Best former Brooklyn ballpark (2008)

J.J. Byrne Memorial Park

When the Brooklyn Base Ball Club—they wouldn't be dubbed "Trolley Dodgers" for another decade—was founded in 1883, its owners erected the 1,200-seat Washington Park in the then new streetcar suburb of Park Slope. A pre–Revolutionary War stone building on the site was pressed into service as a restroom for female cranks, as fans were then known. The team would soon depart for Eastern Park in East New York, and later for a new Washington Park on the west side of Fourth Avenue, before landing at Ebbets Field. But those sites are now a junkyard, a Con Ed facility, and an apartment complex, respectively, so if you want to play Wiffle ball where major-leaguers once roamed, you'll need to visit what's now J.J. Byrne Memorial Park. (If you're willing to stretch things, you can visit the Parade Grounds, where, according to, the team played its very first game while waiting for Washington Park to be completed.) The ballpark is long gone, but the old stone house stands, after being demolished in a Gatling gun demonstration—19th-century Brooklynites had a funny way of treating historic landmarks—then more or less rebuilt by Robert Moses in the 1930s. (It's now a historic interpretive center.) If you're feeling really adventurous, visit during the winter with some water buckets and re-enact the "ice baseball" game that was held in the winter of 1884—Brooklyn lost to a team selected by Henry Chadwick, inventor of the scorecard, on account, according to the Brooklyn Eagle, of the visitors having the best skaters.


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