Sebring: Indiana baseball group wants monument on historical game site

From Blake Sebring at the Fort Wayne News Sentinel on November 28, 2016, with mention of SABR member Bill Griggs:

When local Society of American Baseball Research chapter founder Bob Gregory passed away in September, he told his friend Bill Griggs that he’d love for his legacy to be a monument marking the spot of the first professional baseball league game. It was played in Fort Wayne on May 4, 1871 between the Fort Wayne Kekiongas and the Cleveland Forest Citys.

There was a game scheduled for earlier in the day featuring Washington at Cincinnati but it was rained out, which meant the game in Fort Wayne was the league’s first official contest. The Kekiongas won 2-0. The problem is the location where the game was played has been in dispute, with five potential sites. Griggs, a local baseball historian and current chairman of the Kekionga SABR chapter, believes he has found the definitive spot, Camp Allen Park two blocks south of Main Street just west of St. Joseph’s Hospital and near St. Mary’s River. Briggs based his research partly on newspapers reports of the time, including descriptions of later games which include balls being hit into the river. The other favorite site of historians is Hamilton Field which was allegedly located somewhere near Lewis and Calhoun streets downtown, but that would have made it impossible for any balls to be hit into the river. Griggs also credits late Fort Wayne sports historian Bob Parker for nailing the spot around 1971, which was the game’s 100th anniversary.


So Griggs and the Kekionga SABR chapter are trying to raise funds for a monument to be placed inside Camp Allen Park to memorialize the spot and Gregory. Griggs met recently with Fort Wayne City Councilman Geoff Paddock to discuss the possibility. Paddock is excited about the project and wants to meet with city and Parks and Recreation Department officials.

In the meantime, the Kekionga SABR chapter is collecting funds through treasurer Tim Tassler, and donations can be mailed to 5138 Pinebrook Dr., Fort Wayne, IN 46804. Any questions can be emailed to Tassler at

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Originally published: November 28, 2016. Last Updated: November 28, 2016.