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Sports History of Kansas City, Missouri
Item 3 of 12

Starting in the mid 1880s, this site was home to Association Park where the Kansas City Cowboys of the National League played home games from 30 April to 18 September in 1886. Two years later, in 1888, the Cowboys joined another major league, the American Association. A local newspaper that had eagerly praised the creation of the ballpark soon referred to it as the worst in the country owing to it's low-lying and swampy land--the result of building over what had once been in the pond. The street boundaries of the ballpark were from Lydia Avenue (east, first base) to Sixth Street (south, third base) to John Street and Tracy Avenue (west, left field) to and Independence Avenue (north, right field). The infield of the former ballpark is now the home of the Al-Taqwa Islamic Center.

Artist's 1886 depiction of Kansas City's League Park

Urban design, Parallel, Art, Font

That ballpark was initially known as League Park and built in a low-lying area that was once home to a small pond. The park was humid with minimal breeze which made it a heat sink during the peak of summer. The park earned the derisive nickname "The Hole" because it was in a pit created when dirt was dug out to create a roadbed for Independence Avenue. On what had previously been the site of Ranson’s Pond, the field was 25 feet below street level. An outfield sign read, “Please don’t shoot the umpire. He is doing the best he can.”

When the park opened, the Kansas City Times were effusive in their praise, saying, "The grounds are not surpassed by those in any city in the league."By 1888, between the frequently poor showing of the various teams, along with the tendency of the low-lying field to accumulate smelly, swampy water, the Kansas City Times had considerably changed their tune, calling it, "One of the worst base ball parks in the country."

The first National League (NL) game was played 30 April 1886 with the last NL game played here on 15 October 1892 (St. Louis versus Chicago). The first American Association game was on 18 April 1888. After 1892, the field was abandoned to developers.

Michael Benson. Ballparks in North America: A Comprehensive Historical Reference to Baseball Grounds, Yards and Stadiums, 1845 to Present. Jefferson, NC: McFarland Publishers, Inc. 1989.

Philip J. Lowry. Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebration of all 271 Major League and Negro League Ballparks Past and Present. Reading, Massachusetts, Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., Inc. 1992

Kansas City Times, May 1, 1886, p.5

Kansas City Times, January 21, 1888, p.4

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