Site of former oak tree will honor Laurel's first African-American baseball team

Letter to the Editor

November 29, 2011

As a follow up the wonderful piece written by Mike McLaughlin last week ("Old Town bids farewell to oldest resident"), I wanted to let people know of the plan for the area. When the plans for Park Place were approved by the mayor and City Council, the preservation of the old oak tree was included in their approval. The last remnant of the Oak Grove, to which the adjoining subdivision is named, became itself a victim of age. As mentioned by Mike McLaughlin, the tree started to decay, and was considered a loss and not possible to save. This area , known as the Grove, was also the home of the Laurel Stars, one of Laurel's first African-American baseball teams. The diamond was located near a large stand of oaks, and the field encompassed properties that are developed with buildings such as the Stanley Memorial Library. The history of the Laurel Stars is chronicled in the writings of William A. Aleshire, who penned "Laurel Stars Baseball Team," part of a series called "Ramblings of a Baseball Story Never Told," which he wrote in September 1977.

Originally planned to be a memorial/sitting area around the old oak, the plan has been revised to include stones arranged to form a symbolic baseball diamond, with a bench and a semi-circle of shrubs and leyland cypress. At the center of the area will be an interpretive sign remembering the Laurel Stars baseball team, including one of its original members, Carlton Moore, who lived across the street on Eighth Street, and was a familiar face at mayor and City Council meetings.

Though we mourn the loss of the tree, Laurel will gain an important memory of the history of that place. A suggestion to use some of the wood for benches has been forwarded to the developer.

Karl D. Brendle

Director of Community Planning and Business Services

Laurel

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