Located in the Roseland community, Smith (Wendell) Park totals 4.62 acres and features a multi-purpose clubroom. Outside, the park offers a playground, two basketball courts, and a baseball diamond. Many of these spaces are available for rental including our multi-purpose room and baseball diamond.
Park-goers can participate in seasonal sports, arts & crafts, and Cubs Care Baseball. After school programs are offered throughout the school year, and during the summer, youth can participate in the Chicago Park District’s popular six-week day camp.
In addition to programs, Wendell Smith Park hosts fun special events throughout the year for the entire family, including holiday-themed events.
In 1961, the Chicago Park District purchased property to create a park in the increasingly-populated Roseland neighborhood. By 1970, the 3-acre site included a small recreation building. Twenty years later, the park district began to manage nearly an additional acre of city-owned land as part of Wendell Smith Park. In 1975, the park was officially named for Wendell Smith (1914-1972), for whom a nearby school is also named. A sports reporter for WGN-TV and The Sun-Times, Smith, an African-American, fought for equality for black sportsmen throughout his life. He encountered discrimination early, when he was dropped from a Detroit American Legion sandlot baseball team at 16. He was reinstated only through the intervention of Henry Ford, for whom his father worked as a chef. As a young man, Smith joined the sports staff of the Pittsburgh Courier, the nation's largest African-American weekly. While working at the Courier, Smith played a significant role in breaking the baseball color line by introducing Jackie Robinson to Branch Rickey, general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, by whom Robinson was recruited. In 1947, Smith came to Chicago, joining the staff of the Chicago American, and becoming the first full-time black sportswriter on a large daily paper. Smith later moved to WGN-TV, where he was the principal evening sports announcer. At the time of his death, Smith was president of the Chicago Press Club.