Posts Tagged ‘PNC Park’

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 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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