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By Phil Hecken
I had planned on a mellow column for today, it being the holiest of holy days (Masters Sunday, dontcha know), but earlier this week I was contacted by my buddy, Morris Levin, who asked if he could pen a column about a very special event taking place on Jack Roosevelt Robinson Day (next April 15), the day everyone will wear “42” in the bigs.
So, a full column it will be today, beginning with Morris:
Philadelphia Stars Negro League Baseball in Philadelphia
April 15, 2012, 10:30am to 3pm
By Morris Levin
I asked Phil if I could pinch-hit today to write about a Philadelphia Stars Negro League baseball event next Sunday, April 15, here in Philadelphia.
In Philadelphia in the 1930s and 1940s, the Philadelphia Stars played Negro League baseball at the P.R.R. YMCA Athletic Field in the West Parkside neighborhood. The field and grandstand was at the intersection of Belmont and Parkside Avenues, and came to be known as the “44th and Parkside ballpark”.
The Stars affiliated with the Negro National League, and played at 44th and Parkside from 1934 to 1948. Baseball Hall of Famers Oscar Charleston, Biz Mackey, Satchel Paige, Turkey Stearnes, and Jud Wilson all played in West Parkside for the Stars.
Today, this part of West Philadelphia is organized as the Centennial District, extending from the Mann Center, down to the Philadelphia Zoo. It encompasses the Please Touch Museum which is housed in Memorial Hall, built in 1876 for the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition. Athletic Base Ball of Philadelphia plays its home games in the shadow of Memorial Hall on Picnic Area B. Across Parkside Avenue from Memorial Hall is the Stars’ former ballpark site, and a number of public signifiers celebrating the site.
Today at Belmont and Parkside Avenues is the Philadelphia Stars Negro League Memorial Park, a Pennsylvania historical marker recognizing the site’s significance to African-American baseball in Philadelphia, and the prominent Philadelphia Stars mural.
In the early 1900s, this neighborhood was home to a Pennsylvania Railroad train-yard and roundhouse. The Young Men’s Christian Association established a YMCA building and resources for the railroad workers. In May 1903, the Railroad YMCA dedicated the athletic field for use by company baseball and football clubs. Seating for 6,000 was built in 1920, and lights were erected for night games in 1933. The ballpark was rented to area amateur and professional clubs. The Stars were founded in 1933 and played their first year at Passon Field, the current site of West Philadelphia High School. The next year, the Stars moved to the larger YMCA field.
Former Stars players would later recall how the coal smoke from the roundhouse and yards often clouded games, left soot on players and patrons, and led the team to wear their gray road uniforms at home. Jackie Robinson integrated professional baseball in 1946, and African-American ballplayers signed with the better capitalized National League and American League teams. The Negro National League folded after the 1948 season, and the Stars after the 1952 season.
The neighborhood has grown and remade itself in the past forty years. The 44th and Parkside ballpark grandstand was razed in 1954, and a warehouse built on the site of the field. The tracks were pulled up in the 1950s and 1960s. In the 1990s, a coalition of local groups, led by Marjorie Ogilvie and Miller Parker and the Business Association of West Parkside, began to bring recognition to the ballpark’s history and site’s significance.
The Business Association is hosting a series of events next Sunday. I came to be involved in organizing the event last year. One area of personal interest for me is Philadelphia’s historic stadiums – ballparks like Temple Stadium, JFK Stadium, Passon Field, the Jefferson Street Grounds, and 44th and Parkside.
(In the long term, those of us involved in celebrating the Stars are putting together a not-for-profit to support ongoing commemoration and education activities; you can purchase a cool t-shirt, and support our effort by ordering a Stars logo t-shirt here, or Memorial Park t-shirt here.)
Events next Sunday the 15th are free and open to the public. They are adult friendly and child friendly, wallet affordable, with lots of good baseball. I will be happy to welcome all Uni Watch readers. Former Philadelphia Stars player Harold Gould will join us. He has not been in the best of health, and I am excited that we will have him and his family with us.
Here’s the schedule for the day – please come as your schedule permits.
From 10:30am to 11:15am, we are going to gather at the Philadelphia Stars Negro League Memorial Park at Belmont and Parkside Avenues. This is the southwest corner, opposite the Philadelphia Stars mural. It is outside, free, and there is parking. There will be Franklin Fountain ice cream, peanuts, popcorn, and Cracker Jack, and a good gathering of people. We will make brief public comments recognizing the significance of the site, and then we will walk up the street.
At 5070 Parkside Avenue, three blocks up Parkside, is Le Cochon Noir, a barbeque restaurant which serves Sunday brunch. From 11:30am to 1:00pm, we will have the “Jackie Robinson Day Talk” at the restaurant. This year’s speaker is Rebecca Alpert from Temple University. She wrote the book, Out of Left Field, on Jews in black baseball, exploring the complicated history.
I am also a member of Athletic Base Ball Club, Philadelphia’s 1864-rules base ball club. Many guys from the club will be attending (in full uniform). Following the brunch and talk, Athletic will proceed across the street for a scrimmage. This will be an open scrimmage; we welcome viewers, fans, and as an open scrimmage, all are welcome play 1864 ball with us that afternoon. Don’t bother bringing a glove.
I hope to see many readers there. I will be back here on Uni Watch this summer assisting Phil while Paul is on vacation. If anyone has thoughts on the Stars, the event, or articles or pics to contribute, be in touch.
Thanks Morris! Great event and nice writeup. I’m about to place an order for this sweet tee — how about you?
MoVi’s FINAL NC2A 5 & 1
The NCAA hoopster season ended last Monday (UK!!!!) and it certainly provided ample evidence of some primo uni matchups…and a bunch of duds.
Everyone’s favorite Zip is back today to give his Easter wrap of the best (and worst) of the tourney. But you haven’t heard the last of Akron’s finest scholar and gentleman…no siree…he’ll be back with a few Olympic 5 & 1’s of the beautiful game this summer. However, until that time…what happens to Jimmer when he has no more lists?
Here’s something for you to listen to while you read the list.
Honorable Mentions to Ohio/Michigan — And not because this was one of the few bracket picks I actually got right.
5. Kansas/North Carolina — Name On Backside isn’t very cool, though, Carolina…
4. Gonzaga/Ohio State — …but Name Down Leg is.
3. Ohio State/Kansas — Bonus: you got to see both team’s home and road sets here.
2. St. Bonaventure/Florida State — Nice to see some brown in the tourney!
1. Long Beach State/New Mexico — One shining uni moment.
And the bad one: South Dakota State/Baylor — *Sigh*…what could have been if both teams stuck with school colors…
Well, I’m list-less now. And no Bill Raftery until at least November? That makes me listless as well. So long, college hoops!
Thanks Sunbowlker! Now, go find some eggs.
We have another new set of tweaks, er…concepts today. After discussion with a number of readers, it’s probably more apropos to call most of the reader submissions “concepts” rather than tweaks. So that’s that.
So if you’ve concept for any sport, or just a tweak or wholesale revision, send them my way.
Please do try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per image — if you have three uniform concepts in one image, then obviously, you can go a little over, but no novels, OK? OK!. You guys have usually been good with keeping the descriptions pretty short, and I thank you for that.
And so, lets begin:
I recently launched a website with my uniform/helmet concepts. If you remember I finished 5th in the SEAHAWKS contest recently held on UNIWATCH.
Feel free to share it.
BRENT HATFIELD’S UNIFORM CONCEPTS
Next up is Dan Wohl, with a neat Spurs concept:
As I’m sure most Uni Watch readers know, the Spurs’ logo throughout the ’90s featured “Fiesta colors” of teal, pink, and orange, despite there being no trace of such colors on San Antonio’s uniforms. The colors are like those associated with Fiesta, San Antonio’s yearly spring festival. I wish those colors still had some small presence, so why not have Fiesta-accented uniforms to wear for a few home games every April?
We close today with Christian Cisneros, who has some changes for the 49ers:
I’ve always wondered what the 49er logo would look like without a drop shadow, so I removed the shadow, and outlined the white SF with gold. I actually really like how this looks. This was just an experiment at first. My second photo is how the logo would look on the helmet with the gold background. Sorry about the uneveness in some parts, I tried my best in a time limit.
Hope you like it,
That was followed quickly by this:
Sorry, I completely forgot to add in the uniforms. (thanks to Tim E. O’Brien for allowing me to go off of his designs)
Home: Same as now, just with a red facemask.
Home Alt: Red facemask, just experimented with the white pants to see how it looked.
Away: Red facemask again, white socks with red stripes.
Away Alt: Experimented with white pants again, white socks with red stripes and red facemask again. Sorry for how fake the socks and facemask look.
Hope you like it and thanks to Tim again!
And there you have it. Back next time with more.
by Rick Pearson
Just another example of extravagant thinking…
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Contest reminder… I’m currently running a contest to redesign and rename the Cleveland baseball and Washington football teams. Full details here. I’ve already received several dozen entries, with a few coming in each day. Contest is open until April 15th (JRR day, dontcha know), so you have one more week.
• In case you missed it yesterday, Tim Brulia and Bill Schaefer, our resident AFL historians (along with Ricko), put together a wonderful historical recording of when nameplates were added to AFL jerseys (it wasn’t right from the get-go, as many had incorrectly assumed).
• I’d actually forgotten about this, but a couple weeks ago, Thomas Moore of the ClevelandFan.com interviewed me and Paul about the Re-name the Indians contest and other uniform queries.
And that’s all for this fine second Sunday in April — Happy Easter to those celebrating, and GO PHIL! Green is such a good color for you. See y’all next weekend.
Much as I loved the year I lived in Wrigleyville, the best thing about Chicago was the food. The worst thing about Chicago was the “pizza.” Meat and cheese casserole, indeed.
— Robert Scott Rogers