7 Oldest Ballparks in North America

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Prior to the first official enclosed ballpark (Union Grounds, which is featured on this list), baseball was often played on open dirt fields. Around the 1860s, the first official ballparks were built mostly in the Northeastern U.S.

These early ballparks were often made of wood and unfortunately many of them burned down and had to be rebuilt several times. Only one ballpark on this list is still open today, with the others being demolished to make way for newer stadiums or other structures.

7. League Park

Year Opened:  1884
Location:  Cleveland, Ohio
Home Team(s): Cincinatti Reds
Still in Use: No – demolished in 1901

League Parkphoto source: baseballhistorycomesalive.com

League Park, originally called American Park, was built in 1884 and was home of the Cincinatti Reds until the park closed in 1901. The grandstand of the park was hastily constructed and a portion of it collapsed on opening day, killing one spectator and injuring several other people. In 1900, the ballpark caught on fire and burned down the newer grandstand that was built in 1894.

A new park was built in place of League Park and was called the Palace of the Fans. This second park lasted until 1911 when another fire damaged the structure. A final park was built, the Redland Fields, which was later renamed Crosley Field. This final ballpark was used until it was demolished in 1972. 


6. Sportsman’s Park

Year Opened:  1881
Location:  St. Louis, Missouri 
Home Team(s): St. Louis Brown Stockings; St. Louis Browns; and St. Louis Cardinals
Still in Use: No – closed in 1966

Sportsman's Parkphoto source:Wikimedia Commons 

Although Sportsman’s Park was not officially opened until 1881 when the first wooden grandstand was constructed on the grounds, organized baseball played on the grounds dates back to the 1860s. The land the grounds were built on were purchased by August Solari in 1866 and he turned them into a baseball field called the Grand Avenue Ball Grounds. The St. Louis Brown Stockings used Sportsman’s Park as their home field from 1882 – 1893, but moved to a new ballpark the following year.

In 1902, the American League Browns moved from Milwaukee to St. Louis and rebuilt Sportsman’s Park. Around 1920, the St. Louis Cardinals began also using the park as their home field. Bill Veeck, owner of the Browns, sold Sportsman’s Park to the Cardinals for $800,000, who were owned by Anheuser-Busch. The parks name was changed to Busch Stadium and it was demolished in 1966 to make way for a new stadium, the Busch Memorial Stadium (commonly called Busch Stadium II). 


5. Labatt Memorial Park 

Year Opened:  1877
Location:  London, Ontario, Canada 
Home Team(s): London Tecumsehs; London Alerts; London Cockneys; London Majors; London Pirates; London Tigers; London Werewolves; London Monarchs; Western Mustangs Baseball Club; and London Rippers 
Still in Use: Yes

Labatt Memorial Park photo source:Wikimedia Commons 

Labatt Memorial Park was opened in 1877 as Tecumseh Park and is known for being the “oldest continually operating baseball grounds in the world.” In fact, it is the only baseball park on this list that is still open and used for baseball today. The park’s first home team was the London Tecumsehs Baseball Club, which was founded in 1868 – the team played the first game at Labatt Memorial Park on May 3, 1877.

The grounds were built by W.J. Reid, a China merchant based in London, Ontario, who named the park after the Shawnee Chief Tecumseh who was known for fighting alongside the British during the War of 1812. Over the years, the park has had many renovations and it changed its name to Labatt Memorial Park in 1937 after the Labatt Brewing Company donated $10,000 to rebuild the park after a major flood. 


4. South End Grounds

Year Opened:  1871
Location:  Boston, Massachusetts  
Home Team(s): Boston Braves 
Still in Use: No – closed in 1914  

South End Groundsphoto source:Wikimedia Commons

The South End Grounds were home to three baseball parks that were all built on the same site with the first iteration of the ballpark opening on May 16, 1871. The grounds were home to the Boston Braves, who played at the park from 1871 – 1914.

The stands of the first park were demolished in 1887 to make way for a new structure, which opened a year later in 1888. This second version of the grounds was known as the Grand Pavilion and consisted of a large double-decked grandstand behind home plate and uncovered stands stretching down the right and left field lines, as well as bleachers in right-center field.

On May 15, 1894, a group of children started a small fire beneath the right field benches, which spread and destroyed the stadium – the incident became known as the Great Roxbury Fire. It took ten weeks to rebuild the ballpark and it re-opened on July 20, 1894. After the 1914 season, the Braves left to play at the newly built Braves Field and the South End Grounds were demolished. There is a historical marker located at Ruggles Station that commemorates the South End Grounds.  


3. Lake Front Park

Year Opened:  1871
Location:  Chicago White Stockings (changed name to Chicago Cubs)    
Home Team(s): Boston Braves 
Still in Use: No – closed in 1884

Lake Front Parkphoto source:Wikipedia 

Lake Front Park (officially name Union Base-Ball Grounds), was first opened in 1871 and went through two large renovations. The first version of the ballpark was only opened for less than a year as it was destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire of October 1871.

The ballpark was rebuilt in 1878 as Lake Front Park and the team returned to the Chicago Cubs after spending time playing on the road. This version of Lake Front Park was closed in 1882 and re-opened the following year.

The final version of Lake Front Park is noted as having the shortest outfield fences ever in the majors – a ball hit over the left field wall in 1883 was considered a double. The Cubs played used the park until the end of the 1884 season as Chicago reclaimed the land and the National League set the minimum distances for the outfield fences at 210 feet.


2. Union Grounds

Year Opened:  1862
Location:  Brooklyn, New York
Home Team(s): Eckford Club; Mutual Club; Atlantic Club of Brooklyn 
Still in Use: No – demolished in 1883

 Union Groundsphoto source:thisgreatgame.com

The Union Grounds baseball park in Brooklyn, New York opened in 1862 and is notable for being the first true ballpark. The park was built after the owner of an ice skating rink was looking for ways to increase his revenue after the ice melted. He decided to rebuild the rink as a baseball field, enclosed it with a fence, and added benches for spectators.

Since the field was an enclosed space, the owner was able to charge an admission fee and paying customers sat on the benches while non-paying customers watched from the embankments outside of the grounds.

The grounds were home to several early baseball clubs, most notably the Eckford Club of Brooklyn. The park was demolished in 1883 and there are no significant land markers indicating the area’s significance to the history of baseball.  


1. Elysian Fields

Year Opened:  1845
Location: Hoboken, New Jersey
Home Team(s): Knickerbocker Club of New York; New York Mutuals; and New York Metropolitans 
Still in Use: No – closed sometime in the 1880s

Elysian Fieldsphoto source:19cbaseball.com

Elysian Fields is believed to be the birthplace of baseball as the first officially recorded, organized baseball game was played there on June 19, 1846. The game used Alexander Joy Cartwright’s rules and was played between the New York Base Ball Club and the Knickerbockers.

In 1856, pioneering journalist Henry Chadwick, a cricket writer at the time, was inspired by the games at the fields to develop the idea that baseball could be America’s National Pastime – after this idea, Chadwick went on to become the baseball’s first big reported and he developed the games statistics and scoring system.

Several other Manhattan-based member clubs also used the grounds as their home field. The last recorded professional baseball game that occurred at Elysian Fields took place in 1873 and the area was developed for housing.


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