Backstory and Context
Greenlee Field was named after its owner, Gus Greenlee. The stadium was built in 1932 with a capacity with about 6,000. It was the first black owned baseball field in the East. The Pittsburgh Crawfords called the field home, and the Homestead Grays also played there for a short time. Upon opening, the first game played on April 29, 1932 was a loss to the New York Black Yankees. Later in the year, that August lights were installed to allow for night baseball, making Greenlee the first field to allow for games at night. In 1935 the team won the National Negro League ball game and was named the 1935 Negro League Champs.
Financial troubles began to surface and the loss of very important and vital players, Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige, it was a burden that the field and owner, Gus Greenlee, were not able to rise above. In just 6 short years the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Greenlee Field seized to exist. In December of 1938 demolition of the stadium began and the Bedford Dwellings housing project began on the site.
On June 17, 2009 a historical marker was made public at the intersection of Bedford Avenue and Junilla Street near where the baseball stadium once stood. The historical marker is co-sponsored by the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, the Josh Gibson Foundation, and the Society for American Baseball Research. (The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
The historical marker reads, “Greenlee Field located here from 1932 to 1938, this was the first African American owned stadium in the Negro Leagues. Home of Gus Greenlee’s Pittsburgh Crawfords Baseball team, 1935 Negro League Champs. Players included Hall of Famers Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, and Cool Papa Bell.”
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