"New" Douglas Park Hosts First Game

May 8, 2017

The view from behind the visitors dugout, with some finishing touches still to be done.
Credit WVIK News

A major step in the renovation of a historic park in Rock Island will be taken Tuesday. The newly-refurbished baseball diamond in Douglas Park will host its first game - Rock Island High School versus Alleman.

Director of Parks and Recreation John Gripp says after years of neglect, the park in west Rock Island is being fixed up, and the baseball field is part of phase one.

"It's the home of the first NFL football game and it's the home of the first Illinois-Iowa football game. There's a lot of history in that park - a lot of major league football and baseball players go their start there."

Iowa and Illinois played each other for the first time in 1899 in Douglas Park - Iowa won 58 to nothing. The first NFL game was played in 1920 between the Rock Island Independents and Muncie Flyers - Rock Island won 45 to nothing.

Gripp says much of the credit goes to the Friends of Douglas Park who've raised more than 120,000 dollars so far.

"The timeline for these projects is all dependent on the fundraising we're able to do, but my goal is to have this complete in one to three years."

the old firehouse at 9th Street (ML King Drive) and 18th Avenue.
Credit WVIK News

Along with fixing up the large diamond, phase one includes building a small playground. In phase two, the northeast section of Douglas Park will be turned into a multi-sports field - for softball, baseball, and football.  

He also hopes to fix up the old firehouse - on the corner of 18th Avenue and 9th Street.