Look west and imagine a green field bordered by grandstands crammed with cheering crowds. This area from Rundell Street to Seventh Avenue was Rundell Park, home of Iowa City's short-lived semi-professional baseball team.
With the adoption of the cork-centered ball in 1911, Iowa City caught baseball fever along with the rest of the country. The university had a team, and there were exhibition games with teams from Japan. Fans rode the streetcar to the end of the line to watch the Knights of Columbus play the Elks on Rundell Park's modest diamond. The Iowa City Street Car Co. and the Rundell Land Improvement Co. had common investors, and the park conveniently drew prospective lot-buyers out to the new Rundell subdivision.
In 1912, during a national major-league strike, five local businessmen amassed $2,500 to bring baseball home. They recruited players for the Iowa City Gold Sox and improved the park. On opening day, businesses closed at 3 p.m., and 1,000 people - the town's population was about 10,000 - saw the Sox beat Trenton, Missouri, 10 - 2. However, like many fledgling teams then, the Sox fell into financial trouble. Fred Racine, a cigar store manager, bought the Sox in 1913. Renamed the Ramblers, they lasted one season. Soon the park was subdivided into lots, and homes replaced home plate.