Rare Remnant of a Lost Ballpark

When the subject of baseball in Brooklyn comes up, the discussion centers around Ebbets Field, the Flatbush venue most famously home to The Boys of Summer.  Those legendary 1940s and '50s teams that featured such historic and beloved players as Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella and Gil Hodges.

Ebbets Field hosted its last major league game in 1957 and was torn down during the winter of 1960.

But decades earlier, just before World War One, the Dodgers were based in the Park Slope area and played at Washington Park.  Once they moved out, the land was occupied by another stadium, which housed a different franchise.  The upstart Federal League, which played in the 1914 and '15 seasons, had a Brooklyn team called the TipTops.  Owned by a local baking magnate Robert Ward, whose company produced TipTop bread, the club took over the abandoned lot along 3rd Street and built a new brick and steel venue.

The only no-hitter in the Federal League's two-year run was pitched at Washington Park on September 19th, 1914 by Ed "Doc" Lafitte against the Kansas City Packers.

The Federal League lost the competitive battle to the American and National Leagues, and folded after the 1915 season.  Left without a tenant, the ballpark was torn down, except for the outer wall, which survived as part of a storage yard for the local electric company.

That remnant of Washington Park still stands today.  Walk along the east side of 3rd Avenue, south of 1st Street, and you'll see that outer wall -- with a rather "ballpark-ish" appearance -- remaining from Washington Park.

In a city that loves honoring history, especially sports history, perhaps the biggest surprise is that there is no plaque telling the story of Washington Park.  No mention of Doc Lafitte, baking magnate Robert Ward or his TipTops.


Lois Simmons said…
The Tip Tops weren't the Dodgers and only lasted for two years. And now there is probably no one alive who saw the no-hitter pitched there or any other game for that matter. If the Ward who owned the Tip Tops had been John Montgomery Waed who had a connection to both the Dodgers and Giants, then maybe, just maybe, there would be more interest in the remnant of Washington Park.
Lafitte never pitched in the majors after the Federal League folded, and he ended his career with Buffalo in the Federal League after posting a losing record with the Tip Tops for part of the 1915 season. And while there were a few teams that benefited from the demise of the Federal League by acquiring some of their younger stars (e.g. the Giants acquiring outfielder Bennie Kauff, known as the Federal League's "Ty Cobb"), the Dodgers weren't one of those teams.
That said, the second picture with the arches in the wall are definitely reminiscent (except for the white color) of the outfield wall at the first Comiskey Park (later White Sox Park) and the right field wall at Forbes Field.
And while I no longer see Tip Top bread in the stores and my family never bought it, I can still remember some of their commercials from my childhood. ("Do you like Tip Top bread?" "Yes, I like Tip Top bread.")
Rob Weingartner said…
I saw this about a year ago with a friend of mine. The history of this park does seem to be unclear. I was also told the Dodgers once played here and then I heard this is not the location they played before Ebbets Field. You are right, there is no plaque on the building giving any history of its past.
Mike McCann said…
@Rob Weingartner: The Dodgers played at this site; but in a stadium they tore down once Ebbets Field was opened in 1913. No park of the previous Washington Park (save for the land on which it was built) was used for the TipTops venue.

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