Dexter Park was a Negro League baseball park located in Queens, New York. The park hosted many football and baseball games, as well as other local events. Not only was the ballpark home to multiple Negro League baseball teams, it was also home to the first nighttime game in 1930, which featured the first focused lighting system on a baseball field. Unfortunately, the baseball park was torn down in 1956 and is now the site of a supermarket parking lot.
Backstory and Context
Dexter Park was a ballpark located in Queens, New York. Although it is debated, the ballpark was supposedly named after a racehorse named Dexter who was apparently buried there. As a result, many people started referring to right field as horse heaven. Prior to being used solely for sports, the park was home to various small events including pigeon shooting. In the late 19th Century, the ballpark became home to a Negro League baseball team named the Brooklyn Elevated Railroad Team. The team received this name because the park was located just across the county line from Brooklyn.
On April 14, 1889, Dexter Park featured its first big baseball game as the Merritts came to play the Brooklyn Elevated Railroad Team for a Negro League game. Throughout the 1890s, Dexter Park continued to be home to a host of baseball games including the Royal Arcanum League. In 1901, William Ulmer Brewery became the new owner when he purchased Dexter Park. Under his ownership, Dexter Park was home to not only baseball but football as well. One of the most important baseball teams at the ballpark during this time was the Brooklyn Royal Giants, a Negro League baseball team. Between 1905 and 1913, the Brooklyn Royal Giants experienced a great deal of success. The Giants would later leave Dexter Park after 1927; however, they would still return to play friendly games against a local semipro team, the Bushwicks.
Overtime, Dexter Park became a more and more popular local ballpark, featuring home teams such as the Brooklyn Bushwicks. After being purchased in 1922 by Max Rosner, a new grandstand was built that improved seating capacity by 6,000 with an addition of 2,000 more seats shortly thereafter. Interestingly enough, Dexter Park also had the first focused lighting system of any baseball field, which was installed by Rosner’s own son. Playing the first night game in 1930, fans and local reporters soon began to rave about the enjoyment of nighttime baseball.
In the 1950s, Dexter Park was converted into a racetrack, and in September of 1955, the ballpark saw its final baseball game. Unfortunately, the ballpark was torn down in 1956. Today, the site is no more than a supermarket parking lot.
"Dexter Park." Baseball Reference. Accessed Web, 6/24/17. http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Dexter_Park.
"Dexter Park." Brooklyn Ball Parks. Accessed Web, 6/24/17. http://www.brooklynballparks.com.