Pajot: The political realities of building a 19th-century baseball park

From SABR member Dennis Pajot at on November 19, 2012:

Many baseball magnates of the late 19th Century and early 20th Century had difficulties building their ballparks. Much of this was political. Even though ballparks were not built with public money, public officials could hinder—or stop—construction with zoning regulations and the placement of streets through the area where the baseball men were planning to build. Perhaps the most famous case was in New York. But this happened on all levels. Presented here is the case in Milwaukee in the 1890s. It is interesting to compare what happened in this minor league mid-western city to the larger big league cities, and also look at how politics worked over a hundred years ago. Much of the information on location and individuals might only be of interest to a Milwaukeean (or someone with Milwaukee connections), but I believe the overall story will be interesting—both the politics (on a city level and baseball level) involved and the process of what went into the building of a ballpark in the late 19th Century.

The Milwaukee Brewers of 1894 were part of the minor Western League, playing their home games at Athletic Park, located at 8th and Chambers on the city’s north side. The ballpark was owned by Harry D. Quin, owner of a book binding company and sporting goods store. The Brewers finished in last place, but made about $800 according to its president, Matthew R. Killilea–a railroad lawyer “with plenty of money and backbone” said the Sporting News.

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Originally published: November 19, 2012. Last Updated: November 19, 2012.