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Thursday, August 06, 2020

The oldest league you never knew about

And for all that time, baseball, George Donnelly’s Sunset League Baseball—an homage to former player and famed Newport sportswriter George Donnelly—has been played inside. As Newport, and the world, has shifted and changed with newer sports, activities and pastimes, the country’s second-oldest continuously-run amateur league in perhaps America’s oldest ballpark has carried on.

“The ballpark has been around as a ballpark, you can go, some people say to the 1880s. Some people say 1909 was the first year,” La Rose says.

That’s older than Fenway Park or Wrigley Field. That’s older than “oldest ballpark in America” Rickwood Field.

La Rose, who took the job of commissioner on a dare nine years ago after boasting he could do it, has since fallen in love with the history of the ballpark—and who can blame him?

The area was first used as a water basin for neighboring steam locomotives in the late 19th century, but after complaints about the stagnant water by locals, the land was cleared. Railroad workers decided to then use the space to develop a baseball sandlot—perhaps as early as the 1890s (it’s still under debate). Long fly balls broke too many windows of nearby homes and businesses and the league was shut down. But again, in 1919, it was started up again as the still-existing sunset league to “provide working men with an opportunity to play ball.” They’ve been playing here every summer, ever since.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 06, 2020 at 10:37 AM | 2 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sunset league

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   1. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 06, 2020 at 11:41 AM (#5968148)
Pretty cool. I've driven by the field a bunch of time. Unfortunately I'm almost never in Newport in the summer, so I'll have a hard time catching a game.
   2. The Mighty Quintana Posted: August 06, 2020 at 04:50 PM (#5968198)
Great story! Considering how much Newport real estate is worth, it is a testament to the town that they have kept it there.

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