Many readers of this newspaper can relate to the sentiment that this especially brutal winter cannot end soon enough – and that baseball season cannot come fast enough.
Major league baseball players are already in the midst of spring training in warmer places while locally, boys and girls, young and old, are indoors (or even outdoors as the snow starts to clear away) with bat, ball and glove in hand getting in shape for games to come.
Meanwhile, fans are preparing to watch their favorite teams over the next few months, whether it’s from the bleacher seats at Yankee Stadium or in the living room staring at a plasma screen.
And for some, it is an opportunity to remember the landmarks and individuals from the Hudson/Bergen County area that have a significant place in baseball history.
Hoboken as the site of the first recorded baseball game in 1846 and Jersey City as the location of the legendary Jackie Robinson’s debut in a professional baseball game in 1946, and as the birthplace of those who got to the “big show” including Joe Borowski (Bayonne), Willie Banks (Jersey City) and Johnny Kucks (Hoboken). Several aficionados of America’s pastime shared recently about how they await the start of another year where the worries are more about box scores than snowplows.
Hoboken gave birth to baseball? That’s right. Just take a stroll over to 11th and Washington Streets and you’ll be standing where Elysian Field used to be and where first, second, third and home bases were designated on June 19, 1846. That’s the day the first game was ever played and its cemented in Hoboken’s history and as well as those street corners – just read the plaques in the sidewalk.
Some folks disagree with baseball’s Hoboken origins, especially those affiliated with the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, which throws its own curveball claiming the first game was played in Cooperstown in 1839. To most Hudsonites, though, Hoboken is the birthplace of baseball. The city even has its own vintage baseball team.
They call themselves the Hoboken Nine Vintage Base Ball Club and they play baseball the way it was originally played – by 19th century rules. They wear uniforms designed like the ones worn in 1846 and their balls and bats are replicated from that period, too. The Hoboken Nine competes against other vintage teams to promote the history of baseball and for the sheer pleasure of playing baseball as a gentleman’s sport.