Holyoke Grand Stand Crash

by Laurel | June 28th, 2010

June 28, 1903

More Than 50 People in peril

Three Persons Injured Seriously and Several Escape With Cuts and Bruises.

Just at the close of yesterday’s ball game at Holyoke, when the crowd made its first rush for the exits, there was a loud cracking and snapping sound, followed by a crash, and the nine seats at the north end of the grand stand slipped down in the cellar, followed by between 50 and 75 men, to the great astonishment of Patrick Cray and John Brown, who were below. Some fell through the edge and some slid down the incline made by the sloping and broken flooring and planks. The cry went up through the grand stand, “The Stand is breaking down!” and women’s screams were added to the shouts of the men. Among those who went down were two or three doctors, so medical aid was “on the spot.” In view of the likelihood of serious accident, the management sent for the hospital ambulances, but they were not needed. The only three men to be seriously hurt were J. F. Leary of Hatfield, John Buckley of Hampden street and Joseph M. Toepfert of 40 Laurel street, Holyoke.

The most serious case seemed to be that of Mr. Buckley, who was rendered unconscious. He had a scalp wound and was badly bruised and was suffering severely from the shock. Last evening he was improving. He was attended by several doctors at the ground and by Drs. E. J. Mahoney and J.P. Shine at his home. Mr. Toepfert had a rib broken, and was taken in one of M. J. Laporte’s hacks to his home on Laurel street, where he was attended by Dr. T. E. Cavanaugh. He also had other minor injuries. J. F. Leary went to Holyoke for the first time to see the match baseball game. He went home with a broken rib and other small bruises as souvenirs of the occasion. He was taken by T. F. Ryan to Dr. McIntee’s office in the Ball building. There were several others who had teeth knocked out, clothes torn, or cuts and bruises on arms or legs, but none required medical attendance or were unable to go to their homes by trolley. One feature of the affair was the number of ruined hats,m some dozen or so who were in the crash being obliged to go home bare headed, including City Messenger W. T. Welch, Mark Carpenter and D. J. J. McCabe. City Clerk Sheehan was also in the pile. One little girl caught the side of the stand as the flooring crashed down, and was helped down by E. F. Dowd. No women were in the crash, fortunately.

The reason for the breakdown was very evident from even the most cursory examination. A strong eight by eight beam runs along the north end of the stand, on which were laid, or should have been laid, the eight by eight timbers upon which the framework and flooring of the stand rest. By some cheap job work one of these eight by eight beams, instead of being so laid, was put up end on to the beam and supported only by a piece of two-inch plank spiked to the upright. When wind and weather rotted the end of the sustaining beam the rush of the crowd was sufficient to push off or break off this rotting piece and the flooring joined to it went down with it. The question of who was responsible for the accident that followed was widely discussed last evening. It seems to be for the lawyers to decide whether the baseball club or the Holyoke park association is liable. The escape from loss of life or more serious accident was almost miraculous.

From The Springfield Republican.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.


Suggested Holyoke Books

Mountain Park -- The Holyoke destination we all loved.

Mount Holyoke College

Mount Holyoke College, Postcard History by Donna Albino. Many Holyoke women have attended Mount Holyoke. Author also maintains an amazing MHC website based upon her personal collection.

Holyoke - Chicopee, A Perspective

Holyoke-Chicopee: A Perspective, by Ella Merkel DiCarlo. DiCarlo, a former Transcript columnist offers a fascinating compilation of her essays. Published in 1982, this out-of-print book is worth looking for in the aftermarket.


Holyoke, by Craig Della Penna. The first Holyoke book in the Arcadia series, published in 1997.

Belle Skinner Collection

Belle Skinner Collection, by Ruth Isabel Skinner. Published in 1933, this book is long out of print but copies are still available in the aftermarket.

Mitch Epstein: Family Business

Mitch Epstein: Family Business Published in 2003, available in the aftermarket. Epstein's furniture.