Negro League Ballpark in Hamtramck Might be Saved

Although not even a slice of the famous Tiger Stadium stands could be saved thanks to George Jackson and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (and others) it appears that at least one other historic ballpark in the Detroit area just might be preserved and celebrated according to recent reports.

A group of preservationists that includes Gary Gillette, a baseball researcher and a member of the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy is seeking to get Hamtramck Stadium, (also known as Roesink Stadium) designated on the National Register of Historic Places as a first step.

The stadium is just one of five remaining ballparks that were home to Negro League baseball teams. The others are Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama, Hinchcliffe Stadium in Paterson, N.J., Bush Stadium in Indianapolis, and Red Bird Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

In at least the 1930 season, the Detroit Stars, lead by Hall of Famer Turkey Stearnes, played at Roesink/Hamtramck Stadium after their first stadium Mack Park burned to the ground in 1929. It has been reported that when the ballpark opened in May of 1930 Ty Cobb threw out the first pitch. On June 28, 1930 before a crowd of 10,000, the first professional baseball game played under the lights in Detroit occurred when the Kansas City Monarch brought their portable lighting system to Roesink Stadium in a contest against the Stars.

On this same field some of the most famous Negro League players thrilled the fans in Hamtramck. Besides Turkey Stearnes, (considered the greatest slugger in the history of Negro League baseball) they include Josh Gibson, Bullet Joe Rogan, Oscar Charleston, Cool Papa Bell, Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe, and Mule Settles.

According to architect Mike Kirk, there is still some very heavy lifting to be done if this old Negro League ballpark will be saved. Kirk told the Detroit Free Press that it would cost between $500,000 to $750,000 to replace the stadium’s rotting roof boards and deteriorated bench planks and to sandblast rust off the steel and repaint.

Kirk said, “It’s a very easy project to save.”

Let’s hope so. It would be great to preserve this old ballpark and have another venue to watch and play baseball in this area.

Oh, and here’s an idea.

Every year at Comerica Park Negro League baseball is celebrated when the Tigers wear replica Detroit Stars uniforms. How about if a portion of the gate that day is donated towards the preservation of Hamtramck Stadium? Think about it Mr. I.

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