Baseball in Central Park–a Real Home Run for the Game
It was sometimes difficult for nineteenth century baseball players to enjoy their newfangled game in Central Park due to competition from cricket players, but by the 1930s, when recreation became a top priority of the Parks Commission, the game was finally embraced.
In 1934, it was formally announced that the informal playing fields in Central Park´s North Meadow would be constructed with permanent bases and backstops. Tournaments would also held for both baseball and softball throughout the 1930s.
Today, over twenty baseball fields are distributed more or less evenly over three principal meadows from the south to the north end of the park.
It’s hard to know what Olmsted and Vaux would have thought of their original design being usurped by a game that was barely known at the time. Probably they would have balked, since their intention was to provide a series of unobstructed vistas to reconnect the viewer with the genius of Nature, not the spirit of Babe Ruth. But time and tide bow to no man, and baseball is now a permanent fixture in the park.
In my young adult adventure series, Central Park Story, I pay homage to sports in the park by including a baseball game where Christopher Middleton flies in the air and catches a ball (Book V).