O’Neill: Historic photo revives interest in Negro League’s St. Louis Stars

From Dan O’Neill at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on November 14, 2016, with mention of SABR members Steve Pona and Ray Doswell:

And there used to be a ballpark where the field was warm and green.

And the people played their crazy game with a joy I’d never seen.

And the air was such a wonder from the hot dogs and the beer.

Yes, there used to be a ballpark right here.

Frank Sinatra recorded that song back in 1973, and before it was brought to Lauren Sallwasser’s attention she had never heard of it. Yet she knew the sentiment by heart.

Sallwasser, a photo archivist for the Missouri Historical Society, was recently identifying and cataloging negatives received from a collection when she came across an image of a ballpark.

Initially, Sallwasser believed the 1922 photo to be an exterior view of Sportsman’s Park, which stood at North Grand Boulevard and Dodier Street from 1902 to 1966. That ballpark, purchased by Anheuser-Busch and renamed Busch Stadium in 1953, was the city’s major league hub until a stadium opened downtown in 1966.

Sportsman’s Park emerged in stages during its early years, as upper decks and seating structures were added incrementally. So Sallwasser’s initial impression seemed logical, but as she compared her image with other documented photos of Sportsman’s Park and the neighborhood around it, ends didn’t meet.

She soon realized she had come upon something much more extraordinary, something that previously existed only in tall tales and tidbits. She had come upon a picture of St. Louis Stars Park.

Read the full article here: http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/historic-photo-revives-interest-in-negro-league-s-st-louis/article_325fb6ac-65a5-53a1-b550-a1fce33de50c.html

Originally published: November 17, 2016. Last Updated: November 17, 2016.