Mack Park was the original home field of Detroit’s Negro National League baseball franchise, the Detroit Stars. The stadium was constructed in 1914 by Joe Roesink and was located at the southeast corner of Fairview Ave. and Mack Ave. On July 7,1929, Roesink feared that a rain-soaked field might force him to cancel a game between the Stars and Kansas City Monarchs. In an attempt to keep the game scheduled, Roesink tried to dry out the field by lighting small amounts of gasoline. He hoped that small controlled fires would help dry out the field. Unfortunately, he was unable to to control the fire and set the entire stadium ablaze. The Detroit Stars finished that season at Hamtramck Stadium.
In 1918, Rube
Foster–a promoter of black sports– knew that the migration of African Americans
to northern cities meant that black baseball might be successful if it were
organized and promoted. He then established the Negro National League with
hopes of creating franchises in cities with large black populations. Negro
teams had played baseball since the late 19th century, often challenging white
teams, including those in the major leagues.
In an effort to increase money in Detroit Foster wanted
rights to Mack Park which was the original home of Detroit’s Negro National
League baseball franchise, the Detroit Stars. Mack Park was desired because it
was the only venue that offered enough seating. Mack Park had enough seating
for 6,000 between both bleacher and theatre style seating, however, various
reports state that it could hold up to 10,000 people. Foster appointed John T.
Blount as head of the Detroit Stars team, which prospered, playing league games
on weekends and challenging local teams at other times. Roesink replaced Blount
as the president of the Stars, making him the third white man to own a Negro
In 1929, the Detroit Stars were scheduled to
play the Kansas City Monarchs at Mack Park; however, a week of rain had made
the field unplayable. Before the game, Roesink along with the ground crew
spread gasoline on the field in an effort to dry it out so that the game could
be played. The extra gasoline stored underneath the stands was ignited when a
cigarette was thrown down on the field. A fire quickly started and spread
through the stadium. No fans were killed, but 220 people were reportedly
injured when the grandstand collapsed. The fire ended the use of Mack Park by
Negro League baseball teams. The Detroit Stars finished out their season at Hamtramck
Stadium then proceeded to play their last season at Dequindre Park in Detroit.
Mack Park was
eventually rebuilt for the use of Detroit’s Southeastern High School’s baseball
team. This continued until the 1960s when Mack Park was flattened to make way
for a housing complex called Fairview Homes.