Presenter Information

Laura Troiano, Rutgers

Location

Panel 23: Kearney 323

Start Date

27-10-2012 1:15 PM

End Date

27-10-2012 2:45 PM

Description

It starts with a shout, “You have to be kidding me!” Then another, “What! No way!” Then you hear from the upper deck something that is R-rated. The decibel level increases, it is ascending rapidly, soon the noise blankets the whole stadium and in that moment it could not be clearer, in all the variations of words encircling the stadium there’s agreement, the umpire is legally blind. There is no universe where a man with sight would call him safe at second.

Something happens when you are in a stadium. It’s as if the outside world is suspended and life’s concerns shift. Here, you live and die by the swing of a bat, the arm of a pitcher, the glove of a fielder, and the eyes, 20/20 or not, of the umpires. Here, you are known by your allegiance, to the sport on the field and the team who is playing. Stadiums are spaces like no other.

I know of a stadium that offered an escape from the outside world, but it’s gone now. It has been replaced with large concrete and steel rectangles spanning over most of the block it occupies with signs that say Concrete Systems Inc., D’Artagnan Gourmet Food Distributor, New Generation Iron Inc., Leopard Framing, and W.B. Law & Son. It’s gone now and the only trace of it left on Wilson Avenue between Avenue K and Avenue L in Newark, NJ is a plaque that was placed there by the Newark Preservation and Landmarks Committee in 2007.1 Ruppert Stadium housed an alternate reality, a baseball centered universe. It was a palace, a cathedral, a dream, a sanctuary, a memory, and a history of its own. At its foundation, Ruppert Stadium was a baseball stadium that from 1936 to 1948 was home of the Newark Bears, an all white New York Yankee farm team and the Newark Eagles, a member of the Negro Leagues.

In the era of Jim Crow, in a city that is often defined by racial unrest, Ruppert Stadium was shared space. It was a space that brought citizens from all ethnic groups to its doors, well, its turnstiles. It was one of the few spaces that residents of Newark could call their own; their own neighborhood stadium. If stadiums function as a space where one reality disappears and another is created, then Ruppert Stadium produced a space where one could transcend temporarily the racial inequality that existed in the city.

If we see as stadiums as “monuments, places for community interaction, repositories of collective memory, loci of strong identities, sites for ritualized conflict, political battlefields, and nodes in the global system of sport,”2 how do the memories of Ruppert Stadium as a racialized space, in both personal and collective or social memory3 shape the history being told of the Newark of the twentieth century? And how, over thirty years later with the building of a new minor league baseball stadium, does the legacy of Ruppert Stadium help define the Newark of the twenty-first century?

1 The Newark Preservation and Landmarks Committee (NPLC), “Newark Eagles Monument Dedicated,” http://newarkpreservation.blogspot.com/2010/10/newark-eagles-monument-dedicated.html.

2 Gaffney, Christopher Thomas Temples of the Earthbound Gods (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2008), 4.

3 Hayden, Dolores The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1997), 9.

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Oct 27th, 1:15 PM Oct 27th, 2:45 PM

Everybody’s Neighborhood Stadium: Memory and Baseball in Newark, NJ

Panel 23: Kearney 323

It starts with a shout, “You have to be kidding me!” Then another, “What! No way!” Then you hear from the upper deck something that is R-rated. The decibel level increases, it is ascending rapidly, soon the noise blankets the whole stadium and in that moment it could not be clearer, in all the variations of words encircling the stadium there’s agreement, the umpire is legally blind. There is no universe where a man with sight would call him safe at second.

Something happens when you are in a stadium. It’s as if the outside world is suspended and life’s concerns shift. Here, you live and die by the swing of a bat, the arm of a pitcher, the glove of a fielder, and the eyes, 20/20 or not, of the umpires. Here, you are known by your allegiance, to the sport on the field and the team who is playing. Stadiums are spaces like no other.

I know of a stadium that offered an escape from the outside world, but it’s gone now. It has been replaced with large concrete and steel rectangles spanning over most of the block it occupies with signs that say Concrete Systems Inc., D’Artagnan Gourmet Food Distributor, New Generation Iron Inc., Leopard Framing, and W.B. Law & Son. It’s gone now and the only trace of it left on Wilson Avenue between Avenue K and Avenue L in Newark, NJ is a plaque that was placed there by the Newark Preservation and Landmarks Committee in 2007.1 Ruppert Stadium housed an alternate reality, a baseball centered universe. It was a palace, a cathedral, a dream, a sanctuary, a memory, and a history of its own. At its foundation, Ruppert Stadium was a baseball stadium that from 1936 to 1948 was home of the Newark Bears, an all white New York Yankee farm team and the Newark Eagles, a member of the Negro Leagues.

In the era of Jim Crow, in a city that is often defined by racial unrest, Ruppert Stadium was shared space. It was a space that brought citizens from all ethnic groups to its doors, well, its turnstiles. It was one of the few spaces that residents of Newark could call their own; their own neighborhood stadium. If stadiums function as a space where one reality disappears and another is created, then Ruppert Stadium produced a space where one could transcend temporarily the racial inequality that existed in the city.

If we see as stadiums as “monuments, places for community interaction, repositories of collective memory, loci of strong identities, sites for ritualized conflict, political battlefields, and nodes in the global system of sport,”2 how do the memories of Ruppert Stadium as a racialized space, in both personal and collective or social memory3 shape the history being told of the Newark of the twentieth century? And how, over thirty years later with the building of a new minor league baseball stadium, does the legacy of Ruppert Stadium help define the Newark of the twenty-first century?

1 The Newark Preservation and Landmarks Committee (NPLC), “Newark Eagles Monument Dedicated,” http://newarkpreservation.blogspot.com/2010/10/newark-eagles-monument-dedicated.html.

2 Gaffney, Christopher Thomas Temples of the Earthbound Gods (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2008), 4.

3 Hayden, Dolores The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1997), 9.