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Babylon Argyle Hotel

Historic Sites, Monuments, Landmarks, and Public Art (National Historic Landmark)

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The former Babylon Hotel, now a park, was the birthplace of the first ever professional African-American baseball team, the Cuban Giants. A group of players from several different amateur baseball teams met at the Argyle, an upscale hotel for wealthy people from New York City, to hash out the plans for the team in 1885 just 20 years after the American Civil War. The original name for the team was the Babylon Black Panthers.The players were all service workers for the hotel.

Cuban Giants team photo
Argyle Hotel
Original team photo of the Cuban Giants when they were named the Black Panthers.
Site of the formation of the Cuban Giants.

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The Cuban Giants were the first African-American professional baseball club.
The team was originally formed in 1885 at the Argyle Hotel, a summer resort in Babylon, New York. The team was so skilled in the game, and achieved victory over so many of the nearby amateur "white" teams that they attracted the attention of a promoter, Walter Cook. To appeal to a broader audience, Cook styled them the "Cuban Giants," although there were rarely (if ever) any Cubans on the Cuban Giants. The team remained one of the premier Negro league teams for nearly 20 years. The team went on to become the "world colored champions" of 1887 and 1888, and spawned imitators.The famous Argyle Hotel in Babylon was one of many built in the late 19th century to accommodate wealthy summer visitors from New York City. It was constructed in 1882 by August Belmont, the LIRR and resort entrepreneur on the former estate of Brooklyn railroad magnate Electus B. Litchfield. Financing was provided by a syndicate headed by Long Island Rail Road President, Austin Corbin. The grounds, which included a large millpond, Blythebourne Lake became renamed Argyle Lake, for one of the hotel’s largest investors and town aristocrat, the heir to the Dukedom of Argyll. The renaming gave the Hotel & Park a more genteel English flavor yet the hotel proved a bad venture: it was near the end of the era of such projects, it was built much too large with 350 rooms, and so was rarely more than one-third filled. After about a decade of disuse, it was finally demolished in 1904, some of the structure being used to build homes west of the lake in the neighborhood now known as Argyle Park. In 1921, the land that is now the Argyle Park was donated for passive recreation to the Village of Babylon, by J. Stanley Foster,Esq. This park is still popular, drawing substantial numbers of visitors from outside the community for fishing, strolling, playing on the children's playground, and winter ice skating. This hotel and its employees are largely responsible for integration in sports and giving people like Jackie Robinson a place to play.

Sources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylon_%28village%29,_New_York#Hotels.3B_gateway_to_Fire_Island http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuban_Giants

Address
Argyle Park
Babylon, New York 11702
Tags
  • African American History
  • Cultural History
  • Sports History
This location was created on 2015-04-13 by Kevin Baisden, Marshall University; Instructed by David J. Trowbridge.   It was last updated on 2015-04-16 by Kevin Baisden, Marshall University; Instructed by David J. Trowbridge.

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