Trenton in Mercer County, New Jersey — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
First Professional Basketball Game
On this site in 1896, was played the first professional basketball game. Fred Cooper, captain of the Trentons, had arranged for the rental of Masonic Temple Hall, after rent was paid, he distributed the remaining money among the players with each receiving $15.00 and Cooper, as captain, an extra dollar.
The Trentons were also the first champions of the first professional basketball league, the National Basketball League, winning the championship in the first season, 1898–1899, and repeating their victory the following season.
In recognition of Fred Cooper, the National Basketball Association presented a plaque to him, the wording of which appears below.
First Professional Basketball Player
Presented by National Basketball Association of America
February 28th, 1955
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Notable Events • Sports.
Location. 40° 13.224′ N, 74° 45.959′ W. Marker is Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 20 West State Street, Trenton NJ 08608, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Abraham Hunt House (here, next to this marker); The Signing of the Ratification of the Constitution (a few steps from this marker); First Synagogue (within shouting distance of this marker); Many Meetings During the Revolutionary War (within shouting distance of this marker); Government House (within shouting distance of this marker); Warren Street Plaza (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Site of the Golden Swan (about 400 feet away); Old City Hall (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Trenton.
Also see . . . Basketball's First Dynasty. An article by Jon Blackwell / The Trentonian. ...The downtown Masonic Temple hosted the historic event by converting its third-floor banquet hall into a home court. By this time, the peach baskets used by Naismith's first basketballers had given way to portable hoops with cloth netting. But the balls themselves were lumpy, leathery, pumpkin-sized spheres. And the nets had no hole at the bottom — (Submitted on November 27, 2007, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.)
1. Trenton’s Second Masonic Temple
The architect for the second Masonic Temple was Trenton’s own William A. Poland. The cornerstone for the new Masonic Temple was laid with much fanfare on July 15, 1884, in a ceremony that was attended by hundreds, if not thousands, of citizens from Trenton and the surrounding towns. The magnificent new building at the corner of State and Warren Streets was completed in 1885.
It was in this Masonic Temple that the first National Basketball Association game was held on November 7, 1896. At that game the local team, known simply as the Trentons, defeated the team from the Brooklyn YMCA by a score of 16 to 1. The game was held in the third floor social hall which had been converted to a basketball court for the occasion. For the first time an admission fee was charged (25 cents for a seat on the newly-built bleachers, 15 cents for standing room), and the players were paid for their efforts.
In 1916 the Masons learned that the Trenton Banking Company had been steadily buying shares to the building and that it had gained a controlling interest in the State Street property. Following their acquisition of the building, the Trenton Banking Company demolished the Hall in order to construct a new bank building.
Compiled from an article published on the Trenton Historic Masonic Temple website, http://www.mercer50.com/.
— Submitted November 27, 2007, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on November 18, 2007, by Gary Nigh of Trenton, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 5,050 times since then and 126 times this year. It was the Marker of the Week November 25, 2007. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on November 18, 2007, by Gary Nigh of Trenton, New Jersey. • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page.