Play Ball!

Did you know that New Providence had baseball teams at the end of the 1800’s and until 1931 before there were school teams? The New Providence Crescents played in the Lackawanna League, established in 1905. Unofficial records indicate the league produced 100 MLB players. NP joined the league in 1925. Fellow competitors in the league included Summit Red Sox, Maplewood Club – “Mapes”, Springfield Stars, Madison Colonels, Milburn Blues, Morristown, and Chatham. There was the Northern Division, the Southern Division, and the Union County League.

Top row: Henry Alberts, Will Crane, W. Woodruff, J.T. Scott. Middle row: C. Maguire, W. Clark, g. Adams, W. Totten. Bottom Row: W.Chase, Sam Hunter, W. S. Garis, W. Stevens, Homer Wagner, Dr. W.H. Lawrence, Jr. Photo take in 1896.

The New Providence teams played on a ball field behind the Presbyterian church, on a street called the Passaic Oval. Some newspaper articles of the time refer to it as playing at “Turkey”. The team had been referred to as the “gobblers” in a few articles as well. A.G Balcom was the manager and establisher of the Crescents. Some years the uniform also says New Providence Athletic Association team. The team also played in the inter county league against towns such as Peapack, Liberty Corner, and Berkeley Heights. Both teams, with the help of Mr. Balcom and the Ladies Auxiliary, were able to build a grandstand for the baseball fans. (Summit Herald)

It is believed that organized base-ball “started” in Hoboken NJ in 1846. The first official teams in NJ were formed in the mid 1850’s. In 1857, 16 of the nation’s strongest baseball clubs banded together to form the National Association of base-ball players, as it was written then. When they competed they abided by the same set of rules. “Professionalism” didn’t become common until 1860’s. In 1915 New Jersey got it’s first major league team the Newark Peppers. They played one season in the Federal League. For a short time it was a 3rd league against the American League and National League. (

The NP Historical society is raising funds for more Historic markers around town. If you would like to contribute you can donate online here or mail a check to 377 Elkwood Ave ATTN: NP Historical Society New Providence NJ 07974 #TBT#newprovidencehistoricalsociety

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