BaseSmoke Justis is an urban sports bar named after an urban legend… Walter “Smoke” Justis. He was the opening day pitcher for the Covington Blue Sox in 1913. As fate would have it, the Blue Sox, a member of professional baseball’s Federal League would only last a few months before moving to Kansas City.
Smoke Justis and The Covington Blue Sox
The Blue Sox started their season on a long road trip, with a game against Cleveland on May 3, 1913 at Cleveland’s Luna Park. The game ended in a 6-6 tie, called after ten innings due to darkness. At the first game in Covington, Walter “Smoke” Justis of nearby Dearborn County, Indiana, pitched a 4-0 shutout against St. Louis. Smoke was eight years beyond his only big-league season with the Detroit Tigers.
After a well attended Home Opener, the Covington area showed quickly that it did not have the population to support the team by drawing an average of only 650 for each of the remaining initial nine-game home stand. So by June, the team was in 4th place in their league with a 21–31 record and drawing just a few hundred fans so the league voted to move the team to Kansas City, where it was renamed the Packers.
Bernard Wisehall, a prominent local architect, designed Federal Park (also called Riverbreeze Park) with a capacity of 6,000. The playing field was bounded by East 2nd Street, East 3rd Street, Madison Avenue and Scott Boulevard was possibly the smallest ballpark ever built for any pro baseball team. Its dimensions were just 194 feet down the right-field line, 267 feet to dead center, and 218 feet down the left-field line. Modern rules dictate no pro ballpark may have a fence closer than 325 feet! After the Blue Sox moved to Kansas City, Federal Park was used for other events over the next few years, including boxing and auto polo, but was torn down in 1919 to make room for a new tobacco warehouse. The warehouse was then later replaced by the present-day Kenton County Circuit Courthouse.
Smoke Justis is Covington’s Sports Bar and features smoked meats, craft beer, whiskey, and a video arcade with self pouring draft beer taps. In the warmer months, Smoke Justis has outdoor dining around the perimeter of the historic “Citizen’s Telephone building”. The outside walls are filled with large windows to the outside and the inside walls are covered with flat-screen TV’s to watch your favorite sports team! Located in the Roebling Point District at the end of the Roebling Bridge in Covington, Kentucky, Smoke Justis is just a block and a bridge from Downtown Cincinnati. Sports fans fill the streets before going to the Reds or Bengals games. Stop by Smoke Justis to watch a game and enjoy the casual atmosphere while tasting some of the best smoked wings in Greater Cincinnati!
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