Max Baer Special Use Park

map to Max Baer Park

1310 Murdell Lane
12 acres
Opened 1967

Contains tot lot, barbecue pits, picnic tables, a preschool, softball areas and a dog park.

The new Jane Addams Preschool was dedicated on Feb. 27, 1999. The original house existed on the property when the land for Max Baer Park was purchased. The preschool is named for nationally known social worker and women's movement leader.

Max Baer Park is named for the world heavyweight boxing champion who came to Livermore as a child from Omaha, Neb. and who lived on a local hog farm. The site was formerly known as the "California Baseball School," a commercial venture. Baer was born in February 1909 in Omaha. His family moved around -- first to Colorado, then to California. They settled in Livermore in March 1928 where Baer's father bought a hog ranch. At an early age he acquired some used boxing gloves and a worn heavy bag that he set up in the ranch shed. Baer made his professional debut on May 16, 1929. He dropped his opponent to the mat seven times in the first two rounds before the referee stopped the fight declaring him the victor. The Livermore fans cheered as he was given the decision. Baer adored being in the spotlight and never looked back as he began his climb to the championship. The "Livermore Leveler" won 22 of his first 24 fights, nine with first round knockouts. Unfortunately, tragedy occurred in 1930 when Frankie Campbell died after being knocked out in a match against Max. Boxing, at this time, was a dangerous and savage proposition, but Baer was accused of going too far and was charged with manslaughter. He was ultimately cleared of all charges; however, he was banned from boxing in California for a year.

Campbell's death affected Baer personally, and he lost four of his next six fights partly because of his reluctance to go on the attack. This might have been all for the kid from Livermore, but former boxing great Jack Dempsey saw something in him and began to train with Baer. In 1932 he proved he was back by knocking out Ernie Schaaf in the 10th round of a closely fought bout. Dempsey remained his friend and mentor for the rest of his career.

In June 1933, in what would be the best fight of his life, Baer stepped into the ring against Max Schmeling, "The fighting pride of Nazi Germany." In front of a crowd of 60,000 at Yankee Stadium, while wearing the Star of David on his trunks, Baer pummeled Schmeling until the referee stopped the fight in the 10th round to give Baer the decision.

Baer was now in line for a shot at the title and got his chance against Primo Carnera in 1934. The "Livermore Leveler" knocked the massive Carnera down 11 times in 11 rounds at Madison Square Garden to become the Heavyweight Champion of the World. Baer kept his title for a year, enjoying his celebrity and living the high life. He lost the belt to James J. Braddock in a 15-round decision. Joe Louis knocked the former champ out in four rounds a few months later, ending his comeback attempt.

Baer continued fighting for another six years before retiring. Always the entertainer, he became involved in acting, appearing in movies and nightclub acts and refereeing boxing matches. (His son, Max Baer Jr., played Jethro Bodine in the television series "The Beverly Hillbillies.")

Although his career led Baer to many different parts of the country and the world, he never forgot where he came from, once saying, "Livermore is my home town. In Chicago, New York and all the other big fight centers, I'm known as Max Baer of Livermore, California and I'll always be known that way." Max Baer was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1995.
Primary information source: Livermore Herald, April-May, 1934.