Jack White To Help
To help support the restoration of historic Hamtramck Stadium, go to patronicity.com/hhs.
HAMTRAMCK, Mich. (March 4, 2019) — With the help of Detroit native and rock star Jack White, the Piast Institute and the Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium today are pleased to announce the launch of a new campaign to begin restoration of the former home of the Detroit Stars, one of the few remaining Negro League ballparks in America.
Located near the border of Detroit in the diverse city of Hamtramck, Michigan, Hamtramck Stadium hosted many Negro League legends over the years, including Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, and Detroit’s own Norman “Turkey” Stearnes.
White, an avid baseball fan best known for fronting legendary Detroit garage-rock band the White Stripes, is helping kick off the campaign with a very generous $10,000 donation.
The campaign, launched through Detroit-based Patronicity.com, aims to raise $50,000 to restore Hamtramck Stadium’s historic field for baseball and soccer games in advance of a planned restoration of its historic grandstand. Other improvements to be funded with the money raised include enhancing the existing cricket pitch, installing new signage, and installing wayfaring signage around Hamtramck to direct visitors to the site.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation will match donations to the campaign, up to $50,000.
“We’re thrilled to be participating in the MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places program,” says says Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium founder and president Gary Gillette. “We’re hopeful the historic preservation community can help us meet our goal.”
The existing grandstand, which hasn’t been used since the 1990s, is currently closed to the public, but the City of Hamtramck has a new plan for its redevelopment.
“From its founding, the Piast Institute has focused on telling the story of Polish-Americans in Detroit and Hamtramck, which are intertwined with the stories of the historic African-American communities in both cities,” says Piast executive vice president Virginia Skrzyniarz. “The revival of Hamtramck Stadium will be a living monument to Hamtramck’s legacy of diversity and tolerance.”
“Hamtramck Stadium is one of just five remaining locations where major Negro League teams once played their home games and represents a historic period in the Detroit community,” says Gillette.
It was also the home of Hamtramck’s 1959 Little League World Series champions.
“As a field that’s welcomed at least 18 members of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, including great Negro League players like Turkey Stearnes, Josh Gibson, and Satchel Paige, Hamtramck Stadium serves as an important reminder of African-American history here in metro Detroit and across the country,” says Gillette.
“Our hope is to preserve this very special place where my father and his teammates made history,” says Rosilyn Stearnes-Brown, daughter of Hall of Fame Detroit Stars outfielder Turkey Stearnes.
“It’s important to provide our young people with opportunities that will enrich their minds and will make them productive, positive individuals, striving to make a difference in our society just like the players in the Negro Leagues,” says Stearnes’ daughter Joyce Stearnes Thompson. “Hamtramck Stadium can be a magnificent field of dreams that will preserve the legacy of my father and the Negro Leaguers in this special place they loved.”
“The history of Detroit cannot be told without including the history of African-Americans,” Gillette says, “and the history of Detroit’s black community is not complete without the history of the Negro Leagues and the Detroit Stars. Norman ‘Turkey’ Stearnes and his teammates fought against segregation and discrimination both on and off the field, leaving a legacy we can help preserve by restoring Hamtramck Stadium as a community gathering place and a venue for youth sports.”
Built in 1930, Hamtramck Stadium was home to the Negro National League Detroit Stars in 1930-1931 and again in 1933. The field was also home to the Detroit Wolves of the Negro East-West League in 1932, and to the Negro American League Detroit Stars in 1937.
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To help support the restoration of historic Hamtramck Stadium, go to patronicity.com/hhs
About the Piast Institute and FHHS
The Piast Institute is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) national research center devoted to Polish and Polish-American affairs. It is also one of fifty-two United States Census Bureau Information Centers (CIC) and one of two located in Michigan. The Institute was founded in 2003 by the late Dr. Thaddeus Radzilowski, a celebrated historian, writer and academic, and Mrs. Virginia Skrzyniarz, an accomplished nonprofit executive.
Founded in 2012, the Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium is a Michigan nonprofit organization, working in partnership with Piast Institute, the FHHS fiduciary. FHHS is devoted to restoring and preserving historic Hamtramck Stadium and ensuring its future through educational, cultural, and recreational programming honoring the history of Negro League Baseball and amateur sports in Hamtramck and Detroit.
In addition to getting Hamtramck Stadium listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Friends installed a State of Michigan Historic Marker for the Stadium in Hamtramck’s Veterans Park in 2014. In 2017, the Friends provided the historical research used by the City of Hamtramck to obtain an African American Civil Rights Grant from the National Park Service.
Jack White – Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images
Stadium – Photo by Matthew Herch