Hamtramck Stadium

From BR Bullpen

Hamtramck Stadium, also known as Roesink Stadium or as Veterans Park, is located in Hamtramck, MI, a suburb of Detroit, MI and is one of the last Negro Leagues ballparks still extant in the 21st century. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.

It was built in 1929 to replace Mack Park, the home of the Detroit Stars of the Negro National League, which had been badly damaged by a fire earlier in the year. It was financed by Joe Roesink, the Stars' owner and opened for the 1930 season. However, the Great Depression caused the demise of the league in 1931, and the Stars folded. In 1932, a new league was formed, the East-West League, and the Detroit Wolves became the ballpark's tenants. That team and league quickly went bust as well, then the Stars were re-formed for one season in 1933, and again in 1937 but both times lasted only one season.

Ty Cobb was present to throw the ceremonial first pitch at the ballpark's inauguration on May 11, 1930. It was the site of the first ever night game played in the Detroit area, on June 28, 1930, between the Stars and the Kansas City Monarchs.

The ballpark was acquired by the city of Hamtramck in 1940 and the ballpark was used by local amateur and high school teams, and even Little League Baseball teams, but the complex gradually fell into disuse and was locked away, although not demolished. The grandstand remains the more prominent feature of the site. It originally seated about 6,000, with additional seating in the bleachers and elsewhere bringing total capacity to 8,000. The field was very asymmetrical, with the fence at 315 feet in left, 407 feet in right, and 515 feet in center.

In 2019, a crowd-funding campaign was started to help restore the historic ballpark. One of the first major donors was rock star Jack White, a Detroit native best known for his band the White Stripes, and a long-time baseball fan, who contributed $10,000 to the effort. The goal is to make the park once again usable for a number of sports practiced by community groups while preserving its historic elements. The goal was to raise $50,000, which would trigger a matching donation to help complete the project.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Jason Beck: "Historic Negro Leagues park in Hamtramck comes back to life", mlb.com, June 20, 2022. [1]
  • Gary Gillette: "Hamtramck Stadium", in "Still Standing: Where to See Extant Negro League Ballparks", in Sean Forman and Cecilia M. Tan, eds.: The Negro Leagues Are Major Leagues: Essays and Research for Overdue Recognition, Baseball-Reference and SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2021, p. 76. ISBN ISBN 978-1-970159-63-9
  • Philip J. Lowry: "Hamtramck Stadium", in Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebration of Major League and Negro League Ballparks, Society for American Baseball Research, Walker & Company, New York, NY, 2006, pp. 94-95. ISBN 978-0-8027-1562-3
  • Aleanna Siacon: "Jack White donates $10,000 to Hamtramck Stadium restoration", Detroit Free Press, March 4, 2019. [2]

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