McDonald Playground

PO Jeff Herman Ballfield

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

What was here before?

From 1886 to 1910, this was the site of the Gravesend Racetrack built by the Brooklyn Jockey Club. The facility covered an area that extended from McDonald Avenue (then Gravesend Avenue) to Ocean Parkway, and from Kings Highway to Avenue U. This land had previously been occupied by the Prospect Park Fair Grounds, a slightly smaller racecourse.

How did this site become a ball field?

NYC Parks acquired this site in 1949 and opened a playground in 1951. In 1987, the playground adopted its present name from the adjacent McDonald Avenue. Three years later, the ballfield was named in honor of slain Police Officer Jeff B. Herman.

Who is this ball field named for?

This site is named for New York City Police Officer Jeff B. Herman (1964-1989). Raised in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, he was active in sports and often played at the Shorefront Y on Coney Island Avenue. He attended nearby Abraham Lincoln High School before joining the New York Police Department in 1984.

Herman was stationed in the 71st Precinct on Empire Boulevard. On May 30th, 1989, he and his partner responded to a domestic dispute that turned violent. The suspect opened fire and struck Herman in the shoulder and leg. He succumbed to his injuries four days later. Herman was honored with a plaque dedicated at the station in 1990 and presented by his fellow officers. On May 5th, 1991, this field, where he coached and played for the 71st Precinct’s baseball team, was dedicated in his honor.

Park Information

Directions to McDonald Playground


  • Po Jeff Herman Ballfield

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