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Congress Street Grounds

In the heart of a bustling business district within South Boston once stood a ballpark. While the old ballpark was around, Boston was very different. While historically fascinating, it lacked a true center for commerce and trade. The Congress Street Grounds changed that and Boston has never looked back.

An Idea

In the late 1880's, South Boston was a place without an identity, an area with many privately owned railroads and few buildings. Seeing an opportunity, the Boston Wharf Company built a new ballpark along Congress Street in hopes of drawing interests from prospective tenants for the buildings that they hoped to soon build. Thus, the Congress Street Grounds was born.

Seated just a few blocks from the waterfront, the Congress Street Grounds instantly brought attention to a community craving America's Pastime. Perhaps it was the ornate, double-decker pavilion that Martin Safford designed or perhaps it was the spires that seemed to be the embodiment of all that ballparks were in those days that drew a reported 20,000 to Opening Day 1890. Of course, Safford and his colleagues could not have foreseen this and quickly expanded the ballpark and additional 4,000 seats, bringing its total to 14,000.

The Community's Ballpark

After the Boston Reds won the pennant in 1890, the Players' League folded. With the owners in limbo, Boston's owners bought a place in the American Association and promptly won that pennant that very year. After that year, the Reds folded and the Congress Street Grounds were thrust into an uncertain future. There was no baseball played in that young ballpark in 1892. Instead, Boston used it to host Gaelic football and hurling as well as the New England AAU track and field championships that summer.

Although the Manchester (New Hampshire) minor league club played there in 1893, the ballpark was in terrible shape. When the South End Grounds burned down the following year, the Beaneaters ballclub played 27 games there while there ballpark was being rebuilt. The last professional ballgame was played there on June 20, 1894. It was a memorable finish as Hugh Duffer hit a a three-run home run on the last play of the game to beat the Baltimore Orioles 13-12.

The End of an Era

The developers of the Congress Street Grounds had built the ballpark to draw interest for that area of town. In the years to come, a new train terminal was built and Summer Street was extended while interested tenants began to flock to newly built buildings, bringing commerce and community to a once-dead part of town. By 1898, the Congress Street Grounds had become expendable and was soon demolished. Now, office buildings stand where the short-lived ballpark once stood on 368 and 374 Congress Street.

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