West End Park Memorialized for the Ages

 

(Photo by Greg Lucas).

(Photo by Greg Lucas).

 

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

SABR Chair Bob Dorrill, in Houston Babies gar, was our Pecan Park Eagle coverage reporter at West End Park.

SABR Chair Bob Dorrill, in 1888 Houston Babies gear, was our Pecan Park Eagle coverage reporter at West End Park. (Photo by Matt Rejmaniak)

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.

MIKE VANCE was both the program MC and the driving force behind the West End Park plaque memorial.. (Photo by Matt Rejmaniak).

MIKE VANCE was both the program MC and the driving force behind the West End Park plaque memorial.. (Photo by Matt Rejmaniak).

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.

The mayor's assitant throws a commerotive first pitch to Mike Vance at the site of the plaque. (Photo by Mike McCroskey).

Minnette Boesel, who represented the Mayor of Houston, Annise Parker, throws a commerotive first pitch to Mike Vance at the site of the plaque. (Photo by Mike McCroskey).

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.

Ms. M and Mr. Vance also unveiled the plaque. (Photo by Mike McCroskey).

Debra Sloan  of the Harris County Historical Commission helps Mike Vance unveil the plaque. (Photo by Mike McCroskey).

Debra Sloan of the Harris County Historical Commission displays the City of Houston Proclamation that July 12, 2014 has been dubbed as "West End Park Day" in Houston. ~ (Photo by Matt Rejmaniak).

Debra Sloan of the Harris County Historical Commission displays the City of Houston Proclamation that July 12, 2014 has been dubbed as “West End Park Day” in Houston. ~ (Photo by Matt Rejmaniak).

Janet Wagner represented the Harris County Preservation Commission. (Photo by Mark Rejmaniak).

Bernice Mistrot  also represented the Harris County Historical Commission. at the West End Park plaque dedication. (Photo by Mark Rejmaniak).

It was a great day for historic sharing, teaching, and learning. (Photo by Bob Dorrill).

It was a great day for historic sharing, teaching, and learning. (Photo by Bob Dorrill).

 

West End Park, The Early Years. (Thanks to the Houston Public Library)

West End Park, The Early Years. (Thanks to the Houston Public Library)

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:

https://www.facebook.com/matt.rejmaniak/media_set?set=a.10204507452073351.1073741841.1444220201&type=1

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4 Responses to “West End Park Memorialized for the Ages”

  1. Wayne Roberts Says:

    Congratulations, folks, wish I’d been able to come over to participate.

  2. Darrell Pittman Says:

    Awesome

  3. Sam Q. Says:

    Fantastic day for Houston baseball history! Well-done by everyone involved.

  4. Mike Says:

    The culmination of a great deal of research by more than one person. Congratulations for seeing the hard work of many members of the Larry Dierker Chapter of SABR culminate in what becomes a memory of record for the entire city and generations to come!

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