Archive for the ‘Pennsylvania ballparks’ Category

Henninger Field And 120 Years of Baseball in Chambersburg PA

August 3rd, 2015

Henninger Field is located at the intersection of Vine Street and Riddle Alley in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

Herringer Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The ball field dates back to 1895 and originally was known as Wolf Park, part of the Wolf Lake Park development named after Chambersburg businessman Augustus Wolf.

Herringer Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Located at the Intersection of Vine and Poplar Street

Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Located at the Intersection of Vine and Poplar Street

In 1895, Clay Henninger, a Chambersburg businessman and local baseball promoter, founded the Chambersburg Maroons. The team began play at Wolf Park that same season.

Herringer Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Herringer Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Originally an amateur team, over the years the Maroons played both semi-professional and a minor league baseball. In 1896, the Maroons joined the independent Cumberland Valley League and won the the championship that season. The following year, the Maroons joined the Industrial League.

The 1914 Chambersburg Maroons With Manager Clay Henninger (wearing suit) (photograph from display at Herringer Field, Franklin County Historical Society)

The 1914 Chambersburg Maroons With Manager Clay Henninger (wearing suit) (photograph from display at Herringer Field, Franklin County Historical Society)

In 1915, the Maroons joined the Class D Blue Ridge League, where they played through the 1917 season. With baseball operations suspended during World War I, the Maroons returned to Chambersburg and the Blue Ridge League in 1920, after the end of the war. That same year the ballpark was renamed Henninger Field in honor of Clay Henninger.

Scoreboard, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Scoreboard, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

In 1929 and 1930 the team was owned by the New York Yankees and its name was changed to the Chambersburg Young Yanks. The Young Yanks were the New York Yankees first farm team.

Backstop, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Backstop, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

May 31, 1929, the World Champion New York Yankees played an exhibition game at Henninger Field. The Yankees arrived in Chambersburg earlier in the day and, after a brief rest at the Hotel Washington, traveled to Henninger Field for a 3:30 game against the Chambersburg Young Yanks.

Hotel Washington, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania (Postcard Curt Teich & Co., Published by Louis Kaufmann & Sons)

Hotel Washington, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania (Postcard Curt Teich & Co., Published by Louis Kaufmann & Sons)

Babe Ruth played first base and hit a home run in the fifth inning over the center field fence, with Lou Gehrig and one other player aboard.

Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The Yankees won the exhibition 8-1. After the game, Ruth reportedly visited a Waters Street speakeasy while Gehrig signed autographs at a local drug store.

First Base, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

First Base, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

First Base Bleachers, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

First Base Bleachers, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Reportedly the Negro American League Pittsburgh Crawfords played some exhibition games at Henninger Field as well.

Third Base Foul Line, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Third Base Foul Line, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Several Major League players have called Henninger Field home, including third baseman Mike Mowery, a 15 year veteran who played for the Cincinnati Reds, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Third Base, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Third Base, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Presumably future Hall of Famer Nellie Fox, who was born and raised just one town over from Chambersburg in St. Thomas, Pennsylvania, played baseball at Henninger Field, perhaps the year he played in the Chambersburg Twilight League.

First Base Dugout, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

First Base Dugout, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The bowling alley Fox once owned, which still bears his name, is located in Chambersburg, just four and a half miles south of Henninger Field on Molly Pitcher Highway.

Nelly Fox Bowl in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Nelly Fox Bowl in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The Chambersburg Maroons ceased playing at Henninger Field after the 2010 season. The Chambersburg High School Trojans football, baseball, and soccer teams also played their games at Henninger Field, although in the last decade the school has played elsewhere.

A Left Field Backdrop of Warehouses, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

A Left Field Backdrop of Warehouses, Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Henninger Field is a little-known, historic ballpark that represents a part of baseball’s bygone era of town baseball. The Borough of Chambersburg has owned and operated the property since the early 1930s, once professional baseball departed the borough. Chambersburg is rightly proud of its historic ballpark and should be commended for maintaining the field for the last 80-plus years.

Historical Display at Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Historical Display at Henninger Field, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

The ballpark is just two miles west of I-81 at the interchange for Stoufferstown, Pennsylvania, should you find yourself traveling that highway. Take a moment to soak in the history of this modest ballpark. And while you are at it, stand on the same spot where Babe Ruth once hit one of his famous exhibition game home runs.

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Pullman Park – From Railroad Cars to Kelly Automotive Park

May 5th, 2015

Pullman Park was located at 100 Pullman Park Place near the intersection of Pillow Street and Plum Street in Butler, Pennsylvania.

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

The ballpark (first base side) was located alongside the former Standard Steel Car Company plant which manufactured railroad rolling stock (railroad cars) beginning in 1902.  Standard Steel was acquired by Pullman Car and Manufacturing Company in 1929 and merged in 1934 to become the Pullman-Standard Car Manufacturing Company.

Building that Once Housed Pullman Standard Manufacturing Company, Butler, Pennsylvania

Cut Stone Office Building that Once Housed Pullman Standard Manufacturing Company, Butler, Pennsylvania

In 1934 Pullman-Standard provided the land and and constructed Pullman Park. The company then donated the ballpark to the City of Butler.

Ticket Window, Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Ticket Window, Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

In 1935, Pullman Park was the home of the Class-D Pennsylvania State Association (PSA) Butler Indians, an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

In 1936 the PSA Butler Yankees arrived in Butler and played their home games at Pullman Park. The Butler Yankees played through the 1942 season in Butler. During World War II, Butler did not field a team. The Butler Yankees returned to Pullman Park in 1946, playing in the Middle Atlantic League. The 1947 season was notable because it saw the professional debut of future Hall of Famer Whitey Ford who pitched for Butler that season. The Butler Yankees departed after the 1948 season.

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

From 1949 to 1951, the Butler Tigers played their home games at Pullman Park. In 1949 and 1950, the Butler Tigers were an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. In 1951 they were an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

First Base Seating, Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

First Base Grandstand Bleacher Seating, Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Negro League exhibition games also were played at Pullman Park. At least one such game was played on July 8, 1937, when the Negro National League Homestead Grays played the NNL Pittsburgh Crawfords at Pullman Park.

Homestead Grays Poster (On Display at Kelly Automotive Park), Butler, Pennsylvania

Homestead Grays Poster (On Display at Kelly Automotive Park), Butler, Pennsylvania

Professional baseball departed Pullman Park after the 1951 season, and the ballpark thereafter was used primarily for high school baseball.

Light Stanchion, Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Light Stanchion, Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

In 2005, the city closed Pullman Park. The ballpark was demolished in 2007 to make way for an entirely new baseball facility at the site. Below is a video of Pullman Park filmed in 2006, after the city had stopped utilizing Pullman Park for high school baseball, but before demolition had begun on the ballpark.

In 2007, the City of Butler began construction of new Pullman Park, designed to host both high school and college games. The ballpark includes a turf infield and natural grass outfield. In 2014, the name of the ballpark was changed to Kelly Automotive Park. The transformation of the ballpark from old Pullman Park to Kelly Automotive was remarkable. Although it is unfortunate that none of the original ballpark could be saved and preserved, by 2007 apparently there wasn’t much that could be reused, other than the field itself.

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Grandstand, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Grandstand, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

To get a sense of the transformation from Pullman Park to Kelly Automotive Park, below are before and after pictures of the ballpark taken from approximately the same angle and location. In 2006 I was unable to gain access to the park, so all the pictures of the old park are from outside looking in.

The front entrance from the third base side:

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

The exterior of the third base grandstand:

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

The front entrance from the first base side:

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Exterior of the ballpark looking south:

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler,  Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Park, Formerly Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

The first base grandstand:

First Base Grandstand, Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

First Base Grandstand, Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

First Base Grandstand, Kelly Automotive Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

First Base Grandstand, Kelly Automotive Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Interior of the first base grandstand:

Pullman Park Grandstand, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park Grandstand, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

View of right field with former American Bantam Car Company visible beyond the right field fence (in 1940, the American Bantam Car Company developed a Reconnaissance Car for the Army which was the prototype of the Jeep):

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Industry Beyond Outfield Wall, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Industrial Buildings Beyond Right Field Wall, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

View of center field:

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Looking Through Grandstand Toward Center Field, Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

View of left field:

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Pullman Park, Butler, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Kelly Automotive Park includes several displays on the concourse behind home plate that celebrate the history of Pullman Park.

Pullman Park History Display at Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park History Display at Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park History Display at Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park History Display at Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park History Display at Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park History Display at Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park History Display at Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Pullman Park History Display at Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

The ballpark is surrounded by the buildings and industry that date to the time of Pullman Park.

My Buddy's Bar, With Pullman Park Mural, Across Street From Kelly Automotive Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

My Buddy’s Bar, With Pullman Park Mural, Across Street From Kelly Automotive Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

View of Houses Fronting Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

View of Houses Fronting Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Concrete Plant, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

DuBrook Concrete Plant, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Although the original ballpark is long gone, Kelly Automotive Park is a wonderful place to watch a high school or college game.

PSAC Baseball Tournament Banner at Kelly Automotive Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

PSAC Baseball Tournament Banner at Kelly Automotive Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

During summer months, Kelly Automotive Park is the home of the Butler Blue Sox of the collegiate wooden-bat rospect League.

Prospect League Standings Board at Kelly Automotive Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

Prospect League Standings Board at Kelly Automotive Park, Butler, Pennsylvania

And if you do see a game at Kelly Automotive Park, be sure to notice the outfield advertisement for Jones Turkey Farm posted on the right field fence. It certainly gives new meaning to the term “fowl ball.”

Turkey Farm Wall Sign - The First Such Ad I Have Ever Seen in a Ballpark, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

Fowl Ball! East Stroudsburg University Right Fielder Christian Rishel Playing Under the Watchful Eye of a Jones Turkey Farm Turkey, Kelly Automotive Ballpark, Butler, Pennsylvania

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Gus Greenlee’s Field In Pittsburgh’s Hill District

March 25th, 2015

Greenlee Field was located at the intersection of Bedford Avenue and Junilla Street in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. From 1932 until 1938 it was the home of the Pittsburgh Crawfords of the Negro National League (the Crawfords joined the NNL in 1933).

Former Site of Greenlee Field, Intersection of Bedford Avenue and Julian Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Former Site of Greenlee Field, Intersection of Bedford Avenue and Junilla Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Greenlee Field is important not just because it was the home field of arguably the greatest Negro League team of all time – the 1935 Pittsburgh Crawfords – but because it was the first major league ballpark owned and operated by an African American. Gus Greenlee, the owner of the Crawfords, began construction of Greenlee Field in 1931, the same year he bought the team. Greenlee, a WWI veteran, wore many hats. In addition to owning the Crawfords, he was a boxing promoter, nightclub owner (the Crawford Grill), and a pioneer in Pittsburgh’s numbers racket (an illegal lottery).

Gus Greenlee, Owner of the Pittsburgh Crawfords (photographer unknown)

Gus Greenlee, Owner of the Pittsburgh Crawfords (photographer unknown)

Crawford Grill No. 1, which Greenlee opened in 1930, was located at the intersection of Crawford Street and Wylie Avenue at 1401 Wylie Avenue. Crawford Grill No. 1 was destroyed by fire in 1951 and subsequently demolished to make way for the Civic Arena parking lot. Crawford Street was an important part of the Hill District and provided the inspiration for the team’s name, the Pittsburgh Crawfords. At the intersection of Crawford Street and Wylie Avenue also stood the Pittsburgh Bath House and Recreation Center, which was the original sponsor of the then semi-professional Pittsburgh Crawfords.

Melon Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

Civic Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Circa 2006

The building in which Greenlee opened Crawford Grill No. 2, beginning in 1943, still stands in Pittsburgh’s Hill District at the intersection of Wylie Avenue and Elmore Street, just  a half mile southwest of the Greenlee Field site.

Crawford Grill No. 2, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Crawford Grill No. 2, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Historical Marker for Crawford Grill No. 2, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Historical Marker for Crawford Grill No. 2, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

In 1933, Greenlee founded the Negro National League and was instrumental in establishing the East-West Classic, an annual Negro League all-star game played in Chicago. During his tenure as owner of the Crawfords, which ceased after the 1938 season, Greenlee stocked his team with many future Hall of Fame players including Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Oscar Charlestown, Judy Johnson and James T. “Cool Papa” Bell. The 1935 Crawfords, which included the above Hall of Famers, except Paige, is considered by many to be the greatest Negro League team ever to play the game.

Historical Marker, Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Historical Marker, Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Greenlee Field’s home plate, and the entrance to its grandstand, was located near the intersection Bedford Avenue and Junilla Street.

Entrance to Greenlee Field on Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Associated Press Photo)

Entrance to Greenlee Field on Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Associated Press Photo)

After the 1938 season, Greenlee Field was demolished. Several images of the ballpark in its hey day can be viewed on line by searching “Greenlee Field” in the Teenie Harris Archives, Carnegie Museum of Art (Charles “Teenie” Harris was one of the founders of the semi-pro Pittsburgh Crawfords in 1926). Soon after demolition of Greenlee Field, the City of Pittsburgh began construction of the Bedford Dwellings housing project, which remains today at the ballpark’s former site.

Former Site of Greenlee FIeld, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Former Site of Greenlee FIeld, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Greenlee Field’s left field corner was located at what is now the intersection of Bedford Avenue and Barnett Way. At the time of Greenlee Field, Watt Street intersected Bedford Avenue where what is now Barnett Way.

Former Site of Left Field Corner, Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Former Site of Left Field Corner, Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Because Greenlee Field was built on a hill, the playing field was located several feet above street grade.

Former Site of Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Looking from Left Field Corner Toward Home Plate

Former Site of Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Looking from Left Field Corner Toward Home Plate

Just to the east of Watt Street (which no  longer runs through the site) was the Pittsburgh Municipal Hospital, which can be seen in some of the photos of Greenlee Field available in the Teenie Harris Archives.

Team Picture of 1937 Homestead Grays Taken at Greenlee Field With Hospital Visible Beyond Right Field Fence

Team Picture of 1937 Homestead Grays Taken at Greenlee Field With Pittsburgh Hospital Visible Beyond Right Field Fence (photo from diversity.appstate.edu and courtesy of National Baseball Hall of Fame Cooperstown)

A park known as “The Garden of Hope” now sits at the former site of the hospital.

Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Looking Toward Former Site of Center Field Corner from Left Field Corner

Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Looking Toward Former Site of Center Field Corner from Left Field Corner

Greenlee Field’s former infield site is accessible from Chauncey Drive.

Chauncey Drive, Former Site of First Base, Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Chauncey Drive and Beford Avenue, Near Former Site of First Base, Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Where Chauncey Drive makes a 45 degree turn is the approximate location of second base.

Chauncey Drive Intersection Near Former Site of Second Base, Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Intersection Where Chauncey Drive Makes a 45 Degree Turn, Bedford Dwellings, Near Former Site of Second Base, Greenlee Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Chauncey Drive, Looking Toward Downtown Pittsburgh, Near Former Site of Second Base, Greenlee Field

Chauncey Drive, Looking West Toward Downtown Pittsburgh, Near Former Site of Second Base, Greenlee Field

Some buildings located along Bedford Avenue date back to Greenlee Field. Three row houses at the intersection of Junilla Street and Bedford Avenue are located across the street from what would have been the home plate grandstand.

Row Houses at 2500-04 Bedford Avenue, Dating Back to Time of Greenlee Field

Row Houses at 2500-04 Bedford Avenue, Dating Back to Time of Greenlee Field

Three townhouses located 2520-24 Bedford Avenue are located across the street from what was once left field.

2420-22 Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

2420-22 Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The townhouse on the corner of Bedford Avenue and Watt Street (Watt Street was relocated after demolition of Greenlee Field) is now a market. With a little imagination, it is not hard to picture what Greenlee Field might have looked like standing at the entrance to that market.

2420 Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Samba Market, 2420 Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Just three blocks west of the former site of Greenlee Field, at the northwest corner of Somers Street and Bedford Avenue, was another Negro League ballpark, Ammons Field. The semi-pro Pittsburgh Crawfords played at this field, beginning in about 1926, as did the professional level Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays beginning in 1930. Ammons Field also is notable as the field where Josh Gibson first played baseball for the semi-pro Crawfords in 1928. For more information about Ammons Field and the history of the Crawfords, see James Bankes’ fine book The Pittsburgh Crawfords.

Historical Marker for Ammons Field

Historical Marker for Ammons Field

The City of Pittsburgh has paid tribute to Ammons Field and Josh Gibson with a historical marker. Located behind the Ammons Recreation Center at Bedford Avenue and Kirkpatrick Street is a youth baseball field dedicated to Josh Gibson.

Josh Gibson Field, Ammons Recreation Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Josh Gibson Field, Ammons Recreation Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

As noted in the informative website Agatetype.typepad.com, the actual location of the original Ammons Field utilized by the Crawfords was one block east of Josh Gibson Field, the current park. The former location of the modest grandstand and home plate is visible on the bluff beyond Josh Gibson Field’s left field fence.

Josh Gibson Field Looking Toward Former Site of Ammons Field Home Plate, Somers Drive and Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Josh Gibson Field Looking Toward Former Site of Ammons Field Grandstand and Home Plate at Somers Drive and Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Former Site of Ammons Field Home Plate, Somers Drive and Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Former Site of Ammons Field Grandstand and Home Plate, Somers Drive and Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh’s Hill District, and the former site of Greenlee Field, is located just two miles west of the former site of Forbes Field, and one and a half miles southwest of the former sites of Three Rivers Stadium and Exposition Park, as well as the Pirates current ballpark, PNC Park. If you are a fan of  the game and the history of the game, and you find yourself in Pittsburgh on a baseball trip, a stop at the former site of Greenlee Field and Ammons Field, is a must.

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West Field – One of the Last Surviving Negro League Ballparks

March 20th, 2015

West Field is located at the northwest intersection of West Street and Orchard Street, directly behind the Munhall Borough Police Station (1900 West Street), in Munhall, PA. The Borough of Munhall is located seven miles southeast of Pittsburgh, just south of Homestead, Pennsylvania.

West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

West Field was constructed in 1937 with funds from the Public Works Administration. Although it has functioned mainly as a town ball field for the Steel City School District’s baseball, softball, and football teams, West Field is notable because of its connection to Negro League baseball.

West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Beginning in the late 1930s up until at least 1948, West Field was used by the Homestead Grays for exhibition games, practices, spring training, and Negro National League contests when the Gray’s home ballpark Forbes Field was unavailable. During the early 1900s, the Grays played at another ball field in Munhall (known as the 19th Avenue Playground) located near the intersection of McClure Street and 19th Avenue. Some early 1900s newspaper accounts also refer to the Grays playing at another field in Munhall, also known as West Field, which was located in the Homestead Park section of Munhall near what is now Leigh Street (thanks Bob for the information).

West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

What is extraordinary about West Field is that, although it is deteriorating, the ballpark grandstand, seating bowl, and playing field remain relatively the same as they did when such stars as Buck Leonard and Josh Gibson played there.

View of Grandstand from Pitching Rubber, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

View of Grandstand from Pitching Rubber, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Thus, West Field is one of the last few surviving Negro League ballparks.

West Field Grandstand Steps, Munhall, Pennsylvania

West Field Grandstand Steps, Munhall, Pennsylvania

According to Trib Total Media, beginning in April 2015, the ballpark is scheduled to undergo a five million dollar renovation, courtesy of a generous grant from the Campbell Educational and Community Foundation. Upgrades include new seating and a turf field that will accommodate football, baseball, and softball.

Infield and Third Base Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Infield and First Base Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

It is uncertain just how much of West Field’s historic grandstand and seating bowl will be preserved as part of the renovation, although Trib Reporter Mike Divittorio has stated that the Borough will renovate the lockers in the grandstand and add new seating on top of the existing benches. Given West Field’s important history, and its status as one of the last surviving Negro League ballparks, care should be taken to preserve the structure for future generations to appreciate.

First Base Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

First Base Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

According to a 2006 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette interview of Elijah “Lucky” Miller, a former Homestead Grays bat boy, the Grays used the dugout located along the third base side of the grandstand.

Third Base Dugout, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Third Base Dugout, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Next to the third base dugout are the entrances to the players locker rooms.

Entrance to Locker Rooms, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Entrance to Locker Rooms, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Entrance to Home Player Locker Room, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Entrance to Home Player Locker Room, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

The locker rooms were located at the end of a tunnel that ran underneath the grandstand.

Tunnel Under Grandstand Leading to Player Locker Room, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Tunnel Under Grandstand Leading to Player Locker Room, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Like the Gray’s home dugout, the visiting team dugout – once used by such teams as the New York Black Yankees – remains at the site, frozen in time.

First Base Dugout, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

First Base Dugout, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

First Base Dugout, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

First Base Dugout, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

The view from the dugout is largely unchanged from the days when the ballpark hosted Negro League baseball.

View of Field From First Base  Dugout, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

View of Field From First Base Dugout, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Out beyond left and center field is the Munhall Municipal Building, which was constructed between 1941 and 1945 (completion was delayed because necessary building materials were in short supply during World War II). The building currently houses the Munhall Borough Police Department.

The Munhall Municipal Building Located Beyond Center Field, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

The Munhall Municipal Building Located Beyond Center Field, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

The view from right field looking toward the infield and the grandstand is like looking back in time.

View of Grandstand from Right Field, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

View of Grandstand from Right Field, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

West Field Circa 1955 (photo from cover of 3rd Annual Prep League World Series program, August 1955)

West Field Circa 1955 (photo from cover of 3rd Annual Prep League World Series program, August 1955)

Having hosted countless sporting events for almost 80 years, the stadium is in desperate need of repair. The concrete that supports the first base grandstand seating is crumbling and presumably much of it would need to be removed and replaced. Renovation plans call for installing seating for 800 in the ballpark, a significant decrease for a stadium which currently holds 3,000.

Third Base Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

First Base Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

First Base Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

First Base Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

At the top of the first base grandstand is a walk way that leads around to the top of the third base grandstand. If you are planning to visit the ballpark prior to its renovation, this walkway provides an excellent panoramic view of West Field.

Walkway Along Back of First Base Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Walkway Along Back of First Base Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Walkway Behind Third Base Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvaina

Walkway Along Back of Third Base Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

West Field is located on property also used by the Borough of Munhall for storage and repair of its service vehicles. The grandstand, and the entrance to it behind home plate, is accessible only by walking through a storage yard.

Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Grandstand, West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Hopefully the grandstand will be saved and restored. Although it currently is covered with graffiti and the grounds around it are littered with debris, the 1930s era structure itself appears to be in good shape and worthy of being preserved.

Entrance to West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

Entrance to West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

In 1987, the Borough of Munhall rededicated West Field as William W. Knight Memorial Park, in honor of the former major of Munhall.

Monument Honoring William W. Knight, Former Mayor of Munhall Borough

Monument Honoring William W. Knight, Former Mayor of Munhall Borough

The Borough of Munhall has a unique opportunity to celebrate and preserve an important part of our country’s history. Updates will be posted here once more is known about the proposed renovations, and as they progress.

West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

West Field, Munhall, Pennsylvania

In the meantime, here is a video walk around of the ballpark in it’s current condition.

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Erie’s Ainsworth Field – Baseball Archaeology In A Minor League Time Capsule

March 6th, 2015

Ainsworth Field is located at the intersection of Washington Place and West 24th Street in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

The ballpark was constructed in 1923 and given the direct and to the point name, “Athletic Field.”

Exterior, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Exterior, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

In 1947 the ballpark was rechristened Ainsworth Athletic Field. According to the dedication plaque, the ballpark was named in honor of J.C. Ainsworth, “In appreciation of his outstanding accomplishments as civic leader, physical director friend and counselor of the youth of this community.”

Dedicatoin Plaque 1947, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Dedicatoin Plaque 1947, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

After a renovation in 1980, the School District of Erie, Pennsylvania, rededicated the ballpark as, simply, Ainsworth Field.

Memorial Plaque, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Rededication Plaque 1980, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Minor league baseball was played at Ainsworth Field beginning in 1928, with arrival of the Central League Erie Sailors, who, as sailors are want to do, left after a brief stay, playing only one season at the ballpark.

Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

The Sailors reappeared on Erie’s horizon in 1938, this time as a Middle Atlantic League franchise. After two seasons, the call of the sea proved too strong once again and the Sailors shipped off after the 1939 season. The Sailors returned to the shores of Lake Erie twice thereafter, making Ainsworth Field their home once again from 1941 to 1942, and from 1946 to 1951.

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

A number of New York-Penn League franchise also called Ainsworth Field home, beginning in 1954 with the arrival of the Erie Senators. The Senators departed after the 1963 season. The Erie Tigers then played one season at the ballpark in 1967.

Gated Entrance to Field, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Gated Entrance to Field, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

From 1981 to 1987, Ainsworth Field was home to the Erie Cardinals, and from 1988 to 1989, the Erie Orioles played at the ballpark.

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Ainsworth Field’s last year hosting a professional baseball club was in 1994, when the Erie Sailors drifted back to Erie for one final season, this time as a Frontier League affiliate.

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

In  1995, Erie inaugurated Jerry Uht Park, a new ballpark located two and a half miles northeast of Ainsworth Field. The Eastern League Seawolves, who relocated to Erie from Welland, Ontario, that year, have played at Jerry Uht Park ever since.

Jerry Uht Park, Erie, Pennsylvania, Home of the Erie Seawolves, Circa 2003

Jerry Uht Park, Erie, Pennsylvania, Home of the Erie Seawolves, Circa 2003

According to Philip Lowry’s Green Cathedrals, Ainsworth Field’s baseball history includes its use during the 1940s as a neutral site by the Negro American League Kansas City Monarchs.

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Other Negro League teams played at Ainsworth Field including the Homestead Grays in 1926, and the Negro American League Cleveland Buckeyes and the Negro National League Newark Eagles for one game in 1946.

First Base Dugout, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

First Base Dugout, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

The press box includes a tribute to Sam Jethroe, who lived in Erie and played at Ainsworth Field in 1946 as a member of the Cleveland Buckeyes, as well as Babe Ruth, who played an exhibition game at Ainsworth Field soon after it opened in 1923.

Press Box, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Press Box, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

In 2007, Signs of the Time, a documentary on umpiring and the origin of hand signals, was filmed at Ainsworth Field.

Third Base Dugout,  Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Third Base Dugout, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

The original entrance to Ainsworth Field used to be through through a concourse that ran underneath the grandstand. That entrance has been closed off and the ticket booths that were attached to the entrance removed.

Former Entrance to Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Former Entrance to Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

The entrances to the grandstand from the lower concourse have been cordoned off as well.

Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania, Showing Entrance from Grandstand to Lower Concourse Closed Off

Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania, Showing Entrance from Grandstand to Lower Concourse Closed Off

Entry to the ballpark now is through a gate just beyond the third base side of the grandstand.

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Today, the grandstand concourse is used for storage.

Entrance to Concourse Underneath Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Entrance to Concourse Underneath Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Baseball Archaeology in Erie, Pennsylvania: a stroll through Ainsworth Field’s unlit concourse is like walking through a time capsule full of discarded pieces of ballpark history.

Stadium Office Located on Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Stadium Office Located on Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

The concourse under the grandstand wraps around the entire length of the structure.

Concourse Walkway Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Concourse Walkway Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Stadium player lockers are stored on the concourse, having been removed from the team locker rooms some indeterminable time long ago.

Team Lockers Stored on Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Team Lockers Stored on Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

A concession stand who’s best days are behind it waits patiently for someone to place an order.

Concessions Stand on Concourse, Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Concessions Stand on Concourse, Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania I

Ice Cream Anyone? Concessions Stand on Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Ice Cream Anyone? Concessions Stand on Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Just past the concession stand are steel bleacher risers, removed during an earlier renovation of the ballpark.

Bleacher Risers Stored in Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Bleacher Risers Stored in Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

A tangle of stadium seats, presumably installed in 1980 and replaced in 2004, lie in ruin just beyond what was once a restroom.

Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Stadium Seats Stored on Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Stadium Seats Stored on Concourse Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

The electrical room is located underneath the grandstand, presumably still providing some amount of power for the stadium.

Electrical Room Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Electrical Room Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

The entrance to the former equipment room includes a relic from the vagabond Erie Sailors.

Erie Sailors Bumper Sticker on Door To Equipment Room, Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Erie Sailors Bumper Sticker on Door To Equipment Room, Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Equipment Room Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

Equipment Room Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

One stadium relic that really ought to be on display somewhere, perhaps Jerry Uht Park, is a New York-Penn League Standings sign that dates back to the 1980s or early 1990s.

New York Penn Leqgue Standings Sign, Stored in  Concourse Walkway Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

New York Penn Leqgue Standings Sign, Stored in Concourse Walkway Underneath Ainsworth Field Grandstand, Erie, Pennsylvania

The good news is that baseball is still played regularly at Ainsworth Field. Three local high schools, the Central Tech High School Falcons, the East High School Warriors, and the Strong Vincent High School Colonels all have played their games at Ainsworth Field since 1995.

Storage Building, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Storage Building, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Since 1995, the Erie Glenwood League Baseball, an amateur league formed in the 1920s, has also played at Ainsworth Field.

Concessions Stand Located Beyond Third Base Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Concessions Stand Located Beyond Third Base Grandstand, Ainsworth Field, Erie, Pennsylvania

Ainsworth Field is an important part of Erie’s history, and the city does an admirable job of maintaining the field. In less than a decade, the ballpark will celebrate its 100th anniversary and it looks as if Ainsworth Field will still be standing when it reaches its centennial.

This blog about Ainsworth Field is dedicated to the memory of Stephen Quinn, a long-time Erie resident and fan of the game.

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Nellie Fox Bowl

December 15th, 2012

Before the Marvin Miller era, many major league players had to find work during the off season to help make ends meet. Future Hall of Famer Nellie Fox was no exception.

Poster-Sized Photo of Nellie Fox on Display at Nellie Fox Bowl

Born and raised in St. Thomas Township, Pennsylvania, Mr. Fox broke into into the major leagues in 1947 with the Philadelphia Athletics. It was while he was a member of the Chicago White Sox in the spring of 1956 that Mr. Fox and a business partner opened Nellie Fox Bowl, located at 3587 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, just a few miles southeast of Mr. Fox’s hometown.

Nellie Fox Bowl in Chambersburg PA

After Mr. Fox’s untimely death in 1975, his partner continued operation of the bowling alley.

Bowling Lanes at Nellie Fox Bowl

Although Mr. Fox’s involvement in the business ceased over 37 years ago, the bowling alley retains his name and, thereby, his memory.

Nellie Fox Bowl Owner Rudy Goetz

Rudy Goetz, the current owner of Nellie Fox Bowl, purchased the business from Mr. Fox’s original partner over 20 years ago. In conjunction with the bowling alley, Mr. Goetz still operates a small sporting goods shop, with most merchandise related to bowling. When Mr. Fox owned the business, he sold baseball and other sporting goods in the shop. In storage, Mr. Goetz found several baseball gloves, stock left over from Mr. Fox’s sporting goods store. The gloves include a left-handed Luis Aparicio Pro Style Wilson A2133, A Rawlings DW12 soft ball glove, a Bill Tuttle Ball Hawk Wilson A2130, and a Pete Runnels Ball Hawk Wilson A2982 with the original Wilson tag still attached.

Fielder's Gloves That Once Were For Sale at Nellie Fox Bowl's Sporting Goods Shop

For 56 years, Nellie Fox Bowl has stood on Route 11 in Chamberburg, Pennsylvania, a testimonial to Nellie Fox and his popularity in and around the Southeastern Pennsylvania community. Although not a lost ballpark, Nellie Fox Bowl certainly is worth a stop, whether you are looking for a place to bowl, or just hoping to get a sense of how one future Hall of Famer helped make ends meet in the baseball era prior to the Marvin Miller baseball revolution.

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Forbes Field – Game Over

March 11th, 2012

My earlier post, Forbes Field and the University of Pittsburgh, focuses on the portion of the original outfield wall that remains at the former site of Forbes Field, now part of the University of Pittsburgh.

Forbes Field Postcard (Published by Minsky Bros. & Co. Pittsburgh) 

The original outfield wall is not the only artifact of Forbes Field remaining at the site.

Pennsylvania Historical Plaque for Forbes Field

The former location of home plate is inside Wesley Posvar Hall, a six-story building constructed by the University of Pittsburgh in the mid 1970’s.

University of Pittsburgh’s Wesley Posvar Hall

A plaque outside Posvar Hall recognizes Barney Dreyfus, owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1900 to 1932.

Pennsylvania Historical Plaque Honoring Barney Dreyfuss

The actual home plate from Forbes Field is encased in glass and set into the floor in its “approximate” former location.

Forbes Field Home Plate

Hung on a wall next to home plate  is a photograph of Forbes Field taken from the Cathedral of Learning, which is located several blocks beyond what was once left field.

Former and Present Location of Forbes Field Home Plate

About 90 feet from the home plate marker inside Posvar Hall is an oil portrait of Wesley W. Posvar, the University’s 15th chancellor.

Oil Painting of Chancellor Posvar

Outside Posvar Hall is a line of of bricks that lead across Roberto Clemente Drive to where the remnants of the outfield wall begin. About 15 feet tall, and perhaps 180 feet long, the wall is constructed of red brick and divided by concrete columns spaced 12 feet apart.  The columns are covered in green paint and the wall is capped with blocks of weathered grey granite. Next to the wall is the original center field flag pole.

Original Forbes Field Wall on Campus of University of Pittsburgh

The wall ends at what once was the right-field pavilion.  For additional pictures of the Forbes Field wall, check out my earlier post, Forbes Field and the University of Pittsburgh.

Backside of Forbes Field Wall with Posvar Hall Visible Beyond Wall

Behind the Forbes Field wall is a youth baseball diamond.

Youth Baseball Diamond Behind Forbes Field Wall (to the right)

Also behind the wall is a replica of the entrance to Forbes Field.

Replica Entrance to Forbes Field

Constructed of wood, the entrance way replicates the cream-colored, tiled facade of Forbes Field.

Sign Attached to Replica of Forbes Field’s Entrance

Behind what would have been the right field pavilion is the top landing of a concrete stairway with painted aqua green pipe hand rails.  The stairway once provided ballpark access for fans arriving from Joncaire Street in Panther Hollow.

Stairway Behind Forbes Field’s Right Field Pavilion

Next to PNC Park, the Pirates current home, is a statute of Bill Mazeroski crossing home plate, in honor of his 1960 World Series walk of home run. Part of the fence surrounding the plaza includes a portion of the Forbes Field brick wall – marked “306 FT” – which was removed during the demolition of the ballpark and resided for a while at Three River Stadium. It was this portion of the Forbes Field wall that Mazeroski’s famous home run cleared for the game winner.

Bill Mazeroski Statue Located Outside PNC Park Just West of Exposition Park's Former Site

Bill Mazeroski Statue Located Outside PNC Park Just West of Exposition Park’s Former Site

Although Forbes Field is now just another lost ballpark, what remains at the site is well worth a stop for any baseball fan passing through Pittsburgh.

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An Expedition to Pittsburgh’s Exposition Park(s)

December 15th, 2010

Long before PNC Park, Three Rivers Stadium, and Forbes Field, Pittsburgh’s professional baseball teams played at a place known as Exposition Park.  In truth, there actually were three different incarnations of Exposition Park located along the banks of the Allegheny River.  The third, and most well documented, being the last of the three.

Exposition Park Pittsburgh, August 1904 (Geo. R. Lawrence Co., Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

Exposition Park Circa 1905, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

Exposition Park August 5, 1905, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

In the above photograph, North Side’s Monument Hill is visible in the background (now Community College of Allegheny County).

Pittsburgh’s Exposition Park (postcard image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, postcard publisher unknown)

As is evident in the above postcard, Exposition Park once sat along the Allegheny River, across from downtown Pittsburgh, just west of the Pirates current home, PNC Park.  The picture below of the Bill Mazeroski Statute located outside the Right Field Gate, includes some of the same buildings across the Allegheny River that appear in the postcard above, most notably the Marriott Renaissance Hotel, with its distinctive upside down u-shaped breezeway, to the left in the photograph.

Bill Mazeroski Statue Located Outside PNC Park near the former Site of Exposition Park

Because the area along the Allegheny River where the ballpark once stood flooded several times, and has been dredged and widened, the exact location of Exposition Park is difficult to determine.

Former Site of Exposition Park as Seen From PNC Park

However, along the banks of the river, just east of Interstate 279 and the Fort Duquesne Bridge, a plaque constructed by the Pennsylvania State Historical and Museum Society honors Exposition Park.

Pennsylvania State Historical Plaque Honoring Exposition Park

The plaque also notes that in October 1903, the very first World Series – between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Boston Americans – was played there.

Pennsylvania State Historical Marker Honoring Exposition Park and the First World Series

The former site of two other Pittsburgh ballparks reside in the area near Exposition Park.  Three Rivers Stadium sat just to the north and west of Exposition Park.  The picture below, taken just north of Exposition Park’s former site facing in the direction Heinz Field, shows the approximate location of Three Rivers Stadium, which is now, largely, a parking lot.

Former Site of Three Rivers Stadium (Just Beyond Interstate 279) From Vantage Point of Exposition Park

Recreation Park, where Pittsburgh played its home games from 1887 to 1890, prior to moving into Exposition Park’s third incarnation in 1891, sat just north of Exposition Park.  A Pennsylvania State historical marker placed along North Shore Drive just east of Heinz Field pays homage to Recreation Park.  The plaque notes that the ballpark resided just “a few blocks NW of here.”

Plaque Honoring Recreation Park

The Pennsylvania State historical marker likewise notes that the first professional football game was played at Recreation Park in 1892, one year after the Pirates left for Exposition Park.

Pennsylvania State Historical Marker Noting Recreation Park's Significance to the History of Professional Football

Pennsylvania State Historical Marker Noting Recreation Park’s Significance to the History of Professional Football

The Pirates current home, PNC Park, resides just a long fly ball from the former site of Exposition Park. In addition to the Pirates, who played at Exposition Park from 1891 to 1909, before moving to Forbes Field mid season, the Players League Pittsburgh Burghers played at Exposition Park in 1890 and the Federal League Pittsburgh Stogies and Pittsburgh Rebels played at Exposition Park from 1913 to 1915.

Former Site of Exposition Park With PNC Park as a Backdrop

With so many lost ballparks located near the Pirates current home, anyone who cares at all about the history of the game should be sure to take a stroll just west of PNC Park and visit the former sites not only of Exposition Park, but Recreation Park and Three Rivers Stadium as well.

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The Vet – Veterans Stadium

July 24th, 2010

Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia was home to the National League Phillies from 1971 until 2003.

Phillies at Veterans Stadium (Philadelphia Post Card Co./photo by Frank Burd)

The stadium was part of a larger sports complex located south of downtown Philadelphia adjacent to Interstate 95 at Broad Street.

Stadium Complex (Art Color Card Distributors)

The only sports venue still standing in the postcard pictured above is the Spectrum, which was once home to Philadelphia’s hockey and basketball teams.

Veterans Stadium Visible from I-95 Heading North

The “Vet,” as it also was known, dominated the landscape along Interstate 95 heading north into Philadelphia.

Veterans Stadium along Pattison Avenue with Broad Street Subway Stop in Forground

Veterans Stadium was dedicated on April 4, 1971, to the “brave men and women of Philadelphia who served in defense of their country.”

Philadelphia Veterans Stadium Bronze Plaque Posted on Pillar Outside Stadium

Like many of the so called “cookie-cutter” stadiums constructed in the 1960s and 1970s, Veterans Stadium’s playing field was mainly artificial turf.  During summer days like the one in the picture below, it was not uncommon for the field temperature to reach 120 degrees.

View of Veterans Stadium from Center Field

A flattened version of Philadelphia’s famed Liberty Bell stood high above the stadium’s the center field seats.

Veterans Stadium Liberty Bell

Veterans Stadium section signs continued the Liberty Bell theme.

Veterans Stadium Sections Signage

The Vet’s original yellow and red plastic seats were replaced during the 1990s with blue plastic seats, making the seating area more uniform, if less colorful.

Giants Players In Pre-game Stretch on Veterans Stadium's Light Green Turf

One advantage of the artificial turf, as opposed to natural grass,  was it allowed fans the opportunity to sit on the field during firework night without any fear of damaging the playing field.

Baseball Fans Cover Veterans Stadium Outfield in Anticipation of Fourth of July Fireworks Display

The Vet’s linoleum floor on the concourse behind the 200 level looked more like something out of a high school cafeteria than a professional baseball venue.

Veteran Stadium's Red and White Linoleum Tile

In an effort to attract more fans, the Phillies added several family-friendly activities in the concourse, including speed pitch.  Such additions, however, could not hide the fact that the Vet was not designed with such activities in mind – an approach the designers of the new ballpark were certain to change.

Veterans Stadium Speed Pitch

As with just about every other multi-purpose ballpark, the Vets days were numbered, both literally and figuratively.

Only 644 Days Left Until the Death of Veterans Stadium

During the final two seasons of Veterans Stadium, the new ballpark, later named Citizens Bank Park, could be seen rising in a parking lot east of the Vet.

New Scoreboard Under Construction as Seen from Veterans Stadium

Although not visible from inside the ballpark’s seating bowl, construction of Citizens Bank Park was easily monitored standing along the outer concourse.

New Light Stanchions as Seen from Veterans Stadium

In late winter 2003 and early spring 2004, the Phillies and the City of Philadelphia put finishing touches on the new ballpark, while the Vet stat silently by, awaiting demolition.

The New and the Old

The end came quickly for Veterans Stadium.  During the summer of 2004, fans were treated with live action views of the stadium’s demolition site as city workers carted away stadium debris.

Veterans Stadium Lies in Ruins, As seen From the Upper Deck of Citizens Bank park

Although the former site of Veterans Stadium is now a parking lot, the Phillies ballclub and City of Philadelphia have included several markers and monuments recognizing the lost ballpark.  The entrance to parking area, Lot T, is a good place to start.

Lot T - Former Site of Veterans Stadium

A state historical marker pay tribute to significant milestones of Veterans Stadium.

Veterans Stadium State Historical Marker

The Phillies also relocated the Veterans Stadium dedication plaque to a garden on Pattison Avenue.

Veterans Stadium Dedication Plaque Relocated Along Pattison Avenue

Recognizing that the City of Philadelphia had dedicated Veterans Stadium in honor of Philadelphia’s veterans, the Phillies erected a new monument at the former site of Veterans Stadium as an “everlasting memorial to veterans who have defended America’s freedom since its inception in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776. ”

Memorial to Philadelphia's Veterans

The Phillies also restored four sports-themed statutes that once stood outside the entrances to Veterans Stadium.  Designed and produced by Joe Brown, a Philadelphia native, the statues now ring the parking lot that sits atop the Vet’s former site.

Statutes of Ballplayers Produced in 1976 by Joe Brown

The statute of a player sliding into base sits along Pattison Avenue, while the statue of a batter sits across the parking lot on South 1oth Street.

Joe Brown's Batter Statute

The Phillies also relocated between Citizens Bank Park and the site of Veterans Stadium a statute of former Philadelphia Athletics manager and owner Connie Mack.  The statue dates to the 1950s and originally was located on Lehigh Avenue in a park across from Connie Mack Stadium.

Connie Mack Statute Sandwiched Alongside Porta-potties

Parking Lot U, Area 3, marks the spot of the Veterans Stadium infield.

Parking Area, Lot U

A granite marker sits in the former location of home plate .

No Place Like Home

The marker is located in a driving lane as opposed to a parking space.

Veterans Stadium Home Plate with Spectrum in Background

Veterans Stadium Home Plate with Citizens Bank Park in Background

The same is true for the pitchers mound, now flattened, which also resides in a Lot U driving lane.

Location of Veterans Stadium Pitching Rubber

The Phillies have marked the former location of each bases as well.

Location of Veterans Stadium First Base

The granite marker for third base provides baseball fans the unique opportunity of parking their cars atop the spot where Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt once roamed the hot corner.  Let me just say what a thrill it was to park my car there.  A tip for those who want to experience the same thrill – arrive early.

Third Base Parking Space

The one vestige of Veterans Stadium that remains, still in its original location, is an electronic Phillies sign visible from I-76 (the Schuylkill Expressway) that resides near the entrance to parking Lots W and X.

Veterans Stadium-Era Phillies Sign Still Standing

That sign likewise is visible from inside Citizens Bank Park, out beyond center field.

Citizens Bank Park with Veterans Stadium Sign Visible Beyond Center Field

The many tributes and monuments to Veterans Stadium are well worth a stop for baseball fans visiting Citizens Bank Park.  The Vet may be long gone, but, thanks to the Phillies and the City of Philadelphia, she clearly has not been forgotten.

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The Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers Stadium

June 25th, 2010

Three Rivers Stadium, home to the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1970 through 2000, was located in the North Shore section of Pittsburgh.

Three Rivers Stadium Aerial View (Gold Star Photography/Norman W. Schumm)

The multipurpose stadium was nestled along the Allegheny River, adjacent to where that river converges with the Monongahela River to form the Ohio River, hence the stadium’s name.

Pittsburgh's Skyline Across the Allegheny River Looking South Beyond Three Rivers Stadium's Outfield Wall

It is hard to believe that the Pirates would have abandoned historic Forbes Field for the generic and sterile confines of Three Rivers, however, such was progress, 1970’s-style.

Three Rivers Stadium Playing Field

Tarp Covers Three Rivers Stadium's Infield During Rain Delay

The seating capacity and the lack of demand for tickets led Pirate officials to close off portions of the outfield upper deck seating area.

Closed Upper Deck Seating Area Included Tribute to Pittsburgh's Negro League Champions

Still, regardless of its architectural merits, Three Rivers Stadium hosted major league baseball for over 30 seasons and, with its demolition, a considerable amount of baseball history went with it.

Three Rivers Stadium Upper Deck

The site of two World Series, many great Pittsburgh players called Three Rivers Stadium their home.

The Three Rivers Third Base Side and Left Field Corner

Ultimately, progress made a dramatic U-turn and in 2001, the Pirates inaugurated PNC Park, constructed just four blocks east of Three Rivers Stadium.

Looking West From PNC Park toward Former Site of Three Rivers Stadium circa 2003

PNC Park With Heinz Field And Former Site of Three Rivers Stadium In Background

Today, the former site of Three Rivers Stadium is, like many other recently-lost ballparks, a parking lot.

Former Site of Three Rivers Stadium (Shown As A Parking Lot) Adjacent to Heinz Field Circa 2009

Construction of the North Shore Entertainment Complex currently is underway on the former site of Three Rivers Stadium.   The picture below shows the area formerly occupied by the right field corner/seating area of Three River Stadium.

Sign Announcing Construction of North Shore Entertainment Complex at Former Site of Three Rivers Stadium

Eventually, the area will house a two story,  22,000 square foot for both indoor and outdoor concerts.

Former Site of Three River Stadium Center Field

Former Site of Three River Stadium Center Field Looking Southeast

The seating area along left field/third base remains a parking lot, for the moment, at least.  The approximate location of left field sits on West Robinson Street, just east of Interstate 279.

Approximate Location of Three Rivers Stadium Left Field Corner Looking Toward Direction of Home Plate

Approximate Location of Three Rivers Stadium Left Field Corner Looking Toward Home Plate

A two-story, concrete marker for Gate D is the only portion of Three Rivers Stadium still standing.   It is located adjacent to Heinz Field and the statute of Steelers’ founder Arthur Rooney.

Gate D Marker from Three Rivers Stadium

In 2006, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission erected a plaque next to the Gate D marker commemorating Three Rivers Stadium.

Three Rivers Stadium Historical Plaque With Heinz Field in Background

The plaque states:

Three Rivers Stadium

Opened on July 16, 1970.  Home to the Pirates, who won two World Series, and the Steelers, who won four Super Bowl Championships, creating “Pittsburgh’s City of Champions” identity.  It was the site of Roberto Clemente’s 3,000th hit, September 30, 1972 and Franco Harris’s legendary “Immaculate Reception,” December 23, 1972.  A multi-use facility, it also hosted many concerts and special events prior to its demolition on February 11, 2001.

Three Rivers Stadium Pennsylvania State Historical Marker

A stop at Gate D to visit the site of yet another lost ballpark is certainly worth the trip next time you find yourself four blocks east at PNC park in Pittsburgh.

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Honus Wagner House

April 28th, 2010

Most people in the United States know John Peter “Honus” Wagner as the player whose name and image appeared on the legendary T-206 tobacco card, the most valuable baseball card ever printed.  Historians of the game also consider Wagner to be perhaps the best shortstop of all time.

John Peter "Honus" Wagner (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

Born in Carnegie, Pennsylvania, in 1874, Wagner lived almost his entire life in that town.  His former house at 605 Beechwood Avenue in Carnegie still stands as a private residence, looking much like it did when Wagner lived there.

Honus Wagner's House in Carnegie PA

The house was built for Wagner in 1917, his last year as a player, and he lived there until his death in 1955. The house is a two-and-a-half story, tan-brick foursquare, with a central dormer and a front porch with matching tan-brick columns.

Entrance to Second Floor

Four grey-painted concrete steps lead from the sidewalk to a clay-tiled front porch.

More Steps to the Past

An ornate wood front door with leaded glass panels on either side of the door and in the transom above.

Ornate Front Door

To the left of the entrance is the house number “605″ set inside a shield carved in granite, and to the right, a similar granite shield with the initials “JW” framing the doorbell.

605 Beechwood Avenue

You Too Can Ring Wagner's Bell

Just a ten mile drive from old Forbes Field and seven miles from PNC Park, the current home of the Pirates, Wagner’s house on Beechwood Avenue is a well-preseved time capsule and well worth the stop.

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Shibe Park and the Church of Baseball

April 20th, 2010

Shibe Park (later known as Connie Mack Stadium) was home to both the Philadelphia Phillies and Philadelphia Athletics and was located three miles north of Center City Philadephia and only five blocks west of the Baker Bowl.

Entrance to Shibe Park at Lehigh and 21st Street (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

Although the ballpark was demolished decades ago, a state historical marker now marks the spot.

Pennsylvania State Historical Marker

The Deliverance Evangelistic Church now sits on the former site.

Deliverance Evangelistic Church

Although the ballpark itself no longer remains, buildings in the area help provide prospective for where the ballpark once stood. Surrounding the mega-church are many of the same row houses that once caused Connie Mack to build a spite fence in right field along North 20th Street to keep fans sitting on rooftops across the street from watching the games for free.

Row Houses Minus Connie Mack’s Spite Fence

Those same row houses can be seen in this photograph of the 1914 World Series.  Connie Mack’s spite fence atop the right field wall arrived in 1935.

Crowds Watching 1914 World Series from Houses Along 20th Street (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

Shibe Park , Game Two of 1910 World Series,  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Divsion)

Shibe Park , Game Two of 1910 World Series, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Divsion)

As with the Baker Bowl, a trip to the corner of Lehigh and 21st Street is well worth the stop for any baseball fan who appreciates the history of the game.  Looking at the houses along 20th Street, one can still imagine their rooftops packed with fans watching the proceedings of the 1914 World Series.

Game Action 1920(?), Connie Mack Stadium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (digital image deadballbaseball.com, copyright David B. Stinson)

Game Action 1920(?), Connie Mack Stadium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (digital image deadballbaseball.com, copyright David B. Stinson)

A statue of former Philadelphia A’s owner and manager Connie Mack stands adjacent to the parking lot outside Citizens Bank Park.  The statute originally was located in a park across the street from Connie Mack Stadium on Lehigh Avenue and was placed there as a tribute to Mr. Mack soon after his death in 1956.   When the Phillies moved to Veterans Stadium, the statute moved with them, where it sat outside the Vet until the stadium’s demolition in 2004.

Statue of “Mr. Baseball” Connie Mack

Shibe Park/Connie Mack Stadium closed during the 1970 season.  Fans leaving the final game grab souvenirs of the old ballpark.  The ballpark was demolished in 1974.

Seat Slats Removed by Fan After Final Game

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Baker Bowl

April 18th, 2010

The Philadelphia Phillies called the Baker Bowl their home from 1887 to 1938.

The Baker Bowl (postcard company unknown)

Demolished a decade later, nothing now remains of the ballpark, although a state historical marker notes its former location.

Pennsylvania State Historical Marker

Some of the buildings surrounding the site from that era do help provide perspective of how the ballpark once fit into the neighborhood. The warehouse (former Brooks Brothers warehouse?) that looms over the outfield in the postcard above remains.

The Former Brooks Brothers Warehouse

The warehouse also is visible in this vintage 1932 photograph of  former New York Giant third baseman Gil English.

Gil English at the Baker Bowl (photographer unknown)

The warehouse also is visible along Lehigh Avenue.

Lehigh Avenue at 15th Street Looking East

The Moore & White Company (which made machinery such as paper machinery) was located at northeast corner of 15th Street and Lehigh Avenue, just beyond the left field bleachers (as seen in the photograph below). That building is no longer at the site.

Phillies vs Dodgers (?) 1920s, Baker Bowl, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Former Home of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Phillies vs Dodgers (?) 1920s, Baker Bowl, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Former Home of the Philadelphia Phillies (Digital Image deadballbaseball.com, copyright David B. Stinson)

Also remaining at the site from the time of the Baker Bowl is a two-story brick building (now painted white) topped with billboards that is visible in  pictures of the stadium just beyond right-center field.

Two Story Building just north of North Broad Street train station

The Baker Bowl site now is occupied by a gas station and parking lot that sit in left and center field respectively.

You Can Buy Gas Where the Gashouse Gang Once Battled the Phillies

A two story International-style industrial building sits in the former location of the infield and right field.

Former Right Field Corner at Broad Street and Huntingdon Street Looking North on Broad Street

The buildings on the south side of Huntingdon remain from the time of the Baker Bowl as well.

Looking West down Huntingdon

Is the former site of the Baker Bowl worth a visit, even though nothing remains of the former ballpark?  If you are a fan of the Phillies and appreciate  the history of the game, it is worth a stop, especially since the distinctive v-shaped warehouse that once loomed over center field remains in place.   Another former ballpark worth visiting is the Phillies’ second home – Shibe Park – which was located just a few blocks west of the Baker Bowl at the corner of Lehigh Avenue and North 29th Street.  More on that lost ballpark later.

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Forbes Field and the University of Pittsburgh

April 8th, 2010

Forbes Field Wall and the Cathedral of Learning

Baseball fans owe a debt of gratitude to the University of Pittsburgh for having the foresight to keep portions of Forbes Field in place for future generations of fans to appreciate. The university purchased Forbes Field in the 1960’s with the understanding it would tear down the ballpark and develop the land once the Pirates relocated to a new stadium.

The Backside of the Wall

A line of bricks embedded in the sidewalk in front of Wesley Posvar Hall marks the left field portion of the outfield wall – an area once known as “Greenberg Gardens” and, after that, “Kiner’s Korner,” in honor of two of the team’s more prolific sluggers.

Plaque Embedded in Street Marking Outfield Wall

A bronze plaque in the sidewalk marks the exact spot where Bill Mazeroski’s ninth-inning home run cleared both former Yankee catcher-turned-outfielder Yogi Berra and the left field wall, clinching the 1960 World Series for the Pirates.

Game Over!

The line of bricks continue across a narrow street – appropriately named Roberto Clemente Drive – to where the actual remnants of the outfield wall began.

Bricks Embedded in Sidewalk Mark Outfield Wall

About 15 feet tall, and perhaps 180 feet long, the wall is constructed of red brick and divided by concrete columns spaced 12 feet apart. The columns are painted green and the wall is capped with blocks of weathered grey granite. The original center field flag pole and two distance markers, still painted in white on the side of the wall — 457 to left center, 436 to right center, remain as well.

457 to Left Center With Shadow of CF Flagpole

The wall ends at what once was the right-field pavilion.

Right Field Grandstand Started Here

For more pictures and information from Deadball Baseball about Forbes Field, CLICK: Forbes Field – Game Over .

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