Preliminary Notes and Remarks
Thank you Greg Lucas, Mark Rejmaniak, and Mike McCroskey for the photos and brief accounts of the West End Park Plaque Dedication hosted in downtown Houston today by the Harris County Historical Commission through the capable hands of emcee/historian Mike Vance. The Pecan Park Eagle could not attend directly due to healing repercussions from a home accident.
Here are some brief comments from SABR member photo contributors to this column:
“Sorry you could not be on hand. Ceremony held in the shade, the everyone moved a couple blocks to the unshaded and quite hot area where the plaque had been installed. Sort of a back street, but accurate along what would have been the left field line. As Mike explained (and you no doubt already know) home plate and the grandstand area would have been pretty much right where the freeway is now.” ~ Greg Lucas.
“Thank you to Mike Vance, Harris County, SABR, and all who came out to support the historical marker dedication for West End Park near Antioch Baptist Church in Downtown Houston.” ~ Mark Rejmaniak.
“The plaque unveiled on Clay street, just east of I-45. Located at what would have been the left field foul pole of the old West End Park. The foul line would have headed east, paralleling Clay street which now dead ends into 45. Home Plate would be located somewhere in the middle of the HOV lane, adding a new element of suspense to the game.” ~ Mike McCroskey.
Wish I could have been there too, friends. The same WEP grounds that helped incubate the blooming baseball talents of Houstonians Gus and Frank Mancuso, George “Red” Munger, and so many others in baseball and football during their 1930’s high school and other amateur player growths had its moment in the sun again yesterday – and now, hopefully, that shall continue to be so forever among all of us who care about such things, once they are given this important vital notice that historic places like West End Park actually once existed. My special thanks goes out to Mike Vance for all the hard work he put in to make this happen, and to the Harris County Historical Commission and City of Houston for making this wonderful yesterday happen by plaque and acclamation.
Let’s also try to remember that plaques only have the power to awaken notice to history. It’s still up to us, the people, to absorb and keep the lessons of history alive.
West End Park Marker Dedication July 12, 2014
by SABR Chair Bob Dorrill
On a bright sunny morning some 35 baseball fans travelled back through time to Antioch Park at Allen Center at the corner of Smith and Clay in downtown Houston to celebrate the unveiling of a marker commemorating West End Park, a ballpark that hosted Texas League baseball in Houston from 1905 to 1927 and used for multiple other activities, including professional black baseball, until 1942.
The marker, actually located a block from Antioch Park on Andrews, was sponsored by CenterPoint Energy. It was unveiled by Mike Vance, president and executive director of Houston Arts and Media, and Debra Sloan, Marker Dedication Chair of the Harris County Historical Commission. First pitch honors went to Minnette Boesel who represented Houston Mayor Annise Parker with Mr. Vance doing the catching duties.
Vance, who was instrumental in the design and acquisition of the marker, emceed the event starting with the Pledge of Allegiance to both the United States and Texas flags. He recognized many of the distinguished visitors on site before telling the group about key activities and fun facts that occurred at West End Park over the years. Janet Wagner, Chair of the CHCH, also spoke to the group.
On hand were 15 members of the local Society for American Baseball Research Chapter. (SABR). Local chapter chair Bob Dorrill, dressed in an authentic reproduction uniform of Houston’s first professional Baseball Team in 1888, the Houston Babies, spoke on the many Hall of Fame baseball players who had played on this field, including Ty Cobb, Christie Mathewson, John McGraw, Connie Mack, Walter Johnson and Rube Waddell, to name a few, and then expounded on why so many people continue to have a love affair with baseball.
After the ceremony at the park we proceeded to the actual ballpark location for the marker unveiling.
If you care to see a whole album of photos from the dedication ceremony, check out Matt Rejmaniak’s on-line album of the July 12th festivities: