Downs-Mabson Field

Downs-Mabson Fields 2816 E 12th St

Six Square | Austin's Black Cultural District
Written By Six Square | Austin's Black Cultural District

Six Square is the nexus of thriving Black arts and culture in Central East Austin. We re-animate cultural spaces, connect community, and honor the past, present, and future of Austin’s Black Cultural District.

A History Worth Restoring

Named after Karl Downs, one of the most influential individuals in the Six Square area, the field is beautifully restored to commemorate the men who played important roles in the African American community. The field is a focal point of the East Austin, and it has seen some of the greatest baseball players of all time.​​​

The historical significance of Downs Field is just as impressive as the notable people who played at the ballpark. The field was the "separate but equal" option to Disch field for​ African American ballplayers in Austin, TX. Originally at 12th and Springdale, the field was used by Samuel Huston College as its baseball stadium. ​​

The First Stop for Great Sports Hall of Famers

The college shared the field with Austin's Negro League teams until the city decided to sell it. Austin sold the property to the school district and LC Anderson High School began using the field for its football program. ​

​Around this time, Richard "Night Train" Lane, NFL Hall of Famer, began his very successful football career on the field. In addition to Night Train, Baseball Hall of Famers Willie Wells, Satchel Paige, Toni Stone, and Joe Williams all played at the field. ​

Receiving Recognition

Recently, the Texas Historical Commission recognized Downs Field as a historic site. Before the field moved to the current location, Downs Field served as a host for the African American Barnstormers. In those years, fans rushed to the field to watch the fast-paced exhibition games where Satchel Paige made a name for himself and helped shape baseball history. It was the work Satchel Paige put in during those exhibition games that got him noticed by a Major League Baseball coach in 1948. At 42 years old, he was the second African American and the oldest pitcher ever signed by Major League Baseball. He continued to play into his 50s. Watch the video below to hear Paige's opinion of playing at his age.

Cover photo credit: Austin Public Library

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Downs-Mabson Field

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