Early Activities at Big Rec
Though the first polo matches were played at Big Rec, this being in 1900,
and it continued to serve as a 'drill ground',
the primary use became BASEBALL,
as noted in this colorized postcard dated 1904. With the exception of the year following the '06 earthquake,
when it held refugee tents and cabins,
Big Rec has been the primary baseball venue for the Park and city. Where once it supported as many as 9 backstops which were moved around to reduce ware patterns, in 1942 the turf was removed from the baselines and the formal diamond patterns we know today created. Though the Park Commission approved pernanent backstops in 1944, the War Production Board denied the materials for the project. In 1948, $25,000 was spent to shape the area and install bleachers for 12,000.
Pressure was put on the Park Commission rename the area after Charles H. Graham, a civic and baseball leader, but a compromise was reached whereby the western diamond was named for Graham, and the eastern for James H. Nealon. For many years along with the two major 'hardball' diamonds there were lesser softball areas in the outfield. In 1980 the baseball commuinity wanted to push out softball and a long legal battle ensued. The last softball backstop was pulled out in 1982. Of note, this structure was moved over behind the Children's Quarter and informally named "Little Rec."
In '98 Little Rec was returned to all grass and now hosts hundreds of micro soccer players each day.
Which leads to conditions at Big Rec today. (click to continue)