Posts Tagged ‘New York Giants’

The Polo Grounds and the Autonomy of a Baseball Snapshot

June 4th, 2017

A baseball snapshot is a souvenir of a day at the ballpark.  Taken not by a professional photographer, but by a fan capturing a moment in time. The name of the fan who took this snapshot is unknown, lost now to time. That fan’s memory of the game, however, as captured in the photo, remains.

A Fan’s Souvenir Of A Day At The Ballpark

It is evident the fan was sitting in box seats along the third base side of the playing field. The photo captures a play at second base. If you know your old time ballparks, perhaps the arched windows and the GEM BLADES sign on the outfield wall is all you need to know to identify the ballpark.

If not, there are other clues as well. A section of the scoreboard announces: “Cinni Here Tues May 14 Night Game 8:15 PM.”

Cinni Here Tues May 14 Night Game 8:15 PM.

To solve the riddle, all that needs to be done, it would seem, is search online for a mid-century Tuesday May 14th Cincinnati Reds road game that started at 8:15 pm. However, a search of both baseballreference.com and baseball-almanac.com turned up empty. No such game was listed on either website.

I emailed the photo to a friend of mine, Bernard McKenna, a professor at the University of Delaware and a man who knows both baseball and historical research. Professor McKenna started with an informed guess that the ballpark was the Polo Grounds. Other known photos of that ballpark featured both the arched windows and the outfield signage.

But what about the game being played? The photo could not have been taken prior to 1940 because the first night game at the Polo Grounds was played May 25, 1940. The photo could not have been taken after 1952 because, according to the scoreboard, Boston is playing Philadelphia that day, and the Braves moved to Milwaukee in 1953 (unless of course the scoreboard was referencing the Red Sox playing the A’s).

Detail of Scoreboard

Baseballreference listed road games played by Cincinnati against the New York Giants on May 14th during the 1942 and 1952 seasons. However, the games and scores identified on the scoreboard did not match any of the games those years played prior to May 14, 1942, or May 14, 1952.

Searching the New York Times database, Professor McKenna discovered that a game scheduled between Cincinnati and the Giants at the Polo Grounds for May 14, 1946, was rained out and played the following day. Assuming the eventual rainout game is the one noted on the scoreboard, 1946 was the year the snapshot was taken. Checking the Giant’s game results for 1946, there was an April 28, 1946, game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants played at the Polo Grounds. Here is the box score: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NY1/NY1194604282.shtml.

The Brooklyn Dodgers lineup, as identified on the scoreboard (listed under the moniker “VIS”) matches up with the box score for that game: Whitman (15), Stanky (12), Reiser (27), Walker (11), Stevens (36), Furillo (5), Anderson (14), Reese (1), and Behrman (29). The other games listed on the scoreboard match up as well, Cleveland and New York, the Cubs and St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.

Giant Buddy Blattner Sliding Into Second Base While Dodger Pee Wee Reese Awaits The Throw

As for the action in the photo, this is what Professor McKenna determined from the scoreboard and the box score:

From the scoreboard, we know that it is the bottom of the second. The box score states that Giant Bill Rigney, hit a home run in the 2nd inning with two runners on base and one out. No other runs scored that inning. But who were the runners on base when Rigney hit his home run? The scoreboard identifies the player at bat as number 10, which, for the Giants, was Buddy Kerr. The box score indicates that both Kerr and teammate Bob Joyce sacrificed to advance runners that inning (the box score reads “SH” (sacrifice hit)). The box score suggests that Joyce reached base successfully in that inning with his SH and not Kerr, because Joyce only reached base once that game, scoring a run. As such, he had to have been on base when Rigney hit the homer.

Willard Marshall and Buddy Blattner also batted that inning in front of Kerr and Joyce. Marshall did not reach base that inning because, according to the box score, he never scored a run. He reached base one time that game on a walk. Had he been caught stealing that inning, it would have been reflected in the box score, and if Kerr or Joyce bunted into a force play with Marshall on base, the box score would have read FC (fielders choice) not SH. Blattner, on the other hand, reached base three times that game, with two hits and one hit by pitch. He also scored three runs. As such, it would appear that Blattner, along with Joyce, was on base when Rigney homered.

In the photo, a runner is sliding into second base. That runner must be Buddy Blattner, the first Giant to successfully reach base that inning, because the snapshot shows no runner going to third. As such, Kerr’s SH has advanced Blattner to second. Kerr was put out at first base and the throw to second was was either late or there was no there was no throw.

Thus, our fan’s snapshot has captured Buddy Blattner, the Giants second baseman sliding successfully into second, while the Dodgers shortstop Pee Wee Reese awaits the throw from first after Buddy Kerr’s successful sacrifice. Joyce subsequently would advance Blattner to third while reaching base as well on a SH. Both eventually would score on Rigney’s home run.

Although the identity of the fan who took this photo is unknown, the snapshot captured the fan’s memory of that game. We now know that the game was played on April 28, 1946. The memory of the unknown fan has come back to life, with just a little bit of research (and an assist from websites such as baseballreference.com and baseball-almanac.com). If anyone reading this knows of someone who attended the Giants/Dodgers game at the Polo Grounds on April 28, 1946, let me know.

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Posted in New York ballparks, Polo Grouinds | Comments (0)

Honolulu Stadium – Hawaii’s Sheltered Harbor Of Professional Baseball

March 17th, 2015

Honolulu Stadium was located at the southwest corner of King Street and Isenberg Street in Honolulu, Hawaii. The ballpark was constructed in 1925 by local businessman J. Ashman Beaven, who served as general manager of the stadium from 1925 until 1939.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of King Street and Isenberg Street

Honolulu Stadium was caddy-corner to Moiliili Field, which was located at the northeast corner of King and Isenberg Streets. Moliili Field was one of the primary locations for amateur and semi-pro baseball in Honolulu prior to the construction of Honolulu Stadium.

Moiliili Field, Southwest Corner of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

Moiliili Field, Northeast Corner of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

In 1925, Beaven formed the Hawaii Baseball League, and a new semi-pro baseball league, and in 1927 the league began playing games at Honolulu Stadium.

Honolulu Stadium Aerial Photograph, Honolulu, Hawaii (1963 Star-Bulletin Photo By Warren Roll)

Honolulu Stadium Aerial Photograph, Honolulu, Hawaii (1963 Star-Bulletin Photo By Warren Roll)

In addition to amateur and semi-pro baseball, Honolulu Stadium quickly became the main venue in Honolulu for outdoor sport activities such as football and boxing. In the 1930s, Beaven brought baseball teams from other countries such as Japan and Korea to play at Honolulu Stadium. In 1933, Babe Ruth played an exhibition game at the stadium. Honolulu Stadium also hosted college football’s Poi Bowl from 1936 to 1939 and and Pineapple Bowl from 19389 to 1941 and 1947 to 1952. In 1957, Elvis Presley brought the precursor to his Aloha From Hawaii Concert to Honolulu Stadium.

Babe Ruth at Honolulu Stadium with Promoter Herb Hunter and Hawaii Territorial Governor Lawrence Judd in 1933 (Photo by Fritz Kraft)

Babe Ruth at Honolulu Stadium with Promoter Herb Hunter and Hawaii Territorial Governor Lawrence Judd in 1933 (Photo by Fritz Kraft)

During World War II, many major league stars played at the ballpark as part of their military teams, and in 1944, the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants played an exhibition game at the stadium. Major League teams and stars continued to play exhibition games at Honolulu Stadium after World War II, including the New York Giants in 1953, the Eddie Lopat All-Stars in 1954, the New York Yankees in 1955, and the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956. In addition to Babe Ruth, other future Hall of Famers who appeared at Honolulu Stadium include Lou Gehrig, Jimmy Foxx, Joe DiMaggio, Pee Wee Reese, Eddie Mathews, Roy Campanella, Casey Stengel, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Jackie Robinson.

Plaque Honoring Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

Plaque Honoring Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

In 1961, Honolulu Stadium became the home field of the Pacific Coast League Hawaii Islanders. Over the course of their history in Hawaii, the Islanders were affiliated with the Kansas City Athletics in 1961, the Los Angeles Angels from 1962 to 1964, the Washington Senators from 1965 to 1967, the Chicago White Sox in 1968, the California Angels from 1969 to 1970, the San Diego Padres from 1971 to 1982.The Islanders departed Honolulu Stadium after the 1975 season.

Detail of Plaque Honoring Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

Detail of Plaque Honoring Honolulu Stadium, Intersection of King and Isenberg Streets, Honolulu, Hawaii

The ballpark was demolished in 1976. A plaque at the former site states: “Old Stadium Park. A lasting memorial to the many great athletes who have played here. This park was the site of the Honolulu Stadium (1926 – 1976), affectionately known as “The Termite Palace” in its later years. The 26,000 seat stadium was often filled to capacity for activities that included: barefoot football, pro and semi-pro baseball, high school athletic events, stock car races, UH football, polo, carnivals, boxing, Boy Scout Makahiki, aquacades, concerts, and track and field meets.”

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Left Field Corner Toward Home Plate, Parallel King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Left Field Corner Toward Home Plate, Paralleling King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

The plaque honoring Honolulu Stadium is located near what was once the ballpark’s left field corner, as well as its main box office, at the intersection of King and Isenberg Streets. Center field was once located along Isenberg Street, south of Citron Street.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Center Corner Toward Left Field Corner, Parallelling Isenberg Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Center Corner Toward Left Field Corner, Paralleling Isenberg Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

The main grandstand and home plate were located on King Street, just west of Makahiki Way.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Home Plate Toward Left Field Corner, Parallelling King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Looking from Home Plate Toward Left Field Corner, Paralleling King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii

A row of buildings paralleling Makahiki Way sat between the street and the ballpark. Many of those buildings remain at the site today.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Back of Buildings Located Along Makahiki Way, Next to Former First Base and Right Field Foul Line, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Back of Buildings Located Along Makahiki Way, Next to Former First Base and Right Field Foul Line, Honolulu, Hawaii

An outer wall on the stadium property that separated those buildings from the stadium grounds also remains at the site.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Outer Stadium Wall Behind What would Have Been FIrst Base Grandstand, Still Standing on Site

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Outer Stadium Wall Behind What would Have Been First Base Grandstand, Still Standing on Site

Old Stadium Park is 14 acres of parkland and mature shade trees located in urban Honolulu.

Former Location of Honolulu Stadium Infield Looking Toward Home Plate

Former Location of Honolulu Stadium Infield Looking Toward Home Plate

A playground in the park is located in what was once left field.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Playground Located in What Was Once Left Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Playground Located in What Was Once Left Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

A concrete patio and picnic area is located in what was once center field.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Picnic Area  Located in What Was Once Center Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Picnic Area Located in What Was Once Center Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

A covered picnic area is located in what was once right field.

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Covered Picnic Area, Located in What Was Once Right Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Covered Picnic Area, Located in What Was Once Right Field, Honolulu, Hawaii

There are many buildings that surround the ballpark site that date back to the time of Honolulu Stadium, including the distinctive Bowl-O-Drome which opened in the 1950s and currently sits vacant.

Bowl-O-Drome, Located Just Beyond What Was Once Center Field, Honolulu Stadium, Hawaii

Bowl-O-Drome, Located Just Beyond What Was Once Center Field, Honolulu Stadium, Hawaii

Many of the buildings along King Street also date back to the time of Honolulu Stadium.

Builidngs Located on King Street Across From Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Hawaii

Builidngs Located on King Street Across From Former Site of Honolulu Stadium, Hawaii

In 1976 the Pacific Coast Hawaii Islanders moved to brand new Aloha Stadium, where they played up through the 1987. The Islanders also played some of their home games in 1986 and 1987 at the University of Hawaii’s Les Murakami Stadium. The 1987 season was the last year of professional baseball in Hawaii.

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii, Home of the Hawaii Islanders from 1976 to 1987

It seems a shame that professional baseball no longer is played in Hawaii, given the year round picture perfect weather offered there. If you find yourself on vacation, and in need of a baseball fix, you can take a trip to Old Stadium Park and the former site of Honolulu Stadium. If the timing is right, you might also be able to catch a college game at the University of Hawaii’s Rainbow Stadium (currently Les Murakami Stadium). For more information about Honolulu Stadium, see Arthur Suehiro’s extremely informative book Honolulu Stadium: Where Hawaii Played which provided much of the historical information contained herein.

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Posted in Hawaii ballparks, Honolulu Stadium | Comments (1)

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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J.P. Small Memorial Park – Jacksonville’s Oldest Ballfield

September 13th, 2013

Baseball has been played at 1701 Myrtle Avenue in Jacksonville, Florida, since 1912. Currently known as J.P. Small Memorial Park, the ball field has been the site of major league spring training, minor league games, Negro League games, and countless high school and college contests, as well as high school and college football.

J.P. Small Park, Jacksonville, Florida

From 1912 until 1926 it was known as Barrs Field, named in honor of local businessman Amander Barrs who spearheaded construction of the field. The first professional game played on that field was held on April 18, 1912, with the Jacksonville Tarpons defeating the Savannah Indians 4-1. To put that in perspective, the RMS Titanic sank just three days earlier on April 14-15 1912, and the Boston Redsox played their first professional game at Fenway Park just five days later, defeating the New York Highlanders 7-6 on April 20, 1912.

J.P. Small Park – Baseball Has Been Played On This Field Since 1911

In 1915 and 1916 it was the spring training home for Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics. The Pittsburgh Pirates trained at Barrs Field in 1918 and the Brooklyn Dodgers trained there in 1919, 1920, and 1922.

Philadelphia Athletics Train at Barrs Field in 1916 (J.P. Smalls Park Negro League Museum)

In 1926 the field came under the ownership of the City of Jacksonville and the name of the ballpark was changed to Joseph H. Durkee Athletic Field.The original grandstand was constructed of wood, which was destroyed by a fire in 1934.

Grandstand at J.P. Smalls Parkk

The current grandstand was constructed in 1935. An exhibition celebrating the remodeled stadium was played in March 1935 between the Philadelphia Athletics and the New York Giants.

J.P. Small Park Grandstand Constructed in 1935

In 1937 the city added an additional section to the grandstand along the third base side.

1937 Addition to Grandstand at J.P. Small Park

The minor league Jacksonville Tarpons played at Barrs Field, from the ballpark’s inaugural game in April 1912, through the 1917 season. The Jacksonville Scouts (later called the Indians) of the Florida State League played at Barrs Field in the early 1920s. Football also was played at Barrs Field, which for a time hosted University of Florida football games, including the very first game ever between the University of Florida and the University of Georgia, on November 6, 1915.

Original 1935 Grandstand As Seen From 7th Street

In 1926 the Southern League Jacksonville Tars began play at newly renamed Durkee Field with future Hall of Famer Rube Marquard as their manager. The 1927 New York Yankees, featuring rs Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig also played at Durkee Field. On April 1st of that year the Yankees played a spring exhibition game against the St. Louis Cardinals, in which Ruth hit a ball into the overflow crowd in right field, for a ground rule double.

Field Entrance to 1937 Grandstand Addition

The Southern Negro League Jacksonville Red Caps (owned by the Jacksonville Terminal Station, hence the name) also played their home games at Barr Field, later Durkee Field. In 1938 the Red Caps attained major league status joining Negro American League and played at Durkee Field for one season before relocating to Cleveland. The Red Caps returned to Jacksonville for the 1941 and 1942 seasons.

Historic 1937 Dugout With Entrance to Clubhouse

In 1938 the Jacksonville Tars were a farm team for the New York Giants. In 1952 they became a farm team for the Milwaukee Braves, changing their name to the Jacksonville Braves.

Entrance to the Third Base Side Dugout (now boarded up)

In 1953 the Braves added Hank Aaron to their roster, becoming one of two teams to break the color line in the South Atlantic League.

Stairway From Third Base Dugout To Locker Room

The last year of professional play at Durkee Field was 1954. In 1955, the Jacksonville Braves moved to a newly constructed ballpark later renamed in honor of their owner Samuel Wolfson. Jacksonville’s minor league team played at Wolfson Park through the 2002 season. In 2003 they moved to the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, constructed on the former site of Wolfson Park.

Bragan Field, the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville

In 1980 the City of Jacksonville renovated the ballpark and renamed it in honor of James P. Small, a longtime baseball coach at Stanton High School in Jacksonville.

Ticket Booths With Plaque Commemorating J.P. Small Memorial Park

J.P. Small Park also includes a Negro League Museum with information about the ballpark and the teams that played there.

Negro League Museum Display, J.P. Small Park

The museum also honors J.P. Small and his many years working with the youth of Jacksonville.

Museum Display Honoring J.P. Small

Installed in 2006, outside the ballpark is a statue of Buck O’Neil, honoring the historical significance of J.P. Small Park to the history of Negro League baseball.

Buck O’Neil Statute Outside J.P. Small Park

J.P. Small Park is currently the home of the Stanton College Preparatory School baseball team. The caretaker of the park, a wonderful man named Russell, was kind enough to give us a tour of the entire ballpark on our visit.

Locker Room, J.P. Small Park, With Russell, the Caretaker Of The Ballpark

J.P. Small Park is a baseball time capsule. Its rich history and its beautiful preservation make it a must-see for anyone who appreciates old ballparks. For more information about the history of the park be sure to read the National Register of Historic Places Application issued by the National Park Service, placing J.P. Smalls Stadium on the Historic Register.

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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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