Ballparks Across America is a series of articles about baseball field that have been forgotten, abandoned or demolished. Baseball was the backbone of America in the simpler days. Kids were gone all day playing baseball on any diamond they could find. Much of those fields are now part of a lost Americana. This is the first of several that I will present to you. If you know of one you would like for me to research, send to my email at the bottom of this article – Tom
Ballparks Across America- 59th Street Bridge
The 59th Street Bridge area in New York (Manhattan) for playing baseball was known as “The Sandlot” and the New York Cubans of the Negro National League played their home games there. The ballpark was built under the 59th Street Bridge. The under part of the bridge actually made this the first covered diamond.
The New York Cubans were part of the Negro National League and played in the 1930’s until they had a losing season in 1936. They went out of business for two season and returned to play from 1939-1950, winning the World Series in 1945 with such stars as Luis Tiant, Sr., Minnie Miñoso and Martín Dihigo. The Negro League National League folded after the 1948 season due to black players had begun to be accepted into major league baseball.
The New York Cubans allowed light skinned Hispanics to play on their team for the most part. In 1941, Perucho Cepeda was a member of this team he was the first Puerto Rican to plays for the Cuban team. Perucho is the father of Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda.
The physical description for this ballpark is:
between E 59th Street and 69th Street; between first venue and rhe East River in New York, New York.
Ballparks Acr0ss America- 23rd Street Grounds in Chicago
Land owned by Charles Follansbee was purchased and a new ballpark called 23rd street Grounds was built. Some referred to it as State Street Grounds and had its beginning as the Chicago White Stockings played baseball from 1874-1877 on it. These were the first two seasons of the National Association and latter two of their participation in the National League. Historically this was the beginnings of the first Chicago Cubs franchise.
The original White Stockings went out of business due to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and their best players scattered to other teams. They began playing a scattering of games and in 1874 began garnering interest and finances to produce a full team.
The first game was played on May 29th as Baltimore defeated Cleveland 5-2. Between 1872-1874 they had eight National Association games played there. Teams from Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Troy all enjoyed the atmosphere of playing on the diamond.
The field opened in 1972 and closed in 1877. The final game was played on October 6,1877 as Chicago beat Louisville 4-0. Laurie Reis was the winning pitcher and four days prior, Lip Pike of Cincinnati hit the last home run.
The grounds occupied a city block well south and east of the 1871 fire’s origin on DeKoven Street. It was bounded by 23rd Street, State Street, 22nd Street (now Cermak Road) and what is now Federal Street.
Volume 3 Beyerle Park in Ohio
Volume 4- Bader Field in New Jersey
Volume 5- Fans Field in Bloomington, Il.
About the author– Tom Knuppel has been writing about baseball and sports for a few decades. As an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan he began with the blog CardinalsGM. Tom is a member of the United Cardinals Bloggers and the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. He also maintains the History of Cardinals website. More recently he has been busy at KnupSolutions and the primary writer of many sports at KnupSports and adds content at Sports 2.0. Tom is a retired High School English and Speech teacher and has completed over one hundred sportsbook reviews. He also can be followed on Twitter at tknup. Feel free to contact Tom at [email protected]