Inwood Hill Park

Ken De Groat Ballfield

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

This baseball diamond bears the name of dedicated Inwood Little League coach, Ken De Groat (1942-1991). De Groat became involved with the little league when his daughter joined the team in 1977. After a few years of helping out, De Groat began to coach the team, leading them to several championships.

De Groat was born in New York City and raised in Dumont, New York. When he was 14, his mother died and he moved back to the city to live with his grandmother on Fort Washington Avenue. He went to school and played football at George Washington High School in Washington Heights. De Groat left high school, however, to earn money to help his family. After securing a job as a clerk at the Wall Street firm Reynolds and Company, De Groat worked his way up the corporate ladder over the years. In 1987 he became Vice-President of Operations at Morgan Stanley.

During the years of working on Wall Street, De Groat became increasingly involved with the Inwood Little League. Inspired by his enthusiasm, his whole family participated. In late 1988, De Groat was stricken with kidney cancer. He continued to coach the team as long as possible, finally stopping in 1990, when he was no longer physically able to continue. Ken De Groat loved coaching, and relished the time he spent working with the team.

The Inwood Little League was founded by members of the Sherman Ram’s Men’s Club Baseball Team in 1950 for 10, 11, and 12-year-old players. Three hundred little league hopefuls tried out for 72 spots. Managers drew names out of hat to make the teams. The kids could play for free, although their families were advised to “just send a dollar to the league treasurer.”

The first league game on June 12, 1950 pitted “Garry’s S&A Club” against the “Leaguers” team. Baseball proved very popular in Inwood and the league quickly expanded with another team, “Good Shepherd” (now “Copos Blancos Travel”), more fields, and “farm teams” where promising players practiced in preparation for a possible career playing ball.

Lew Alcindor, better known as basketball star Kareem Abdul Jabbar, played ball in the league as a young man from the Dyckman Housing Projects. Although he never made it to the major league, Alcindor earned a place in the Little League Hall of Fame in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Since the 1950s, a dedicated network of families has raised funds for the league through raffles and events, spending their own time to sustain the children’s recreation.

Although Parks acquired Inwood Hill Park in 1916, this crescent-shaped tract was added to the property in 1925. Mere decades earlier, this land was part of the Bronx. The builders of the Harlem River Ship Canal widened the Spuyten Duyvil Creek from the Hudson to the East River by plowing through the northern section of Manhattan. As a result, this former part of the Bronx joined Manhattan Island. The large boulder painted with the Columbia University “C”, now across the river, also was once attached to Inwood. On a map drawn by historian Reginald Pelham Bolton at the turn of the 20th century, the landmass is marked as “Site of the Barrick,” which presumably refers to military lodgings that stood here during the Revolutionary War.

Directions to Inwood Hill Park

Know Before You Go

Nature Centers
Inwood Hill Nature Center

Due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy, this facility is closed until further notice. Please follow this project on our Capital Project Tracker for updates. To reach our Urban Park Rangers at Inwood Hill Park, please call (212) 304-2277.

Kayak/Canoe Launch Sites
Muscota Marsh

The East Dock at Muscota Marsh is temporarily closed for repairs. As an alternative, please use the boat launch at Inwood Hill Park or at Sherman Creek.
Anticipated Completion: Summer 2021

Nature Centers
Payson Nature Center

Payson Nature Center is closed to the public.

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