In-House Talk


Forgotten Teams of New York: Pigtown Lords

Story & Research by Will Sabel Courtney

Design & Illustration by Juan Pilar

Brooklyn; 1887-1898 When the McKeown Hog Farm closed in the fall of 1886 due to a particularly virulent form of swine flu, co-owners and brothers Tommy and Sammy McKeown were left with few options for the site. The brothers lacked the money to buy more livestock, due to Tommy’s tendency to invest the family’s profits in homemade aeronautical craft he built and launched from Brooklyn Heights. The brothers had recently made the acquaintance of Montrealer Claude-Pierre LaFructose, who moved to Brooklyn in an attempt to launch an artisanal donut shop somewhere outside of the reach of feared Canadian mob boss and donut enthusiast Timothy Horton; LaFructose had played hockey during his time as a professor of parapsychology at McGill University, and had attempted in previous years to organize a hockey league in the City of Brooklyn. Previous attempts had failed due to the lack of a suitable space to play, but the death of the McKeown brothers’ hog pen provided a perfect place for a hockey rink.

The McKeowns and LaFructose spent the last three months of 1886 preparing the rink, and on January 2nd, 1887, they opened the rink for the first game of the team they created with their friends—the Pigtown Lords.

The team was a force in the BIHA until 1898, when Tommy and Sammy perished in yet another ill-fated attempt to fly one of Tommy’s homemade aircraft from Brooklyn to the Battery. With the rink’s owners deceased, ownership of the property reverted to the Penultimate National Bank of New York. The property was eventually sold to Charlie Ebbets in 1908, and became part of the land underlying Ebbets Field. 

Jack Chinelli