New York, New York

Two new major league ballparks, opening in the same city, in the same week. Hard to believe, never to be duplicated.

Not counting the other time it happened.
In New York, no less. With one of them being built for the Mets.
We have to be a bit generous in our geographical definitions (“New York” consisted only of Manhattan until 1898 when Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and Richmond were merged in as part of “Greater New York”). And we have to be a bit generous in our stadium definitions (a 19th Century “major league ballpark” could be constructed in a manner of days).
Nevertheless, on Thursday, April 22, 1886, Erasmus Whitman, owner of the original New York Mets, opened his magnificent new stadium for the American Association club at the former St. George Cricket Grounds on Staten Island (a stone’s throw from the current ballpark of the Yankees’ A-ball affiliate). Whitman owned the Staten Island Ferry and the ballclub was just another draw to get people to ride it.
On Sunday, April 25, 1886, the Mets’ American Association rivals in Brooklyn opened brand new Ridgeway Park, a facility they would use only on Sundays. Two parks in four days, just like the Yankees and Mets are doing this week.
For the record, a quick thumb through Philip J. Lowry’s bible of baseball stadia, Green Cathedrals, the “two new parks, one city” trick also happened on at least two other occasions. In 1884, Boston’s Union Association team unveiled two different new fields, Dartmouth Street Grounds (April 30), and Congress Street Grounds (date unknown). And in 1889, the Giants opened the first of the three versions of the Polo Grounds at 155th Street and Eighth Avenue in New York. Weeks later, Brooklyn’s Washington Park burned to the ground and was rebuilt very promptly as an enlarged and significantly changed facility, also called Washington Park. Again, two new parks in the same city in the same year.
I hope to bring you extensive, irrelevant, snapshot filled coverage of the startups at Citifield and Yankee Stadium Junior in this space.

10 Comments

Keith,

I wish someone would design a ballpark that has the OLD STYLE Ballpark feel. These new ballparks just aren’t what the old ones were!

By the way, We miss you here in LA and on ESPN. Way back in the day, I think it was 88 or 89 when you were in LA working for the CBS station doing sports you showed a highlight of me catching a Home Run during a game. You called me “LITTLE ALBIE PEARSON”. It is still one of the highlights of my Ballhawking career ;-)

John Witt
Major League Ballhawk
4,877 balls caught and counting!
http://ballhawk.mlblogs.com

I’m hardly even a diehard baseball fan, but I do love history and arcana like this. Way cool!

I like the historical references. Good work

http://baseballintheattic.mlblogs.com/

Irrelevant post is…er, no. No, it’s actually kind of interesting.

Interesting post is interesting. Nice.

http://ineberated.mlblogs.com/

Wow, what a fascinating read this was. It seems the farther (further?) someone goes back in baseball history, the more interesting it is. At least for me it is. Love hearing these stories.

Back in the 1950’s, when Braves Field in Boston was torn down, my uncle (who at the time was just a teen) took a wooden Braves Field sign, complete with tomahawk, out of the rubble and gave it to my mother. I had heard about this sign when we were all growing up, but never actually saw it. When my mom died in 2004, the sign was finally brought to light and given to me. It’s hanging over one of my bookcases right now. It’s not much to look at, but it means everything to me, as my mom practically lived at Braves Field as a kid during the depression and War, and then lived in the same apartment building as Warren Spahn when she was first married. She just loved him and would talk to him all the time. I never got tired of listening to her stories about the Braves and Red Sox and all the joy the two teams brought to her as a child. (She lived between the two ballparks).

I really love when someone takes the time to walk us down baseball memory lane. It doesn’t seem to matter who it’s about either. All the stories are fascinating. This one here by Keith is terrific’ he gave us facts I’m sure no one knew about. And since I walk across Congress Street every single day, well, I bet now I’ll wonder every day – just where was this park – Congress Street Grounds. Hmm. Time to do some diggin’.

1948braves — you can find some information on the Congress Street Grounds through various sites, and there was some SABR research on it as well. The Dartmouth Street Grounds were only around for a few years… near Copley Square. It was only used by the UA Reds in 1884 and a few minor league teams after that.

The Players’ League and American Association Boston Reds used the Congress Street Grounds for their two-year existence – 1890 and 1891. The PL folded in 1890, the Reds joined the AA and were that league’s last major league champions. The Congress Street Grounds were used again by the Boston NL team in 1894 – briefly – when their South End Grounds were being rebuilt after a fire.

After the Reds folded, the site was used for that and hurling, occasional local baseball games, and other events. The grounds faced the wrecking ball in 1896.

If you want to read more about the Congress Street Grounds, do a Google search on “Congress Street Grounds” and “Gaelic football”.

As Keith said, they could construct a ballpark quickly in those days ; many were built out of wood, and weren’t intended to last 20-30-40 years. They were smaller, often seating no more that 5,000-6,000. And building codes were more lax.

“After a quick Google search, I came to the realization that Boston actually had what was likely the first waterfront professional baseball park in the United States, built in 1889-90 on Congress Street in South Boston. I find no small degree of irony that one of the sites where people would have loved to have seen a baseball stadium built in the 1990s was less than a hundred yards from the site of an actual professional baseball park from the 1890s.”

Thanks section 15; I was able to find info pretty quickly on this park today. The paragraph above is from a writer who wrote a fascinating article about it. And just like me, he was curious as well as to where a park on Congress Street would have been situated back then. He even provided maps so it was easy to figure out. As it turns out, it’s really not that far from my office as I work on the waterfront. I couldn’t believe it!

1948braves — I’m a member of the Boston Braves Historical Association — and am interested in baseball history. I don’t want to clog up Keith’s blog, but I’m outlining a short treatise of Boston’s four different “major league” teams — that played in FIVE different leagues!

Hopefully it will hit my blog soon. But first, there’s taxes to be filed!

http://section15.mlblogs.com

section 15: I will look for your article. I’ll leave you a message at your blog after reading it. You’re a Member of the Boston Braves Historical Association? That’s amazing. I hear so little about the Braves anymore. Same for the NY Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers. It’s a shame really. I guess that’s why I think this pic of CitiField is particularly charming.

Best of luck with your article. I’m looking forward to reading it.

I Love Your Site. Essentially every post makes me laugh, think, and learn something.

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