office building at 963 Church Street.

Old Post Office

Across the street from the old post office at 964 Church Street is Jacksons On Main – Antiques and Collectibles – which sells a limited amount of Cobb baseball memorabilia.

Store That Sells Ty Cobb Memorabilia

One door down from Joe T. Cunningham’s Furniture Store, at the corner of Church Street and Franklin Springs Street, is a mural celebrating Cobb’s baseball career.

Ty Cobb Mural Downtown Royston

A Georgia State historical marker located in front of the Royston City Hall at 634 Franklin Springs Street honors Cobb, “the Georgia Peach.”

Georgia State Historical Marker Ty Cobb "The Georgia Peach"

City Hall, also known as the Ty Cobb Memorial Civic Center, includes a plaza with a granite monument erected in memory of Cobb.

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Ty Cobb Memorial Civic Center

 

Ty Cobb Memorial Civic Center Plaza

Cobb’s granite monument stands approximately eight feet tall.

Royston's Ty Cobb Monument

The front of the monument includes a likeness of  Cobb wearing his Detroit Tigers uniform, bat in hand.

Detail of Ty Cobb Monument

The back side of the monument lists some of his many baseball accomplishments.

Back of Ty Cobb Monument

Other Royston tributes to Cobb include the town crest that adorns Royston’s municipal vehicles.

Royston City Truck Adorned With Image Of Ty Cobb

The housing development located behind city hall is named “Cobb Walk” in honor of the town’s favorite son.

Cobb Walk Housing Development In Royston Georgia

Cobb is buried on the outskirts of Royston in Rose Hill Cemetery, located on Old Elbert Road, a quarter mile off Highway 17 (Church Street).

Pavilion Next To Ty Cobb Burial Site

Cobb helped choose the mausoleum design which now holds his remains.

Ty Cobb Burial Site, Rose Hill Cemetery

Royston, Georgia, does not qualify as a lost ballpark.  However it is worth a mention and a visit, given its connection to one of the greatest baseball players. Although the town includes many tributes to the great Ty Cobb, the town itself offers little in the way of attractions that help visitors appreciate the town as he knew it.  Cobb played baseball in and around Royston for many years before leaving to play professional ball.  Perhaps baseball fans in Royston could somehow determine where those fields were located.  A plaque noting their location would allow visitors to stand on the same spot where young Ty Cobb honed his baseball skills, which would go a long way toward connecting the town of Royston to its favorite, famous son.

 

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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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