Missed Out

As I have grown older, I realized that I was missing out on something special. From 1991 to now there have been alot of new stadiums built in baseball, which means lots of opportunity to go see new ones, but also means some that will be considered classics one day have been missed. Some of the ones replaced were in need of it, and were very basic, cookie cutter stadiums. Others, while old and outdated, were classics already. I will not let the new wave of stadiums pass me by this time. I am dedicated to seeing them all.

While some of these classics are before my time, I sit and wonder what it would have been like to see a game at some of these classic domains. I love the look of some of the classics and am learning more about them daily.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Forbes Field, Pittsburgh PA

Forbes Field was the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1909 through 1971. They shared the stadium with the Steelers. The Pitt Panthers football team also used it from 1909 to 1924. The stadium was made of concrete and steel (one of the first of its kind) in order to increase its lifespan. The Pirates played in 4 World Series while at Forbes Field, winning 3: 1909, 1925 and 1960.

The Bucs owner hated cheap home runs and vowed he'd have none in his park, which led him to design a large playing field for Forbes Field. The original distances to the outfield fence in left, center, and right field were 360 feet, 462 feet, and 376 feet respectively.Later, the right field went from 376 feet to 300 feet, but a 28-foot high screen to limit home runs was erected. With such a large outfield space, triples and inside-the-park home runs were common. The Pirates hit a record eight triples in a single game.

On opening day, 1909, ticket prices ranged from $1.25 for box seats and $1 for reserved grand stand sections. Temporary bleachers were set up for the occasion and cost $0.50. These prices were considered high for the day.

The left and center field walls had ivy on them, and this is the only pic I could find of it. I cannot find any history of when the ivy was put in, but being a Cub/Wrigley fan, the ivy is interesting.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tiger Stadium, Detroit Michigan

I lived in Detroit for 2 full summers from 95 to 97. I worked a few miles from Tiger Stadium. I never went to one game. The Tigers were not a good team at the time, but the main reason I didnt go, I was too busy working and not enjoying life. The Tigers Played there from 1912 through 1999. It was originally called Navin Field, then Briggs Stadium, both after the owners at the time, before using Tiger Stadium as its name in 1961. They shared thier home from 1938 to 1974 with the Lions(NFL). They played in 6 World Series while there :1934, 1935, 1940, 1945, 1968 and 1984 only losing in 1934 and 1940.

I have heard alot of different opinions on Tiger Stadium. There is no doubt that it is a classic ballpark, with alot of history. The stadium had an old school feel to it, But was supposedly in pretty bad shape. There was alot of money being dumped into it in repairs every year, and it probably was smart to replace it. But, alot of people in Detroit didnt want to let it go. There were alot of groups fighting to make it a landmark to prevent it from being destroyed. Demolition was completed in 2009, after a very long process.

I found this pic on the net while doing some research on the stadium. Cool pic.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Yankee Stadium, Bronx NY

This is one now classic stadium that I can actually say I visited. Several times. It is interesting seeing old pics of the exterior before the 70's remodel. The new stadium looks like the old one did before the remodel.The Yankees Played here from 1923 through 2008, minus 1974-75 when they played at Shea due to the remodel. They played in 39 World Series at the old Yankee Stadium, winning 26 of them.

This park is loaded with history. To think of the all time greats that played there is pretty amazing. Walking through the concourses was like moving through a cave, but the park was open and beautiful. All three perfect games thrown by Yankee pitchers have occurred at the Stadium. Don Larsen threw a perfect game on October 8, 1956, in the fifth game of the World Series, while David Wells and David Cone threw theirs on May 17, 1998, and July 18, 1999, respectively.
Many historic home runs have been hit at Yankee Stadium. Babe Ruth hit the ballpark's first home run on its Opening Day in 1923. Ruth also set the then-league record for most home runs in a single season by hitting his 60th home run in 1927. Roger Maris would later break this record in 1961 at Yankee Stadium on the final day of the season by hitting his 61st home run. In 1967, Mickey Mantle slugged his 500th career home run, Reggie Jackson hit three home runs on three consecutive pitches in the 1977 WS Game 6. In 1983, Goerge Brett's home run, better known as the Pine Tar Incident, the Derek Jeter fly ball that was interfered with by fan Jeffrey Maier, Aaron Boone's extra-inning "walk-off" against the Sox.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Polo Grounds IV, New York, NY

Polo Grounds was one of baseballs hallowed ballparks. Throughout the history of baseball in New York City there have been four ballparks known as the Polo Grounds dating back to the 1800s. This was Polo Grounds IV. It was named that because the original parks were at an actual old polo park, and they took the name with when they moved away and built this park. The NY Giants played there from 1911 to 1957 when they left for the west coast. The Yankees played there from 1913 to 1922, when they were evicted by the owner of the Giants, because they were outdrawing his own team. They went on to build thier own park, this place called Yankee Stadium. The Mets played there in 1962 & 63 while Shea was being built. It was demolished in 1964.

The Polo Grounds were enclosed except in centerfield. The grandstands were extended to the bleachers that were on both sides of the clubhouse in centerfield. The left field upper deck overhung the playing field by 23 feet. Polo Grounds looked like a horseshoe. Round behind home plate, the sides did not run parallel to the foul lines, but rather to a line drawn from home to second, extending straight into the power alleys before curving toward the middle in deep left and right centerfields. The center field wall ran straight across, except for a large cutout square in dead center that was the entrance to the clubhouses. The bullpens were in the outfield in play. The unique shape and dimensions are what made this park interesting. Could you imagine a park today trying something like this?

No player ever hit a fly ball that reached the 483-foot distant center-field wall.
The Giants' first night game at the stadium was played on May 24, 1940. The catch that Willie Mays made in the 1954 World Series against Vic Wertz of the Cleveland Indians would have been a home run in many other ballparks of the time. The outfield sloped downward from the infield, and people in the dugouts often could only see the top half of the outfielders.
One of the greatest moments in the stadium, and maybe MLB history, was Bobby Thomson's homerun off Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca to win the National League pennant in 1951. Better known as "The shot heard around the world".

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cleveland Stadium, Cleveland OH

Home of the Cleveland Indians from 1932 to 1933, when they then went back to thier old park (League Park), due to several issues, then used it again from 1936 to 1993 (shared with League Park until 1946). They moved on to Progressive Field (Jacobs Field) in 1994. The stadium was used 1 more season by the Browns, who were there from 1946 until 1994. The stadium was demolished in 1996 to build the new park for the new Browns.

The Indians issues in the early years ranged from the size of the outfield, which the fans and players complained about, which basically eliminated the HR ball. After moving back in, the owner had a portable center field fence installed, which he could move in or out depending on how the distance favored the Indians against their opponents in a given series. The fence moved as much as 15 feet between series opponents. Following the 1947 season, the American League countered with a rule change that fixed the distance of an outfield wall for the duration of a season.
Another issue at the time was the great depression, which as a result the attendance went way down.
The Indians went to 2 World Series while there, 1948 & 1954. Winning it all in 1948.

This park was the home to the first AL color barrier player, Larry Doby, who hit .301 in his first season. He was brought in 11 days after Jackie Robinson was to the Dodgers.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Comiskey Park I, Chicago Il

Comiskey Park was the home of the Chicago White Sox from 1910 to 1990. It was the site of four World Series 1917,1918,1919, and 1959. (1918 was played by the Chicago Cubs because of a lack of seating at Wrigley Field). The White Sox won in 1917 but lost in 1919 and 1959. 1919 being the infamous "blacksox scandal". The Cubs lost the series they played there to the RedSox, which was the RedSox last WS win until they broke through in 2004.

The most famous (or infamous) promotional event ever held at Old Comiskey was "Disco Demolition Night", on July 12, 1979. Between games of a make-up doubleheader between the White Sox and the Detroit Tigers, fans had brought in old disco albums in exchange for a ticket with a discounted price of 98¢. More than 50,000 fans were in attendance, along with another 20,000 who crashed the gates even though the game was sold out. After the demolition, several thousand fans, many of them intoxicated, stormed the field, stealing equipment and destroying the infield. The nightcap of the doubleheader was canceled and forfeited to the Detroit Tigers.

The new park was opened with the same name, only to be renamed U.S. Cellular Field (the cell), in 2003. It was the oldest stadium in MLB when it closed, which now belongs to Fenway Park. It was demolished a little at a time through the summer of 1991.

Memorial Stadium, Baltimore MD

This stadium was used by the Orioles from 1954 to 1991, when Camden Yards replaced it. It was also, for a short time, called Babe Ruth Stadium in reference to the then-recently departed Baltimore native. It was also used by the Baltimore Colts until they left for Indy in 1983.

The Orioles went to 6 World Series (1966, 1969-1971, 1979 and 1983), winning 3 of them (1966, 1970 and 1983), there were 4 Most Valuable Player awards (3B Brooks Robinson 1964, OF Frank Robinson 1966, 1B Boog Powell 1970 and SS Cal Ripken Jr. 1983) won by players while it the stadium.

While learning about this stadiums history, I learned some more about the Orioles. They were originally one of the AL's eight charter franchises in 1901. thier first year was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as the Milwaukee Brewers for one season before moving to St. Louis to become the St. Louis Browns. They then moved to Baltimore in 1954 and adopted the Orioles name in honor of the official state bird of Maryland.

Another interisting point, the Orioles name had been used by previous major league baseball clubs in Baltimore, including the AL Baltimore Orioles franchise from 1901-1902 that became The New York Yankees. The NL Baltimore Orioles, who were contracted in 1899,when Hall-of-Fame manager took the black and orange team colors to the New York Giants baseball team when he went there.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Crosley Field, Cincinnati OH

This was home to the Cincinnati Reds, for a time known as the Cincinnati Redlegs (1953-58) , from 1912 until 1970. The Bengals only played there for a few seasons in the late 30's & early 40's. Crosley Field was originally named Redland Field. In 1934, Powel Crosley purchased the team and the stadium was renamed after him. Crosley Field was the scene of the first night baseball game as the Reds and Phillies played under the lights on May 24, 1935. They played in 5 World Series while there in 1919, 1939, 1940, 1961, and 1970. They won it all in 1919 vs. the "Blacksox" and in 1940 in the middle of 5 WS championships by the Yankees.
The Reds were originally the Red Stockings, but had changed to just Reds by the time they started playing at this park.

Probably the most famous (or notorious) feature of Crosley Field was the fifteen-degree left field incline, called "the terrace". Terraces were not unusual in old ballparks. Most of them were constructed as a way to make up the difference between field level and street level on a sloping block. And most of them were leveled out ("Duffy's Cliff" at Fenway Park is one example) or covered by bleachers (as with Ebbets Field and Wrigley Field, for example).
I love this pic here, not only because it shows the slope, but it is a great shot of a classic scoreboard, and check out the old Mountain Dew ad.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

County Stadium, Milwaukee WI

This stadium has an interesting history. It was built for the minor league team, the Milwaukee Brewers, who were the minor league affiliate of the Boston Braves in 1953. The old minor league park was so worn down that they had to build a new one. It was so nice that Major league teams were now interested in going there. The St. Louis Browns (who were the MLB Milwaukee Brewers for one year in 1901, and went on later to become the Baltimore Orioles) were now interested in going there, but the Braves blocked the move since the stadium was built for their minor league club, and moved there the next year since they couldnt compete with the Red Sox in Boston. They then became the Milwaukee Braves and played there from 1953 to 1965. They had to add on seats in the first few years there since it was not built for high attendance. In 1968 & 1969 the Chicago White Sox played a handful of games there as a local businessman, Bud Selig, wanted to see if another team would draw interest. He then bought the struggling Seattle Pilots and moved them here renaming them the Brewers. They played there until 2000 when Miller Park was opened.

There was a chalet and giant beer mug where mascot Bernie Brewer would "dunk" himself whenever a Brewers player hit a home run. The chalet is now stored at Lakefront Brewery, a Milwaukee microbrewery, and can be seen on brewery tours. County Stadium also gave rise to the Sausage Race, during which several sausages participate in a race to home plate between the sixth and seventh innings. Whoever finished first was the "wiener" and whoever finished last was the "wurst".

From 1953 to 1994 the Packers played 2 to 3 games a year at County Stadium. The movie "Major League" was filmed there also. There were 3 World Series played there. 1957 and 1958 with the Braves winning in 57 and losing in 58. Then the Brewers lost in 7 games to the St. Louis Cards in the 1982 World Series.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cookie Cutters

I have used this term in conversation, and some have looked at me like I was crazy. Fact is, it's been used for a long time, and it means: Stadiums that are basically shaped round and are usually multi sport stadiums. They look alot alike and thats why they are called cookie cutters. These are being lumped together because for the most part, they replaced some of the most classic stadiums of all time, and these "cookie cutters" while nice parks, IMO were not "classic" ballparks.
While these were all multi use stadiums, my perspective is from baseball. Here are some examples.

Veterans Stadium
Also known as "The Vet", this was shared with the Eagles. The Phillies played there from 1971 through 2003. It was built to replace Connie Mack Stadium. The Phillies played in 2 World Series while in the stadium, while winning 1 of them. There were 2 no-hitters thrown in the stadium.

Three Rivers Stadium
This stadium was shared with the Steelers. The Pirates played here from 1970 through 2000. It was built to replace Forbes Field. The first night game in World Series history was played here in 1971. In a non baseball bit of history, the next year, one of the all time great NFL plays happened there, The Immaculate Reception. The Pirates went to 2 World Series while playing there: 1971 and 1979, winning both.

Riverfront Stadium
Later called Cinergy Field, this stadium was shared with the Bengals. The Reds played here from 1970 through 2002. It was built to replace Crosley Field. The Reds won 3 World Series while there. It was the home of the Big Red Machine in the 70's.

Busch Stadium II
This stadium was shared with the Cardinals(NFL) until 87 and with the Rams for 1 year in 1995. The Cardinals(MLB) played here from 1966 through 2005. It was built to replace Busch Stadium I(Sportsman Park). It hosted World Series games in six different seasons: 1967, 1968, 1982, 1985, 1987, and 2004. Winning 1 in 1982.

Atlanta Fulton County Stadium
This stadium was shared with the Falcons until 1991. The Braves played here from 1966 through 1996. It was built to accomodate the move of the Braves from Milwaukee. On April 8, 1974, Hank Aaron became baseball's all-time career home run leader by hitting his 715th home run. The Braves went to 4 World Series while there: 1991, 1992,1995 and 1996. Winning 1 in 1995.

Shea Stadium
This stadium, which isn't exactly a cookie cutter, but is round and was multi use, was shared with the Jets until 1984. The Mets played there from 1964 through 2008. I had visited Shea when I lived in NY. In 1975, Shea was the center of the New York's sports universe. The Mets, Yankees, Jets and Giants all called Shea home that season, marking the first and only time in professional sports history that two baseball teams and two football teams shared the same facility in the same year. As Yankee Stadium was being renovated and Giants Stadium was nearing completion. The Mets went to 4 World Series while there: 1969, 1973, 1986, and 2000. Winning 2 in 1969 and 1986.

There are more out there, but these are the main ones used by MLB teams for those years, that are now gone. Others still being used are RFK (nationals used for a few years while their stadium was being built, and was used by the Senators in 60's), Qualcomm (the Murph, Padres used for years) and the Oakland Coliseum (A's) that could fall into this category as well.