You know the names: Jackie Robinson, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Hank Greenberg. But have you heard of Dexter Park? This lost baseball stadium, once located in Woodhaven, Queens, was host to all of these famous players. Today this stadium, which was the largest in Queens until the opening of Shea Stadium, is only denoted by a historical sign located in the parking lot of a C-Town supermarket.
Long before Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers, many African-American players set up Negro League teams so they could play. While these teams typically didn’t play major league teams like the Yankees or Dodgers, they played their own seasons against each other and sometimes against independent, semi-professional teams. One such independent team was the Brooklyn Bushwicks, who called Dexter Park home from 1913 to 1951 when the team disbanded.
The Brooklyn Bushwicks spent their years at Dexter Park playing some of the greatest baseball players of the era. The likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Dizzy Dean played against the Bushwicks from major league teams, while some of the greatest African-American players to have ever played the game have opposed the Bushwicks at Dexter Park. Negro League stars like Josh Gibson and “Cool Papa” Bell were major draws for fans of the sport.
Dexter Park was purchased in 1922 by team owner Max Rosner from the Ulmer Brewery. Recognizing the potential in his team, Rosner had a grandstand built the following year that could seat approximately 2,000 people and then an additional 2,000 seats were added in 1924. The park was also home to the Negro League team the Brooklyn Royal Giants during their years as a part of the Eastern Colored League from 1923 to 1927. After the Bushwicks folded in 1951, Dexter Park was used as a stock car race track until it was sold in 1955.
Dexter Park was located in the Queens neighborhood of Woodhaven, just north of Eldert Lane and Jamaica Avenue, on the Queens-Brooklyn border. The park was torn down in June of 1957. Today, the ballpark is commemorated by a New York State plaque. The plaque lists the active years between 1911 and 1955, but the park was used as a baseball park since 1899, according to Brooklyn Ball Parks, which also has some historic images of stadium.
Next, check out 8 of NYC’s lost baseball stadiums.