Hamtramck Stadium is a historic baseball stadium located in Hamtramck, Michigan, United States. It was built in 1930 and served as the home field for the Negro National League’s Detroit Stars and other teams until the late 1930s. Historic Hamtramck Stadium is one of only five Negro League home ballparks still in existence.
Located on the south side of Hamtramck, in Michigan, the field and grandstand are located in what is now Veterans Memorial Park. In January of 2012, the stadium and grounds were granted the historic designation by the State Historic Preservation Office. As of July 31, 2012, Hamtramck Stadium was officially placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and a State of Michigan Historic Marker was dedicated at the site in 2014.In 2022, the historic grandstand reopened after a $3 million rehabilitation that was managed and partially funded by Wayne County.
Negro League Baseball had a significant presence in Detroit, Michigan, during the first half of the 20th century. The city had a vibrant African-American community, and baseball was a popular pastime among its residents. The following is a brief history of Negro League Baseball in Detroit:
In 1919, the Detroit Stars were founded as a charter member of the Negro National League (NNL), one of the first organized leagues for African-American baseball players. The Stars played their home games at Mack Park, which was located in the city’s black neighborhood. The team was successful, winning the NNL championship in 1920 and finishing as runners-up in 1921.
The Stars continued to be a strong team throughout the 1920s and 1930s, with several notable players such as Turkey Stearnes, Andy Cooper, and Mule Suttles. They won the NNL championship again in 1929 and 1930.
In 1932, the Stars left the NNL and joined the Negro Southern League (NSL). The team continued to play in Detroit and maintained a strong following among the city’s African-American community.
During World War II, many of the Stars’ players were drafted into the military, and the team struggled to field a competitive team. In 1943, the team merged with the Cincinnati Clowns to form the Detroit-Cincinnati Stars, which played in the NNL for one season before disbanding.
After the integration of Major League Baseball in 1947, the Negro Leagues began to decline in popularity. The Detroit Stars played their last game in 1951, and the team officially disbanded in 1952
After decades of neglect and deterioration, the stadium was in danger of being demolished. However, in 2012, a group of community activists and baseball enthusiasts formed the Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium with the goal of preserving and restoring the stadium.
The restoration effort involved a combination of fundraising, grant applications, and community outreach. The group received support from various organizations, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Detroit Tigers Foundation, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
The restoration project involved several phases, including structural repairs, new seating, and the installation of modern amenities like restrooms and a concession stand. The field was also renovated and restored to its original dimensions, allowing it to be used for baseball games and other events once again.
In 2019, the restored Hamtramck Stadium was reopened to the public, with a grand reopening celebration attended by local officials, community members, and former Negro League players. Today, the stadium serves as a community gathering place, a historic landmark, and a tribute to the important role that African American baseball players and teams played in the history of American sports.