Amusements and Thrills Sports Those Were The Days

The New York Game: Baseball in the Early Years

Baseball, as American as apple pie, really is “the New York game.” While its precursors come from many places – from Jamestown to Prague – the rules of American baseball and the modern ways of enjoying it were born from the urban experience and, in particular, the 19th-century New York region.

The sport (in the form that we know it today) developed in the early 1800s, played in Manhattan’s many open lots or New Jersey public parklands and soon organized into regular teams and eventually leagues. The way that New Yorkers played baseball was soon the way most Americans played by the late 19th century.

But it wasn’t until the invention of regular ball fields – catering to paying customers – that baseball became truly an urban recreational experience. And that too was revolutionized in New York.

Just in time for spring and the new Major League baseball season, Tom and Greg are joined by the acclaimed Kevin Baker, author of The New York Game: Baseball and the Rise of a New City to discuss the early history of the sport and its unique connections to New York City.

This show is truly the ultimate origin story of New York baseball, featuring tales of the city’s oldest and most legendary sports teams – the Yankees, the Dodgers, and the Giants. AND the New York Metropolitans – a different team than today’s Mets located in Queens.

Where was baseball played? Kevin shares the secrets of New York baseball’s earliest venues – from the many Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan to Ebbets Field in Brooklyn

This is a true five-borough origin story! With stops at Hilltop Park (Manhattan), Yankee Stadium (Bronx), Fashion Race Course (Queens), Washington Park (Brooklyn), and St. George Cricket Grounds (Staten Island) among many other sites.

FEATURING the surprising link between baseball and Boss Tweed and his notorious political machine Tammany Hall

PLUS How did segregation distort the game and where did Black ballplayers play the sport? What was baseball like before Jackie Robinson?


Fashion Race Course in Flushing, Queens, from The Clipper of July 24, 1858 (and via John Thorn/Our Game)
Many hatted men at the Polo Grounds, 1911 (Library of Congress)
Elysian Fields in Hoboken, the site of America’s first baseball games (NYPL, image from Booth’s History of New York)
The entrance to Hilltop Park, 1912 (Library of Congress)
Curt Coleman at Hilltop Park, 1912
Washington Park taken September 13, 1911 from the intersection of 4th Avenue and 3rd Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, 1923 (Library of Congress)
The crowd outside Ebbets Field for Game 1 of the 1920 World Series, the Brooklyn Dodgers against the Cleveland Indians.



Brooklyn baseball: the Superbas and the worst batter ever

Brooklyn Dodgers vs. Cincinnati Reds at Ebbets Field — in the first Major League baseball game ever broadcast on television

Hilltop Park: home base for NYC’s premier baseball team

Meet the Mets! The Metropolitans, that is, an early NY baseball team

The short shelf life of the Tip-Tops, the Brooklyn baseball team situated near the Gowanus River and named for bread

Union Grounds: Baseball history in Williamsburg

The Wise Guy of Baseball: Getting To Know Leo ‘The Lip’ Durocher

100 years ago today, the Yankees played their first game at Yankee Stadium

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