Brooklyn's Semipro Fields

Beyond Dexter Park and Erasmus Field, Brooklyn had many enclosed venues through the first half of the 20th century which hosted semipro and high level amateur ball. In a time before television dominated leisure hours, a walk or short trolley ride to a local ball game was a common weekend outing. These clubs played in front of crowds from a few hundred to a few thousand, and flourished at standards from near major league to neighborhood recreational.

We have tried to list a number of important semipro or amateur fields here. Of course, there is a great deal of overlap between categories, and a fine judgement call on what is an important field, so strictly classifying these ballparks can be fiendishly difficult. If you don't see a ground you expect, it may be listed as a scholastic field, or in our vast list of other parks.

Edison Field (I)

Henry, Lorraine, Bay, and Clinton Streets.

Also known at various times as Visitation Oval/Park/Field, and St. Mary's Field. This site was home to the Visitation Lyceum team from about 1900 to 1910. The Ampere A.C., and its successor, a semipro team fielded by the Edison Electric Company known as the Edisons and the Voltas in different years, began at Edison Field in 1907, playing matches against the likes of the N.Y.P.D. Later, the park hosted games in the local Commercial League. The field was also a long time home to the Visitation F.C. soccer team.

The Edison Baseball Club at their grounds, circa 1909
Picture courtesy

Although Brooklyn Edison briefly moved its baseball teams to West End Oval in 1914, there was a time in the mid 1920s when both this field and Edison Field (II), at the orginal Washington Park site, were in use and going by the same name. By 1932, however, the Edisons of Brooklyn played at the Parade Ground and there was also a new Edison Field (III) in Astoria, Queens. But St. Mary's Catholic Club continued play at the old site, calling it St. Mary's Field for both soccer and baseball from 1926.

Lefty Moletti of the Ryder B.B.C. pitched a one hitter here against St. Stephen's B.B.C. on July 13, 1932. Moletti struck out 14, while Pennisi of St. Stephen's struck out 16 and only gave up 3 hits in taking the 6-0 loss. He also got the only hit for his team.

A newly discovered photograph of Edison Field in 1911, viewed from Court Street
looking northwest over Red Hook, with free stands and dugouts clearly visible
Picture courtesy

The original Edison Field is now part of the huge Red Hook Park complex, but not in the form of a ballfield. The Works Progress Administration and Robert Moses' Parks Department constructed a recreation center and swimming pool on the Edison Field block in 1936.

West End Oval

Cropsey Avenue between Bay 19th Street and Bay 20th Street.

Also known as Bath Beach Baseball Field. The Bath Beach Field Club played matches here in 1907, featuring such opponents as the Sterlings. This park was later home to the West Ends, a team founded in 1912 by Ernie Lindemann, previously the star pitcher for Ambrose Hussey's Ridgewoods. To accommodate the new team, grandstands and bleachers were built to seat 4,000 fans. The West Ends were generally successful, but they were trounced on the first day at West End Oval, 8 to 4 by the Pittsburg Giants. More than 500 fans "braved the rigors of a stiff wind from Gravesend Bay, and rooted enthusiastically from bleachers and grandstand." In the curtain raiser, the Trinity Travelers and Sirius tied, 2 runs apiece.

The Edison Company moved its athletic activities to West End Oval in 1914, no doubt paying a good price for six days a week of field access for its interdepartmental baseball league. On August 8, the Commercial Department defeated the Purchasing Department 9 to 0, with pitcher Al Murphy setting an Edison League record of 20 strikeouts in the game, and giving up just a single hit. A week earlier, Murphy had twirled a no hitter for the Flatbush A.C.

In September, 1914, the New York Giants scheduled an exhibition match at West End Oval against Billy Gilbert's All Stars. Charlie Ebbets protested, saying that this violated the Dodgers' territorial rights, and in any case the game was for money on a Sunday, which was illegal at the time. The game did not take place, and three people were arrested during the preliminary match for selling programs on the Sabbath.

The 1913 Glenmore Athletic Club, and Bay Ridge High's 1913 football squad

Glenmore A.C. was a long time tenant for footall and baseball, winning most of the time. In 1913, the Glenmores finished the baseball season with 34 victories, three ties, and three losses. Bay Ridge High School was also a tenant, as was New Utrecht High School after it was formed when Bay Ridge High split into boys and girls schools in 1916. Bay Ridge High beat St. James Academy 25 to 1 on the diamond in April, 1915 on the way to winning the PSAL championship of Brooklyn.

On April 22, 1916, the reigning champions from New Utrecht High were humbled at West End Oval by Erasmus Hall pitcher Waite Hoyt, who twirled a no-hit game, allowing only a walk and and error by right fielder Davison in the first inning, and setting down every batter thereafter. He was, however, lucky to achieve the feat. Dutch Karlson of New Utrecht smashed a ball to deep center field, and raced all the way to second - without touching first base. Karlson was tagged out without recording a hit for his efforts.

Waite Hoyt's story was just beginning

By 1926, when the city was leasing the space for use as a playground, owner Michael Neiman was looking for a larger payoff. He submitted a petition, with 2,000 signatures, to the Board of Estimate asking that the city buy West End Oval as a permanent playground site. Accusations soon surfaced, from those with signatures on the document, that the petition they had signed was an old one asking the city to convert property at Dyker Beach, already city owned, to a playground. The West End Oval was eventually sold for residential development instead.

A playground on the still visible
remains of West End Oval, in 1924
Picture from NYCityMap

Brighton Oval

Atlantic Avenue and Essex Street.

Home to the Brighton Athletic Club and various other local amateur and trade teams, this was a very active ground early in the 20th century. Negro league squads were often opponents of the powerful Brightons. On September 9, 1906, the Brighton nine and the Cuban X Giants played each other to a standstill in an eleven inning 6-6 tie, before the Giants had to leave to catch their train. Brighton had scored two in the eighth and one in the ninth to tie the score.

In 1907 the police and the Brighton Athletic Club were at war over Sunday baseball. On several occasions players were arrested for "creating a disturbance" by hitting a ball out of the park. In July, two Royal Giants players were arrested when one hit a foul tip into the crowd. No charge was ever sustained from these arrests. The Ætna Club, playing nearby in 1907, and were similarly troubled by the law. At one point the Eagle reported: Captain Rooney out in the wilds of East New York must not let the Brightons or the Etnas touch a ball of any kind.

In 1908, however, things were very different at the Brighton Oval. Inspector Miles O'Reilly began the season as the last had ended, hounding the Brighton A.C. and warning players and management alike of the consequences of charging admission on a Sunday. But his presence at the ground abruptly ceased early in the season, and the club continued paid Sunday baseball unhindered by the law. The Eagle noted that Thomas Smith, a prominent officer in the Fire Department, was owner of the Brighton Oval, and offered this about the lack of enforcement:

The fact that Inspector O'Reilly did not appear then or since should not be regarded as a reflection upon him. The explanation of his absence was furnished by the management of the club itself. It soon became noised about. Briefly speaking it was to the effect that Inspector O'Reilly had received orders from officials higher up in the department that he must not interfere with the game.

Since then all sorts of explanations have been offered for the apparent immunity which the club enjoys from police interference. Some of the reasons are given in remarkably plain English. At least, it is a well understood fact that the police did not refrain from interfering with the game because they are such strenuous enthusiasts in athletic sports, nor because they believe the Brighton Baseball Club is a team which should be encouraged in playing the national game. On the contrary, there is a decidedly commercial aspect to the reasons which are being whispered about.

It was further suggested that Smith was able to arrange a transfer between fire stations to better suit his baseball involvement, and that the club was able to block off surrounding streets to facilitate traffic flow to suit their needs.

St. Agatha Oval

50th Street, 9th and 10th Avenues.

Home to the St. Agatha semipro club from about 1917 to 1925. St. Agatha won the championship of Bay Ridge over the Sunset Club in 1917, the deciding game being attended by a reported (but unlikely) 17,000 fans. In 1922, St. Agatha made a habit of playing in dramatic games. The best was on July 16, when the Brooklyn Blue Sox visited, and trailed 8 to 3 after eight innings. The Blue Sox rallied, however, and scored 7 in the ninth to take a 10 to 8 lead. Not to be outdone, the St. Agatha team scored 3 runs of their own in the bottom of the ninth, to take an 11 to 10 victory. Right fielder Tommie Taguer went 5 for 6 and scored 5 runs. The St. Agathas were less lucky on August 13, losing 7 to 6 in ten innings against the visiting Ridgewoods, after coming back from 4-0 and 6-3 deficits.

On October 21, 1923, the St. Agatha nine welcomed Babe Ruth's All Stars, including such luminaries as "Dutch" Reuther and Jack Scott. Despite the presence of these two pitchers in his lineup, however, Ruth himself took the hill, and failed to reproduce his form of years past, allowing St. Agatha three runs in the first and two in the fifth. Reuther relieved, and the All Stars came back for a 10 to 6 win in seven innings. Ruth went 2 for 3 with 2 walks, but did bring the crowd to its feet with a steal of third base. Right fielder Wenstrom went 3 for 5 for the home team, scoring 3 runs.

Other baseball here included the Neighborhood League, which featured such teams as Grace Methodist Episcopal and Trinity Young Men's Club. In 1930, St. Agatha Oval became home of the Bay Ridge F.C. soccer team.

St. Agatha Oval, and its impressive grandstand, in 1924
Picture from NYCityMap

Marquette Oval (II)

2nd Avenue between 10th and 11th Streets.

Also known as Marquette Field. The Marquette Club, now partly consisting of players from the old Hudson Club of Red Hook, played here from 1903. The Royal Giants were occasional opponents, along with all the local semipro squads. Marquette pitcher Dick Rudolph went on to play in the National League, winnina World Series with Boston in 1914, and outfielder Al Burch wound up on the Superbas.

The Marquette Club was so well respected that Congressman William Calder attended a match on Memorial Day, 1905, to present the club with a new flagpole for Marquette Oval (II), and a "handsome American flag" to fly over the field. Calder's speech complimented the Marquettes fulsomely: The Marquette Club was organized to advance the interest of the great American game of baseball and is an institution of this community. Its reputation as an exponent of the great national game is second to none in the City of New York.

Marquette Oval also hosted the local Commercial League, the semipro Gowanus Club, Manual Training High School, and soccer games including the first American Amateur Football Association Cup final in May 1912, won 2 to 1 by Brooklyn Celtic over Newark F.C. Soccer and baseball sometimes clashed at the field - when Manual Training High hosted Townsend Harris on April 18, 1908, play was halted in the middle of the eighth inning, with the score tied at 7 apiece, because two soccer teams arrived and began installing goalposts for their game. On July 13, 1913, the Gowanus team blanked Manhattan, 6-0. Pitcher Weiss twirled a gem in allowing just two singles, both hit by the Manhattan hurler, Jordan.

Marquette Oval (II) in poor repair, in 1924
Picture from NYCityMap

In early 1913, when the outlaw United States League was setting itself up, Brooklyn franchise owner Leo Groom commissioned a design from Charles Warner for a grandstand and bleachers for Marquette Oval to seat 9,000 fans. Before the season began, however, he traded the franchise to James A. Timony, who moved the team to Hawthorne Field.

Higher level baseball at Marquette Oval lasted through the 1917 Commercial League season, while soccer continued until 1925. Today, the lot is home to a giant Lowe's Hardware store.

Manual Training High School baseball at Marquette in 1907,
and Soccer at Marquette Oval - Ireland 3, USA 1 in 1912

Ambrose Park

32nd and 37th Streets, 3rd Avenue.

Also known as the National Cycledrome. Ambrose Park, a large venue enclosed in a tall wooden fence with a single storey grandstand, was constructed in 1894. The grandstand, seating 20,000, stretched from 33rd to 36th Street. Most famously, it housed Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and Congress of Rough Riders for some years - the Wild West Show had paid $10,000 to build the park in the first place.

Ambrose Park also prominently feautured Forepaugh and Sells' Circus, boxing, football, cycling, baseball, and a major celebration, for British residents, of Queen Victoria's golden jubilee. In 1898, a banked wooden track was built, and the stands made ready for the booming base of cycling fans. Despite this investment, the cycling fad passed, and the Ambrose Park stands were torn down in late 1901. Baseball, however, continued at the site until the Bush Terminal buildings eventually covered every block a few years afterwards. A Village Voice column in 2006 suggested moving the Mets to the old Ambrose Park site. Unsurprisingly, nothing came of this idea.

An early baseball game at Ambrose Park was recorded between Kismet Temple of Brooklyn and Mecca Temple of New York in September, 1896. In early 1897, Charlie Byrne investigated the possibility of moving the Dodgers to Ambrose Park, but nothing came of it. On September 26, 1897, the Bay Ridge Athletic Club played the Merritts at Ambrose Park. The Merritts took a 10 to 4 lead into the sixth inning, when the Bay Ridge hitters figured out the curves of pitcher Wall, banging out 13 hits and scoring 11 runs in the inning. A late Merritt rally was to no avail, as Bay Ridge held on for a 15-13 win.

In 1899, the Chinese Giants and the Young Ladies Base Ball Club played a game at Ambrose Park, much derided by the Brooklyn Eagle, in front of "a surging crowd of fully forty-five people." In 1902, after the stands were gone, the park hosted the City Department Baseball League, won by the Bureau of Buildings. The Bradfords and Bush Terminals also played home games here around 1903.

William Cody's Wild West Show at Ambrose Park in 1894

Hawthorne Field (I)

Rutland Road and Albany Avenue.

Also known as Hawthorne Oval (I) and, after Hawthorne Field (II) opened next door, as Old Hawthorne Field, this ballfield was ready for play in July, 1905, boasting an infield that was "one of the best in Greater New York." The Brooklyn Eagle referred to the park in 1906 as "Flatbush's favorite ball field." The Hawthorne Athletic Club, often held to be Champions of Flatbush, hosted such teams as the Elite B.B.C., St. Mark's Lyceum, and the New York and New Jersey Telephone Company. Add Hoyt, star outfielder for the Hawthornes, was the father of future pitching phenomenon Waite Hoyt.

The Brooklyn Union Gas League of 1910 played matches here, also. The strong Flatbush Gas Company nine played in most of the games at this venue.

On June 27, 1906, Kolb pitched Hawthorne to a 12-1 victory over the highly rated Etna Field Club, allowing no hits over the nine innings and striking out 12. The sole run scored after a wild throw past first base. On April 12, 1910, teams representing Rooms 413 and 417 at Commercial High School played here. Room 413 won, oddly enough, by a score of 17 to 13. The game featured 21 strikeouts and 23 walks.

Hawthorne Field (II)

Hawthorne Street and Brooklyn Avenue.

Also known as Hawthorne Oval (II), and Hawthorne Athletic Field. Opened in 1908, this Hawthorne Field was the long time baseball, lacrosse, and football home to Boys High School, sometime home to Erasmus Hall High and Manual Training, sometime football home to Long Island University and Brooklyn College, host of various commercial baseball leagues, and also home to track meets, several Brooklyn soccer teams, and of course the Hawthorne Athletic Club nine. In August 1908, a cinder running track was laid down, and in 1909, the open stands were replaced with a new covered grandstand. On Saturdays, admission was open for anyone that season, but attendance on Sundays was available only to members of the Hawthorne Athletic Club and their guests - a ruse acceptable under the blue laws of the day.

Thomas K. Timony and James A. Timony,
the early magnates of Hawthorne Field

Hawthorne Field was the creation of veteran Flatbush contractor Thomas K. Timony, who retained a hand in the management of the field and was "very popular with the many clubs and schools which made this field their headquarters." When he died, in September, 1912, control passed to his son, James A. Timony.

The stands at Hawthorne Field (II) were expanded greatly in November, 1912, when the Thanksgiving Day football game between Erasmus Hall and Poly Prep was scheduled for the ground. These rivals normally met at Washington Park, but Manual High had been too fast to schedule the big field for its own game that year. Carpenters worked on new stands for two weeks prior to Thanksgiving, expecting a huge attendance, only to see the game postponed two days due to a storm. Eventually, a crowd of "more than 2,000" saw Poly's battering ram offense crush plucky but outmatched Erasmus, 26 to 12.

Hawthorne Field (II) in 1924
Picture from NYCityMap

In early 1913, the younger Timony acquired the Brooklyn franchise of the outlaw United States Baseball League from Leo Groom. He planned to expand the grandstand and build new bleachers to play home games at Hawthorne Field, but the league did not last long enough for that to happen. Timony then made a serious attempt to acquire a Brooklyn Federal League franchise to play here. In 1913 he was told to wait a year for an eastern expansion, but in 1914 he was beaten to the punch by the Ward Brothers. James A. Timony, an attorney by profession, would not remain in the baseball magnate line for much longer - in 1916 he met Mae West, and spent the rest of his career as her business manager, and as a show business producer and lawyer.

The title contending Commercial High and Boys High squads of 1910

On May 28, 1910, 3,000 fans attended the game between Commercial and Boys High Schools for the P.S.A.L. Championship of Brooklyn. Commercial took the title with a 4-0 win, pitcher Pete Green allowing just three hits. In the summer of 1913, a game between Erasmus Hall and Stuyvesant was abandoned during the eighth inning when the last available ball was hit over the fence. Stuyvesant was awarded the game, since they were leading 9 to 5 at the time.

Erasmus Hall track trials at Hawthorne Field in 1910,
Boys High cheerleaders in 1925, Wanderers 3 Giants 1 at
"socker" on New Year's Day, 1927

Baseball at Hawthorne Field lasted into the early 1930s, but the field remained active until June, 1952, when the last games of professional soccer were played. In 1953 and 1954, the George S. Wingate High School was built at the site, and the playing field, reconfigured at right angles to the original version, became known as Wingate Park. The Parks Department still issues baseball permits for Wingate Park, and it is clear from the wear pattern on the turf that the game is played here to this day. Soccer and track also have their seasons, along with evening concerts in summer. A series of renovations in 1996 and 1997 saw $938,000 spent, partly on improvements to the track and drainage of the turf. Wingate High, like many others in Brooklyn, has been phased out and replaced by smaller schools using the same campus. Wingate Park should not be confused with Wingate Field in Midwood.

Modern Wingate Park
Overhead photo taken from Google Maps

Arctic Park (II)

North side of Johnson Avenue at Gardner Avenue.

Also known at various times as Skelly's Grounds, Maujer Oval, Arctic Oval (I), Arctic Field (I), and Polar Bear Oval. This field was home to the Skellys, Murrays, and Maujers in the 1900s, the Empire City team from 1910 to 1921, and the Arctic Polar Bears team from 1922 to 1933. All of these were amateur or semipro squads. The Diocesan Union League played matches here around 1906, also.

Arctic Park, with and without stands, 1908 and 1924
Photo from NYCityMap

On September 7, 1909, the Murrays reeled off their 17th straight win, defeating the Iola Athletic Club 10 to 5, even after starting pitcher Wewerk gave up 3 runs in the first inning. Weber put out the fire and lasted the rest of the game, while the Murray nine kept hitting hard. Weber moved to center field, and scored two runs. 1,500 fans attended.

For some years Arctic Park featured a grand stand behind home plate, and long sections of bleachers along the first and third base lines, although these were gone by the mid 1920s. There were no locker rooms, so teams had to change their clothes at a nearby saloon. In 1912, the Empire City team, realizing they had little chance against the powerful Lincoln Giants negro team, tried to get their opponents drunk and overfull by offering lunch at the saloon before the game. The Giants ate and drank well, and won the game easily.

In 1924, major league pitcher Jimmy Ring remembered his time pitching for the Empire Citys: On the sand lots we pitchers simply tried to throw the ball past the batter. There was no such thing as knowing an opposing batter's weakness - we seldom faced a man often enough to find it out - and our only hope lay in burning the ball past him and trusting more or less to luck.

The Empire City team at Arctic Park

Arctic Oval (II)

Johnson and Varick Avenues.

Also known as Arctic Field (II), and Arctic Park (III). This fully enclosed field, two blocks west of the former site of Arctic Park, dates to around 1937. The Hilo softball team and the Eastern Women baseball team shared Arctic Oval (II) that year, playing evening games on weekdays. In 1938 the Glendale Tigers, a semipro squad in the Queens Alliance, moved here from across the border in Queens. In 1941, the Tigers signed an agreement with the New York Giants to become a farm team, won the Queens Alliance pennant in 1945, then moved to the Brooklyn Dodger organization around 1947. The Tigers withdrew from the Queens Alliance in 1950 and disbanded after a brief period as an independent squad.

The St. John's University, Holy Trinity High School, and Grover Cleveland High School teams played games at Arctic Oval (II) from around 1947. On May 26, 1950, Holy Trinity routed Cathedral Prep, 17 to 1, with pitcher McCartney allowing only four hits, while going 3 for 4 himself and scoring three runs.


The Glendale Tigers circa 1938, and Dodger scout Ed McCarrick offering
a few pointers to potential sandlot all-stars at Arctic Oval (II) in 1948

In their early years at Arctic Oval (II), the Tigers would rent a portable lighting system for night games, but in 1947 they installed a permanent set of lights, consisting of 120 bulbs, each of 1500 watts. Fans were able to buy hot dogs, peanuts, and soda at the games, but no beer. Most Glendale games were played on Sunday, in double headers. Joe Pignatano, a catcher for Glendale in 1948, lives on in Brooklyn baseball lore as the last man to catch in a major league game at Ebbets Field.

Arctic Oval (II) was built over in 1957.

Arctic Oval (II) in 1951
Picture from NYCityMap

Celtic Oval

Avenue Z and East 13th Street.

This floodlit ground, with fences 350 feet from home plate, saw softball games in 1941, including a 3 to 1 win for Clark's Full Mooners over the Gerritsen Beach All-Stars. In 1942, stands were built to seat 5,000 fans, and the Brooklyn Dodger Rookies, players competing for places in the team's minor league system, called Celtic Oval home. Cal Abrams, a future Dodger, hit a bases loaded triple in a 9 to 2 win over Floyd Bennett Naval Air Station on June 28, in the second game of a double header. Abrams had hit a home run in the first game, but the Rookies got just one other hit against pitcher Randall Smith, and went down 11 to 2. Jerry Watson homered for the Floyd Bennett nine.

As part of their schedule, the Rookies were entered in the Intercity Baseball Association tournament, effectively the semipro championship of the state. They reached the final, but lost the game at Celtic Oval to the Manhattan Beach Coast Guard team, 6 to 3.

In 1942, a 16 year old pitcher named Ralph Branca came to Celtic Oval for a tryout with the Dodgers. He would recall years later: We walked over to a ballpark called Celtic Oval that, oddly enough, had its right field fence on rollers. During games they pushed back the fence across the street to extend the range for home runs.

The Dodger Rookies were still at home here as late as 1946. Other years saw such home teams as the Sheridan Caseys, Fein's Tin Can Company, and the United States Maritime Service playing baseball, the Brooklyn Kings playing softball, the Brooklyn Football Celtics playing (you guessed it) football, and Celta F.C. playing soccer.

Cal Abrams as a Brooklyn Dodger, Celtic Oval in 1951
Overhead photo from NYCityMap

Saratoga Park

Halsey and Macon Streets, Broadway, Saratoga Avenue.

Also known as Saratoga Field. This lot was run by the Saratoga Amusement Company and used for circuses and assorted sports from the early 1890s. On Independence Day, 1896, the Howard Athletic Club celebrated the holiday by thumping Arctic A.C. 24 to 8, then survived a late 7 run rally to defeat the Pastime Field Club 9 to 8. Wall's All Leaguers also played semipro ball here. Boys High rented the field for baseball and football from 1906. In 1907, they shared with Erasmus Hall High School.

Skating at Saratoga Park in January, 1912

Barnum and Bailey's Circus spent many of its Brooklyn seasons at Saratoga Park, beginning in 1891, until a move to the old Washington Park grounds around 1905. 15,000 attended the first Barnum show at the park, on April 27, 1891, and were treated to a performance "more interesting this year than it has been for some years past."

On May 5, 1906, the Howards hosted the Monarch Athletic Club for a grand match at Saratoga Park, newly enclosed and fitted with extensive stands for spectators. Borough President Bird S. Coler threw out the first ball, and later tangled with the police:

Captain O'Reilly previously warned the players that if two balls were batted over the fence he would stop the game. Accordingly, a wire barricade thirty feet high was erected on the top of the six-foot board fence that surrounds the field. Moreover, a huge wire net was erected over the head of and behind the catcher to prevent fouls from straying off the diamond.

It was not sufficient. During the first inning a ball flew up in the air to the right of the batter and landed across the street in a building in the course of construction. Captain O'Reilly said nothing at that and talked quietly with several of the spectators.

In the middle of the fifth inning Fred Feldtmann, captain of the Monarchs, hit a very high foul, which barely missed the wire at his right and fell into the street. O'Reilly stepped on the diamond and in real mild tones sad: "Gentlemen, the game must stop."

Despite the protests of 3,000 fans, O'Reilly held his ground, even when Coler threatened to call Deputy Commissioner O'Keefe to settle the matter. The call was never made - rain intervened instead, and the game was called. Captain O'Reilly was heard to say that the rain "was the Lord's way of upholding me in my work." By merely stopping the game and making no arrests, he denied the players the recourse of the courts, also. Fred H. Tucker, captain of the Howards and president of the Saratoga Amusement Company, branded O'Reilly's actions "an outrage."

The Howards moved to Wallace's Grounds in 1912 when the plot was sold to real estate interests and a theater built. On April 28, 1912, the last game at Saratoga Park saw the 999 Club (formerly Wall's All Leaguers) defeat the Eastern Colored Stars, 3 to 2. Pitcher Riesigle gave up just six hits. The Brooklyn Eagle was moved to declare the close contest the "best game seen at this park" while sadly reporting the news that demolition work had already begun.

The lot now contains a high rise housing project. Modern Saratoga Park, one block to the west, has far too many trees to hold a ballfield.

Erasmus Hall baseball at Saratoga Field in 1907, and
Boys High 11, DeWitt Clinton 0 at football in 1906

Graham Field

86th Street and 15th Avenue.

Also known at times as Bay Ridge Stadium, Bay Ridge Oval (VI), Bay Ridge Oval Speedway, Doyle's Field, Benridge Stadium, and MacArthur Stadium. Graham Field, capacity 3,000, was home to the Bay Ridge Baseball Club, or Ridgemen, from 1925. The field was opened with a 2 to 1 win for Bay Ridge over the Philadelphia Pros, with the home team turning a triple play with bases loaded in the second inning.

Through 1926, the Bay Ridge Club and the Brooklyn Royal Giants played a number of games at Graham Field, with honors roughly even. On September 22, the Royal Giants left their usual haunt of Dexter Park and played a home double header against Atlantic City's Bacharach Giants, bringing the Eastern Colored League - a major Negro League - to Bay Ridge. The Bacharachs took the first game, 6 to 3, but the Royal Giants turned the tables with a 6 to 0 win in the second match. Pitchers Rector and Holland combined to pitch a four hit game for the locals.

The 1933 Bay Ridge nine

New Utrecht High School played home games of baseball and football here in the mid 1920s and again in 1936 and 1937. The baseball nine won more than they lost, and on April 9, 1926, fought out an 8-8 tie with St. Francis Prep as darkness called a halt after eight innings and almost four hours of play. A week later, pitcher Del Preto blanked Alexander Hamilton, 9 to 0, pitching a no-hit game in front of 2,500 fans. Elementary school games were also, popular, with an "overflowing mob" cramming Graham Field to see P.S. 112 defeat P.S. 128, 7 to 2, on May 19, 1926.

The Home Talk League opener of 1933 was held at Bay Ridge Stadium,
as a charity event for the Home Talk Unemployed Relief Fund.
The Shore Road and Hopeless clubs played a 5-5 tie, and the
ceremonial first ball was thrown by Mrs. Catherine Weaver.

In 1927, the field was part of a large area sold for private housing, but development stalled and the field remained in use. Later in the 1920s, as Doyle's Field, the ground was home to the Coney Island Democrats nine. In 1933, the stands were rebuilt and the field rededicated as Bay Ridge Stadium. 3,000 fans watched a ceremonial parade, but the Bay Ridge squad lost its opener to the visiting Winchester Club, 12 to 11, scoring four runs in the ninth inning but leaving the bases loaded. Later that year, the field saw night baseball for the first time, when eight poles were installed to carry a total of 80 bulbs of 1,000 watts each. While the owners, Messrs. Daly and Meceda, promised "the same light as daylight," that promise was never truly fulfilled.

85th Street is cut through in 1939, and the
remains of MacArthur Stadium in 1951
Picture from NYCityMap

In 1936, Bay Ridge Stadium saw matches of the NYC Baseball Federation tournament, featuring such teams as Koppers Coke and Old Dutch Coffee. In 1938, boxing champion Joe Louis umpired a softball game at the stadium. Professional soccer, opera, and motor racing on a 1/5 mile dirt track - advertising guaranteed spills - were also seen here regularly for some years. In 1939, 85th Street was cut through the site, ending its useful life as a baseball field. But the stands remained and saw boxing and wrestling action until around 1949 as MacArthur Stadium, drawing crowds as high as 5,000 on a good night.

Suburban Oval

Gravesend (now McDonald) Avenue, Avenue D (now Ditmas Avenue), East 2nd Street.

Also known as Parkville Field and Parkville Oval (II), the Kensington Grounds, and Newkirk Oval. Suburban Oval saw various high school games, usually as home to Manual Training, and also featured the Gibson nine, the Brooklyn Rapid Transit League, and the Suburban Athletic Association, a local semipro squad, yet another for which Ernie Lindemann pitched at one time. The Parkville Field Club, Newkirk Athletic Club, and Kensington Athletic Club also called this field home in various years between 1900 and 1914. Football and soccer matches were also played here.

New grandstands were completed at Suburban Oval in time for the Suburbans to play Brighton and the New York Fire Department in a double header in April, 1911. Regular visitors for the Suburbans included the the Cuban Giants, the Wilmingtons, and the Ironsides of New Jersey, whose "never say die spirit" - shown in an eleven inning win over Suburban in 1914 - won the local crowd over.

On August 4, 1912, the Suburbans gave up three runs in the first inning to the Murray Hills, but pitcher Eschen dug in thereafter, allowing just one more run and striking out fifteen. The Suburban batters constantly got on base against Murray Hills pitcher McKenna, piling up 17 hits, but were often left stranded. Finally the home team struck back to tie the score after six innings, and pushed across a run in the tenth for a famous victory. Right fielder Roggy scored twice, and made four safe hits. On July 20, 1913, the Lancasters visited and held the Suburbans to a sixteen inning tie, 3 to 3, with no runs scored after the seventh. Wilson struck out 17 for the Suburbans, and Hanley 13 for the Lancasters.

The major leagues also form a part in Suburban Oval's history. On October 6, 1912, the Superbas visited the Suburbans for an exhibition match. No less than Nap Rucker took the mound for the National Leaguers, but he left after 5 innings with the Suburbans' pitcher Tobin holding a 3-2 lead. Defense eventually failed the semipros, however, and the Superbas took a hard fought 8 to 3 victory. Casey Stengel went 3 for 5 and scored twice for the visitors. On September 28, 1913, the Superbas visited again, and a mixed team of stars and rookies took a 7 to 2 win behind a complete game from Bill Wagner.

In December 1913, Suburban Oval was one of several semipro fields briefly mentioned in connection with the coming Federal League's Brooklyn franchise, but Washington Park soon trumped all other venues.

Like most of the larger ballparks in Brooklyn, Suburban Oval saw its share of police attention on Sundays. On May 17, 1914, more than 2,000 fans arrived for a game bearing red bound copies of the Suburban, a magazine with pictures and profiles of the Suburban A.A. players, which was sold for 25c at three nearby stationery stores. Police Inspector Hughes was told at the gates that the magazine was bought strictly "for love of the team" and had no bearing on admission for the ball game. He put this to the test by ordering the umpire to announce that there would be no game, and sparked a riot. Around $60 was refunded by the stationers before they were able to close their shops, then the crowd traded thrown rocks for nightstick blows from the police for another hour before dispersing, "leaving the roadway red with copies of the Suburban."

A dusty Suburban Oval remained in place in 1924
Picture from NYCityMap

On May 23, 1914, Bay Ridge High defeated Eastern District 23 to 4, in just six innings. Ten runs crossed for Bay Ridge in the second inning, who made 18 hits in all, being ably assisted by Eastern District's 11 errors and an additional six bases on balls. The Eagle summed up the game briefly: one of the worst ball games seen on a scholastic diamond in years. On August 5 of that year, the Franklin Avenue and Twenty-third Street depots played a dramatic B.R.T. League match at Suburban Oval. The Franklins led 10 to 3 coming into the ninth inning, but the Twenty-thirds rallied for 6 runs before finally bowing, 10 to 9.

In 1916, the Eagle announced that Manual had lost the lease on Suburban Oval, which was to be cut up into building lots, but the field remained intact, if inactive, well into the 1920s.

Football at Suburban Oval- Manual High
beats Stuyvesant 13 to 0 in 1914

New Lots Oval

New Lots and Rockaway Avenues.

Also known as New Lots Field, Taft's Oval Picnic and Baseball Grounds, Forester's Oval, Crown Oval, East New York Field (II), and East New York Oval (II). The address was often given as Church and Rockaway Avenues, since the boundary between Church and New Lots Avenues was then somewhat nebulous.

The New Lots Athletic Club played here from around 1908 to 1919 against such opponents as the Ridgewood Lyceum, the Pen Glens, the Empires, and the Camdens. In 1909, the team won fifteen straight games. The Canarsie Field Club, East New York Field Club, and New Eckfords also played here in that era. The Dry Goods League of 1910 played here, and the Commercial and Real Estate League of 1916. In one Dry Goods League game, Saks pitcher Samuels stole home in the eleventh inning to salvage a tie with Namm & Co.

Fulton's big hitting 1912 Royal Arcanum team

The Royal Arcanum League was active here in the 1910s. On August 15, 1911, De Long defeated De Witt Clinton 9 to 3, reeling off a tenth consecutive win to open the Royal Arcanum League season. On September 22, 1912, Fulton "batted the ball all over the lot" in a 20-4 win over Gilbert, with every Fulton scoring at least twice.

From 1921, when the field was known as East New York Oval, the East New York semipro team played here. In 1923, St. Francis Prep also called East New York Oval home, thanks to coach Jimmy Tedford, who was second baseman for the East New Yorks. Legend has it that Joe Wall, long time player-manager of the semipro Wall's Big Leaguers, once announced to the crowd that he was about to hit a home run against the visiting New York Yankees, and promptly did so. His squad downed the major league visitors, 14 to 12.

Various local soccer teams also played at this ground between about 1910 and 1920, and boxing tournaments were a regular feature here from 1922.

On May 30, 1926, a cigarette was left in the bleachers after a baseball game at Taft's Oval, and smouldered for several hours before the bleachers caught fire and burned down. Tragically, two houses at the back of the stand also caught fire, and eight people were killed in the blaze.

By 1940, proprietor Jules J. Taft had retired, and the family had closed the oval and sold off all the land by the end of 1941.

Taft's Oval in 1924
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