Baseball has been played at what is now called Damaschke Field since 1905, when two ballplayers received permission from the landowner, Dr. William Morris of Morris, to play there. The field was originally called Elm Park. In 1908, Dr. Morris donated the field and the land around it to Oneonta to form Neahwa Park.
During the Great Depression, the city received $8,950 from the federal Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.) to construct the grandstand. The balance of the cost was covered by a trust fund of William Eggleston. “Eggleston Memorial Grandstand” was completed in 1939.
In 1968 the field and grandstand were renamed for Ernest “Dutch” Damaschke, a longtime city employee in the recreation department.
Minor league baseball was played at the field by an Oneonta team in the Canadian-American League from 1940 to 1951, when the league disbanded. Albert “Sam” Nader and others brought minor league baseball back to Oneonta in 1966 with the Oneonta Red Sox of the New York-Penn League, followed by the Oneonta Yankees in 1967, and the Oneonta Tigers from 1999-2009.
In 2010, the Oneonta Outlaws were formed and currently play in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. SUNY Oneonta’s Division III baseball team also called Damaschke Field home for several seasons while its field on campus was renovated.
Over the decades, fans in the grandstand saw dozens of future major leaguers play here in what for most was their season of professional baseball. Frank Malzone, Don Mattingly, Bernie Williams, John Elway, Jorge Posada, and Curtis Granderson all played for Oneonta teams. Other notable baseball legends to play at Damaschke Field include hall of famers Connie Mack and Babe Ruth, who each brought barnstorming teams to Oneonta. The last major league player to hit over .400 in a season, Ted Williams, served as a hitting coach in 1966, and Yankee legends Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle were honored with “nights” at the ballpark.
Compiled by Bob Brzozowski, Bhanu Gaur, and Cliff Sweezey
Photographs by Ian Austin * Aerial footage courtesy of Allan Hecox