Trenton has a long and storied sporting tradition, both amateur and professional. The city was home to the country's first professional basketball team, the Trentons, as the local team was known, began charging admission to their games in 1896, so that each player could receive $15 for each engagement. In 1898-99, the Trenton Nationals won the inaugural championship of the first professional basketball association, the National Basketball League. The earliest professional basketball games were rough and tumble events played entirely inside a large metal cage erected on the floor of the Trenton Masonic Temple Gymnasium on the corner of North Warren and West State Streets.
Baseball was another sport taken up early in the Trenton area and the city played an important role in the development of the Negro Leagues. The first account of a local baseball team in action involved a game held on common land alongside the Delaware and Raritan Canal on July 4, 1867 between the Trenton Atlantics and the Athletics of Philadelphia, which the home team lost resoundingly. One of the most prominent early baseball teams in Trenton was the Cuban Giants, composed predominantly of African-American players, who were moved to the city from Long Island in 1886 by Walter Cook, a wealthy local resident. The Cuban Giants achieved national recognition competing with both professional and college teams, including Princeton and Yale.
Other Trenton baseball teams included the Trenton Browns, founded by William E. Simpson in 1886, the Polka Dot Baseball Club formed in 1881, the Trenton Senators (1936-41), the Trenton Packers (1942-44), the Trenton Spartans (1945) and the Trenton Giants (1946-50). Willie Mays was an outfielder for the Trenton Giants before he became a renowned major leaguer. In 1994, after many yr=ears without a professional baseball team, a minor league baseball stadium was constructed at Waterfront Park as the home of the Trenton Thunder. In 1999, a minor league ice hockey team, the Trenton Titans, was also established in the city, making its home at a newly built arena on South Broad Street. With these two teams, Trenton's professional sports heritage continues into the 21st century.
Links to learn more - Trenton Free Public Library, Trenton