Friday, April 2, 2010

Photos of Negro Leagues Stadium Come to Light

From 1932 to 1938 Greenlee Field on Bedford Avenue in the Hill District was home to the Pittsburgh Crawfords and partly owned by African American Gus Greenlee. Last summer, a Negro Leagues historian from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana found rare photographs in the architecture archives at Carnegie Mellon University.

Professor Geri Strecker was researching Hall of Famer Oscar Charleston, whom Greenlee hired away from the Homestead Grays to be the Crawfords' player/manager. The team also had Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell and Judy Johnson.

Strecker says the field was demolished in 1938 because it was the best location (flat and inexpensive to grade) for much-needed public housing. She says the owners didn't want to give it up but were told by the City that if they didn't sell, the land would be taken anyway. Bedford Dwellings is still on the site.

Greenlee Field architect Louis Bellinger, an African American, also designed the New Granada Theater on Centre Avenue, which is now abandoned but the focus of preservation efforts.

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