Harrison Park (New Jersey)

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Harrison Park is a former baseball ground located in Harrison, New Jersey, a city adjacent to Newark, New Jersey. The ground was home to the Newark Peppers of the Federal League in 1915. The field was also called "Peppers Park" or "Peps Park".

Location[edit]

The ballpark was located within the city limits of Harrison, a block and a half east of the Passaic River. Home plate was in the northwest corner. The ballpark was bounded by Middlesex Street [now Angelo Cifelli Drive] (north, third base); South 3rd Street (east, left field); Burlington Avenue (south, right field); and South 2nd Street (west, first base). There were (and are) railroad yards skirting the southeast corner of the property; oil tanks were visible behind the right-center field seating, adjacent to the rail yards. An Otis Elevator Company factory stood across the street to the west, near the river.

Baseball[edit]

The stadium had a seating capacity of around 21,000.[1] It was a rather large ballpark, with dimensions of 375 feet in left, 450 feet to dead center and 375 feet in right;[2] these dimensions, and the fact that baseball was still in its "dead ball" era, made it extremely difficult to hit for power. In fact, just six home runs were ever hit in Federal League play in Harrison, and only one actually left the ballpark—hit by the Peps' Emil Huhn, the only one he ever hit in his brief MLB career. (Huhn would be better known as Fred Toney's catcher in the famous "double no-hit" game on May 2, 1917, where both Toney and Hippo Vaughn tossed no-hitters through nine innings.) An overflow crowd of 26,032 attended the opener on April 16, 1915;[3] subsequent crowds were in the 5,000-10,000 range.

Hal Chase, the infamous "Black Prince of Baseball", was involved in an altercation just outside Harrison Park after a game on Sunday, April 25. Chase, then playing for the Federal League team in Buffalo, came to blows with a Newark fan named Billy Quinn, who had been heckling Chase during the contest. Saloon owner (and former boxer) Patrick McGuigan joined the fray and landed a few blows before police broke up the brawl. Chase was uninjured and played the next two days in Newark.[4]

After the Federal League disbanded at the end of the 1915 season, the ballpark was used by the minor league Newark Bears until 1924.

Soccer[edit]

The site is only a few blocks northwest of the modern Red Bull Arena, and is now used as a parking lot for the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer. This is fitting, since Harrison Park also hosted soccer matches in its day.

The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (then known as the National Challenge Cup) twice held its final match there, in 1918 and again in 1923. On May 4, 1918, after a 2-2 draw between the Fall River Rovers and Bethlehem Steel F.C. in Fall River, the replay was held in Harrison on May 19; Bethlehem Steel won, 3-0, in front of a crowd of 10,000. Five years later, on April 1, 1923, local side Paterson F.C. played St. Louis Scullin Steel F.C. to a 2-2 draw in Harrison with 15,000 in attendance. Scullin declined a rematch, however, as many of their players were also pro baseball players who had joined their teams; Paterson was awarded the Cup by default.

Fate[edit]

Harrison Park was destroyed by fire on August 23, 1924.

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • Marc Okkonen, The Federal League of 1914-1915: Baseball's Third Major League, SABR, 1989.

Coordinates: 40°44′24″N 74°09′29″W / 40.7399°N 74.1581°W / 40.7399; -74.1581