14 AUGUST 26, 2021 RIDGEWOOD TIMES WWW.QNS.COM
The greats once took this long-lost Woodhaven baseball diamond
BY THE OLD TIMER
OUR NEIGHBORHOOD: THE WAY IT WAS
When most people think about
the connection between
Queens and baseball, their
minds turn to the Amazin’ New York
Mets, the pride of Flushing who’ve
played ball there since Shea Stadium
opened in 1964.
But the national pasttime’s roots
in Queens run deep, with a litany of
semi-pro teams taking the diamond
across the borough over the years.
And up until Shea Stadium opened
its doors, Queens’ biggest baseball
venue was located in Woodhaven,
right near the Brooklyn/Queens
Dexter Park, which was located off
the corner of 75th Street and Jamaica
Avenue, was the home of the old
Bushwicks, a semi-pro team, and once
hosted exhibition games where the
likes of none other than Babe Ruth
and Lou Gehrig took the fi eld before
thousands of fans.
Nat Strong controlled semi-pro
baseball in the New York area
through his ownership of the Brooklyn
Royal Giants, a Negro League
baseball team, and his partial
Ridgewood Times archives
ownership of the Bushwicks and
Dexter Park, the Bay Parkways, the
New York Cuban Stars and the New
York Black Yankees.
Strong also controlled the Intercity
Baseball Association. Its members
were semi-pro teams in the New
York area. They paid no dues but were
required to book all games with outof
town teams through Strong and to
buy from Spalding through Strong
all of their uniforms, the cork-center
baseballs, bases and catcher gear.
In turn, out-of-town teams could
not book a game in the New York
area unless they agreed to pay
Strong 10 percent of the guarantee
or share of the gate receipts they
were to receive. A plus for the outof
town team was Nat Strong could
book them for three or four games
in the New York area and thus make
it worthwhile for a team to make the
trip to New York.
During the Depression, a number
of the big league baseball teams
had fi nancial problems. By contrast
the Bushwicks were in good shape.
Their admission prices were lower
than the big league ballparks, they
played doubleheaders each Sunday
and many of their games were against
good black teams, so the fans saw a lot
of good baseball.
In addition to the Sunday doubleheaders,
the Bushwicks played a
single night game on Wednesday and
Friday nights. So their players were
Two Yankee legends, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, were among the baseball greats who played at Woodhaven’s
Dexter Park. The above photo was taken on Columbus Day in 1928, when 20,000 fans turned out at Dexter
Park, where Ruth and Gehrig entertained the crowd prior totaking part in a game against the Bushwicks.