The Cradle: America's First Soccer Neighborhoods of Kearny, Harrison and Newark
McCabe’s lecture will document how certain Jersey neighborhoods have cradled the game stateside, from the very first soccer neighborhood all the way to the World Cup.
What child or teen has not run up and down the 100-yard soccer field for a traveling team, intramural team or even in Phys-Ed class. Though it may seem that present-day soccer moms are unique in busing their ten year-olds to games all over Morris County, soccer actually dates back farther than the current craze among Millennials and the MLS. No one is quite sure where soccer was first played in the United States, but one of the first places the global game took root was in New Jersey during the late 1800s! In fact, the towns of Harrison, Kearny, and Newark have been labeled “the cradle of American soccer,” and Kearny itself has been named “Soccer Town, U.S.A.”
The long-forgotten “Cooper’s Block,” a Kearny neighborhood along the Passaic River, helped shape American soccer at the turn of the twentieth century. It was a place where neighborhood boys played in sandlots and alleyways and became some of the early greats of the American game. Many played in the local amateur and professional leagues and some even represented the United States in the Olympic Games and the World Cup. Players from Archie Stark and Shamus O’Brien to Tab Ramos and Tony Meola, have solidified the reputation of the Garden State in soccer circles. When the United States Men’s National Team qualified for the 1990 World Cup after a 40-year hiatus, three men from Kearny represented the Stars and Stripes. Thus, the strong tradition of New Jersey and soccer has continued!
Tom McCabe is a Visiting Professor in the History Department at Rutgers University-Newark. McCabe, an award-winning teacher and author, teaches courses on American history, cities and suburbs, and the history of soccer. He received his doctorate from Rutgers University. Miracle on High Street, his history of St Benedict's Preparatory School, an over 140 year old catholic prep school in Newark, was published by Fordham University Press in 2010. Currently he is working on a book project about the history of soccer in the Garden State, and especially about the soccer-loving towns of Kearny, Harrison and Newark.
Refreshments will be served.