Review by Gary
The city of Toronto has a long history of baseball that goes back to 1896. The game has been played on the grounds of Christie Pits in some fashion since then. There has been a baseball team named the Toronto Maple Leafs playing in the Canadian city in a host of leagues for over 100 years, with the current version being a member of the Intercounty Baseball League (IBL).
In 1969 Lynne & Jack Dominico established the current Maple Leafs franchise and have called Christie Pits its home field ever since. Dominico Field was named after this couple and the field is the most urban of IBL ballparks, located in downtown Toronto with a view of the CN Tower. The Maple Leafs offer free admission for spectators, which is nice because there is very limited fixed bench seating along the first and third base lines. Many spectators choose to sit along the grassy hills down the lines or behind the seats while many just stand on the sidewalk high up on Christie Street and Barton Avenue, looking down at the field 20 feet below.
The park was named after the Christie Sand Pits which were on the location until the early 1900s. The sand pits themselves had been named after Christie Street. A fun fact about this locale is that the pits were rich in sand, gravel, and clay deposits that were excavated in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s and used in the construction of many of Toronto’s early roadways and public buildings.
The field is also notable for one of the worst outbreaks of ethnic violence in Canadian history which occurred here involving over 10,000 participants and spectators. These riots occurred on August 16, 1933 and were sparked by Nazi-inspired youths flying a swastika flag at a public baseball game to antagonize and provoke their opponents, a team of Jewish Canadians, who were also the largest minority group in Toronto. The event became known as The Christie Pits Riot. While no was killed during these riots, the snow-covered hills would, for years later, be the site of segregated religious and ethnic groups as they sledded down opposing hills of the Pits.
The 1969 ballpark that stands today features a wooden broadcast booth located at street level high atop the northeast corner of the Pits above home plate. The ballpark's only scoreboard is located above the press box window, in the worst place a scoreboard could be placed. Fans sitting in the seats below wishing to check the score have to turn around and look skyward behind them and away from the action.
There are no locker rooms at Dominico Field as players change in the public restrooms near the concession stand way beyond center field. The ballpark is part of a larger outdoor recreational facility on 22 acres that includes picnic areas, an adjacent outdoor ice rink and three baseball diamonds, one of which is Dominico Field. Few who attend a Maple Leafs game will remember the events of 1933, but there is a small marker high up by the press box. However, everyone who passes by on a summer day will surely enjoy catching a few innings on baseball in this quaint downtown Toronto ballpark.