Yesterday the Flemington Neshanock made their third trip in four weeks across the Goethals and Verrazano Bridges, but this time the destination was not the scenic countryside of Smithtown or Old Bethpage. This time we were helping to bring the "New York" game back to one of its early hot beds - Brooklyn, which until 1898 was not only an independent city, but consistently one of the ten largest cities in the United States. More specifically the Neshanock were headed to Washington Park in south Brooklyn to take on the Columbus Capitals of Columbus, Ohio and our once and future rivals, the New York Gothams.
The name Washington Park is readily recognizable as an important base ball site in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However as the below picture indicates today's Washington Park is a relatively small, rectangular shaped urban park with an artificial surface (ugh) located near the even more historic Old Stone House. The Old Stone House is the building in the not so far reaches of the outfield. There were, in fact four different Washington Parks that hosted one form or another of a major league base ball.
If I have my geography correct the site of the first two Washington Parks was on the far side of the Old Stone House. There in two wooden ballparks, the Brooklyn Dodgers (known by different names in those days) played in the late 1880's, winning the American Association pennant in 1889 and the National League Pennant in 1890. Then after a disastrous move to Eastern Park in East New York from 1891 to 1897, the Brooklyn club returned to south Brooklyn to a new Washington Park behind where Bobby "Melky" Ritter is batting in the below picture. Known then as the Brooklyn Superbas, the club won the 1899 and 1900 National League pennants before being almost destroyed by the player raids from the newly formed American League in 1901. The team stayed in this incarnation of Washington Park until Ebbets Field opened in 1913 after which the wooden ballpark was torn down. Shortly thereafter, however, a new concrete and steel park was built on the site to host the Brooklyn Tip Tops of the short lived Federal League. The portion of the outfield wall that survives today is from that park, not the wooden structure where the Dodgers played.
Yesterday's first game was against the Columbus Capitals who came east for the weekend playing the Atlantics on Saturday in Smithtown before facing the Gothams and Neshanock on Sunday. Games like this are especially enjoyable because they offer the opportunity to play against teams that we don't regularly play - that's one of the big attractions of the upcoming tournaments in Gettysburg and Rochester, New York. The game was the Neshanock's third, close, one-run affair, but this time Flemington prevailed. The match was tied going to the top of the ninth when the Neshanock scored once and held off a desperate Columbus rally in the bottom of the inning. The game ended in dramatic fashion as a laser like throw from Mark "Peaches" Rubini caught the Columbus player who represented the tying run in a run down for the final out.
"Peaches" - photo by Mark Granieri
After three separate visits to Long Island in April, the Neshanock will be in New Jersey for most of May. Sunday, May 6, the club will take on the dreaded Resolutes at Ringwood Manor State Park. After that will come matches against the Brooklyn Atlantics at Chester on Saturday, May 12 and the New York Mutuals on Saturday, May 19th down the shore in Belmar. The month ends with a return to Newtown, Pennsylvania on Memorial Day to take on the local Newton Strakes. More information is available at http://www.neshanock.org/ - if your in the area, please stop by, trust me you won't regret it.