This field and nearby Reiss Place both honor George Reiss, a landowner whose pond once occupied this land. Local children once used that pond for swimming and ice-skating, and it was later filled in to make this ballfield.
In 1957, Judge Benjamin Nolan (1917-1996) established the Pelham Parkway Little League. The league now operates on Reiss Field, serving 375 children ages 6 through 12, and 75 children ages 13 to 18. The Peewee division includes kids ages 6 through 8, the Minors ages 9 through 11, and the Majors ages 12 through 13. The Pelham Parkway Little League operates from April to August, and soccer leagues use the field each autumn. The teams travel to baseball tournaments around the New York City area and as far away as Puerto Rico. The team for 13-year-olds won the Bronx-Westchester Babe Ruth Tournament in 1998 and 2000, and the 10-year-olds team won District 11 championships in 1999 and 2000.
The league also organizes a baseball exchange program with a team in Puerto Rico. In 1998 and 2000, 13 players from the Pelham Parkway Little League traveled to Juncos, Puerto Rico, to play nine baseball games. The Pelham Parkway team won six out of the nine games, and invited their Puerto Rican counterparts to come to the Bronx for a series of games over 14 days. In 2000, the league hosted 13 Puerto Rican baseball players, ages 13 to 15, to play against the Pelham Parkway team at Reiss Field. Parents, community members, and local businesses worked together to provide an enjoyable and successful visit for the players and their families. Borough President Fernando Ferrer provided a bus for the players, and Council Member Madeleine Provenzano supplied additional funding as well as free passes to the Bronx Zoo.
Reiss Field is located within Bronx Park where Reiss Place meets Bronx Park East. Bronx Park, like the surrounding borough and the river that runs through it, is named for the 17th century Swedish sea captain who settled the area, Jonas Bronck (1600-1643). After Bronck, this property passed through several different families before the City acquired 640 acres of it between December 1888 and January 1889. The City allotted another 250 acres to the New York Zoological Society in 1898. The Wildlife Conservation Park, better known as the Bronx Zoo, opened in 1899 and remains one of the largest wildlife conservation parks in the United States, housing 4,000 animals representing more than 650 species. In 1906, the city acquired another 66 acres on the southeast end of this property.
Reiss Field opened on November 1, 1939, with one baseball diamond, a backstop and dugouts, a drinking fountain, and bleachers. The site was reconstructed in 1960. In 1997, Council Member Madeleine Provenzano provided $7,000 to replace sod in the infield, and the Pelham Parkway Little League reconstructed the fence.
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