Here’s a note from the Indianapolis Freeman (March 14, 1908):
The trouble is, this address, according to a Sanborn fire insurance map made in 1908, was then clearly not the location of a ballpark:
Kevin Johnson, however, found what is apparently a ballpark two blocks away, bounded by Prescott, Pope, and Clarence avenues. And in the 1992 edition of Green Cathedrals, Phil Lowry locates Kuebler’s Park at exactly this location.
Could this park be Kuebler’s Park after all, even though it was actually located at 6100 (or really something like 6032) Prescott, rather than 6100 North Broadway?Whether it was or not, the St. Louis Giants wouldn’t remain there for long. In 1910, according to the former Giants’ first baseman H. P. Warmack, the team began to play in Timothy Kavanaugh’s “Athletic park” (Freeman, September 9, 1911). A book called Missouri’s Black Heritage locates this park on Garrison and North Market, which is quite easy to find. Here it is, on a 1909 Sanborn map:
An African-American team (possibly the Giants, possibly another club) also played at Handlan’s Park at the corner of Grand and Laclede avenues in the summer of 1910. This would later be refurbished and rechristened as Federal League Park, the home of that circuit’s St. Louis Terriers. Here’s a Sanborn map from 1908, again courtesy of Kevin Johnson:
According to an article Kevin found in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (August 2, 1910, p. 9), nearby (white) residents had signed a petition to grant permission for “amateur baseball games” to be held at Handlan Park. But when
the players and spectators proved to be negroes, and when yellow banners appeared on the park fence announcing that the place was ‘the only negro summer garden in St. Louis’, the signers realized that a light mulatto, with close-cropped hair, had been mistaken for a white man.”The white residents then claimed they had been purposefully deceived, and organized a movement to drive the black ballplayers, entertainers, and spectators out of the neighborhood.
Charlie Mills and his St. Louis Giants really faced two problems when trying to secure a home park: the difficulty of obtaining access to enough capital, which tended to put them at the mercies of white businessmen; and a local geography of racism that made it difficult to locate the proper facilities in the “right” neighborhoods. The North Broadway area in which “Kuebler’s park” was located was quite distant from the most important black areas of the city, for example.
As Mills put it in his 1919 article, “They kept me moving from park to park until I was ‘blue in the face’.” In the second part I’ll chronicle some of these movements in the 1910s and how they were put to a (temporary) end in 1919 with the construction of Giants Park.