Featured image: The Ipswich baseball team at Linebrook Park: This photo was taken on July 4th, 1894 at the Ipswich town baseball field, which is now Bialek Park. The park was surrounded by a 10′ wooden fence, and admission was charged to see a game.
Bialek Park was once the town’s semi-professional ballpark, used by our local teams. Baseball’s popularity grew quickly after the Civil War, and there was an Ipswich team in the last few decades of the 19th Century. The 1884 Ipswich Birdseye map shows the park as an empty lot with what appears to be the high fence that surrounded the ballpark.
In 1912 the town purchased two private lots that had been the ballpark, constructed a public playground, and removed the fence. (See Town Report).
The Twilight League
Harold Bowen wrote several stories about St. Albans Kite when he was recreation director of Ipswich: “The Twilight League was probably his most successful program. Almost every organization and group in town had a baseball team, and the interest and competition was never stronger in Fenway Park. Some of the teams I remember were the Oil Cans (masons), Eagles, Odd Fellows, Ipswich Mills and South Side. Any night about five o’clock there was a steady line of people heading for the ball park. There was no admission fee, but they always passed the hat.”
The 1912 Ipswich Town Report shows the following expenditure for purchase of land to create the playground: to D.M. Smith (assumed administrator of the Cogswell property) and Thomas H. Lord. The town received an appropriation from the Boston and Maine Railroad, which abuts the property. The park was expanded at some later date.
In 1977 the park was renamed to honor the late John S. Bialek, who graduated from Manning High School in 1933 and was the first inductee to the Ipswich Athletic Hall of Fame. Bialek served as a selectman and co-founded the Ipswich Little League. When People About Recreation for Kids (PARK) tried to raise $40,000 to build the playground at Bialek Park in 1987, Arthur Finkelstein and Don Curiale quietly stepped up with two major donations.