The history of sports includes lots of nutty ideas. One of the strangest took off big in Brooklyn in the 1860s and 1870s: baseball on ice.
The game was huge in Brooklyn in the decades after the Civil War. Ice skating was trendy too. Why not combine the two into the ultimate winter activity, right?
Local papers covered the games enthusiastically. “Today a grand match at base-ball on ice will be played on the Capitoline Pond, Brooklyn, 2 pm., the contestants being the best players of the Mutual and Atlantic Clubs who are also good skaters,” wrote the New York Times in January 1871.
[Capitoline Pond (photo below) was at the Capitoline Grounds, a baseball park on Fulton Avenue]
Problems cropped up though. First, regular skaters complained that the ballplayers messed up the ice. Then there was the freezing cold.
On January 5, 1879, the New York Times wrote about a game at the Prospect Park Lake, which attracted a “half-dozen shivering spectators.”
The game “was anything but interesting to the scorer and umpire, who became so thoroughly chilled by the fifth inning that they refused to act longer, and thus the game was brought to an untimely end.”