A BRIEF HISTORY
The Staten Island Cricket Club was founded on or about March 22nd 1872. The early name was “Staten Island Cricket and Baseball Club”. For several years the club played at St. George on the “Flats” or old camp Washington Terminal. The original 30 or 40 members were officers of the British Armed Forces who had migrated to this country. The original name suggests that the club played some role in the development and promulgation of baseball.
The New York Times of Sunday 28th July 1872 reports the results of a cricket match between St. George CC and a Staten Island X1 played at Camp Washington, Staten Island on 7 July 1872. As there are no existing club records showing this or otherwise, may we assume that this was the first ever match played by SICC? The St. George CC beat the Staten Island X1 by 2 wickets. The Camp Washington site is also where the club hosted the first tennis match held in the United States.
The club moved from the “Flats” ( near the Staten Island Ferry ) in 1885 to a part of the Delafield estate, and on January 18, 1886 ratified the purchase of this property for $40,000. Walker Park, named in honor and memory of a young area resident, Randolph St. George Walker Jr., a World War I hero, has been the home of the club since. The park is bounded by Bard and Delafield Avenues, Delafield Place and Livingston Court. Some of the names associated with the club in these early years and with the move from the “flats” to Walker Park are: William Krebs, George S. Scofield Jr., William K. Jewett, William H. Davidge, E. H. Outerbridge and others. An interesting historical note here is that lawn tennis was discovered by Mary Ewing Outerbridge in the Bermudas, brought back to New York and found a home at the Staten Island cricket club grounds. Thus, Staten Island became the first home of American tennis and the Staten Island Cricket and Baseball Club the first host. The first United States national tournament, Davis Cup, was played at the club in 1880.
The club takes pride in the fact that, as a cricket club, it has played cricket each year since its founding in 1872. Consequently, the club considers itself the oldest continuous, though not the oldest, cricket club in the United States. This remarkable and difficult feat was accomplished by hard working presidents who, during the World Wars, would gather fighting men who stopped over in New York for rest and refitting, for a game or two of cricket. We have no names from World War 1 but during World War 11, the late John Brebner, secretary of SICC for 15 years, vice president for 10 years and president for 30 years almost single handedly kept cricket going. He would notify the British Consul General’s office that the club would welcome all Allied servicemen from warships docking in the Brooklyn Navy Yard for repairs. Games were scheduled during the week, at weekends, holidays or whenever possible. This contributed mightily to the continuity of cricket.
The first cricket match at Walker Park, as reported by the New York Times of July 6, 1886, was played on July 5, 1886. “The new grounds and clubhouses of the Staten Island Cricket Club were thronged yesterday by cricket enthusiasts and members of the Ladies’ Outdoor Amusement Club. The occasion was the annual match between the American and English members of the club”.
The report goes on to state that in the first inning the English were all put out for 85 runs. But the Americans could not take advantage of this apparent favorable situation as MacGregor, an English bowler, took nine wickets at an average of just over 2 runs per over. The Americans scored 66 runs. In the second innings the English scored 79 runs. One American, Pool, was reported to have bowled well in both innings. The game was decided on the first innings scores. After the match was over the members sat down to their first dinner in their new clubhouse.
Two contestants in the ladies' doubles tennis tournament concentrate on victory at the Staten Island Ladies Club. (S.I.L.C. Tournament. Miss Cahill & Miss McKinley. Fine sunny day. 3:30 pm, Wednesday, Sept. 28th, 1892. Stanley, Waterbury lense, 50 ft. One plate went off too soon) Photo courtesy of the Staten Island Historical Society.
“The first big cricket match of the season, in this vicinity, was played yesterday on the new grounds of the Staten Island Cricket Club, at West Brighton”, reported the New York Times of July 18, 1886. “The Merion Cricket Club, of Philadelphia, were the opponents of the home club. Neither team was fairly representative, yet the play throughout the game was good. Twelve men were played on each side, and only 79 runs were made in the first innings by the 24 batsmen. Not one of the Merions made double figures, and only Butler, 16; R. McGregor, 15; and E. H. Outerbridge , 10, made more than single figures for the home club. The score at the end of the first innings was: Staten Island, 57; Merions, 22. The Staten Islanders went on to bat a second time and made 91 runs.”
Richard Bayles, in his History of Richmond County, Staten Island, (L.E.Preston & Co. NYC, 1887) noted that “…today the principal games played are cricket, baseball and tennis…has a membership of over five hundred making it one of the largest, if not the largest club of its kind in the U.S.A. …most of the famous cricket matches which have taken place recently in New York have been arranged by this club…and the games that took place on the grounds of the SICC in September 1885 between the SICC and the visiting gentlemen of England was one of the most important events in the annals of cricket in this country.” Although Philadelphia was undoubtedly the “centre” of American cricket no other American club existing at the time was known to host an MCC sponsored “Gentlemen” tour.
To further illustrate the rich tradition of organized sport enjoyed by the SICC, in 1886, The Illustrated Sketch Book of Staten Island described the then professional baseball club, the Metropolitan Baseball Club, as playing out of the Staten Island Cricket and Baseball Club’s facilities. It was this team that later became the New York Giants and who now play in the National League as the San Francisco Giants.
The Staten Island Cricket Club has, over its history, hosted many touring teams and has, itself, gone on a number of tours. Among touring teams hosted on its grounds as reported in the New York Times are the following: Gentlemen of Ireland, 1879; English Cricketers, August 17, 1886; West Indies, September 13 and 14, 1886; SICC ( 2 week tour) of West Indies, August 1, 1887; English on tour, 1881; Australians (test team!) vs All New York team, October 4, 1893; a combined Oxford and Cambridge Team, September 1, 1895; English cricketers, September 14, 1897; Canadian and English ( War Mission Team), July 20,1918; Australian team, July 18, 1932 (Bradman scored 35); Queensland, Australia, July 8, 1962; SICC Tour of West Indies, March 12, 1967; MCC team vs SICC, September 3, 1967. Some other teams visiting: Hyderabad Blues of Pakistan; New Zealand Touring Team; Old Collegians of Australia; Touring Teams from several West Indian Islands.
Among famous cricketers, other than Sir Donald Bradman, to have played at the Staten Island ground are: Sir Everton Weeks (played in 1967 with MCC vs a New York team), Sir Garfield Sobers (as part of the belated 1988 100th anniversary at Walker Park), W.G. Grace, Indian Prince K.S.Ranjitsinhji, Allan Border and a young Geoffrey Boycott.
The club was also involved in sports other than cricket, baseball and tennis. The New York Times also reported on golf in 1898, soccer in 1909 and 1912, Lacrosse in 1887, football in 1893 and squash racquets on November 10, 1937.
In 1925 Walker Park was sold to the Staten Island Academy. It was subsequently purchased by New York City in 1930 for $110,000.00 and transferred to the Parks Department in 1931. At the time of the transfer the ground contained a club house with lockers and showers, a refreshment building and three tool sheds. Tragically, a fire in 1932 burned the club house down and most of the club’s records were lost. The club house was replaced in 1934 with the current Tudor-style structure of red brick and stone.
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