Newark Baseball

by Jule Spohn

My father lived for his sports. At any given time during the year, whether it was baseball, football, or whatever the season was, he was into it. He had one game on the radio on the kitchen table, another game on the radio in my parents bedroom, another game on in my bedroom, and another game on the TV in the living room. He would walk from room to room and stop and listen to what was happening in each of these games.

I can remember listening to him and my uncles and to the radio announcers about the games coming from Rupert Stadium and all of the other stadiums. In the 1950's Don Newcombe had opened a bar on Orange Street and the corner of Hedden Place - near North 14th Street - in the Roseville Section. Some of you guys should remember that place. I have a photo of the place and I'll send it over to Glenn so that he can add it here.

Every Saturday afternoon my father and uncles would hang out in many of the bars on South Orange Ave between 9th and 12th Streets and watch the baseball games, the football games, the horse races, the wrestling matches, the boxing matches, or whatever other sporting event that was happening on that day. My father even played softball for many years for some of the bars - KEEGAN'S in particular - that had their own softball teams here in Newark back in the 50's.

And while we are at it let's not forget the "NEWARK BEARS' and their unforgettable 1937 win over the Columbus Red Birds making them what many people, both then and now, consider "the greatest team in the history of the minor leagues." The team was owned by Colonel Jacob Ruppert - the beer baron - and the NY Yankees. The fairly new minor league baseball stadium on Broad Street here in Newark is called 'BEARS STADIUM" in honor of the original team.

And how does this sound today. Each of the Newark Bears players took home a grand total of $600 from the Little League proceeds, while the losers, the Red Birds, took home a grand total of $400 each. My, oh my, how times have changed.

Just listen to all of those great names from the past: Don Newcombe, Monte Irvin, Larry Doby, Leon Day, Satchel Paige, Buck O'Neal and so many more - names that most of us have forgotten today but whose memories will live on forever.


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