Aerial image of Maple City Park in the early 1950s (Courtesy of

Maple City Park (Hornell, NY)

This article was written by Kurt Blumenau

Aerial image of Maple City Park in the early 1950s (Courtesy of


The history of Maple City Park in Hornell, New York, spans everyone from Babe Ruth and Maury Wills to minor-leaguers with a single season’s statistical line. There’s a hefty portion of Brooklyn Dodgers nostalgia mixed into the story, as well as memories of the long-ago days when everyday people could pool their cash donations to bring their town a professional baseball team.

It’s a challenging story to tell for semantical reasons. The name “Maple City Park” has been used to refer to three things:

  • Hornell’s original ballpark, torn down in the early 1960s to make way for a new high school.
  • A replacement baseball and football field near the site of the first one, opened in 1965 and still in use in the 21st century.
  • The larger city-owned recreational complex that both ballparks have been part of, along with other facilities that have included fairgrounds, a Little League field, and tennis courts.

The original ballpark was the only one to host affiliated minor-league baseball, including teams connected to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox, Dodgers, and Cincinnati Reds between 1942 and 1957. After working through some historical background, this story will focus on that facility and those years, while acknowledging that high school and college-age players continue to write their own form of baseball history on the replacement field.

Hornell is about 58 miles south of Rochester; the city had about 16,000 residents in the 1930 US Census and half as many in 2020. It keeps company in the state’s Southern Tier with other communities that have also drifted into and out of affiliated baseball, including Corning, Elmira, Olean, and Wellsville. As of 2024, only one major-leaguer listed Hornell as his birthplace: Bill Lauterborn of the 1904 and 1905 Boston Nationals. The nickname “Maple City” is self-explanatory, and the city seal is resplendent with three green maple leaves.1

The larger recreation complex called Maple City Park was purchased by the city for $50,000 in 1891. The property had been used as a fairground and a harness racing track and was known as Jones’s Driving Park. The northern portion of the property had been owned by Martin Adsit. Today, Adsit Street runs along the complex’s northern border.2

Baseball at the Maple City Park complex goes back to the 1890s. News stories in 1897 reported a hard-fought series of games there between teams from Hornell and Corning. One of the games drew 5,000 fans.3 In another indication of just how long the site has been used for baseball, teams from Hornell and Corning played a game at Maple City Park as part of Labor Day celebrations in 1899, only five years after Labor Day became a federal holiday. The 1899 celebration, also including a parade and an athletic meet, was said to be the first proper commemoration of Labor Day in the Hornell area.4

On August 18, 1904, the Chicago White Sox played an exhibition against Hornell’s team in the independent Southern Tier League. The Chicagoans – in first place at the time, though they slipped to third by season’s end – won 4-0 before a crowd of 800. White Sox players that day included Fielder Jones, Lee Tannehill, and Jiggs Donahue.5

On September 5, 1908, a grandstand at Maple City Park with a capacity of 8,000 was destroyed by fire that spread to adjoining fairgrounds buildings.6 A replacement grandstand narrowly avoided the same fate in July 1910 when lightning struck it. Two support pillars were torn out, but heavy rain prevented a fire.7 Another, less damaging blaze occurred in the grandstand in April 1925.8

In the early 20th century, a variety of baseball teams used the park, including high school, American Legion, semipro, and business-sponsored squads. From time to time, Hornell attracted teams in professional leagues. Those on record as using Maple City Park include Hornell’s 1906, 1914, and 1915 entries in the Class D Interstate League.9

The Rochester Red Wings of the Class AA International League played an exhibition against a Hornell team in 1932; the Elmira Red Wings of the Class A New York-Pennsylvania League did the same the following season.10 An industrial-league team from Rochester’s giant Eastman Kodak Co. visited Maple City Park in 1923.11 Also that year, the Brooklyn Royal Giants Black team booked an appearance, featuring pitching legend “Cannonball” Dick Redding.12

But no other visitor had the gravitas of Babe Ruth, nor did any other visit attract so much controversy. In October 1921, after the end of the World Series, Ruth defied existing baseball rules and the orders of Commissioner Kenesaw Landis and booked a barnstorming tour with fellow Yankees Bob Meusel, Bill Piercy, and Tom Sheehan.13 The tour stopped at Hornell on October 20.

Ruth’s visit to Maple City Park was a damp squib. In heavy rain, Ruth and his fellows played two or three farcical innings – accounts vary – before leaving the field. The rain also prevented Ruth from hitting any home runs.14 The most notable part of his visit happened off the field. In public remarks at a theater, Ruth announced that he would cut short the barnstorming trip and cancel a swing through the Pacific Coast.15 The next day, he abandoned the tour altogether.16 Landis suspended Ruth and Meusel for the first six weeks of 1922 and fined them each $3,362, the amount they’d received as World Series shares.17

High school, amateur, and semipro teams continued to use Maple City Park through the 1920s and ’30s. One news article from April 1926 lamented a lack of action there, as Hornell High had decided not to field a team that year and no semipro squad had stepped up.18

The Pittsburgh Pirates played an exhibition there on September 23, 1929, winning 12-1 over a local squad described as “stars of former years and several present-day shining lights.” Hornell scored its only run off future Hall of Famer Paul Waner, who was taking an unusual turn on the mound.19

A few major-leaguers who lived in New York State appeared in semipro games at Maple City Park. The team that played Pittsburgh in 1929 included former Pirates infielder and future Dodgers coach Jake Pitler, as well as Fritz Coumbe, who pitched for three major-league teams between 1914 and 1921.20 A game at the park in 1932 pitted Coumbe against pitcher Mort Flohr, who had a brief and tumultuous career with the Philadelphia Athletics two seasons later.21

The arrival of a new league ushered Hornell back into minor-league ball. The 1939 season brought a new Class D loop to New York and surrounding states – the Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York League, or PONY League for short. Class D, at that time, was the lowest rung of the affiliated minors. (The PONY League rebranded as the New York-Penn League for the 1957 season and retained that name until it folded in December 2020. At that time, it operated at the short-season Class A level.22)

The Pirates placed a PONY League team in London, Ontario, in 1940 and 1941. The team lost money, and the Pirates cast about for a new market. Hornell responded with enthusiasm, mounting a drive to raise $15,000 to repair Maple City Park’s grandstand, improve its lights, add dugouts and locker rooms, and resod the infield.23 In November 1941, before the fundraising drive had finished, the league announced the London team’s move to Hornell for the following season.24 The Hornell team took the name of its parent club.25

Improvements to Maple City Park were so significant that “natives who stay away until the renovation is complete will hardly recognize the old place,” a sportswriter wrote.26 The refreshed ballpark hosted its first league game on April 29, 1942. More than 3,000 fans attended as another new team, the Wellsville (New York) Yankees, beat the Pirates, 6-3. Pregame ceremonies, including a parade and flag-raising, ran about 20 minutes late, and Hornell Mayor Lee Dennison wild-pitched the first ball. Wellsville shortstop Robert Murphy hit the park’s first home run, an eighth-inning solo shot to right field.27

Murphy’s round-tripper was the first of many at Maple City Park, for which the term “bandbox” would be generous. In May 1942, the deepest part of the park was listed as just 348 feet, and other dimensions were given as 328 feet to straightaway center field and 300 feet down the right-field line.28 “The Maple City Park fences are quite close to the plate,” one newspaper understated.29 Six seasons later, another account listed dimensions as 310 feet to left field, 328 to center “except where the wall jogs out,” and just 293 feet to right.30

Hornell batters took particular advantage of this in 1949, when the team affiliated for a single season with the Red Sox. Hornell led the league with 116 home runs, well ahead of the second-place team and shattering the previous record of 93 homers set by Olean in 1940.31 On August 15, shortstop Jack Littrell became the first PONY League batter to hit four homers in a game. Hornell and Olean batters combined for eight round-trippers that night as Hornell won, 16-7.32

But we’re not yet done with the Pirates years. Pittsburgh maintained an affiliation with Hornell from 1942 through 1947. Hornell reached the playoffs in 1943 and 1944 but lost in the first round both times. In their final two seasons, the Pirates slumped to 48-77 in 194633 and 40-84 in 1947. This led to discontent, as Hornell officials and fans believed the parent club was not providing competitive players. In December 1947, Pittsburgh sold the Hornell team to local owners, ending the Pirates’ connection to the city.34

Future big-leaguers who passed through Maple City Park during those years included pitcher Pete Gebrian, who posted a league-leading 16 wins and a 2.20 ERA in 1943. Shortstop Frankie Zak hit .271 in 1942, then hit .300 in 87 games with a wartime Pittsburgh team two seasons later. Catcher Ebba St. Claire hit .347 in 78 games in 1945; his son Randy pitched in the New York-Penn League in 1979 and 1981 on his own path to the majors.

Another noteworthy name from the period was Frank Oceak, Hornell’s manager in 1943. Oceak coached in Pittsburgh for 11 seasons between 1958 and 1972; he is the third-base coach seen in photographs welcoming Bill Mazeroski after Mazeroski’s World Series-winning walk-off homer in Game Seven in 1960.

The big-league Pirates returned to Maple City Park on July 17, 1944, an offday between games in Chicago and New York. The parent Pirates, a second-place team that season, belted their junior farmhands around for 22 hits in a 20-5 rout in front of 1,800 fans. In addition to Zak, Pittsburgh players included future Hall of Famers Al Lopez and Lloyd Waner, plus Babe Dahlgren, Vince DiMaggio, and Rip Sewell. Another future Hall of Famer, Frankie Frisch, was on hand as Pittsburgh’s manager.35

Boyd “Lefty” Tepler didn’t reach the Hall of Fame, or even the majors. But the Lockport Cubs pitcher made Maple City Park history on June 9, 1943, by pitching a no-hitter. Eight walks, four wild pitches, two hit batsmen, and three Lockport errors allowed Hornell to score four runs. Fortunately for Tepler, his teammates gave him plenty of run support, and Lockport won the sloppy no-hitter, 10-4.36 A more conventional no-hitter was thrown by Lockport’s Fran Smith at Maple City Park on June 3, 1946. Smith threw a seven-inning no-no in a 9-0 win in the first game of a doubleheader.37

Schoolboy pitchers threw no-nos at the park as well, like Al Antinelli of Geneva High School, who lost a 3-2 no-hitter to East High School of Rochester in a regional tournament game in 1950.38 Three years later, Larry Russell of Nunda High and Dick Warters of Canisteo High locked horns in a double no-hitter. Nunda won, 1-0, on a walk, an infield out, and a pair of passed balls.39 (Through the years, Maple City Park hosted non-baseball events as well – such as boxing nights, football games, dog shows, holiday celebrations, and drum corps competitions – though it’s sometimes difficult to tell whether these events were held at the baseball field, or other parts of the larger park complex.)

Local owners were unable to affiliate with a major-league team for 1948, and Hornell played the season as an independent team under the Maple Leafs name.40 Fans who blamed Pittsburgh for not supplying a competitive squad could hardly have been happy with the Leafs, who staggered to a last-place 29-96 record,41 46½ games behind first-place Lockport. The team trailed the league in batting average, on-base percentage, and runs scored, while leading in errors and runs surrendered. The latter statistic was particularly head-turning: Hornell pitchers yielded 1,022 runs for an average of 8.11 per game. The next-highest team, Wellsville, allowed 749 runs, or 5.99 per game. The league average was 5.65.

Former Detroit Tiger Russ Kerns,42 the only past or future major-leaguer on the roster, served as manager and starting catcher. He provided a great deal of the team’s offensive spark, hitting .351 in 106 games. Despite the cozy dimensions of Maple City Park, the most home runs any Maple Leaf could muster was eight, by third baseman and outfielder Bob Betz. Attendance was a league-worst 40,282, or about 640 fans per game – actually an improvement over the Pirates’ final season, when the team drew 35,886.

In one positive development during the 1948 season, the Maple Leafs inaugurated radio coverage on local station WWHG. Broadcasts were so well received that, two seasons later, the team hosted a night at Maple City Park to honor announcer Chuck Richard as he departed for military service.43

Attendance at Maple City Park perked up in 1949, when Hornell landed its one-season Red Sox affiliation. Despite a 62-64 finish, the Hornell Red Sox44 (sometimes called the HoSox) drew 85,926 fans, third in the league. Pitcher John Gilbert was second in the league with 19 wins and led in innings pitched (244) and strikeouts (191). Gilbert was named the league’s most valuable player, while teammate Gene Haering was named its most promising rookie.45 Two other HoSox, Littrell and pitcher Bob Smith, reached the majors.

The Red Sox opted out of the agreement with Hornell in October 1949, leaving local leaders to again seek a major-league connection.46 They found one in early December, completing an agreement with the Brooklyn Dodgers.47 The Dodgers sent their raw recruits to Maple City Park through 1956.

The Dodgers brought a run of success that stands as the golden era of Hornell baseball. In 1950 the Hornell team finished in first place in the regular season with an 81-43 record, then lost in the second and final round of the playoffs.48 In 1951 they finished third in the regular season, but beat the Olean Oilers, their 1950 conquerors, in the playoff finals. The Dodgers lost in the final round in 1952, then lost in the first round in 1953, 1954, and 1956.

One Dodgers import who caused a stir was 20-year-old Karl Spooner. His numbers for the 1951 season – 10-12 with a 4.18 ERA in 27 games – don’t capture the combination of raw speed and inconsistent control that made his starts eventful. The lefty walked 163 batters and struck out 200, leading the league in both categories.

The high point of Spooner’s rookie season was probably the 15-1 no-hitter he pitched on the road at Bradford on May 15.49 The low point might have come in his next start – a two-hit, 17-strikeout shutout at Maple City Park on May 20 – when a wayward curveball gave Olean first baseman Bud Dowling a concussion and a broken jaw.50 Spooner went on to a meteoric big-league career, ended by injury after two seasons.

The 1951 season also marked the arrival of 18-year-old shortstop Maury Wills, who hit .280 in 123 games that season and .300 in 125 games in 1952. Wills stole 54 bases each season, leading the loop in 1952.51 Wills played part or all of seven more seasons in the minors before finally reaching the big-league Dodgers in June 1959. He won the 1962 National League Most Valuable Player Award; set a new big-league record by stealing 104 bases that season; played on three World Series-winning teams and in six All-Star Games; and won two Gold Gloves.52

Maple City Park fans also rooted for three Dodgers infielders who went on to experience some of the highest highs and lowest lows the major leagues could provide. Between them, Charlie Neal, Dick Tracewski, and Don Zimmer played for six World Series champions, five of them with the Dodgers.53 Tracewski coached with the 1984 Detroit Tigers, who led the American League East Division wire-to-wire and romped to a World Series title, while Zimmer added four more Series rings to his collection as a New York Yankees coach from 1996 to 2003.

On the negative side of the ledger, Neal and Zimmer played for the first-year 1962 New York Mets, whose 120 losses were the most of any 20th-century major-league team. Zimmer managed the 1978 Boston Red Sox, who blew a 10-game lead and lost a heartbreaking one-game October playoff to the New York Yankees. And two other Tigers teams for which Tracewski coached lost more than 100 games.

In the Dodgers’ final season in Hornell, fans watched a 17-year-old outfielder from Brooklyn hit .325 in 43 games. Tommy Davis reached the majors in 1959 and stayed there for 18 seasons, winning two batting titles and two World Series titles and playing in three All-Star Games.

Maple City Park was host to a progressive, if primitive, demonstration of inclusion during the Dodgers years. The 1952 Hornell roster included three Cuban players – Ultus Álvarez, Ricardo López, and René Masip54 – who spoke no English. Team president George Clicquennoi announced that the team would distribute English-to-Spanish “dictionaries” to fans, containing common baseball phrases, so Dodgers backers could cheer the players in a language they understood. How well this worked in practice is not recorded, but at least the team’s management tried to bridge the language divide.55

The successes of the Dodgers years were punctuated by setbacks. The 2,500-capacity grandstand at Maple City Park was destroyed by a wind-driven fire in February 1955, as were two lighting standards, a team bus, the Dodgers’ uniforms, and other equipment. The city announced plans to replace the grandstand with a smaller unit seating about 720 people; first- and third-base bleachers were undamaged.56 The ballpark was ready in time for the PONY League opener on April 30, and 1,463 fans turned out as defending league champion Corning beat Hornell 8-4.57 The park’s capacity remained modest in its last years. A news item from that period noted that a promotion had attracted “a standing-room-only throng” of 1,937 fans.58

New York City journalist Jimmy Breslin stopped by Maple City Park in the summer of 1955 while reporting a series on the minor leagues’ increasing difficulty in attracting talent. With a touch of city-slicker condescension, Breslin’s story – reprinted across the country – described a “cramped and creaking field” with “tough, scarred grass” and a “small, tin-roofed grandstand.” “It looks more like sandlot than anything else,” Breslin wrote, “and it must be tough to work up any enthusiasm for a game in Class D baseball under these conditions.”59

Attendance across the PONY League indicated that fans were not enthusiastic either. The league’s total gate sagged from 806,022 in 1951, or 1,596 per game, to 331,259 in 1956, or 895 per game.60 Attendance at Maple City Park followed the league-wide pattern, tumbling from 74,086 in 1951 to 20,334 in 1956.61 The decline in minor-league attendance in this period has been blamed on several factors, including the increased popularity of television and air-conditioning, each of which enabled new entertainment options that rivaled a trip to the ballpark.

Reports in early February 1957 indicated that the Dodgers and Hornell had renewed their agreement.62 But a preseason fundraising drive to give the team an operating cushion and pay league dues did not draw strong support. By late February, rumors circulated that Kitchener, Ontario, might poach the Hornell team.63 The drive collected only $5,800, slightly more than half its goal of $10,000. In March 1957, Hornell baseball leaders ended the fundraising effort and announced the suspension of pro baseball in the city.64 Brooklyn did not operate a team in the renamed New York-Penn League in 1957.65

Events elsewhere in the New York-Penn granted Hornell and Maple City Park an unexpected reprieve. The struggling Bradford (Pennsylvania) Blue Sox66 were taken over by the league on May 15 after their ownership failed to meet financial obligations.67 Working hastily, league officials hammered out agreements with the city of Hornell and the big-league Cincinnati Redlegs.68 The Bradford team played its final game on May 22, then reappeared on May 24 as the Hornell Redlegs, with a new manager and mostly new roster. The team, which went 5-15 in Bradford, closed the season in last place with a 43-74 record.

In the midst of this stormy season, a few players stood out. Tony González, a 20-year-old Cuban playing his first professional season in the US, hit .275 in 86 games en route to a 12-season major-league career. Dave Bristol, manager and second baseman, went on to manage parts of 11 seasons in the majors between 1966 and 1980. He also coached for 13 seasons, donning a big-league uniform as a Cincinnati coach as late as 1993.

Then there was outfielder George Ruth, a former University of Cincinnati star in football, track, and baseball, inevitably nicknamed “Babe.” This Babe Ruth hit just .227 in 1957 and never played professionally again. He did, however, win a June 25 game against Olean by hitting a long home run on the game’s second pitch. The “new Babe’s” exploits might have reminded some Hornell fans of their brief glimpse of the original Babe Ruth in 1921.

The final professional games at Maple City Park were played on August 30, 1957, the last day of the New York-Penn regular season. Hornell beat the Erie Sailors, 7-1, then lost the second game, 10-5, with about 250 fans in attendance. Jake Wood hit a two-run homer in the nightcap for Erie, a Detroit Tigers farm club and the eventual league playoff champions.69

In the offseason, the city of Geneva, New York, offered a year’s rent-free use of its ballpark, Shuron Park, to Redlegs owner Earl Johnson.70 Johnson took them up on it, and in late January 1958, the New York-Penn League approved the transfer of the Redlegs to Geneva – where future Cincinnati legends Pete Rose and Tony Pérez later played on their way to the majors.71

Early in 1957, before the Redlegs’ arrival, Hornell school officials suggested the construction of a new high school at Maple City Park, as the site was within two miles of any spot in the city’s school district.72 A city attorney initially argued that the property, having been obtained for public park purposes, had to remain a park.73 This objection was eventually overcome, and the building opened in the fall of 1963.74 The school project included the dismantling of the baseball grandstand, and a photo from 1963 shows construction infringing on the outfield.75

In exchange for receiving the land for the new school, Hornell’s school board agreed to construct and maintain a new baseball diamond and football field nearby.76 The new facility, also known as Maple City Park, opened in 1965.77 Although one news story said the old grandstand was to be taken down and reassembled, it was later reported that the district went out to bid for a completely new grandstand to seat 1,400 people.78

Aerial photos of the complex, covering a 70-year period from 1952 to 2021, indicate that the current Maple City Park overlaps part of the footprint of the old one. The current park is farther to the north than the old one, though, and its grandstand faces the opposite direction.79

In 1994, the new Maple City Park became home to the Hornell Dodgers of the New York Collegiate Baseball League, a summer loop for college-age players. The team, later renamed the Steamers, was still playing there as of 2024.80



This story was reviewed by Gregory H. Wolf and Rory Costello and fact-checked by Larry DeFillipo.


Photo Credit

Aerial image of Maple City Park in the early 1950s courtesy of



In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author used the and websites for general player, team and season data, as well as numerous news stories on,, and that described baseball and other activities at Maple City Park.

The author also consulted the website to see aerial photos of the ballpark and surrounding area from 1952, 1955, and 1963, as well as photos of the high school and replacement ballpark from the 1980s through the 2020s.



1 The seal is displayed on the main page of the City of Hornell’s website, accessed February 2024.

2 “Farm Industry Value Outlined at Rotary,” Hornell (New York) Evening Tribune-Times, February 8, 1929: 5; “Mayor Proposes to Sell Park,” Rochester (New York) Democrat and Chronicle, September 27, 1904: 3. The full Maple City Park complex – including the former ballpark site, now the high school – is currently bounded by Adsit, West Genesee, State, and Seneca Streets.

3 “Two Ex-Leaguers Trounced,” Rochester (New York) Democrat and Chronicle, June 1, 1897: 11; “Corning Went Down,” Elmira (New York) Daily Gazette and Free Press, June 15, 1897: 5; “A Crushing Defeat,” Elmira Daily Gazette and Free Press, June 26, 1897: 6. The city of Hornell was known as Hornellsville until 1906, and the name appears in coverage of these and other city events from the period.

4 “Labor Day Was Most Fittingly Celebrated Yesterday,” Elmira Daily Gazette and Free Press, September 5, 1899: 5.

5 “Chicago Americans 4, Hornellsville 0,” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, August 19, 1904: 14.

6 “Race Horses Endangered by Incendiary Fire,” Buffalo Courier, September 6, 1908: 31.

7 “The Grandstand Wrecked,” Olean (New York) Evening Times, July 13, 1910: 1.

8 “Maple City Grandstand Slightly Damaged by Fire,” Buffalo Express, May 1, 1925: 1.

9 “Hornell Winds Up Season by Defeating Wellsville,” Hornell Evening Tribune-Times, September 14, 1914: 6; “Hornells Take First Game of League Series from Wellsville,” Hornell Evening Tribune-Times, May 21, 1915: 10. As of March 2024, the website included scans of several Hornellsville Evening Tribune stories that mentioned the Hornell team playing at Maple City Park in 1906. The newspaper did not print the date of the issue on each page, and the site does not provide dates, though one story can be dated to mid-July 1906 based on Associated Press stories elsewhere on the page.

10 “Hornell Moose to Oppose Wings Today,” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, September 30, 1932: 18; “Hornell Team to Play Elmira Red Wing Nine,” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, September 14, 1933: 17. The New York-Penn League in which the 1933 Elmira Red Wings played was the predecessor of the Double-A circuit known in later years as the Eastern League; it was not the same New York-Penn League in which the 1957 Hornell Redlegs played.

11 “Bath to Play Here Thursday,” Hornell Evening Tribune-Times, August 7, 1923: 8.

12 “Famous Colored Ball Club to Play Here Tomorrow at 4:15,” Hornell Evening Tribune-Times, June 25, 1923: 8.

13 The National Commission, which governed baseball before the Commissioner’s office was created, ruled in 1911 that players on the two World Series teams could not participate in postseason barnstorming. Allan Wood, “Babe Ruth,” SABR Biography Project, accessed February 2024.

14 “Rain Spoils Babes Effort to Stage Ball Gome [sic] in Hornell,” Hornell Evening Tribune-Times, October 21, 1921: 2. The newspaper reported that Ruth and company drew a nearly full house – but estimated that half of those on hand had entered without paying because of insufficient police coverage.

15 “Babe Ruth to End Tour in Two Weeks,” Munster (Indiana) Times, October 21, 1921: 14.

16 “Ruth Sorrowful Now,” Tacoma (Washington) Daily Ledger, October 22, 1921: 6.

17 Wood, “Babe Ruth.”

18 “No High School or Semi-Pro Baseball for Hornell,” Buffalo Courier, April 12, 1926: 11.

19 “Buccaneers Will Play Rochester,” Pittsburgh Press, September 24, 1929: 36; “Bucs Will Play Ball at Hornell,” Olean Evening Times, September 18, 1929: 14. As of February 2024, Baseball-Reference listed Waner as having made only one professional pitching appearance, working two innings for the 1924 San Francisco team of the Pacific Coast League, two seasons before he reached the majors.

20 “Bucs Will Play Ball at Hornell.”

21 “Almonds Encounter Elmira Heights Team,” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, July 9, 1932: 22.

22 The league played its last season in 2019; all minor-league activity was halted in 2020 by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Major League Baseball, which had taken over control of the minors, announced the end of the New York-Penn League in December 2020. Justin Ritzel, “Era Comes to Close,” Auburn (New York) Citizen, December 10, 2020: B1.

23 “Hornell to Seek Ball Franchise in PONY Loop,” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, August 1, 1941: 30; “Hornell Opens Drive to Secure PONY Baseball Loop Franchise,” Olean Times Herald, October 30, 1941: 16. Some sources list the amount of the fundraiser as $10,000 or $11,000. Subsequent stories indicated that Hornell was able to reduce the cost of the ballpark upgrades by buying a used lighting system from Maryland, which may account for the difference in the amount the city needed to raise.

24 Vic McKenty, “Snapshots on Sport,” Kitchener (Ontario) Daily Record, November 19, 1941: 8; International News Service, “Jimmy Jordon Let Out as Field General,” Bradford (Pennsylvania) Evening Star and Daily Record, November 19, 1941: 10; “Hornell Gets Pony League ‘41 Franchise,” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, November 20, 1941: 6D.

25 Baseball-Reference refers to the Pirates’ Hornell farm club of 1942-1947 as the Maples, but contemporary news accounts call the team the Pirates. Previous Hornell teams were coincidentally also called the Pirates, including the squad that faced the Pittsburgh Pirates in September 1929. “Pirates Win From Hornell, 12-1,” Indiana (Pennsylvania) Gazette, September 24, 1929: 8.

26 “S.C.M.,” “PONY League Phan Fodder,” Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal, April 7, 1942: 10.

27 “Five-Run Rally by Wellsville Beats Hornell,” Jamestown Post-Journal, April 30, 1942: 20. Baseball-Reference lists Murphy as playing exclusively in the outfield during his seven-season minor-league career, but the box score in the Jamestown paper has him starting at shortstop.

28 “Falcon Flashes,” Jamestown Post-Journal, May 15, 1942: 14.

29 “Falcons Play Two Nights in Pirates’ Lair,” Jamestown Post-Journal, May 15, 1942: 14.

30 Frank Hyde, “DeCrudyt on Hill for Jamestown Tonight; Falcons Drop Opener to Maple Leafs, 5-3,” Jamestown Post-Journal, May 3, 1948: 18. The 293-foot figure to right field is also cited in Johnny Nelson Jr., “Sport Corner,” Bradford (Pennsylvania) Era, June 14, 1946: 11.

31 Baseball-Reference lists the 1949 Hornell team as hitting 116 home runs, with Jamestown in second place with 89. A news story from 1950, purportedly based on “final official PONY League averages,” credited Hornell with 118 homers, describing that total as “almost twice as many as any other team in the circuit.” Lou Simon, “Official PONY Records Reveal Poor Pitching Kept Hornell in Fifth,” Hornell Evening Tribune, January 27, 1950: 8. Information on Hornell breaking the previous league record from “Littrell Hits 4 Homers as Hornell Wins,” Olean Times Herald, August 16, 1949: 9.

32 “Littrell Hits 4 Homers as Hornell Wins.” Littrell reached double-digit homer totals in four minor-league seasons, peaking at 22 homers with Portland of the Pacific Coast League in 1956. However, he hit only two homers in 279 big-league plate appearances across four seasons between 1952 and 1957.

33 With two ties.

34 “Pittsburgh Pirates Sell Hornell Club,” Bradford Era, December 17, 1947: 13.

35 “Bucs Crush Hornell, 20-5,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 18, 1944: 12. Still another Hall of Famer, former Pirate great Honus Wagner, coached for Pittsburgh for many seasons. The author assumes Wagner was present in Hornell for the exhibition but could not find a news account that specifically mentioned him.

36 Associated Press, “Lockport Pitcher Hurls No-Hitter,” Elmira Star-Gazette, June 10, 1943: 27. For the full season, Tepler walked 143 and struck out 254 in 179 innings.

37 United Press, “Fran Smith Pitches No-Hitter at Hornell,” Shenandoah (Pennsylvania) Evening Herald, June 4, 1946: 8; United Press, “Lockport’s Smith Hurls No-Hitter; Falcons Nip Olean,” Dunkirk (New York) Evening Observer, June 4, 1946: 10.

38 “Al Antinelli Loses Despite No-Hitter,” Hornell Evening Tribune, June 16, 1950: 10.

39 “Double No-Hit Game Won by Nunda High Nine,” Buffalo Evening News, June 3, 1953: 79.

40 Associated Press, “Hornell Gets Bosox Tie Up,” Elmira Star-Gazette, September 29, 1948: 14.

41 With one tie.

42 Kerns appeared in a single big-league game on August 18, 1945, against Washington. In a ninth-inning pinch-hit appearance, he grounded to second base.

43 “Baseball Pull,” Broadcasting Telecasting magazine, October 2, 1950: 76.

44 Baseball-Reference refers to the 1949 team as the Maple Leafs, but in contemporary news coverage, the team was called the Red Sox or Hosox.

45 “Hornell Closes Season in 5th; Set Attendance Record of 86,000,” Hornell Evening Tribune, September 6, 1949: 8. Haering, a first baseman and outfielder, hit .301 with 18 homers and 78 RBIs in 84 games. He played five minor-league seasons, peaking at Class B.

46 “Hornell Baseball Group Annual Meeting Friday,” Hornell Evening Tribune, October 27, 1949: 14.

47 Dick Young, “Yanks Release Charley Keller,” New York Daily News, December 7, 1949: 86.

48 “Len Schulte Leads Olean to League Title,” St. Charles (Missouri) Weekly Cosmos-Monitor, September 27, 1950: 5.

49 Associated Press, “Hornell Pitcher Hurls No-Hit Game, But Allows 1 Run,” Buffalo Evening News, May 16, 1951: 65.

50 “Bud Dowling’s Condition Fair After Accident” and “Oilers Split Two Tilts Over Weekend; Dowling Is Out with Fractured Jaw,” both Olean Times Herald, May 21, 1951: 8.

51 In 1951, Wills finished second to Angel Scull of Wellsville, who stole 60 bases. Scull never played in the majors but appeared on a baseball card in the 1954 Topps set, depicted as a member of the Washington Senators.

52 Wills also had a brief, unsuccessful stint as Seattle Mariners manager in 1980 and 1981.

53 Neal played for the 1959 Dodgers; Zimmer for the 1955 and 1959 Dodgers; and Tracewski for the 1963 and 1965 Dodgers and 1968 Detroit Tigers.

54 Associated Press, “Spanish Books Help Fans Root for Cubans,” Washington Post, May 14, 1952: 17. The news item spelled Alvarez’s first name Ultas, but Baseball-Reference spells it Ultus. Alvarez was an outfielder, first baseman, and third baseman who played 1,360 minor-league games over 12 seasons in the US, peaking at Triple-A. Masip, a pitcher, peaked at Class B during a four-season minor-league career. As of February 2024, Baseball-Reference had no listing for Ricardo Lopez playing for Hornell in 1952, though a pitcher by that name appeared the previous season for the Dodgers’ Class C affiliate in Billings, Montana.

55 “Spanish Books Help Fans Root for Cubans.”

56 Comparison of 1952 and 1955 aerial photos of the site, posted at, shows a visibly smaller grandstand in the latter photo. Neither photo shows first- or third-base bleachers; it may be that the bleachers were removed when baseball was not being played, and the photos were taken outside baseball season.

57 “Hornell Hopes to Rebuild Grandstand,” Elmira Star-Gazette, February 21, 1955: 3; “More or Less About Sports,” Wellsville Daily Reporter, April 8, 1955: 7; “Corning, Wellsville Win PONY Openers,” Elmira Sunday Telegram, May 1, 1955: D1; “Caught on the Fly,” The Sporting News, March 23, 1955: 27.

58 “Minor League Highlights: Class D,” The Sporting News, July 11, 1956: 48.

59 Jimmy Breslin, “Hardships, Casual Conditions Kill Minor League Players Enthusiasm [sic],” Lansing (Michigan) State Journal, August 17, 1955: 40.

60 The attendance comparison between 1951 and 1956 is skewed by the fact that the PONY League had eight teams play a full season in 1951. Only six played the full season in 1956 following the early-season folding of teams in Bradford, Pennsylvania, and Hamilton, Ontario. On the other hand, the disappearance of two teams about two weeks into the season is, in and of itself, proof that public interest was ebbing.

61 All attendance figures in this paragraph were sourced from Baseball-Reference’s pages on the 1951 through 1956 PONY League seasons, accessed in February 2024.

62 “Hornell, Brooklyn Continue Agreement,” Elmira (New York) Advertiser, February 2, 1957: 7.

63 “Renew Hornell Team Bid,” Elmira Advertiser, February 26, 1957: 10. The Kitchener rumor proved to be untrue, as Kitchener was not represented in the 1957 New York-Penn League.

64 United Press, “Hornell Decides to Quit D League,” Buffalo Evening News, March 9, 1957: Sports: 5.

65 The loss of Hornell made scarcely a ripple on Brooklyn’s minor-league system, as the Dodgers operated or contributed to 14 minor-league affiliates in 1957 (the same number as the previous season).

66 Baseball-Reference refers to the 1957 Bradford team as the Beagles, but contemporary news coverage called them the Blue Sox. The Bradford team had initially announced Zeke Bonura, former major-leaguer and beagle fancier, as its manager, although Bonura never managed the team. One sample news reference to the Blue Sox: “Bradford Bows to Braves 11-3,” Wellsville (New York) Daily Reporter, May 23, 1957: 9.

67 Associated Press, “NYP League to Seek Aid from Stabilization Fund,” Elmira Advertiser, May 17, 1957: 10.

68 Associated Press, “Hornell Joins NYP,” Elmira Star-Gazette, May 25, 1957: 6.

69 “Corning Rips Olean, 14-4; Redlegs Split,” Elmira Advertiser, August 31, 1957: 6; attendance figure taken from accompanying box scores. Erie finished second in the regular season to the Wellsville (New York) Braves. The New York-Penn employed a Shaughnessy-style four-team playoff that season; Erie beat the Corning Red Sox in the first round and the Batavia Indians in the finals.

70 Associated Press, “Council Offers Free Ball Park,” Hazleton (Pennsylvania) Standard-Sentinel, January 17, 1958: 33.

71 Associated Press, “Geneva Granted Franchise in NY-Penn Baseball Loop,” Wilmington (Delaware) Morning News, January 27, 1958: 19.

72 “Hornell Gets Report on School Situation,” Elmira Star-Gazette, February 17, 1957: 1B.

73 “Choice of Hornell School Site in Air,” Elmira Star-Gazette, December 15, 1957: 1B.

74 “Steel Plays Important Role in New Hornell High School,” Elmira Telegram, April 28, 1963: 7B; “Steel Supplied by Heights Plant Has Vital Role in New Penn Yan Academy,” Elmira Telegram, April 5, 1964: B6. (The person doing public relations for steel clearly earned his or her pay in 1963-64.)

75 “Hornell Gets Bids on Park Projects,” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, May 19, 1963: 2B. As of February 2024, the website hosted aerial photos showing the ballpark and surrounding complex from 1952, 1955, and 1963, as well as numerous aerial photos of the high school complex from the 1980s and beyond. As of 2024, it appears that the rear portion of the current building and an adjoining parking lot occupy part of the old ballpark’s former footprint.

76 “Board May Get New Bids on Grandstand,” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, June 5, 1964: 1B.

77 “New School Look Awaits Hornell Students,” Elmira (New York) Telegram, August 29, 1965: 3B.

78 “Board May Get New Bids on Grandstand”; “Batavia Employs Alternate QBs in 38-7 Triumph,” Buffalo Evening News, October 9, 1965: C2; “Grandstand Plan Revised to Cut Cost,” Elmira Star-Gazette, June 10, 1964: 21. When the author visited the second Maple City Park to see a Hornell Dodgers game in July 2017, the grandstand behind home plate provided the park’s only permanent seating. Many fans brought folding chairs and sat along the foul lines, a safe distance back from the field.

79 Photos on, accessed February 2024.

80 Jason Jordan, “Hornell’s Pro Baseball History Runs Deep,” Hornell Evening Tribune, posted January 20, 2019,; Andy Malnoske, “Hornell to Remove Dodgers Name in NYCBL,”, posted March 24, 2022 and updated March 25, 2022.