Mike Roer



Bridgeport Ball Parks



Seaside Park 1865 to Date. 

The grassy area inside the oval trotting track served as an ideal ball grounds.  For comfort, "visitors" remained seated in their carriages ringing the playing field.  The  track is clearly visible in the 1888 map [top] and the circa 1910 color postcard.  Even today, a century later, a depression carved by thousands of carriages can still be discerned.

Local batsmen were adept at knocking the ball toward the pond. Uninitiated rival outfielders usually slipped on the wet grass sloping toward the water, insuring extra bases.  The pond, unaffected by history, also remains.

















Cameron Park 1871 to 1883(?).

The W. W. Cameron Trotting Park, an enclosed betting track in the West End, became the ball grounds of choice for important games.  Perhaps it was easier to charge admission at this commercial venue.  It is not known if the track was fenced in, but it was bounded on three sides by water.  (It would have been impossible to charge admission at the wide open and public Seaside Park.) 


Commenting on the rough condition of the playing field, the New Haven Palladium of September 11,  1871, said the new grounds "never will be very good." Nevertheless, Cameron remained the prime site throughout the 1870s.  Seaside Park served as the home grounds for lower ranking teams.


The heavy line at the upper left on the map is Ash Creek, the border between Bridgeport and Fairfield. The State Street line of the horse railroad terminated at the intersection with Fairfield Avenue, just above the New Haven Railroad tracks. 


The area has long  since benn commercialized, and is today bounded roughly by Fairfield Avenue, Spruce, Pine and Wordin.  The two fingers of water on the left have been filled in.  The land, as noted on the map, was owned by P. T. Barnum. 



Barnum Park 1884-87. 

P. T. Barnum provided several acres on the northern portion of his Circus Winter Quarters as the home grounds for the the Park City's entry into professional baseball.  The plot for  ran between State Street, the railroad, Wordin Avenue, and Norman Street.


Barnum Park was the first in the City to boast a grandstand. The park also included bleachers, a parking lot for carriages, refreshment stand, and a "dressing-room" for players (Bridgeport Farmer 9-26, 1884). The area was surround by an eight-foot wooden fence topped by four feet of barbed wire.  The diamond was laid out so that the sun would not shine in the eyes of the fielders (Bridgeport Farmer, 9-5-1884).


"The general admission was 25 cents; boys under 15, 15 cents; admission to the grandstand, 15 cents." (Bridgeport Farmer 9-13-1884.) The view was free if you could climb a tree in one of the vacant lots across Wordin Avenue, causing landowner N. S. Wordin to post notices against trespassing. The owners of the ball club asked Police Chief Marsh to see that the order was "strictly enforced."  (Bridgeport Morning News 7-17-1885.)


The dotted line [right] shows the probable fence line.  The area to the south (with heavy solid border) is the circus winter quarters. Note the grand estates at the top of the map, each half the size of the ball park. 

Atlas of the City and Town of Bridgeport, Conn.; Published by G. M. Hopkins, 1888.   Historical Collections, Bridgeport Public Library.  (Diamond and fence lines added by author.)




Athletic Park 1886. The grounds were intended to host games of cricket, tennis, polo and “kindred out of doors sports” (Bridgeport Morning News 3-11-1886), hence the name. The park served amateur and professional teams for over a decade. A “coop” for the press  perched atop the stand.


On opening day, the grandstand was decked with flags and banners. A refreshmnent stand satsfied the thirst and hunger of the fans, who could also rent seat cushions. (BMN 4-8-86).


The Bridgeport Morning News 3-19-1886, noted that the new Bridgport facility “closely resembles the grand-stand at the Polo Grounds” shown below.




Pleasure Beach.

In 1896 baseball fans had to take a trolley to the ferry, the ferry to Pleasure Beach, and then walk half a mile to the ball field through a gauntlet of midway attractions.


The oval track, visible on the map, was for bike races which were all the rage in the 1890s.  In fact eight National League club owners agreed in January of 1893 to add bicycle tracks for a racing league, the National Cycling Association (Michael Gershman, Diamonds, 1993).

[Above] Racing at Pleasure Beach.  A national six-hour bicycle race was held in Bridgeport on September 22, 1897.  The stands—typical of baseball grandstands of the era—are visible behind the riders.  Bridgeport Post 9-22-1897  


[Below] Postcard of Pleasure Beach. 



Newfield Park 1898 to Date.

The ball park was built in the East End of Bridgeport on property owned by the O’Rourke brother. Note that brother John owned the northern half of the property, which was developed for housing and a neighborhood school.  The lower portion became Newfield Park in 1898.


The  heavy lines at the left were trolley routes.  The upper line ran east to west along Stratford Avenue.  The north-south branch terminated at the Pleasure Beach ferry dock at lower right.
The perfect site for a ball park, Newfield would remain the home of Bridgeport professional teams through 1941.


Atlas of the City of Bridgeport, published by D. L. Miller, 1896. Historical Records  Department, Bridgeport Public Library.  (Diamond and fence added by author to indicate where ball field was situated in 1898.)




Candelite Park  1947 to 1950.
Home of the Bridgeport Bees. Frank Piascik, who  covered first base  for the Bees in  1947, remembers that fouls hit down the right field line landed on the patio of the restaurant. 
He also recalls the lights being weak and mounted too low. (Interview 10-8-1999).

The owners lost money on baseball, but made up those losses with auto racing.  The race track is clearly visible on the postcard above.



  Atlas of the City and Town of Bridgeport, Conn.; Published by G. M.

  Hopkins, 1888. Historical Collections Department, Bridgeport Public Library.

  (Baseball diamond and Orland Street added by author.)







Detail, Atlas of the City of Bridgeport, Connecticut, published by D. L. Miller, 1896.   Historical Records Department,  Bridgeport Public Library.   (Diamond added by author.)




Harbor Yard 1998 -    

Home of the Bluefish.