Check out this nearly 19-minute video production on Greenville’s historic Black Field. Daily News staff writer Cory Smith filmed 2011 Greenville High School football games, interviewed local subjects with ties to Black Field and used dozens of historic photos as a backdrop to this presentation.
A Tribute to Black Field
Greenville’s Black Field, site of many football games over the past 90-plus years, once was just a deep ravine. “Years ago what is now known as the Black Athletic Field was simply a gully left as the result of glacial action and was used for no purpose at all,” according to a paper by Wyman Bock in the archives of the Flat River Historical Society.
Duncan K. Black was born March 8, 1861, in Belmont, Ontario. He received his medical training at the Michigan College of Medicine in Detroit, graduating in 1886, and later completed a post-graduate course at the New York School of Medicine.
The Greenville Yellow Jackets have been playing football on Judd Street at Black Field since 1916. The Yellow Jackets have been playing football against the Belding Redskins since 1900. Obviously, the Yellow Jackets have played the most games at Black Field. Unofficially, the Redskins have played the second most games at Black Field. How could they not have with the length of this rivalry?
When Carl Blumburg played football for Greenville High School on Black Field in the mid 1950s, there wasn’t much else to compare the field to throughout the state of Michigan. He remembers a field that offered a certain closeness to the fans that couldn’t be matched anywhere else.
Black Field has been a home to countless traditions over the years. Old ones have faded away as new ones have been introduced. Since 1975 there’s been a special moment each football season when fans have held their breath and let out a yell in excitement as the field fell into an absolute darkness.
Black Field has been home to football in Greenville for as long as anyone can remember. Countless games have been played on its surface in nearly all kinds of whether conditions. Yet it has stood an incredible test of time, offering a field on which to play the game of football since the first quarter of the 20th century.
For those of you that don’t know I began my area sports career at the current WGLM Radio — formerly Stafford Media Solutions WSCG — as sports director and, later, operations manager. Beginning in January 2001, I have handled radio play-by-play for Greenville football and basketball.
Nine years ago I arrived in Greenville for my interview at the Administration Building for the head football coaching job. I arrived early to scout out the town, school facilities and football field. I looked at Yellow Jacket Stadium but only later did I discover that football wasn’t played there. The games were played at Black Field.