Early Ballparks of Maspeth - JuniperCivic.com
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Early Ballparks of Maspeth

David Dyte

The Cuban Giants in 1887 at what may have been the Long Island Grounds

Queens County Grounds

In 1884, a syndicate of businessmen leased a picnic ground on the south side of Grand Street (now Grand Avenue), Maspeth, immediately west of where 54th Street now exists, from the brewing firm of N. Seitz's Sons. Around the grounds they built a horse racing track for night racing, as well as a hotel, a ball field within the track, and a grand stand. The newly named Queens County Grounds were reachable by the Grand Street and Newtown horse cars, although the Brooklyn Eagle warned that to journey there meant traveling through the "fertile cholera breeding district" of Newtown Creek.

That year, the Queens County Grounds were home to an Atlantic Base Ball Club of Brooklyn (not the Atlantic Club), which played the only professional matches at the venue. The team joined the Eastern League after the Harrisburg club folded, and played their first match on July 14, losing 7-5 to the visiting Richmond Club of Virginia. On July 15, in the last professional match at the Queens County Grounds, the Atlantics entered the ninth inning with a 7-4 lead, but gave up four unearned runs to lose 8-7. They were then expelled from the league for failing to pay the Richmonds their guarantee.

Another Atlantic Club called the field home in 1886, and renamed it Atlantic Park. That year, the stands were moved back 100 feet, and enlarged to seat 2,500. Ladies were admitted free to baseball games, but all this did little good, and the club folded in July.

Racing and alcohol kept the place in business, though, for a while. When horse racing there ended, the track was used briefly by the Queens County Athletic Association instead.

Later on, the Feldman family took the lease, added "Feldman's" to the name, and ran all kinds of entertainment. A casino, a pool room, and a dance hall were added to the hotel and proved very popular. On September 7, 1890, residents complained of a baseball match between masculine and feminine nines, which apparently took place merely so that the gentlemen could allow the ladies to freely run the bases in their short skirts. Residents took particular umbrage that boys under 12 were admitted to the spectacle for just 15 cents, and that the whole thing took place on a Sunday within earshot of congregants at St. Saviour's Church.

The name of the park changed from Feldman's Atlantic Park to Feldman's Queens County Grounds at some point, and sports of all sorts once again gave way to picnic grounds. The hotel and casino continued, however, until a fire on April 13, 1902 destroyed much of the hotel, and all of the grandstand and dance hall. Damage was estimated at $13,000 in total. Eventually the lot gave way to the growing industrialization of the area, and today it houses various buildings, including a basket factory.

Long Island Grounds

Just across Grand Street from the Queens County Grounds, where Grand Avenue and 57th Street now meet, was a field where the amateur Skelly Base Ball Club made its home. At the end of the 1885 season, three exhibition matches at Skelly Park were so well attended, that people stood on sheds to see the diamond. These matches each featured the New York National League team- two against the Metropolitans of the American Association, and one against the Skelly Club itself. During the Skelly game, attended by 5,000 people, excited fans stamped on a beer shed so hard that it collapsed beneath them. Fortunately, no serious injuries were sustained.

Despite the success of these matches, the Skelly Club moved elsewhere in 1886 and the field was taken by the Long Island Base Ball Club, and renamed the Long Island Grounds. The Long Island Club had professional aspirations, building a grandstand at the field and joining the Eastern League. Their campaign lasted barely three weeks, however, and they quit the league with a 1-11 record on May 24. Although the Long Island Club lost its first match at Jersey City, we cannot find a record of their home matches.

Professional baseball retained a presence even after the Eastern League debacle. The Cuban Giants, the first and most powerful professional colored team, played Sunday games at the Long Island Grounds between 1887 and 1889.

In the most commonly recorded professional games at the Long Island Grounds, the major league American Association arrived in 1890. The Brooklyn Gladiators, trailing the league and in trouble, had abandoned their home at Wallace's Ridgewood Grounds for the Polo Grounds in New York. They announced at the time, in June, that they would continue to play on Sundays in Ridgewood, but when the team returned from a 34 game road trip, this agreement was no longer in place. We may surmise that William Wallace was none too pleased at the Gladiators leaving, and was in no mood to do them any favors.

So Kennedy's Gladiators played two Sunday games at the Long Island Grounds. In the first, on July 27, Brooklyn led Columbus 13 to 8 after 7 1/2 innings, but forfeited the game when they apparently ran out of baseballs. This happened despite the fact that three baseballs were within plain sight of the umpire, albeit in used condition. In the second, on August 3, the Gladiators lost to Toledo, 9 to 2, and that was the last major league action the Long Island Grounds would see.

A more entertaining spectacle of 1890, perhaps, was the follow up to Feldman's masculine vs. feminine match. A week later, the Long Island Grounds hosted the Red Stockings and Black Stockings, both feminine nines. Whether this match was a serious one is not recorded anywhere we can see.

Some time in the next decade, the Long Island Grounds fell into disuse. Nowadays, the site is covered in warehouses and factories, and there is no historic marker to tell of a major league baseball game forfeited for a lack of baseballs.

Andrew Ross and David Dyte are the authors of brooklynballparks.com.

QUEER RULINGS

Made by Umpire Peoples in Yesterday's Contest.

The Brooklyn Team Was Winning Easily When the Game Was Forfeited for No Proper Cause Whatever --

Interesting News of the Ball Field.

Brooklyn Eagle, July 29, 1890

Jimmy Peoples, who was at one time the star catcher of Byrne's Brooklyn club, but lost prestige owing to a bad case of swelled head, made a large number of enemies at the Long Island grounds by his adverse decisions. The Brooklyns were putting up a winning game and had everything their own way up to the eighth inning. The Columbus team had begun their half of the inning. Sneed, who was at the bat, knocked a foul, the ball going out of sight. Immediately a ball was thrown into the diamond from the grand stand, and somebody yelled to the umpire that a ball lay on the ground near him. But he called for a new ball, and as there had been a limited supply there were none on hand. Captain Gerhardt claimed that the ball that lay within ten feet of Peoples was in play. He picked it up and was about to throw it out when Captain McTamany, of the visiting team, very emphatically said that he would not play unless a new ball was forthcoming. This settled it in the mind of Umpire Peoples, and he then thought the same way. The ball which Sneed had batted was returned, and with three balls in his hands Peoples gave the game to the visitors. As the latter refused to play, the usual five minutes' time should have been allotted them, but the decision forfeiting the game to the party in the wrong is ludicrous in the extreme.

After the contest Peoples acknowledged that he had been hasty, and declared that he was sorry about the affair. He gave it as his opinion that the game, if protested by Manager Kennedy, would certainly be decided in favor of the Brooklyn team. That Umpire Peoples is not conversant with the rules was amply demonstrated when he allowed a player, after having once been retired, to again participate in the game. Gastright had been batted out of the box and was taken out of the game after the fifth inning, Chamberlain taking his place. In the seventh a new ball was tossed to Chamberlain by Peoples, and Chamberlain absolutely refused to pitch it. He was fined and sent to the bench. Gastright again went to the box and Captain Gerhardt objected. It was of no use. The rule on this point says: "Two players, whose names shall be printed on the score card as extra players, may be substituted at any time, by either club, but no player so retired shall thereafter participate in the game."

Manager Kennedy was very indignant over the queer decision and declared it was a case of the tail end team being robbed of games. He proposes to protest the game and is confident that the directors can do nothing else than give it to the Brooklyn team. The score of the game as played was as follows.

BROOKLYN (A.A.)
R.1B.P.O.A.E.
Nelson,s.s114 11
Simon,l.f20200
Dailey,p31000
Davis,3b33231
O'Brien,1b23800
Peltz,c.f.22100
Gerhardt,2b00220
Pitz,c01330
Bowes,r.f02200
Chamber'n,p00020
-----
Total131321112

COLUMBUS (A.A.)
R.1B.P.O.A.E.
M'Tama'y,c.f31201
Sneed,r.f.33000
Johnson,l.f.02100
O'Connor,c10511
Reilly,3b00130
Crooks,2b00330
Wheelock,s.s.01212
Lehane,1b111012
Gastright,p01000
-----
Total8924116


SCORE BY INNINGS
12345678
Brooklyn50004040--13
Columbus2023001X--8

R = Runs Scored

1B = Hits

P.O. = put outs

A. = assists

E. = errors

Earned runs – Brooklyn, 8; Columbus, 1.

First base on errors – Brooklyn, 5; Columbus, 2.

Left on bases – Brooklyn, 11; Columbus, 7.

Home run – Peltz.

Three base hit- Johnson.

Two base hits – Davis (2), O'Brien, Lehane.

Stolen bases – Nelson, Peltz (2), Bowes (3).

Sacrifice hits – Peltz, Reilly (2), Crooks (2).

Struck out – Pitz, Bowes, O'Connor, Chamberlain.

First base on balls – Off Dailey, 7; off Gastright, 5; off Chamberlain, 1.

Passed balls- Pitz, 1; O'Connor, 2.

Wild pitches- Gastright, 1; Dailey, 1.

Umpire- Mr. Peoples.

Time- 2 hours and 13 minutes.

Attendance- 1,000.

____________________________________________________________

Whitey Ford to reporters after pitching the pennant-clincher against Detroit in 1950:

"I remember pitching the Maspeth Ramblers to a 16-11 victory over the Astoria Indians. That was a big game too."