Posts tagged Tappan Square

Moses Fleetwood Walker and Oberlin’s Tappan Square

In Deadball, A Metaphysical Baseball Novel, protagonist Byron Bennett makes a stop in Oberlin, Ohio, in search of the the ball field where Moses Fleetwood Walker and his brother Welday, two African-American students at liberal Oberlin played baseball for the school in 1881 and 1882.

Moses Fleetwood Walker

Both Walker brothers later played professional ball in 1884, joining the then-major league American Association Toledo Blue Stockings during the team’s one season in existence. Soon after that season, African-Americans were banned from playing in the major leagues until 1947, when Jackie Robinson broke the color line.

Oberlin Ohio State Historical Marker

Oberlin College was established in 1833. Many of the buildings located on the south side of College Street date to the time when Walker played baseball for Oberlin.

Buildings Located South on College Street Across from Tappan Square

The ball field where Walker played was located in Tappan Square near the corner of College Street and North Main Street, on the southeast side of Oberlin’s campus.

Tappan Square, Oberlin, Intersection of College Street and North Main Street

Tappan Square is divided into four quadrants.

Tappan Square Looking West from the Center of the Square

At one time Tappan Square had several buildings located throughout the square. Those buildings are gone, with only two architectural structures remaining in the square. In the northeast quadrant of the square is an open bandstand. Southwest of the bandstand in is a stone memorial arch.

Stone Memorial Arch, Tappan Square

The stone arch commemorates Oberlin student missionaries killed during the Boxer uprising in China in 1900.

Plaque Honoring Oberlin Student Missionaries

College Chapel, a building that once sat in the south west quadrant of Tappan Square just south of the memorial arch burned down in the early 1900s. The ball field where Walker once played was located in front of that church, just to the north. A picture of the church and the ball field is available on Oberlin College’s website at: Tappan Square (link to Oberlin College Digital Collection).

The picture below shows the approximate site of the former ball field in what is the southeast quadrant of Tappan Square.

Approximate Location of Oberlin's Former Ball Field Where Moses Fleetwood Walker Once Played

Oberlin’s current athletic fields (Oberlin plays in the North Coast Athletic Conference) are located northwest of Tappan Square off Union Street. The John Herbert Nichols Gateway, erected in honor of a former athletic director, marks the entrance to the athletic complex. Dill Field, the school’s baseball diamond, is located behind Savage Field, the school’s football stadium.

Dill Field, Home of the Oberlin Yeoman

The Yeomen’s ballpark is of modest size, with a chainlink backstop and ten rows of metal bleachers on either side of cinder block dugouts. The baseball team has played in its current location since the 1920s.

Dill Field Scoreboard

The former site of Oberlin’s ball field where Moses Fleetwood Walker and his brother once played is historic, deserving of a historical plaque commemorating the site and its former location. If you are a fan of baseball, Tappan square certainly is worth a stop, should you find yourself in north central Ohio. It is just a few miles south of Interstate 90 on Route 58.

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