Recreation Park (Pittsburgh)

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Recreation Park
Former names Union Park (pre-April 1885)
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 Allegheny (IA) (1877-1878)
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 was a sporting grounds and stadium located in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, in the latter 19th and early 20th centuries. It was the first National League (NL) home to the Pittsburgh Pirates (at the time referred to as the Alleghenys)[1]of Major League Baseball. It also hosted the football team of the University of Pittsburgh, (then known as the Western University of Pennsylvania). In November 1892, the park was the location of the first known American football game that included a professional player. There are no known pictures of the grounds situated in it's baseball stadium format,[2] though some newspaper photos of later football games played there do survive.


Known prior to 1885 as 'Union Park,'[3] the stadium had an initial capacity of 2,500,[1] and was later expanded with wooden grandstands to allow up to 17,000 spectators.[4] Recreation Park was eventually also referred to as the Pittsburgh Coliseum and was used as "a wooden saucer for motor-paced bicycle riding".[1] The park was located within the blocks of Allegheny, Pennsylvania, and Grant (now Galveston) Avenues and Boquet (now Behan) Street on what is now Pittsburgh's Northside. In 2001, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pirates built stadiums not far from this site.


Prior to 1876, three amateur Pittsburgh baseball teams—the Enterprise Club, the Xanthas, and the Olympics—competed, most often at Union Park. In 1876 a professional but minor league Allegheny club played its first game against the Xantha club at Union Park, winning 7-3.[1] The Pittsburgh Alleghenys of the American Association (AA) moved from Exposition Park II to the soon-to-be-named park in 1884 .[5] They posted a record of 18–37 at home that season, finishing 11th in the league.[6] In 1887, owner William A. Nimick agreed to have the club join the NL,[4] and on April 30, the Alleghenies defeated the Chicago White Stockings by a score of 6–2 in front of 10,000 spectators. This was the first officially recognized contest of the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise.[7] Prior to one game during that season, Pittsburgh's catcher Fred Carroll, buried his pet monkey beneath home plate.[4] 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.[2]


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.[8] 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. 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.[9]

1899 WUP team at Recreation Park

The Western University of Pennsylvania (WUP) played their first game of the 1898 season at Recreation Park, defeating Westminster 5–0.[10] Though WUP did play some games at Exposition Park as early as 1900,[11] games were still hosted at Recreation Park until the University signed an exclusive contract with Exposition Park in 1904.[12]


  1. ^ a b c d Lieb, Frederick (1948). The Pittsburgh Pirates. New York: GP Putnam's Sons reprinted 2003 by Southern Illinois University Press. ISBN 0-8093-2492-X. 
  2. ^ a b Finoli, David; Bill Ranier (2003). The Pittsburgh Pirates Encyclopedia. United States: Sports Publishing L.L.C. pp. 485–6. ISBN 1-58261-416-4. 
  3. ^ "The Pittsburghs". Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette. March 5, 1885. p. 6, col. 3. 
  4. ^ a b c "Exposition Park". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 2006-07-11. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  5. ^ "Pittsburgh Pirates Attendance, Stadiums and Park Factors". Pittsburgh Pirates. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  6. ^ "1884 Pittsburg Alleghenys". Pittsburgh Pirates. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  7. ^ "1887-1900". Pirates Timeline. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  8. ^ "Nov. 12: Birth of pro football". Pro Football History. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  9. ^ Carroll, Bob (1980). "Dave Berry and the Philadelphia Story". Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association) 2 (Annual): 1–9. 
  10. ^ Western University of Pennsylvania. "Foot Ball.". Western University courant 14 (1): 27. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  11. ^ Western University of Pennsylvania. "Athletics". Western University courant 16 (2): 46. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  12. ^ 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]

  • Flickr album with various photos of the park in its "Colosseum" phase
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