Boston’s Fenway Park and Chicago’s Wrigley Field, Major League Baseball’s oldest baseball stadiums, are charming testimonies to the turn of the 20th century. Some of the peers from these stadiums had odd features, from odd dimensions to impossibly tall walls of the pitch. Here are 10 of the most unusual and original stadiums in MLB history.
1. Baker Bowl in Philadelphia | 1904-1938
SINGULARITY: Imposing straight field wall.
The original wooden Baker Bowl, destroyed in a fire in 1895, has been rebuilt with steel and brick. It was home to the Philadelphia Phillies and was widely regarded as the first “modern” baseball stadium.
Because the right corner of the court was only 279 feet from home plate, a 40 foot high wall was erected to prevent routine popups from turning into home runs. In 1937, the right field wall was increased to 60 feet, far higher than the famous 37 foot “green monster” in left field of Boston’s Fenway Park, one of the strangest features of a stadium. of Major League Baseball.
2. Forbes Field in Pittsburgh | 1909-1970
SINGULARITY: “Greenberg Gardens” and the center-left field, which was 457 feet from home plate, one of the longest distances in MLB history.
Three large lighthouses were at play in Forbes, named after the French and Indian war general John Forbes. Left field was really strange. After World War II, with the arrival of slugger Hank Greenberg, the Pirates moved the left field fence 30 feet. The reliever pens, previously located in foul territory, have been moved to the area behind the left field fence. Sports reporters dubbed the area “Greenberg Gardens” after the powerful hitter who had a penchant for left field homers.
After hitting 25 home runs in 1947, his only season in Pittsburgh, Greenberg retired. His “Gardens” were renamed “Kiner’s Korner” in honor of young outfielder Ralph Kiner, who hit 40 home runs in 1948.
In Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski hit the 406-foot backboard in left center field, giving Pittsburgh the World Series title against the New York Yankees.
3. Polo fields in New York | 1911-1963
SINGULARITY: Deep in the center field (403 to 505 feet) but shallow and suitable for home runs on the lines (276 feet left and only 258 feet right).
The original site of this hallowed New York baseball stadium was in a corner of Central Park. People were playing polo nearby, hence the name Polo Grounds. The name stuck even when a new Polo Grounds was built further into town at Coogan’s Hollow.
The capacity was only 16,000 when the new stadium opened, but by the 1950s it had nearly 55,000 fans. The New York Giants played there until they moved to San Francisco in 1958. The Yankees moved to the Polo Grounds in 1913.
This arrangement worked well until 1920, when the Yankees bought Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox. Short right fielder played perfectly for lefty hitter Ruth, and her popularity became an irritant for the Giants. In 1920, the Yankees drew 1,289,422 to the Polo Grounds, more than 300,000 more fans than the Giants. Pushed to relocate elsewhere by their city rivals, the Yankees moved to the Yankee Statium in 1923.
The New York Mets played the Polo Grounds from 1962 to 1963.
4. Tiger Stadium in Detroit | 1912-1999
SINGULARITY: A seating area on the right pitch jutted 10 feet above the pitch and became the landing zone for many home runs.
Tiger Stadium was a classic example of how the local surroundings created challenges that were often solved with creative, yet original, solutions by stadium designers. The correct overhang of the field was necessary because Turnbull Avenue made it impossible to expand beyond the baseball stadium.
Tiger Stadium had other quirks. A large flag pole in the middle of the field, a few feet from the outfield wall, was fair territory and a constant challenge for the outfielder. The pillars supporting the upper deck obstructed the view of fans from many outdoor seats.
5. Braves Field in Boston | 1915-1953
SINGULARITY: The center wall of the lot, 550 feet straight from the marble, was lined with trees to hide the smoke from a railroad track beyond the fence.
The deep central pitch has made this stadium a hotbed for home runs inside the park. But the trees, which did not obscure the smoke, were an all-time curiosity. Babe Ruth, who started his big-league career with the Red Sox at nearby Fenway Park, played his last season with the Boston Braves in 1935.
READ MORE: 10 Things You May Not Know About Babe Ruth
6. Cleveland Municipal Stadium | 1932-1993
SINGULARITY: The stadium, known as “The Mistake by the Lake”, was too big for baseball, but the Indians needed it for 60 years.
Until the baseball’s dimensions were changed in the football-friendly stadium, the center field was 470 feet from home plate and the left and right corners of the field were 463 feet, distances no home run hitter would ever love.
When Bill Veeck owned the Indians, he installed fences shallower than the original walls and moved according to the depth that would benefit the Indians. The MLB has banned this practice.
Due to the 78,000-seat capacity of the municipal stadium, which made regular baseball crowds tiny, Indians only played weekend and vacation games in the park near Lake Erie from 1934 to 1946. The matches of the week were played at League Park, which had its own quirks. Located in a rectangle defined by city streets, the park had a shallow left field (290 feet). To alleviate the lack of depth, the fence in left field was 40 feet high, three feet taller than the “Green Monster” at Fenway Park.
7. Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles | 1958-1961
SINGULARITY: Built to host the 1932 Summer Olympics, its 90,000-seat capacity was the largest in MLB history.
To wedge a baseball field in the Colosseum, the left field fence was only 250 feet from home plate, a distance some recreational league softball hitters could reach today. A large screen has been added to make clearance more difficult for hitters.
On October 4, 1959, the Dodgers hosted Game 3 of the World Series against the Chicago White Sox, the first playoff game in MLB history played in California. The team moved to Dodgers Stadium in 1962.
8. Candlestick Park in San Francisco | 1960-1999
SINGULARITY: Excessive wind, fog, and unusually cold weather in the park near San Francisco Bay.
In the 1961 MLB All-Star Game, San Francisco Giants pitcher Stu Miller was blown away by a gust of wind. It was a terrible flaw of the otherwise pretty orange baseball stadium between downtown San Francisco and the city airport. There was talk of building a dome over the park in the mid-1980s, but that idea never took hold.
In 1989, the ‘Stick was rocked by the 6.9 magnitude earthquake in Loma Prieta shortly before the Giants-Oakland A’s World Series third game, which was postponed and resumed 10 days later.
9. Colt Stadium in Houston | 1962-1964
SINGULARITY: The heat was as unbearable as the mosquitoes.
Colt Stadium was the reason the City of Houston built the Astrodome to house its Colt 45’s extension, soon to be renamed the Astros. The stadium has been nicknamed “Mosquito Heaven” because of the swarming leeches that feasted on anyone there. But the park was tough enough before the mosquitoes even got there.
So-Houston Colt Rusty Staub summed it up: “I don’t care what baseball stadium they talk about being the hottest place on the planet, Colt Stadium was.” The stadium was eventually dismantled and moved to Torreon, Mexico. Presumably it wasn’t cooler there.
10. Astrodome in Houston | 1965-1999
SINGULARITY: Strange ground rules – a ball hitting the roof or the speaker above the playing field was in play.
The Astrodome, the first indoor stadium in MLB history, produced a domino effect of unforeseen problems. The stadium’s nearly 5,000 translucent panels let in natural light, but it also meant the sun was entering from certain angles and blinded the players, especially the vaulters.
The solution, painting many panels, solved one problem but created another. The stadium’s natural grass, which was supposed to thrive in natural light, died after the panels were painted. The solution to this – artificial turf called AstroTurf – also created problems for players, most of whom hated the new surface as playing on it often caused injuries.
Some parts of the dome were not easy to repair. In a 1974 game, Philadelphia Phillies slugger Mike Schmidt’s massive flying ball struck a speaker suspended from the ceiling, 117 feet high and 300 feet from home plate. At any other stadium, Schmidt’s explosion would likely have been a home run. But his shot fell in the outfield and he received a single.
In 1965, New York Mets broadcaster Lindsey Nelson announced a game from a gondola suspended 208 feet above second base. No one hit Nelson with a flying ball.
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