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Negro League Baseball: Reviving a Historical Gem in East Orange

East Orange

By: Richard L. Smith 

The Honorable Mayor Ted R. Green, the East Orange City Council, and the dedicated teams at the Departments of Public Works and Recreation & Cultural Affairs are coming together to host an extraordinary event – the official Groundbreaking Renovation Ceremony for Oval Park.

AdThis historic green space, once the hallowed grounds of Negro League Baseball, is set to undergo a transformation that will not only honor its past but also bring it into the modern age.

The highly anticipated ceremony will take place today, Thursday, December 7, at noon, right on the Eaton Place side of the park. East Orange officials warmly invite everyone to join them on this momentous occasion.

Oval Park holds a special place in the annals of history as it served as the home turf for Negro National League teams from 1940 to 1948, followed by Negro American League teams for a year from 1949 to 1950.

Some of the iconic Negro League Clubs that graced the Oval included the Newark Eagles, New York Black Yankees, Brooklyn Brown Dodgers, and many more.


One legendary name associated with this park is none other than Satchel Paige, a renowned pitcher and National Baseball Hall of Famer.AdHe faced off against local legends like Larry Doby and Monte Irvin in the historic 1946 Negro World Series, leaving a lasting imprint on the park's legacy.

Former City Councilman William Holt, a minor league baseball player for the Pittsburgh Pirates, fondly recalls watching games at the Oval as a young baseball enthusiast.

For him, it was nothing short of "seventh heaven," especially when the New York Cubans, the nation's first African-American team, made Oval Park their home field from 1941 to 1947.

Mayor  Green reflects on the rich history of Oval Park, from its Negro League days to the youth sports leagues that once thrived there, producing top-notch talents like Jabrill Peppers and Rasul Douglas.

He believes that the park holds immense potential to continue nurturing greatness for generations to come.

As part of the city's redevelopment plans, Oval Park's renovation will introduce a shaded gazebo, a native shrub rain garden, an impressive array of 126 new trees, updated bleachers, a versatile turf field, a rubberized walking path, and two modern basketball courts.AdThese revitalizations are set to breathe new life into Oval Park, with plans for its grand reopening in late summer 2024.

The journey to restore Oval Park to its former glory and beyond is a testament to East Orange's commitment to preserving its rich history while embracing a vibrant future.