Monsignor Crawford Field
Ave. U bet. E. 58 St., E. 59 St., and E. 60 St.
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Monsignor Crawford Field
This field is named for Monsignor Thomas J. Crawford (1885-1966) who served as an assistant priest in six different parishes in Brooklyn and Long Island before becoming the founder-pastor of Mary Queen of Heaven, Brooklyn, in 1927. Monsignor Crawford worked tirelessly through the difficulties of the Great Depression (1929-1940), making Mary Queen of Heaven a thriving community institution.
Father Crawford was born in Brooklyn, New York, the oldest of ten children. During his childhood he attended Our Lady of Lourdes School, and St. John’s Preparatory. Upon graduating secondary school he spent two years at St. Francis Xavier College in Manhattan before entering St. John’s Seminary. He graduated as president of his class and was ordained on June 10, 1911.
After the seminary, Father Crawford spent a year as an assistant priest at St. Steven’s in Brooklyn. He then spent the next six years at St. Thomas Aquinas, Brooklyn. In 1916, he spent some time working for the editorial staff of The Tablet, the official newspaper of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn. During the flu epidemic of 1918, Father Crawford worked tirelessly helping the sick recover. This work took its toll, however, as Father Crawford fell ill with pneumonia. After a period of recovery, he returned to work in 1919, preaching at different times at St. Catherine of Alexandria, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Edmund’s Churches, all in Brooklyn. He also worked for a short while at Our Lady of the Cenacle Covenant, in Ronkonkoma, Long Island.
On Easter of 1927, Father Crawford became the founding pastor of Mary Queen of Heaven Church. Father Crawford lived in an apartment above a store on Avenue N and East 58th Street, and he conducted mass from the store below his apartment. Eventually the congregation raised enough money to purchase a tent, where parishioners gathered for mass, even during the cold winter months. Soon after, the church was constructed at 1395 West 56th Street. After 35 years at Mary Queen of Heaven, Father Crawford was awarded Pastor Emeritus status (1961), and named Domestic Prelate. A man of constant enthusiasm for the church and for his parishioners, Monsignor Crawford’s health began to fail in the 1960s and he retired in 1966. A month later, at age 80, Monsignor Crawford died. He served for 55 years as a priest, 39 as a pastor, and 5 as a monsignor.
These ball fields, located on Avenue U from 58th to 60th Streets, four blocks south of the church, were assigned to Parks by the City in 1956. The two ball fields were reconstructed in 2000 with $630,000 from City Council Member Herbert E. Berman, and feature benches, drinking fountains, wooden bird animal art, and a flagpole with a yardarm. Additionally, the fields are surrounded by chainlink fencing and have maple (Aceraceae spp.) and London planetrees (Platanus x acerifolia) along the perimeter.