Little Leaguers who play at Parkhurst Field stand on the same grounds where professional baseball players once took their swings and women’s teams competed before they could even vote.
“We didn’t care what the color of their skin was or what their history was or that it was an all-women’s team before they could even vote,” says David Karpinski, executive director of the Parkhurst Field Foundation. “All we cared about was that baseball brought us all together at this facility. This town, this community and this region supported baseball for all these years through all those changes long before they were socially acceptable. That’s what makes this park a compelling story.”
Karpinski has been working with Mike Hauser for six years gathering information about the history of the field on Harrison Street for a new exhibit at the Fulton County Museum.
The exhibit, “The History of Parkhurst Field,” opened Thursday at 237 Kingsboro Ave. The museum, now open for the season, is open from noon to 4 p.m. each Thursday through Sunday through Labor Day.
Hauser, a museum board member, local sports history enthusiast and columnist for The Leader-Herald, said baseball exhibits have always been popular attractions at the museum.
In previous years, exhibits have focused on the history of baseball in Fulton County and Gloversville Little League.
Parkhurst Field turns 110 years old on July 12.
“We decided to really play up that milestone at the park and the museum,” Hauser said. “It goes a little deeper into the history.”
The exhibit includes information about when the park opened July 12, 1906, as A.J.&G Park. The letters represent Amsterdam, Johnstown and Gloversville.
The park was renamed Parkhurst Field in 1918, when the E.S. Parkhurst Co. bought the land and ballpark.
The exhibit shows how the park evolved over the years. Little League purchased the park in the 1950s.
In the park’s early years, famous athletes played games on the field.
Through their research, Karpinski and Hauser discovered Moonlight “Doc” Graham played at Parkhurst seven times. Graham is a character in the movie “Field of Dreams.” The research shows this is the last existing field he played at.
The Boston Americans played a game en route to Detroit in 1907, and player/manager Hall of Fame pitcher Cy Young attended, the research shows.
Also in 1907, Hall of Famers Honus Wagner and the Pittsburgh Nationals played on the grounds.
The park is also one of the oldest baseball grounds still in use in America.
“This exhibit offers a chance for us to tell our story to the community, to inspire people to do something to get involved in this great national story that we have in front and ahead of us,” Karpinski said. “I’m so encouraged after five years of work to finally be able to tell the story, inspire others and hopefully to embark on our true mission to revitalize and restore the park for hundreds of years to come.”
Karpinski is working on a capital campaign to revitalize Parkhurst. The project would involve construction of five new fields for hosting Little League teams and tournaments. A total of 32 jobs could be created. He calls the park “America’s original field of dreams.”
The plan includes a lighted premier field on the original 1906 home plate location of A.,J.&G. Park, new batting cages and other amenities.
A vintage baseball game and 2016 induction ceremony will take place July 10 at Parkhurst. The annual event will also be in celebration of the 110th anniversary of the field.
“Once I started doing the research and realized we were sitting on such a historic piece of land with such a compelling story where you have had Hall of Famers to Little Leaguers, I thought it would be a disservice to just let it fade away again,” Karpinski said.
Museum admission is free.
Fall hours at the museum will be Sept. 10 through Oct. 15 on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. The museum will be open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon from October until May.
Morgan Frisch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.