Saturday, January 16, 2010

Jumpin' the Trolley to the Year 1860

Road Trip!!
I'm happy,  finally to be doing again what I love best about this blog; Trolley Trips.  Aside following my Mets and giving you little doses of Brooklyn life, it's the trips that literally move me. 

Brooklyn - this is where Baseball became great.  The word and this game, spread from here for all who came to embrace it. Brooklyn is the true nursery of our game and where it developed as a child and grew to adulthood and conquered our hearts.  I'm not being centric.  I've been to cities, states, countries and continents.  This place holds my heart.  I'm thankful for being born here and consider myself lucky.  It's not braggadocio.  Honest.  It truely is my pleasure to want to share it with you.  That's all.  This is your game too!  I just want to show you the BABY PICTURES.

Pack a lunch, dress for a January Trolley ride, but also dress to walk because there will be a lot of that too.
Another sentiment I'd like to forward is, I'm not looking to reinvent the wheel here.  All this research has been done.  I'm just taking you on the tour.  So jump on, grab a seat or a strap...., and let's get outta here.

Our first stop out of Breukelen Station will be the downtown Cobble Hill section to visit a house at the corner of Livingston and Clinton Streets.  There's a good Bloggerhood neighbor of ours who let me get close to take pictures of a plaque which designates his residence as the original clubhouse of the 1860 Champions of Baseball, the Brooklyn Excelsiors Baseball Club.  We'll visit the present sites where they played long ago and culminate in an incredible place we call Green-Wood Cemetery and see where many of our "Fathers of Baseball" rest eternally.  Time to get rolling.

First Stop:  133 CLINTON STREET  Designated Landmark NYC.

In 1974 a plaque provided for by the New York Community Trust was placed designating this corner residence as the original JOLLY YOUNG BACHELOR'S CLUBHOUSE.  They later became known as the Brooklyn Excelsiors BBC.  The championship of 1860 is somewhat still in debate as to who the real champion of the season was.  Some argue the Brooklyn Atlantics were the Champs that year.  But for this post's purposes, the B'klyn Excelsiors were the Baseball Champions of America of 1860.  The inscription reads:

"This house was the former home of the Brooklyn Excelsiors Baseball Champions of the United States in 1860.  Constructed in 1851, the building was once the Jolly Young Bachelor's Clubhouse.  The Bachelors evolved into the Excelsiors B.B. Team.  One of it's pitchers James Creighton, 307 Henry Street, Brooklyn, is said to have tossed the first curveball.  During the Civil War, the Excelsiors introduced the game to soldiers from various states.  Because of it's popularity, similar teams were established in other cities.  Thus, baseball, as a national sport, can be considered as having it's origins in Brooklyn."

This house is only five blocks south from the the bank where the old Dodger Offices were where the plaque to Jackie Robinson and the mural of Ebbets Field are located.  A little more south into the next neighborhood down is one of the sites where the Excelsiors played; Carroll Park in Carroll Gardens.

Second Stop:
CARROLL PARK, Carroll Gardens, B'klyn

By 1853 the city of Brooklyn purchased this land and dedicated it to public park use.  By the next year 1854, the Excelsiors were practicing and playing baseball here till 1859.  They played in many locations but I will stick to the main two.  The location never ceased being a public park.

The next stop is a little deeper south in the neighborhood of RED HOOK.  From Red Hook back to the Clubhouse is only about a mile, tiny bit more, maybe.

Third Stop:
RED HOOK PARK, Red Hook, B'klyn.

No need to get off the Trolley for this stop.  I just wanted to show you the present location as it looks today.  Presently, it hosts soccer, football and services high schools from Manhattan cause them Bums aint got enough space.  (did I say that?..shhh).  As you can see I took this picture a day after a good snowing.  The Brooklyn Excelsiors played here from 1859 till 1870.  The park is at the southern tip of Court Street.  They played here most of the time but like I said they were not exclusive to it.  One day, in the not too distant, I plan on doing a feature on Red Hook.  It's a little sleepy old water-front neighborhood.  They just did one of those MTV shows off one of the piers there, not that I know anything about that.

Last Stop:
We're heading to GREEN-WOOD CEMETERY; an incredible place!

Last Stop:
 GREEN-WOOD CEMETERY  founded 1838.  25th Street & 5th Avenue, B'klyn

To cap this post off, I did something I have always wanted to do, but never got around to doing.  Do you know I still have never been to the Statue of Liberty?  It's true.  Why?  Because it's there.  I'll get around to it one day.  Well I procrastinated no more.  I went to the cemetery to visit many of our "Fathers of Baseball" where they rest. 

Here lies Jim JAMES CREIGHTON Jr. -
 ..Debated to have thrown the first curve ball.. 
 A brilliant player of his time who died too young 1841-1862.
Brooklyn's first true super-star.

Like I said, I'm not breaking any new ground here, nor do I claim to be.  I'm just a regular TrolleyBlogger taking you on the tour.  I hope you enjoyed today's ride on the Trolley.

Get off the Trolley and stretch your legs.  Walk into the front/main office AND BUY THIS BOOK!!!  It's one of the greatest books I own!!  Your library is incomplete without it.  I'll leave you with the info.

That's it. 
The Brooklyn Excelsiors Baseball Club,
Champions of 1860,
and what remains of them today.

Thanks for riding today!

19th Century
has a lot of information detailing these days.
It's a favorite sight of mine.

Check out Green-Wood cemetery, it's an incredible place. 
And buy the book, your library should not exist without it. 
Baseball Legends of Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery 
by Peter J. Nash     
or call: 718-768-7300

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