Professional Baseball Rooted in Dubuque
America's favorite pastime has a deeply-rooted history in Dubuque.
Discover how baseball left a mark where Iowa started.
Baseball began in Dubuque
In 1865, the first full nine-inning baseball game was played in Dubuque by the Julien Baseball Club. The winning side made 12 fly catches with a final score of 21-12. Just one year later, baseball debuted in Dubuque as one of only four organized teams West of the Mississippi River.
Dubuque Red Stockings
Dubuque became one of the first cities to support professional baseball, playing under six different banners during the sport’s early history. The Dubuque Red Stockings became the first professional baseball league in Iowa to win the Northwest League Pennant in 1879. The team defeated both Chicago and Grays, the top two teams in the National League. The team remained active for only three seasons and played at what became known as Comiskey Park.
Dubuque Made a Move
In 1904, the Dubuque Shamrocks moved the sport to a magnificent field at Washington and 27th Street, where streetcars transported fans to the game. To keep fans from viewing the game outside of the park, canvas was hung between telephone poles as an attempt to block the view of the field. Shortly after the move, the Shamrock won the Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League Title in 1905.
The Dubuque Dubs played on the Dubuque Athletic Field, a new ballpark donated by Fred Leiser in 1914. The team continued to play on the field changing their name to the Dubuque Climbers along with a triumphant return to professional baseball. The team won its first pennant in 1923 with manager Joe McGinnity. McGinnity had previously managed 10 victorious seasons in the Major League with teams such as the New York Giants.
Baseball Was Booming
The Dubuque Dubs won the 1927 league pennant under the management of John William Speas Sr. With a winning streak in the books, the team made a move to a new ball park. On July 14, 1930, the first game was played on the Fourth Street Baseball Field. The field was said to have had the best lighting system of its time, five years prior to lighted baseball in the Major Leagues.
Dubuque baseball was booming. With John Petrakis promoting the league, the city set a minor league record for attendance, drawing over 100,000 fans to games in 1955. The Chicago White Sox became the parent club for the Dubuque Packers until 1958.
A New Beginning for Baseball
By 1959, the Fourth Street Baseball Park was in poor condition, ultimately leading the White Soxs to leave Dubuque. The Pittsburgh Pirates agreed to come to Dubuque if proper repairs were made to the facility. The team later went on to be affiliated with the Cleveland Indians, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Kansas City Royals and the Houston Astros.
After 22 years with the likes of Major League Baseball, professional baseball left Dubuque as the Houston Astros removed their affiliation. 1976 marked the last season of organized professional baseball in Dubuque.
Home of the World's Most Magical Field
In 1988, Hollywood built the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa. The Oscar-nominated movie is based off the book “Shoeless Joe.” The ballfield measures 280 feet from right to left field and 300 feet to the center. The infield is regulation size with a 60-foot pitching mound and 90-foot bases.