Recreation Park (Pittsburgh)

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Recreation Park
Former names Union Park
Pittsburgh Coliseum
Location Allegheny City, PA (Pre-1907)
Pittsburgh, PA (Post-1907)
Coordinates 40°27′17″N 80°01′07″W / 40.4547°N 80.0186°W / 40.4547; -80.0186Coordinates: 40°27′17″N 80°01′07″W / 40.4547°N 80.0186°W / 40.4547; -80.0186
Capacity 17,000
Surface Grass
Pittsburgh Enterprises, Xanthas and Olympics (circa. 1876–circa. 1887)
Pittsburgh Stogies (UA) (1884)
Pittsburgh Alleghenys (AA) (1884–1886)
Pittsburgh Alleghenys/Innocents (NL)
Pittsburgh Panthers football (1898–1904)
Pittsburgh Stars (NFL) (1902)
Recreation Park on 1893 map

Recreation Park, originally known as Union Park, was a stadium located in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, before its 1907 annexation into the city of Pittsburgh, in the latter 19th century to the early 20th century. It was the first official home to the Pittsburgh Pirates, which were at the time named the Alleghenys and later the Innocents,[1] the city's Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise.[2] It also hosted the football team of the University of Pittsburgh, then known as the Western University of Pennsylvania. In November 1892, the Park hosted the first ever professional American football game, between two local teams. After sporting events had ceased, Recreation Park was renamed the Pittsburgh Coliseum and was used as "a wooden saucer for motor-paced bicycle riding".[3] There are no known pictures of the full park in existence.[4]


Recreation Park originally had a capacity of 2,500,[5] but later expanded its wooden grandstands to allow 17,000 spectators.[6] The stadium stood between Allegheny, Pennsylvania, and Grant (now Galveston) Avenues and Boquet (now Behan) Street on what is now Pittsburgh's Northside.[7]


Prior to 1876, three amateur Pittsburgh baseball teams—the Enterprise Club, the Xanthas, and the Olympics—competed, most often at Recreation Park.[5] In 1876 an Allegheny club, which can be traced to the modern-day Pittsburgh Pirates, but not affiliated with any organized league, played its first game against Xanthus at Union Park, winning 7-3.[8][9] The first major league team to play at Recreation Park was the Pittsburgh Stogies, of the Union Association. The Stogies relocated from Chicago in 1884, lasting one season at Recreation Park.[4] Due to flooding in Exposition Park II from its close proximity to the Allegheny River, the Pittsburgh Alleghenies of the American Association moved to Recreation Park in 1884.[3][10] The team posted an 18–37 record at home throughout the 1884 season, finishing 11th overall in the league.[11] In 1887, Alleghenies's owner William A. Nimick moved the team from the American Association to the National League.[6] On April 30, 1887, the Alleghenies defeated the Chicago White Stockings by a score of 6–2 in front of 10,000 spectators, in the first official contest of the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise.[12] Prior to one game in the 1887 season Pittsburgh's catcher, Fred Carroll, buried his pet monkey beneath home plate.[1][6] The lowest attended game at the park came on April 23, 1890, when six spectators watched the Pirates play the Cleveland Spiders.[1] In 1891, after the collapse of the Pittsburgh Burghers baseball franchise of the Players' League, the Alleghenys moved to Exposition Park III which had been constructed for the Burghers.[3][4]


On November 12, 1892, Recreation Park hosted a game between the Allegheny Athletic Association football team and the Pittsburgh Athletic Club. The Allegheny Athletic Association won the game, which was the first in professional football.[13] In 1902, a Pittsburgh Pirates-backed football team, the Pittsburgh Stars of the first National Football League, played all of its home games at the field, now called the Coliseum. The Stars would go on to win the league's only championship against the Philadelphia Athletics, by a score of 11-0, at the field.[14] In 2001, the Pittsburgh Steelers constructed Heinz Field blocks from the site of Recreation Park.

1899 WUP team at Recreation Park

The Western University of Pennsylvania (WUP), known today as the University of Pittsburgh, played their first game of the 1898 season at Recreation Park. The team defeated Wesminster 5–0.[15] However, the following season on October 15, Wesminster would beat the WUP, 6–0, at Recreation Park.[16] Though the WUP began playing games at Exposition Park as early as 1900,[17] games were still hosted at Recreation Park,[18] until the University signed an exclusive contract with Exposition Park in 1904.[19]


  1. ^ a b c McCollister, John (2008). The good, the bad, and the ugly Pittsburgh Pirates: heart-pounding, jaw-dropping, and gut-wrenching moments from Pittsburgh Pirates history. Chicago: Triumph Books. pp. 95–6. ISBN 978-1-57243-982-5. 
  2. ^ "Ballparks: 1887 - Present". Pirates Ballparks. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  3. ^ a b c Potter, Chris (2008-06-12). "Was there a baseball field that the Pittsburgh Pirates played in before Forbes Field in Oakland?". Pittsburgh City Paper. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  4. ^ a b c Finoli, David; Bill Ranier (2003). The Pittsburgh Pirates Encyclopedia. United States: Sports Publishing L.L.C. pp. 485–6. ISBN 1-58261-416-4. 
  5. ^ a b McCollister, John (1998). The Bucs! The Story of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Lenexa, Kansas: Addax Publishing Group. p. 21. ISBN 1-886110-40-9. 
  6. ^ a b c "Exposition Park". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 2006-07-11. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  7. ^ Rooney, Dan; Peterson, Carol (2013). Allegheny City: A History of Pittsburgh’s North Side. University of Pittsburgh Press. p. 163. 
  8. ^ McCollister, John (1998). The Bucs!: The Story of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Lenexa: Addax Publishing Group. ISBN 1-886110-40-9. 
  9. ^ Lowry, Philip J. (1992). Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebration of All 271 Major League and Negro League Ballparks Past and Present. Reading: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., Inc. ISBN 0-201-56777-6. 
  10. ^ "Pittsburgh Pirates Attendance, Stadiums and Park Factors". Pittsburgh Pirates. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  11. ^ "1884 Pittsburg Alleghenys". Pittsburgh Pirates. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  12. ^ "1887-1900". Pirates Timeline. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  13. ^ "Nov. 12: Birth of pro football". Pro Football History. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  14. ^ Carroll, Bob (1980). "Dave Berry and the Philadelphia Story". Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association) 2 (Annual): 1–9. 
  15. ^ Western University of Pennsylvania. "Foot Ball.". Western University courant 14 (1): 27. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  16. ^ Western University of Pennsylvania. "Foot-ball team". Western University courant 15 (1): 35. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  17. ^ Western University of Pennsylvania. "Athletics". Western University courant 16 (2): 46. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  18. ^ Western University of Pennsylvania. "Athletics". Western University courant 17 (2): 14. Retrieved 2008-08-19. 
  19. ^ Alberts, Robert C. (1986). Pitt: The Story of the University of Pittsburgh, 1787-1987. University of Pittsburgh Press. p. 65. ISBN 0-8229-1150-7. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Exposition Park I
Home of the Pittsburgh Pirates
Succeeded by
Exposition Park III
Preceded by
Exposition Park III
Home of the Pittsburgh Panthers
Succeeded by
Exposition Park III