Greenlee Field

Greenlee Field was the first black-owned and black-built major baseball field in the United States. It was the brainchild of Hill District kingpin Gus Greenlee, owner of the Pittsburgh Crawfords. Construction started in 1931 on Bedford Avenue in the Hill on one of the only spaces--at least in sports--where African-Americans could really feel a sense of ownership. Greenlee had bought the Crawfords in 1930, but was angered at the fact that his players, good as they were, could not use the dressing rooms when they played at Forbes or Ammon Fields--or any other white-owned field, for that matter. He soon determined to build his own field at which the Crawfords and other black teams could play.
After six months and a reported $100,000 spent on construction, Greenlee Field opened on April 30, 1932. The public received it with great pride and fanfare, and the field flourished along with the Crawfords for years. The great steel and brick structure, holding 7500 in its stands, was an impressive addition to the Hill during the height of the Depression.

The 1935 Negro League Championship Crawfords,
pictured in front of their tour bus and Greenlee Field.

As the Crawfords declined in success and popularity, Greenlee turned his attentions elsewhere. His field was eventually demolished in 1938; with its destruction, the Hill and its residents lost an important symbol of pride and self-empowerment.