2017, 2022
Historic Status:
National Register of Historic Places, Texas Historic Landmark


Named after former Samuel Huston College (now Huston-Tillotson University) president Karl Downs, Downs Field is one of a series of Black sports venues that have occupied this site since the 1920s. The six-acre ballpark, which maintains its historic grandstands and scoreboard, is currently the home of the Huston-Tillotson University Rams baseball team.


Downs Field is an important landmark that has empowered many generations as a place for community and sport to come together. The ongoing preservation of the ballpark’s historic significance is important not only to keep its legacy intact for future generations to learn from, but also to honor the athletes who showcased their talent and perseverance here.

The field has served the Black community in Austin since the 1920s, when the city’s segregationist 1928 Master Plan forcibly relocated minorities and the institutions that served them to the east side. The site represents three eras of Black sport in Austin: From 1927 to 1938 this was the location of the Samuel Huston Baseball Stadium, shared by the Samuel Huston College baseball team and the Texas Negro League’s Austin Black Senators; from 1939 to 1953 Anderson Football Stadium, home of L.C. Anderson High’s Yellow Jackets; and Downs Field, a city-owned baseball field, from 1954 to the present. Notable figures that played here include Satchel Paige, Willie Wells, Smokey Joe Williams, Willie Mays, and Buck O’Neill. Several of these men are depicted in a series of 10-foot-tall mosaics commissioned by Six Square and realized by Houston-based artist Reginald Adams (and a crew of volunteers). Collectively entitled “Field of Dreams,” the mosaics were installed on East 12th Street in 2015 alongside a restored entryway and new fencing. The grandstands—made by the same company that built the stands for the New York Yankees—were restored in 2022.

Coming to Downs Field today, you can feel and hear the cheers and cries of fans supporting the many talented players who have passed through its gates. As the challenges of segregation have given way to new threats of overdevelopment and gentrification, this living monument continues to provide Black athletes with a safe haven from the outside world. – Oscar Yanez, NOMA

Photo Credits:

Bud Franck, AIA