ABLL American Box Lacrosse League 1932
|Baltimore Rough Riders
|New York Giants
|New York Yankees #
|Toronto Maple Leafs #
Note: # New York Yankees and Toronto Maple Leafs withdrew in mid-season after just two weeks of play on June 16, 1932. The American Box Lacrosse League folded in mid-season on July 8, 1932.
The sport of Box Lacrosse (also known as Indoor Lacrosse) was invented in 1931, with the need of Ice Hockey Arena owners in mind, filling the Arenas when Ice Hockey season was over in the Spring. That year the International Professional Lacrosse League (IPLL), featuring four teams in Ontario and Quebec in Canada was founded. The league lasted just two years as the league first planned to expand to USA by transferring the Cornwall Colts franchise to Boston, and then adding teams in Buffalo, Cleveland, Chicago and Detroit, all cities near Ontario and Quebec in North East and Midwest USA. More American cities expressed interest, namely Baltimore, Brooklyn, New York, Philadelphia, Syracuse and Washington, D.C., again all in the vicinity of the North East USA.
In the end, however, the second season of the IPLL was planned to feature only two of those American cities: New York and Boston, along with three of the four original 1931 IPLL teams: Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Maroons, Toronto Maple Leafs (all teams with the same name as National Hockey League teams – NHL) plus expansion team Toronto Tecumsehs. The owner of the New York Rangers NHL team (Col. John S. Hammond) was awarded the New York team, and would play in Madison Square Garden and George Fink, owner of Madison Square Garden of Boston, was awarded the Boston team, with players from the defunct Cornwall Colts distributed among the two teams. The two teams could not, however, agree to terms for the upcoming season with the Toronto and Montreal teams and withdrew before the 1932 season started.
This was not, however, the end for Professional Box Lacrosse in the Eastern USA and Canada, as the Four team IPLL played on for another half season and the two USA teams started a new venture, also in 1932, the American Box Lacrosse League. This was the start of the Great Depression in USA, and the ABLL decided to play its’ Indoor season in Professional Baseball stadiums, partly to fill empty seats during the Baseball offseason, which was attractive to the owners of the National League and American League in Baseball, but also due to miserable conditions for fans sitting in Ice Hockey Arenas during the summer, something which impacted on the attendance of the ill-fated IPLL in Canada. Games were also to be played in the evening, under floodlights, a new idea in Baseball, which started in 1931.
The ABLL team owners were more “Baseball men” than “Lacrosse men” but they nevertheless promoted the league vigorously. Tommy Burns (born Noah Brusso) was a former boxing champion and owner of the New York Yankees Lacrosse team. The Baltimore team, however, was the only one based in a city with a big Field Lacrosse tradition. Six teams would play a 32-game season: New York Yankees, New York Giants, Boston Shamrocks, Baltimore Rough Riders, Brooklyn Dodgers and Toronto Maple Leafs. The team names were all readily recognisable to the American and Canadian public: Toronto Maple Leafs one of the biggest Canadian Ice Hockey teams in the NHL; Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Yankees, New York Giants all names of Major League Baseball teams as well as teams in the National Football League and its’ rival the American Football League (AFL); Boston Shamrocks was the name of a team in the AFL also. Baltimore Rough Riders had the Field Lacrosse tradition of Baltimore to draw upon, and a name borrowed from the Canadian Football League (Ottawa Roughriders).
The initial interest in Box Lacrosse in USA was evident when 8,000 turned out to watch Montreal Canadiens (1931 IPLL Playoff Champion) defeated Toronto Maple Leafs (1931 IPLL regular season champion) 9-7 on 10 May 1932 in Madison Square Garden, New York. There was plenty of hype before the game and the ABLL was thrilled by the attendance. Boston Shamrocks signed Princeton University head coach Al Neis a month before the season, which was the earliest allowed by the league to sign players and coaches.
The ABLL opened on June 2 1932 when 10,000 watched New York Yankees defeated Toronto Maple Leafs 11-9 at Yankee Stadium, huge for a Lacrosse game, but small for a Baseball Stadium, and less than what the league’s owners anticipated. 8,000 watched Brooklyn Dodgers win 14-4 versus the Yankees at Ebbetts Field the next day. After the initial hype and novelty died down the attendance plummeted. Baltimore, even though stocked with local Lacrosse stars in a city with a tradition of Field Lacrosse, and also the most successful team in the league, could only draw 3,000 on average. Within two weeks the New York Yankees and Toronto Maple Leafs were dropped from the league on 16 June 1932 and while there were considerations to replace them with teams in Philadelphia and Atlantic City, New Jersey, they never went ahead because the Atlantic City team would have had to have played indoors, which was less than suitable to the organisers.
Baltimore Rough Riders were the dominant team, and even though the other three teams were evenly matched, Baltimore’s dominance was a deterrent even to fans in Baltimore, and the league folded on 8 July after 10 games of a 32 game schedule. Baltimore continued playing, forming a four-team league in the Baltimore Area, and New York Giants also appear to have continued playing through the summer, playing exhibition games versus teams along the Canadian border. Baltimore continued playing exhibition games also, ironically including two which it lost to a team not admitted earlier in the season to the ABLL. Atlantic City Americans played exhibitions in preparation for representing USA in the 1932 Summer Olympics. The Atlantic City team was made up exclusively of Native Americans and played a dozen games that Summer, winning all 12, including two by scores of 13-6 and 14-5 versus the Baltimore Orioles, a team made up primarily of ex-Baltimore Rough Riders.
Teams and Stadiums
|New York Yankees
|New York Giants
|Fenway Park (home of Boston Red Sox)
|Baltimore Rough Riders
|Oriole Park (home of Baltimore Orioles)
|Toronto Maple Leafs
|Maple Leaf Stadium
 Dave Stewart Candy (2020) “American Box Lacrosse League 1932-1932” Canadian Lacrosse Almanac 1867-2021. pg. 436. [Internet] Available from: https://oldschoollacrosse.wordpress.com/2020/12/01/canadian-lacrosse-almanac-2021-edition/ ][Actual Download link at: https://oldschoollacrosse.files.wordpress.com/2020/11/canadian-lacrosse-almanac-1867-2021.pdf [Accessed 12 November 2021]
 Crossecheck (2019) American Box Lacrosse League 1932 [Internet] Available from: https://crossecheck.com/2019/11/05/american-box-lacrosse-league-1932/?fbclid=IwAR3IN5y0TrDIHv-leFOUWcpHpnWGO3MBd1FOle4EOHPnk6x1k4E5Q8_3I-I [Accessed 25 September 2022]
Thanks to Dave Stewart-Candy (Old School Lacrosse)
ABOUT THIS DOCUMENT
Researched, compiled and written by Enda Mulcahy for the
Eirball | Irish North American and World Sports Archive
Last Updated: 25 September 2022
(c) Copyright Enda Mulcahy and Eirball 2022
You may quote this document in part provided that proper acknowledgement is given to the authors. All Rights Reserved. The Logos and Photos used in this article remain the property of the organisations and individuals which own the copyright and are used here for educational and information purposes only.