Archive for the ‘New York ballparks’ Category

The Polo Grounds and the Autonomy of a Baseball Snapshot

June 4th, 2017

A baseball snapshot is a souvenir of a day at the ballpark.  Taken not by a professional photographer, but by a fan capturing a moment in time. The name of the fan who took this snapshot is unknown, lost now to time. That fan’s memory of the game, however, as captured in the photo, remains.

A Fan’s Souvenir Of A Day At The Ballpark

It is evident the fan was sitting in box seats along the third base side of the playing field. The photo captures a play at second base. If you know your old time ballparks, perhaps the arched windows and the GEM BLADES sign on the outfield wall is all you need to know to identify the ballpark.

If not, there are other clues as well. A section of the scoreboard announces: “Cinni Here Tues May 14 Night Game 8:15 PM.”

Cinni Here Tues May 14 Night Game 8:15 PM.

To solve the riddle, all that needs to be done, it would seem, is search online for a mid-century Tuesday May 14th Cincinnati Reds road game that started at 8:15 pm. However, a search of both baseballreference.com and baseball-almanac.com turned up empty. No such game was listed on either website.

I emailed the photo to a friend of mine, Bernard McKenna, a professor at the University of Delaware and a man who knows both baseball and historical research. Professor McKenna started with an informed guess that the ballpark was the Polo Grounds. Other known photos of that ballpark featured both the arched windows and the outfield signage.

But what about the game being played? The photo could not have been taken prior to 1940 because the first night game at the Polo Grounds was played May 25, 1940. The photo could not have been taken after 1952 because, according to the scoreboard, Boston is playing Philadelphia that day, and the Braves moved to Milwaukee in 1953 (unless of course the scoreboard was referencing the Red Sox playing the A’s).

Detail of Scoreboard

Baseballreference listed road games played by Cincinnati against the New York Giants on May 14th during the 1942 and 1952 seasons. However, the games and scores identified on the scoreboard did not match any of the games those years played prior to May 14, 1942, or May 14, 1952.

Searching the New York Times database, Professor McKenna discovered that a game scheduled between Cincinnati and the Giants at the Polo Grounds for May 14, 1946, was rained out and played the following day. Assuming the eventual rainout game is the one noted on the scoreboard, 1946 was the year the snapshot was taken. Checking the Giant’s game results for 1946, there was an April 28, 1946, game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants played at the Polo Grounds. Here is the box score: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NY1/NY1194604282.shtml.

The Brooklyn Dodgers lineup, as identified on the scoreboard (listed under the moniker “VIS”) matches up with the box score for that game: Whitman (15), Stanky (12), Reiser (27), Walker (11), Stevens (36), Furillo (5), Anderson (14), Reese (1), and Behrman (29). The other games listed on the scoreboard match up as well, Cleveland and New York, the Cubs and St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.

Giant Buddy Blattner Sliding Into Second Base While Dodger Pee Wee Reese Awaits The Throw

As for the action in the photo, this is what Professor McKenna determined from the scoreboard and the box score:

From the scoreboard, we know that it is the bottom of the second. The box score states that Giant Bill Rigney, hit a home run in the 2nd inning with two runners on base and one out. No other runs scored that inning. But who were the runners on base when Rigney hit his home run? The scoreboard identifies the player at bat as number 10, which, for the Giants, was Buddy Kerr. The box score indicates that both Kerr and teammate Bob Joyce sacrificed to advance runners that inning (the box score reads “SH” (sacrifice hit)). The box score suggests that Joyce reached base successfully in that inning with his SH and not Kerr, because Joyce only reached base once that game, scoring a run. As such, he had to have been on base when Rigney hit the homer.

Willard Marshall and Buddy Blattner also batted that inning in front of Kerr and Joyce. Marshall did not reach base that inning because, according to the box score, he never scored a run. He reached base one time that game on a walk. Had he been caught stealing that inning, it would have been reflected in the box score, and if Kerr or Joyce bunted into a force play with Marshall on base, the box score would have read FC (fielders choice) not SH. Blattner, on the other hand, reached base three times that game, with two hits and one hit by pitch. He also scored three runs. As such, it would appear that Blattner, along with Joyce, was on base when Rigney homered.

In the photo, a runner is sliding into second base. That runner must be Buddy Blattner, the first Giant to successfully reach base that inning, because the snapshot shows no runner going to third. As such, Kerr’s SH has advanced Blattner to second. Kerr was put out at first base and the throw to second was was either late or there was no there was no throw.

Thus, our fan’s snapshot has captured Buddy Blattner, the Giants second baseman sliding successfully into second, while the Dodgers shortstop Pee Wee Reese awaits the throw from first after Buddy Kerr’s successful sacrifice. Joyce subsequently would advance Blattner to third while reaching base as well on a SH. Both eventually would score on Rigney’s home run.

Although the identity of the fan who took this photo is unknown, the snapshot captured the fan’s memory of that game. We now know that the game was played on April 28, 1946. The memory of the unknown fan has come back to life, with just a little bit of research (and an assist from websites such as baseballreference.com and baseball-almanac.com). If anyone reading this knows of someone who attended the Giants/Dodgers game at the Polo Grounds on April 28, 1946, let me know.

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Dutch Damaschke Field In Oneonta NY

August 6th, 2015

Damaschke Field is located at 15 James Georgeson Avenue in Oneonta, New York, just 24 miles south of Cooperstown, New York.

Entrance to Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Entrance to Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

The ball field dates back to 1905 when it was known as Elm Park. Located in Neahwa Park, for a time the ball field also was known as Neahwa Park.

Aerial of Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York (Postcard McGrew Color Graphics, Kansas City MO, photo copyright 1987 Bruce Endries)

Aerial of Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York (Postcard McGrew Color Graphics, Kansas City MO, photo copyright 1987 Bruce Endries)

In 1968, the ballpark was renamed Dutch Damaschke Field in honor of Earnest C. “Dutch” Damaschke, the long-time Commissioner of Recreation for the City of Oneonta.

Ticket Booth, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Ticket Booth, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

The stadium structure has changed over the years, although the concrete and steel grandstand dates back to 1939. Like many other ballparks of that era, it was constructed with funds from the Works Projects Administration. Funds also were donated by William F. Eggleston, owner of the Oneonta Grocery Company.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Plaque Honoring William F. Eggleston, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

in 2007, the city renovated the ballpark, adding new bleacher seating down the first and third base lines, as well as new player clubhouses and concession stands.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

The view from the grandstand down the first and third base lines is an interesting juxtaposition of the old and the new, with the 1930s WPA grandstand seating along side the modern bleacher seating behind first and third base.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

In 2008, with the addition of a new clubhouse for the players, the former locker room located under the grandstand was turned into storage space.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Locker Room Turned Storage Room, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

A Oneonta Yankees Time Capsule, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

During the first two decades of its existence, the ballpark hosted mostly amateur, college, and semi professional teams. The Brooklyn Royal Giants played an exhibition game at Neahwa Park on August 19, 1920,  defeating the Oneonta Cubs 13-3. Two months later, on October 16, 1920, the Babe Ruth All Stars played an exhibition game against the local Endicott-Johnson team. Babe Ruth hit a home run over the right field fence during the eighth inning of the barnstorming game. In the fifth inning of that game, Ruth reportedly fractured a small bone in his left wrist while attempting  slide into first base, although the following day in Jersey City he hit another of his exhibition home runs, suggesting that his wrist was fine.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

The first professional team to call the ballpark home was the Oneonta Indians, who played in the New York-Pennsylvania League for one season in 1924.

Grandstand Roof, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Grandstand Roof, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Professional baseball returned to Oneonta in 1940 with the arrival from Ottawa of the Canadian-American Baseball League (Can-Am) Oneonta Indians. In 1941 the Indians became an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. Baseball in Oneonta was suspended after the 1942 season, but the team returned in 1946 following the end of World War II as the Oneonta Red Sox. The Red Sox played in Oneonta through the 1951 season, and professional baseball once again was on hiatus in Oneonta.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York, Situated in the Foothills of the Catskill Mountains.

Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York, Situated in the Foothills of the Catskill Mountains.

Professional baseball returned in 1966, with the arrival of the New York-Penn League Oneonta Red Sox. In 1967, Oneonta became a farm team of the New York Yankees, thus beginning the city’s longest affiliation with a single major league team. Over the years, MLB players such as Don Mattingly, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte, Al Leiter, Jorge Posada, Curtis Granderson, and Willie McGee began their careers at Damaschke field.

Wall of Fame, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Wall of Fame, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Future National Football Hall of Famer John Elway also began his professional baseball career at Damaschke Field in 1981. The following year he was drafted by the Denver Broncos. In 1985, Buck Showalter started his professional managerial career as skipper of the Oneonta Yankees.

Former Locker Room, Painted Yankee Blue Located Under Grandstand, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Former Locker Room, Painted Yankee Blue, Located Under Grandstand, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

The Oneonta Yankees departed Damaschke Field after the 1998 season. The Oneonta Tigers arrived the following season, and played at Damaschke Field through the 2009 season.

Oneonta Tigers Sign, In Storage in Former Players Lockerroom Underneath Grandstand at Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Oneonta Tigers Sign, In Storage in Former Players Lockerroom Underneath Grandstand at Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Although professional baseball no longer is played at Damaschke Field, it still is possible to take in a baseball game at the ballpark during the summer. Damaschke Field currently is the home of the New York Collegiate Baseball League Oneonta Outlaws, who play during the months of June and July. The city of Oneonta still uses the ballpark for civic events such as graduations, holiday celebrations, and concerts.

Grandstand Seating, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

Grandstand Seating, Damaschke Field, Oneonta, New York

The ballpark most certainly is worth a visit. Given its proximity to Cooperstown, there should be a steady stream of visitors each summer, looking for a wonderful baseball experience in what is known as one of the coziest ballparks in the country.

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Jamestown’s Gem – Russell E. Diethrick, Jr. Park

April 19th, 2015

Russell E. Diethrick, Jr. Park is located at 485 Falconer Street in Jamestown, New York.

Jamestown Municipal Stadium/Russell E. Diethrick, Jr. Park, Jamestown, New York

Jamestown Municipal Stadium/Russell E. Diethrick, Jr. Park, Jamestown, New York

Constructed in 1940 through a public/private partnership, the ballpark is owned and maintained by the City of Jamestown.

Jamestown Municipal Stadium Postcard (Curteich-Chicago Art Colortone, Weakley-Olson, Jamestown NY)

Jamestown Municipal Stadium Postcard (Curteich-Chicago Art Colortone, Weakley-Olson, Jamestown NY)

When it opened in 1941, the ballpark was known as Jamestown Municipal Stadium and was the home of the Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York League (PONY) Jamestown Falcons.

Plaque Honoring 1941 Dedication as  Jamestown Municipal Stadium, Jamestown, New York

Plaque Honoring 1941 Dedication as Jamestown Municipal Stadium, Jamestown, New York

In the early 1960s, Jamestown Community College built a new campus adjacent to Jamestown Municipal Stadium (just beyond left field) and the college baseball team began playing their home games at the ballpark. In the mid 1960s the ballpark was known locally as College Stadium and, in 1984, was renovated as College Stadium. Jamestown Community College’s baseball and softball teams still play their home games there.

Plaque Honoring 1984 Stadium Rededication as College Stadium, Jamestown, New York

Plaque Honoring 1984 Stadium Renovation of College Stadium, Jamestown, New York

In 1997, the name was changed to Russell E. Diethrick, Jr. Park in honor of a local Jamestown resident who had dedicate his life to both professional and amateur baseball in Jamestown.

Russell E. Dietrick, Jr. Park, Jamestown, New York, Former Home of the Jamestown Jammers

Russell E. Diethrick, Jr. Park, Jamestown, New York, Former Home of the Jamestown Jammers

Plaque Honoring 1997 Ballpark Rededication as Russell E. Diethrick, Jr. Park , Jamestown, New York

Plaque Honoring 1997 Ballpark Rededication as Russell E. Diethrick, Jr. Park , Jamestown, New York

As with every professional ballpark that reaches a certain advanced age, there is an abundance of historic plaques and markers at Diethrick Park.

Plaques Honoring History of Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Plaques Honoring History of Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

The ballpark was home to the PONY League Jamestown Falcons from 1941 to 1956. In 1957 the league’s name was changed to the New York-Penn League. The Falcons continued play in the New York-Penn League, but only for half a season when the team ceased operation. Professional baseball returned to Jamestown Municipal Stadium in 1961 with the arrival of the New York-Penn League Jamestown Tigers, who departed after the 1965 season. The ballpark continued its affiliation with the New York-Penn League with the Jamestown Dodgers in 1966, the Jamestown Braves in 1967, the Jamestown Falcons from 1968 to 1972, the Jamestown Expos in 1973, and from 1977 to 1993, and the Jamestown Jammers from 1994 to 2014.

Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

View from the First Base Bleachers, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Since 1941, the team has affiliated with the following major league organizations: the Detroit Tigers from 1941 to 1942, from 1944 to 1956, from 1961 to 1965, and from 1994 to 1998, the St. Louis Cardinals in 1943, the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1957 and from 2013 to 2014, the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1966, the Atlanta Braves in 1967 and from 199 to 2001, the Boston Red Sox from 1968 to 1970, the Montreal Expos from 1971 to 1973, and from 1977 to 1993, and the Florida Marlins from 2002 to 2012.

View From Behind Home Plate, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

View From Behind Home Plate, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Although Diethrick Park has undergone several renovations during its 75 years in existence, the ballpark maintains much of its classic ballpark charm.

Grandstand, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Grandstand, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

The all-brick exterior hearkens back to an earlier era.

Grandstand Exterior - Behind Home Plate, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Grandstand Exterior – Behind Home Plate, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Grandstand Exterior, First Base Side, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Grandstand Exterior, First Base Side, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

The bullpens are located along the first and third base lines, with the visiting team located just past the first base bleachers and the home team just past the third base bleachers.

Visitor's Bullpen, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Visitor’s Bullpen, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Home Team Bullpen, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Home Team Bullpen, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

The light stanchions are original to the ballpark, installed when Diethrick Park opened in 1941.

Right Field at Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Right Field at Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Light Stanchion, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Light Stanchion, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

The electronic scoreboard is old-school as well. Who needs a Jumbo Tron at a minor league game?

Scoreboard, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Scoreboard, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

In 2014, Diethrick Park was the second oldest ballpark in the New York-Penn League. Despite of, and because of, its age, it is a wonderful place to watch a baseball game.

Night Game, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Night Game, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

The people of Jamestown, New York, are proud of their association with the game of baseball. Organized baseball has been played in Jamestown since the Civil War.

Plaque Honoring the History of Professional Baseball in Jamestown, New York

Plaque Honoring the History of Professional Baseball in Jamestown, New York

The responsible for helping run Jamestown baseball at Diethrick Park are friendly and ready to assist.

Get Your Program, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Get Your Program, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

A Wonderful Place to Buy Beer Under the Grandstand, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

A Great Place to Buy Beer Under the Grandstand, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Jamestown Jammers Team Store, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Jamestown Jammers Team Store, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

For additional history and information about Diethrick Park, see the excellent Star News Daily Article Celebrating Dietrick Park’s 70th Anniversary Season.

Night Game, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Night Game, Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

In 2014, the Jamestown Jamers played their last season of baseball at Diethrick Park. The franchise relocated in 2015 to Morgantown, West Virginia, where they will play as the Black Bears in a new facility shared with the University of West Virginia.

Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York,

Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Although professional baseball may have left Jamestown, starting in 2015 Diethrick Park will be the home of the Prospect League (college wooden bat league) Jamestown Jamers, who will retain the name of the former professional team.

Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Diethrick Park, Jamestown, New York

Luckily for the City of Jamestown, Diethrick Park will not anytime soon be joining the ranks of another lost ballpark. If you are a fan of old-time baseball stadiums, and find yourself in the Jamestown area during the spring college season or the summer wooden bat season, be sure to take in a game at old Jamestown Municipal Stadium. The citizens of Jamestown will be glad to welcome you to their gem of a ballpark.

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The Rockpile – Buffalo’s War Memorial Stadium

January 30th, 2015

War Memorial Stadium was a multi-use sports facility located at 285 Dodge Street in Buffalo, New York. The name of the venue changed over time, from Roesch Memorial Stadium (named after former Buffalo Mayor Charles Roesch) in 1937, to Grover Cleveland Stadium (in honor of the former President, Chief Justice, and Buffalo Mayor) from 1937-38, to Civic Stadium from 1938 to 1960, and finally to War Memorial Stadium from 1960 to 1987. Although it was a stadium of many names, Buffalo residents often referred to the ballpark as “The Old Rockpile.”

Buffalo Civic Stadium (Photocrome postcard, Metrocraft, Everett MA)

Buffalo Civic Stadium (Photocrome postcard, Metrocraft, Everett MA)

The derivation of the nickname Rockpile is not readily ascertained (believe me, I looked), but  perhaps it is a reference either to the condition of the stadium in its later years or the impressive wall constructed of large stones that once surrounded portions of the stadium as well as Masten Park (located directly west of the stadium). The stone wall was once part of the boundary for Prospect Reservoir. The stadium was built on top of the former reservoir site.

Stone Wall along Masten Avenue, western boundary of Masten Park, Buffalo, New York

Stone Wall along Masten Avenue, western boundary of Masten Park, Buffalo, New York. A Similar Wall Once Surrounded Portions of War Memorial Stadium

Although the stadium was completed as a Works Project Administration initiative in 1937, it did not have a professional sports tenant until 1940 with the arrival of the American Football League Indians, who played at Civic Stadium through the 1941 season. Football returned to the stadium in 1946 with the arrival of the Buffalo Bills of the All-American Football Conference, who played at Civic Stadium through the 1949 season. The Bills returned to War Memorial Stadium in 1960 as an American Football League franchise, after the stadium underwent a major renovation. In 1970 the Bills switched to the National Football League and played through the 1972 season at War Memorial.

War Memorial Stadium (Linen Postcard, Photo by Fitzgerald)

Civic Stadium, Buffalo, New York (Linen Postcard, Photo by Fitzgerald)

Professional baseball arrived at War Memorial Stadium about the same time professional football returned to venue at the beginning of the 1960s. With the closing and demolition of Offermann Stadium after the in 1960 season, the International League Buffalo Bisons moved to War Memorial Stadium the following year. The Bisons departed War Memorial during the 1970 season when the franchise was transferred to Winnipeg. The Bisons returned to War Memorial in 1979 as an AA Eastern League franchise. In 1985, the Bisons returned to AAA status as an American Association franchise, playing three full seasons at War Memorial Stadium before departing for a new ballpark, Pilot Field, after the end of the 1987 season.

Aerial View, Buffalo War Memorial, Buffalo, New York

Aerial View, War Memorial Stadium, Buffalo, New York

In 1983 baseball Hollywood style arrived at War Memorial Stadium. The ballpark used as a primary location for filming of the movie The Natural.

Movie Lobby Card Depicting Robert Redford at War Memorial Stadium (photo copyright Tri-Star Pictures)

Movie Lobby Card Depicting Robert Redford at War Memorial Stadium (photo copyright Tri-Star Pictures)

War Memorial Stadium’s distinctive vintage features provided an almost eerie back drop for the movie.

War Memorial Stadium (photo courtesy of Buffalo Baseball Museum)

War Memorial Stadium (photo courtesy of Buffalo Baseball Museum)

For additional information about the filming of The Natural at War Memorial Stadium, and at other locations in and around Buffalo, New York, see forgottenbuffalo.com.

Robert Redford at War Memorial Stadium (photographer unknown)

Robert Redford at War Memorial Stadium (photographer unknown)

War Memorial was demolished in 1988 and the City of Buffalo constructed in its place a youth sports complex. In 1997 the site was renamed the Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion in honor of a former Buffalo resident.

Football Scoreboard at Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion, Buffalo, New York

Football Scoreboard at Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion, Buffalo, New York

Although the stadium structure is long gone, fortunately for fans of the game, the City of Buffalo preserved two of the four distinctive entrance gates, both located on the eastern side of the former ballpark site.

Former Entrance  to War Memorial Stadium at the Intersection of Best Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Former Entrance to War Memorial Stadium at the Intersection of Best Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

The entrance at the northwest corner of Best Street and Jefferson Avenue was considered War Memorial Stadium’s main gate. During the years that the stadium was configured for baseball, the Best and Jefferson entrance was located just beyond center field.

Steel Gates, Former Entrance  to War Memorial Stadium at the Intersection of Best Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Steel Gates at the Former Entrance to War Memorial Stadium, Intersection of Best Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

A similar entrance at the southwest corner of Dodge Street and Jefferson Avenue also remains at the site. The gate was located behind what was once the left field corner. The left field grandstand was located just to the right of the entrance.

Former Entrance  to War Memorial Stadium at the Intersection of Dodge Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Former Entrance to War Memorial Stadium at the Intersection of Dodge Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

An entrance gate (now demolished) behind the right field corner of War Memorial Memorial was located near the intersection of Best Street and Peach Street.

War Memorial Stadium Exterior Best Street Near Peach Street (photo courtesy of Buffalo Baseball Museum)

War Memorial Stadium Exterior, Best Street Near Peach Street (photo courtesy of Buffalo Baseball Museum)

The City of Buffalo constructed on Best Street a new gated entrance with ticket windows near the location of the original gate.

Entrance to Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion at  Best Street Near Peach Street

Entrance to Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion at Best Street Near Peach Street

A new gated entrance on Dodge Street sits behind what would have been War Memorial Stadium’s home plate.

Entrance to Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion (looking Toward Dodge Street).

Entrance to Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion (looking Toward Dodge Street).

Home plate itself was located in what is now the turf football field, at approximately the 15 yard line on the field’s north end. It is unfortunate that the city did not place a marker where home plate once sat, or where the original goal posts once sat, for that matter.

War Memorial Stadium Former Infield, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavillion, Looking Toward Left Field

War Memorial Stadium Former Infield, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavilion, Looking Toward Left Field

Much of the former infield is now part of the running track that surrounds the northeast end of the turf football field.

War Memorial Stadium Former Infield, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavillion, Looking Toward  Home Plate

War Memorial Stadium Former Infield, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavilion, Looking Toward Home Plate

Metal bleachers placed along side the football field sit near what was once the western most portion of the stadium structure.

Bleachers, Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion, Former Site of First Base Grand Stand

Bleachers, Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion, Former Site of First Base Grand Stand

Concession stands and storage facilities sit in the approximate location of a facilities building that sat just to the west of War Memorial Stadium.

Concession Stands and Storage Areas, Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion, Buffalo, New York

Concession Stands and Storage Areas, Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion, Buffalo, New York

The right field foul line ran parallel to what is now the running track.

War Memorial Stadium Former Right Field Foul Line Corner, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavillion, Looking Toward Right Field Corner (New York' State Division of Military and Naval Affairs Armory in Background).

War Memorial Stadium Former Right Field Foul Line Corner, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavilion, Looking Toward Right Field Corner (New York’ State Division of Military and Naval Affairs Armory in Background).

The youth baseball infield  at the Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion sits in what was once War Memorial Stadium’s right field.

Baseball Field, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavillion, Former War Memorial Stadium Outfield

Baseball Field, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavilion, Former War Memorial Stadium Outfield

The current left field of the youth baseball diamond was once War Memorial Stadium’s left field.

War Memorial Stadium Former Center Field, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavillion, Looking Toward Home Plate

War Memorial Stadium Former Left/Center Field, Johnnie B. Wiley Pavilion, Looking Toward Home Plate

The two preserved entrances to War Memorial Stadium loom large over the current youth baseball outfield.

Backside of Former Entrance  to War Memorial Stadium at the Intersection of Best Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Backside of Former Entrance to War Memorial Stadium at the Intersection of Best Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Backside of Former Entrance  to War Memorial Stadium at the Intersection of Dodge Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Backside of Former Entrance to War Memorial Stadium at the Intersection of Dodge Street and Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Directly to the west of the former site of War Memorial Stadium is Masten Park. The park, like the stadium, was built on top of Prospect Reservoir.

Masten Park, Buffalo, New York

Masten Park, Buffalo, New York

A swimming pool dating to the time of War Memorial Stadium sits just beyond the eastern boundary of Masten Park.

Masten Park Swimming Pool, Buffalo, New York

Masten Park Swimming Pool, Buffalo, New York

The stone wall that once surrounded Prospect Reservoir terminates just prior to the Dodge Street entrance near the turf football field.

Entrance to Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion From Dodge Street

Entrance to Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion From Dodge Street

In addition to the stone wall, Masten park boasts several distinctive concrete stairways into the park which date back to the time of War Memorial Stadium.

Masten Park, Steps to Dodge Street, Buffalo, New York

Masten Park, Steps to Dodge Street, Buffalo, New York

In 1988, the Buffalo Bisons moved to a new downtown ballpark on Washington Street, built just two miles southwest of War Memorial Stadium.

Coca-Cola Field, Buffalo, New York, Home of the Buffalo Bison

Coca-Cola Field, Buffalo, New York, Home of the Buffalo Bisons

Coca-Cola Field (originally known as Pilot Field) includes a wonderful museum with many displays dedicated to the history of War Memorial Stadium.

War Memorial Stadium Display at the Buffalo Baseball Museum

War Memorial Stadium Display at the Buffalo Baseball Museum, Coca-Cola Field

The museum’s curator, John Boutet, has spent the last 25 plus years acquiring mementos and pieces of War Memorial Stadium, as well as Offermann Stadium, to help educate fans about Buffalo’s rich baseball history.

Buffalo Baseball Historian John Boutet With War Memorial Stadium Sign at Buffalo Baseball Museum

Buffalo Baseball Historian John Boutet With War Memorial Stadium Sign at Buffalo Baseball Museum

The museum includes a wooden stadium chair from War Memorial Stadium, painted grey, which resembles the seats once used at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland.

War Memorial Stadium Seat on Display at Buffalo Baseball Museum

War Memorial Stadium Seat on Display at Buffalo Baseball Museum

An authentic War Memorial Stadium turnstile sits at the entrance to the museum.

War Memorial Stadium Turnstile on display at Buffalo Baseball Museum

War Memorial Stadium Turnstile on display at Buffalo Baseball Museum

The museum includes memorabilia of famous Buffalo Bisons, including the uniform once worn by Hall of Famer Johnny Bench.

Johnny Bench's Buffalo Bison Locker at Buffalo Baseball Museum

Johnny Bench’s Buffalo Bisons Locker at Buffalo Baseball Museum

The City of Buffalo has done an admirable job paying homage to memory of historic War Memorial Stadium. A visit to the former site is worth the trip if only to stand in front and take a pictures of the once-grand War Memorial Stadium entrances preserved by the city. For an excellent site devoted to the memory of War Memorial Stadium, with many vintage photographs of the ballpark, visit Rockpile Buffalo. And if you haven’t already, be sure to visit the Buffalo Baseball Museum on the concourse at Coca-Cola Field.

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Buffalo Base Ball Park and Offermann Stadium

January 28th, 2015

Professional baseball was played at the corner of East Ferry and Michigan Avenue in Buffalo, New York, for 72 years beginning in 1889, through the end of the 1960 season.

Postcard, Buffalo Base Ball Park, Buffalo, New York (David Ellis Publisher)

Postcard, Buffalo Base Ball Park, Buffalo, New York (David Ellis Publisher)

Originally known as new Olympic Park (old Olympic Park housed Buffalo baseball teams from 1884 to 1888 at the intersection of Richmond Avenue and Summer Street), in 1907 the ballpark was renamed Buffalo Base Ball Park. The original wooden ballpark structure was raised in 1924 and replaced with a concrete and steel structure, and renamed Bison Stadium. In 1935 the ballpark was renamed Offermann Stadium, in honor of Frank J. Offermann, the recently-deceased former owner of the Buffalo Bison.

Entrance to Offerman Stadium (photo courtesy of the Buffalo Sports Museum)

Entrance to Offermann Stadium (photo courtesy of the Buffalo Sports Museum)

The site’s primary tenant was the International League Buffalo Bison, who played there from 1889 to 1960. According to Philip Lowry’s Green Cathedrals, Major league baseball also was played at this site for one year in 1890 when the Buffalo Bison of the Players League played their home games at new Olympic Park. The Negro National League New York Black Yankees played games at Offermann Park as a neutral site in the 1940s. The Negro American League Indianapolis Clowns played some games at Offermann (neutral site) from 1951 to 1955. Professional football also was played at the site, including National Football League Buffalo franchises (the All-Americans from 1920 to 1923, the Buffalo Bisons from 1924 to 1925, and 1927 to 1929, and the Buffalo Rangers in 1926).

Bethel AME Church, intersection of East Ferry Street and Michigan Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Bethel AME Church, intersection of East Ferry Street and Michigan Avenue, Buffalo, New York

The ballpark was located directly behind what is now the Bethel AME Church (formerly Covenant Presbyterian Church), with home plate near the back of the church at the intersection of East Ferry Street and Michigan Avenue.

Intersection of Masten Avenue and Woodlawn Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Intersection of Masten Avenue and Woodlawn Avenue, Buffalo, New York

The ballpark faced Southeast towards the intersection of Masten Avenue and Woodlawn Avenue. Center field was located on the northwest corner of that intersection. After the ballpark was demolished in 1962, Woodlawn Junior High School was constructed on the site. To see an aerial photograph of Offermann Stadium from 1956 click here (fixbuffalo.blogspot.com).

Corner Stone for Woodlawn Jr. High, Buffalo, New York

Corner Stone for Woodlawn Jr. High, Buffalo, New York

The Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts now occupies the site.

The Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, Located on the Former Site of Offerman Stadium.

The Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, Located on the Former Site of Offermann Stadium.

In 2012, John Boutet of the Buffalo Sports Museum spearheaded a drive to place a historical plaque at the site. The plaque notes that Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, and Hank Aaron all played baseball at Offermann Stadium. Babe Ruth played one of his first professional games at what was then Buffalo Base Ball Park, pitching in 1914 for the International League Baltimore Orioles.

Historical Plaque at the Former Site of Offerman Stadium

Historical Plaque at the Former Site of Offermann Stadium

The former site of right field was located at the northeast corner of Woodlawn Avenue and Michigan Avenue.

Intersection of Woodlawn Avenue and Michigan Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Intersection of Woodlawn Avenue and Michigan Avenue, Buffalo, New York, Former Site of Offermann Stadium’s Right Field

The former site of left field was located at the southwest corner of Masten Avenue and Ferry Street.

Intersection of Masten Avenue and Ferry Street, Buffalo, New York

Intersection of Masten Avenue and Ferry Street, Buffalo, New York, Former Site of Offermann Stadium’s Left Field

The area behind what was once the ballpark’s home plate is now a parking lot for the school.

Former Site of Offerman Stadium Infield

Former Site of Offermann Stadium Infield

In addition to Bethel AME Church, many other structures surrounding the ballpark date to the time of Buffalo Base Ball Park and Offermann Stadium. The houses in the photograph below sat just beyond the ballpark’s center field fence.

Houses at the Intersection of Woodlawn Avenue and Masten Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Houses at the Intersection of Woodlawn Avenue and Masten Avenue, Buffalo, New York

Houses at the intersection Masten Avenue and Ferry Street sat beyond the ballpark’s left field corner.

Houses at the Intersection of Masten Avenue and Ferry Street

Houses at the Intersection of Masten Avenue and Ferry Street

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Building at 78 East Ferry Street ran parallel to third base.

Brick Building Located on Ferry Street, Near Former Site of Third Base Line

NFTA Metro Building Located on Ferry Street, Sat Parallel to Former Site of Third Base Line

In 1961, the Buffalo Bison moved ten blocks south from Offermann Stadium to Buffalo’s War Memorial Stadium.

Aerial View, Buffalo War Memorial, Buffalo, New York

Aerial View, War Memorial Stadium, Buffalo, New York

In 1988, the Bison (American Association) moved two miles southwest to Pilot Stadium, later renamed Coca-Cola Field

Coca-Cola Field, Buffalo, New York, Home of the Buffalo Bison

Coca-Cola Field, Buffalo, New York, Home of the Buffalo Bison

Coca-Cola Field includes a wonderful museum – The Buffalo Sports Museum – featuring memorabilia from and information about Offermann Stadium, as well as Buffalo’s other ballparks. It certainly is worth a visit if you haven’t been there already.

Buffalo Sports Museum Display Featuring Offerman Stadium, as well as Former Buffalo Bison Luke Easter

Buffalo Sports Museum Display Featuring Offermann Stadium, as well as Former Buffalo Bison Luke Easter

The City of Buffalo boasts a rich baseball history, much of it taking place years ago at the intersection of  East Ferry and Michigan Avenue. Although the ballpark is long gone, enough of the neighborhood that existed at the time of Buffalo Base Ball Park and Offermann Stadium remains to give anyone with an interest in the National Pastime with a sense of where the ballpark once stood. The former ballpark site is located just three miles north of Coca-Cola Field and for fans of the game it certainly is worth the trip.

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There Once Was A Ballpark – Rochester’s Silver Stadium/Red Wing Stadium

September 24th, 2014

Silver Stadium was located at 500 Norton Street in Rochester, New York. The ballpark opened in 1929 as Red Wing Stadium, and was home to the International League Rochester Red Wings. The Red Wings were then an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, who also constructed and owned the ballpark.

Red Wing Stadium, Rochester NY (Postcard by Rochester News Co., Curteich Chicago C.T. Art Colortone)

Red Wing Stadium, Rochester NY (Postcard by Rochester News Co., Curteich Chicago C.T. Art Colortone)

The ballpark is notable also as the home field for the Negro National League New York Black Yankees in 1948, and the American Football League Rochester Braves in 1936, and the American League Rochester Tigers in 1936 and 1937.

The main entrance to the stadium was through a gate behind the first base grand stand. Next to that gate was a two story house that served as both a ticket booth and administrative offices for the team. The two-story building is somewhat reminiscent of similar buildings at League Park in Cleveland and Braves Field in Boston.

Entrance to Silver Stadium, Rochester NY (George Tinker Postcard), Now 500 Norton Street

Entrance to Silver Stadium, Rochester NY (George Tinker Postcard), at 500 Norton Street

The house at 500 Norton Street remains at the site today and now is occupied by one of the city’s four Neighborhood Service Centers.

500 Norton Street, Former Ticket and Administrative Offices, Silver Stadium, Rochester NY

500 Norton Street, Former Ticket and Administrative Offices, Silver Stadium, Rochester NY

Behind the building at 500 Norton Street is a one story structure that was added to the site after the ballpark’s demolition.

Back Side of 500 Norton Street, Former Ticket And Administrative Offices for Silver Stadium

Back Side of 500 Norton Street, Former Ticket And Administrative Offices for Silver Stadium

On the eastern side of the building at 500 Norton Street are three plaques honoring the history of the ballpark.

Historical Plaques Located at Site of Silver Stadium's Former Ticket And Administrative Offices

Historical Plaques Located at Site of Silver Stadium’s Former Ticket And Administrative Offices

The first plaque details what the land there was used for prior to construction of the ballpark, as well as significant milestones in the ballpark’s history.

Plaque Honoring History of Silver Stadium

Plaque Honoring History of the Site That Was Once Silver Stadium

In 1956, local Rochester businessman Morrie Silver helped purchase the team and it’s stadium from the St. Louis Cardinals, thus ensuring that the Red Wings would remain in Rochester should the Cardinals decide to relocate to another town. It is for this reason that Mr. Silver is credited with saving professional baseball for the City of Rochester.

Plaque Honoring Morrie Silver at Former Site of Silver Stadium, Rochester NY

Plaque Honoring Morrie Silver at Former Site of Silver Stadium, Rochester NY

In 1960 the St. Louis Cardinals departed Rochester and the Baltimore Orioles became affiliated with the International League Red Wings. In 1968 Red Wing Stadium was renamed Silver Stadium in honor of the team’s owner. After Mr. Silver’s death in 1974, his widow Anna Silver remained with the team as a Member of the Board of Directors from 1975 to 1990, and as Chairperson of Board from 1981-1990. The Silver’s daughter Naomi Silver currently serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Red Wings.

Silver Stadium Historic Plaque, Rochester NY

Silver Stadium Historic Plaque, Rochester NY

Silver Stadium’s home plate was located directly north of the two story house that served as the ballpark’s main entrance.

Aerial View of Red Wing Stadium, Rochester NY (Albert R. Stone Negative Collection, Rochester Museum & Science Center)

Aerial View of Red Wing Stadium, Rochester NY (Albert R. Stone Negative Collection, Rochester Museum & Science Center)

What appears to be the outline of Silver Stadium’s first and third base foul lines still can be seen in the Google Maps Satellite View of the former Silver Stadium Site (you will need to zoom in on the site).

A Piece of Silver Stadium Rises Like a Phoenix Near Former Location of Home Plate Grand Stand

A chunk of Silver Stadium Nestled in the Grass Near the Former Location of Home Plate Grand Stand

The ballpark faced east, with the first base foul line running diagonally toward Norton Street.

Looking Toward Former Location of First Base From Home Plate, Silver Stadium

Looking Toward Former Location of First Base From Home Plate, Silver Stadium

Silver Stadium was a single-deck ballpark with a roof covering the grandstand from first base around to third base. Uncovered bleachers extended along the foul lines toward right field with a smaller uncovered section near left field.

Silver Stadium, Rochester NY (Chrome Postcard)

Silver Stadium, Rochester NY (Chrome Postcard)

The third base foul line ran diagonally toward Bastion Street.

Looking Toward Former Location of Third Base From Home Plate, Silver Stadium

Looking Toward Former Location of Third Base From Home Plate, Silver Stadium

Silver Stadium closed after the 1996 season and the following year the ballpark was demolished. In its place the city constructed 14621 Industrial Park (the reference to 14621 is the area’s zip code).

Entrance at Intersection of Excel Drive and Norton Street to 14621 Industrial Park

Entrance at Intersection of Excel Drive and Norton Street to 14621 Industrial Park

Center field was located due east of home plate. Two single story warehouse buildings now sit just beyond what used to be the center field fence. The entire area that once encompassed center field remains an open field.

Looking Toward Former Location of Center Field From Home Plate, Silver Stadium

Looking Toward Former Location of Center Field From Home Plate, Silver Stadium

After the ballpark’s demolition, the city added a new street, Excel Drive, which runs north and south through the center of the former ballpark site.

Excel Drive, Rochester NY, Intersecting Silver Stadium Infield

Excel Drive, Rochester NY, Intersecting Silver Stadium Infield

Where once sat the third base grandstand is now a one-story industrial building at 85 Excel Drive, currently housing SPEX Precision Machine Technologies.

85 Excel Drive, SPEX Precision Machine Technologies

85 Excel Drive, SPEX Precision Machine Technologies

In what was once the right field corner and the right field bleachers sits a large warehouse at 10 Excel Drive. Just beyond the warehouse, across Norton Street, is Our Lady of Perpetual Help, whose steeple was readily visible beyond the right field bleachers back during the time of Silver Stadium.

Looking Toward Former Location of Right Field From Home Plate, Silver Stadium

Looking Toward Former Location of Right Field From Home Plate, Silver Stadium, with Our Lady of Perpetual Help’s Steeple Still Visible

The building at 10 Excel Drive currently houses Premier Sign Systems. Its parking lot sits atop the right field corner.

10 Excel Drive, Rochester NY, Premier Sign Systems

10 Excel Drive, Rochester NY, Premier Sign Systems

In what was once left field also sits a large one-story industrial building and parking lot.

Looking Toward Former Location of Left Field From Home Plate, Silver Stadium

Looking Toward Former Location of Left Field From Home Plate, Silver Stadium

That building, located at 80 Excel Drive, currently houses Macauto USA Corp.

80 Excel Drive, Rochester NY, Macauto USA Corp.

80 Excel Drive, Rochester NY, Macauto USA Corp.

Second base and beginning of the outfield is marked by Excel Drive.

Former Location of Second Base Looking Toward Home Plate, Silver Stadium

Former Location of Second Base Looking Toward Home Plate, Silver Stadium

Many of the houses that sat along the perimeter of Silver Stadium remain to this day.

Houses Fronting Norton Street Located Beyond Former Site of Silver Stadium Right Field

Houses Fronting Norton Street Located Beyond Former Site of Silver Stadium Right Field

In addition, several of the industrial buildings that sat beyond the home plate grandstand remain at the site.

Looking Toward Former Location of Home Plate Grand Stand (From Home Plate), Silver Stadium

Looking Toward Former Location of Home Plate Grand Stand (From Home Plate), Silver Stadium

The former school building at 1550 N Clinton Street, which sat behind the first base grandstand, remains as well, and now houses a ministry.

1550 N Clinton Avenue, Rochester NY, New Born Fellowship Ministries

1550 N Clinton Avenue, Rochester NY, New Born Fellowship Ministries

In 1997, the Red Wings moved three miles south of Silver Stadium to a new state-of-the-art minor league facility located at 333 N. Plymouth Avenue.

Exterior of Frontier Field, Rochester NY

Exterior of Frontier Field, Rochester NY

Frontier Field remains one of the finest ballparks in minor league baseball. When comparing Silver Stadium to Frontier Field it is easy to appreciate the team’s decision to construct a new ballpark in the heart of downtown Rochester.

Frontier Field, Home of the Rochester Red Wings

Frontier Field, Home of the Rochester Red Wings

Frontier Field pays homage to Morrie Silver with a statue outside the ballpark’s front gates.

Statue of Morrie Silver, Frontier Field, Rochester NY

Statue of Morrie Silver, Frontier Field, Rochester NY

The plaque at Mr. Silver’s feet states, in part: “The man who saved baseball for Rochester in 1957. Spearheading a stock drive, he and 8,221 others bought shares in the team in order to purchase the franchise and the stadium from the St. Louis Cardinals.”

Plaque Honoring Morrie Silver at Frontier Field

Plaque Honoring Morrie Silver at Frontier Field

Although Silver Stadium is now a lost ballpark, much of the outfield and many of the buildings surrounding the stadium site remain as they were were back when baseball was played at 500 Norton Avenue.

Frontier Field, Home of the Rochester Red Wings

Frontier Field, Home of the Rochester Red Wings

If you live in Rochester and attend Red Wing games, a pilgrimage just three miles south of Frontier Field to the former site of Silver Stadium is a must. The City of Rochester should place a marker indicating where home plate once sat. Given the information above, it should not be difficult to locate the exact spot.

Many great ballplayers and managers made the ballpark their home, including Rochester Hall of Famers and Baseball Hall of Famers Cal Ripken, Jr., Red Schoendienst, Earl Weaver, and Johnny Mize. Who knows? Given how much of the field remains unencumbered, a baseball game very well could break out on that field at any time, helping to bring back to that area a game that was played there for over 60 years.

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Charlie Ebbets’s Field

January 17th, 2013

Ebbets Field was home to the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1913 until 1957. The ballpark was the brainchild of Dodgers owner Charlie Ebbet. He spent four years piecing together the land necessary to construct the ballpark when it became clear that the Dodgers’ home at Washington Park was no longer suitable.

Ebbets Field Post Card (Acacia Card Co. NY)

Located in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, the stadium’s front entrance was at the northeast corner of McKeever and Sullivan Place.

Entrance to Ebbets Field, McKeever and Sullivan Place (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

Ebbets Field Apartments, a housing project constructed pursuant to the Mitchell-Lama Program and rising 25 stories above the former playing field, now occupies the site.

Corner of McKeever and Sullivan Place Circa 2001

Although no part of the former ballpark remains, the apartment building does pay homage to the former occupant of the site. The front entrance of the building near the northwest corner of Bedford Avenue and Sullivan Place includes a marble plaque honoring Ebbets Field.

Ebbets Field Apartments Plaque

Dated 1962, the inscription states: “This is the former site of Ebbets Field.”

Plaque Honoring Ebbets Field

The memory of Jackie Robinson and the ballpark are honored with the Jackie Robinson Elementary School and Ebbets Field Middle School, both located opposite the ballpark site on McKeever Place. Both schools were built in the 1960’s.

Jackie Robinson Elementary School on McKeever Place

When Ebbets Field was constructed in 1912, much of the land and buildings surrounding the ballpark still had a small town feel.

Entrance to Ebbets Field Looking Toward McKeever Place (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

The ballpark’s opening in 1913 brought with it construction of block-long, one story brick buildings surrounding the site.

One Story Industrial Buildings Located One Block South of Ebbets Field on McKeever and Dating to Time of Ebbets Field

The right field corner of the ballpark was located at the northwest corner of Bedford Avenue and Sullivan Place.

Bedford Avenue and Sullivan Place, Ebbets Field’s Former Right Field Corner

The only portion of the ballpark not surrounded by grandstands was right field.

Right Field Wall Ebbets Field, Bedford Avenue (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

A brown brick wall with the letters “EBBETS FIELD”  runs parallel to former site of the right field wall along Bedford Avenue, approximately 15 feet from original wall’s location.

Parking Lot Located in Former Location of Right Field

Two buildings dating from the time of Ebbets Field remain on Bedford Avenue. The first, at the corner of Montgomery and Bedford, is a four-story walk up.

Four-story Walk Up at Coerner of Montgomery and Bedford

The second, attached to the four-story walk up at mid block, is a one story building currently housing a pharmacy.

Corner of Bedford Avenue and Sullivan Place with Rite Aid Pharmacy Located in Building that Dates to Ebbets Field

First base once ran parallel to Sullivan Place.

Former Location of  Ebbets Field First Base Grandstand Along Sullivan Place, Looking in Direction of Home Plate.

Across the street from the Ebbets Field Apartments on Sullivan Place are several one-story buildings that also date to the time of Ebbets Field.

Sullivan Place Across the Street from Former Site of Ebbets Field’s First Base

At the southwest corner of Sullivan Place and Bedford Avenue is a unique one story building that currently houses a Firestone Tire Store. This building also dates to the time of Ebbets Field. The corner of the building includes a mural and a painted tribute to New York City police officers.

Tire Store at Corner of Sullivan Place and Bedford Avenue

Much of the former site of right and center fields is a plaza located one story above the former playing field, on top of a parking garage.

Right Field Line Looking Toward Second Base

Up until at least 2001, a sign in the courtyard above what would have been the infield cautioned:

Please NO
Ball Playing
Dogs Allowed
Bicycle Riding
This Area For Tenants Of Ebbets Field Appts Only

Sign Located in Ebbets Field Apartments Near Former Location of Second Base, Circa 2001

Ebbets Field is one of the most storied lost ballparks. Unfortunately, no piece or artifact of the old ballpark remains at the site. However, just two miles south of the Ebbets Field Apartments, down Flatbush Avenue, is a flag pole that once sat in center field, now residing in front of the Barclay Center. For more information on the well-traveled flag pole, see: Ebbets Field Flag Pole.

The New York Mets current stadium, Citi Field, pays homage to Ebbets Field with a front entrance and rotunda that evoke the lost ballpark.

Citi Field, Home of the New York Mets

Should you find yourself with extra time before or after a Mets game, the former site of Ebbets Field is only 13 miles southwest of Citi Field down Grand Central Parkway and the Jackie Robinson Parkway. For any true fan of the National Pastime, it is well worth the trip.

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The Polo Grounds, Coogan’s Bluff, and the Brush Memorial Stairway

January 9th, 2013

The Polo Grounds was located in Harlem, New York, at 157th Street and 8th Avenue. Various incarnations of ballparks at that location were home to three different major league teams: the National League New York Giants from 1891 to 1957, the New York Yankees from 1913 to 1922, and the New York Mets in 1962 and 1963, as well as a team from the Players’ League in 1890 also known as the Giants) .   Prior to 1890, a sports venue known as the Polo Grounds was located in Manhattan near Central Park, and a second venue, also known as the Polo Grounds, was located at 155th Street and 8th Avenue on a plot adjacent to the Polo Grounds at 157th Street.

Postcard of the Polo Grounds Postcard Showing Newly Rebuilt Ballpark After Fire Destroyed the Original Ballpark (Success Postal Card Co., photo New York Times)

The original wooden ballpark at 157th Street was destroyed by fire in 1911 and a new concrete and steel ballpark was constructed on the site.

Postcard of the Polo Grounds (H. Pinkelstein & Sons, American Art Publishing)

The new Polo Grounds were the third concrete and steel ballpark in the country.

Polo Ground’s Concrete and Steel Construction (Library of Congress  Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

Coogan’s Bluff  (not to be confused with the movie of the same name starring Clint Eastwood) was located northwest of the Polo Grounds just beyond home plate at 155th Street and Edgecombe Avenue. The playing field of the Polo Grounds sat in Coogan’s Hollow

New York City Park Sign Advertising Coogan’s Bluff

Rock outcroppings just northwest of the ballpark at Harlem River Driveway (which dissects Coogan’s Bluff) provided an excellent vantage point for free viewing of at least portions of the ball field.

View of Polo Grounds From Coogan’s Bluff at Harlem River Driveway (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

Those rock outcroppings remain to this day along Harlem River Driveway, providing an excellent view now of Polo Grounds Towers.

Looking Southeast Toward Polo Grounds Tower No. 4 from Coogan’s Bluff and Harlem River Driveway

In 1913 a stairway at 157th Street and Edgecomb Avenue in Harlem was constructed to allow subway riders who departed the 155th Street station more direct access to the ballpark at Harlem River Driveway. That stairway remains, a lasting baseball relic of the Polo Grounds at its former site.

Stairway at 157th Street and Edgecomb Avenue.

The stairs, whose inscription states  “The John T. Brush Stairway Presented by the New York Giants,” was dedicated in 1913 to the former Giants’ owner.

“The John T. Brush Stairway Presented by the New York Giants”

The Brush Memorial Stairway emptied onto the sidewalk at Harlem River Driveway, allowing fans direct access into the Polo Grounds from Harlem River Driveway.

Polo Grounds and the Harlem River Driveway (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

A second stairway that would have taken fans north of the ballpark at ground level still exists alongside Harlem River Driveway.

Looking Northeast Down Harlem River Driveway and Stairway to Former Site of Polo Grounds

Old Yankee Stadium was located southeast of the Polo Grounds, just across the Harlem River.

Aerial View of Yankee Stadium and Polo Grounds (photo from stuffnobodycaresabout.com)

Aerial View of Old Yankee Stadium and the Polo Ground Towers

Aerial View of Old Yankee Stadium and the Polo Ground Towers

In 1923, Yankee Stadium was visible from inside the Polo Grounds, across the Harlem River.

Polo Grounds, Opening Day 1923, with Yankee Stadium Visible Beyond Center Field (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

Prior to its demise in 2009, Old Yankee Stadium was still visible from Coogan’s Bluff at Harlem River Driveway looking southeast past the Polo Grounds Towers.

View of Old Yankee Stadium Looking Beyond Former Site of Polo Grounds, Circa 2001

The Polo Grounds Towers, which were built on the ballpark’s former site and completed in 1968, consist of four high rise apartments with a total of over 1600 units.

Entrance to Polo Grounds Towers on 8th Avenue

A plaque marking the approximate location of home plate is located on a column of Tower No. 4.

Plaque Honoring Polo Grounds and Former Location of Home Plate

The apartment building located at 155 Edgecombe Avenue is visible from the former location of home plate looking back toward Coogan’s Bluff.

Plaque Marking Location of Home Pate, with Apartment Building at 555 Edgecombe Avenue in Background

A sliver of that same apartment building is visible in top right corner of the postcard below.

Postcard of the Polo Grounds Showing Buildings Lining Edgecombe Avenue on Coogan’s Bluff (Alfred Mainzer, NY, NY, Curteich-Chicago)

The New York Giants abandoned the Polo Grounds in 1957, moving to San Francisco and Seal Stadium in 1958 and then Candlestick Park in 1960. Subsequent to the Mets move to Shea Stadium in 1964, the Polo Grounds was demolished.

Polo Grounds During the 1912 World Series (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

Although nothing remains at the actual ballpark site, the Brush Memorial Stairway does provide a link to the past. The stairway has sat in obscurity and disrepair for years, however an effort is now underway to restore the stairway and, with it, a piece of New York’s baseball past and baseball glory. See MLB.com article about restoration of John T. Brush Stairway [Editor’s Note: The Brush Memorial Stairway has been restored and is open for use. Woods surrounding the stairway have been turned into a small park with lighting, making the stairway quite accessible. A sign has been placed on Edgecombe Avenue at the entrance to the stairway.]

Polo Grounds During the 1913 World Series (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

 

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I Still Can’t Believe They Tore Down Old Yankee Stadium

October 18th, 2011

Old Yankee Stadium was the home of the New York Yankees (formerly the Baltimore Orioles) from 1923 to 2008.

Old Yankee Stadium

It was located at 161st Street and River Avenue in the Bronx, across 161st Street from the new Yankee Stadium.

Old Yankee Stadium Gate 4 Waiting to Enter

The stadium was renovated extensively during the late 1970s.  Gate 2, however, was one of the few sections to retain much of its original appearance.  In 2010 an effort was underway to save Gate 2 from demolition.  Unfortunately, that effort failed and Gate 2, along with the rest of the stadium, met the wrecking ball.

Old Yankee Stadium Gate 2

Arriving at old Yankee Stadium via the 161st Street Subway station provided fans a terrific panoramic view of the back of the stadium.

Old Yankee Stadium as seen from the Outbound 161st Subway Station

The inside of old Yankee Stadium seemed cavernous, especially the view from the upper deck.

Batting Practice at Old Yankee Stadium as seen from Right Field Upper Deck

The color scheme of old Yankee  Stadium was blue, blue, and more blue.

Yankee Blue at Old Yankee Stadium

Monument Park, located on what once  was the expansive back portion of old Yankee Stadium’s center field, was moved to new Yankee Stadium.

Monument Park and Yankees Bullpen at Old Yankee Stadium

The Yankees bullpen was located in left-center field to the left of a portion of the old center-field bleachers known as “the black.”  The bleachers had been painted black to facilitate the “batter’s eye,” helping batters at home plate pick up the pitch being thrown at them.

Old Yankee Stadium Home Team Bullpen

The visiting team bullpen was located beyond left field, to the left of monument park.

Old Yankee Stadium Visitor's Bullpen - Orioles' Steve Trachsel Pitching Under Watchful Eye of Pitching Coach Leo Mazzone

The foul poles were covered in layers of yellow paint.

Old Yankee Stadium Right Field and Left Field Foul Poles

Passengers riding the train past the 161st Street station had a quick view  inside  the stadium – at no charge other than the cost of a subway token.

A Second's Worth of Free Baseball from the Train at Old Yankee Stadium

The seating  bowl rose high above the playing field, requiring that those sitting at the top of the stadium have both good eyesight and a strong stomach.

A Sense of Vertigo Old Yankee Stadium Style

The light stanchions of old Yankee Stadium were located flush along the top of the roof.

Old Yankee Stadium Lights Above Left Field

The white plastic tarp placed during rain delays at old Yankee Stadium sat in contrast to the blue, blue seats of the upper and lower seating bowl.

Rain Delay at Old Yankee Stadium

As proof that nothing is sacred and nothing lasts forever, in 2006, the Yankees broke ground on a new Yankee Stadium to be located across the street from old Yankee Stadium.

New Yankee Stadium Under Construction as seen from Behind Left Field Grandstand Circa 2007

During the 2008 season, new Yankee Stadium could be seen from inside old Yankee Stadium by fans sitting in right field.

Old Yankee Stadium with New Yankee Stadium Under Construction Circa April 2008

Old Yankee Stadium Center Field with New Yankee Stadium in Background Circa July 2008

The original frieze of old Yankee Stadium was replicated in new Yankee Stadium.

Post-1978 old Yankee Stadium Frieze with New Yankee Stadium Frieze in Background

The site  of old Yankee Stadium is now a public park known as “Heritage Field.”

Old Yankee Stadium Site at Heritage Field

For baseball fans  accustomed to watching Yankees games either in person or on television, the Bronx County Courthouse is a familiar site, having once loomed over right center field at old Yankee Stadium.

Old Yankee Stadium Site with Bronx County Courthouse in Background

The Giant 138 foot Louisville Slugger Bat (which serves as an exhaust pipe for the subway) remains in its original location outside the former site of old Yankee Stadium.

The Giant Louisville Slugger Bat from Old Yankee Stadium Remains

The playing field at old Yankee Stadium has been recreated with the infield in its original spot.   Heritage Field includes a total of three ball fields.  In what was once center field is a section of the frieze from old Yankee Stadium.

View of Old Yankee Stadium Site from Behind Home Plate with Section of Frieze in Background

The sidewalk surrounding Heritage Field includes markers recognizing significant moments in the history of old Yankee Stadium.

Marker Honoring One of the Significant Moments at Old Yankee Stadium

The old Yankee Stadium site is visible from within new Yankee Stadium from the escalator above the Hall of Legends.

Old Yankee Stadium Site as seen from New Yankee Stadium Hall of Legends

The site of home plate is visible  between the Hall of Legends columns.

Site of Old Yankee Stadium Home Plate as seen from Hall of Legends

The giant Louisville Slugger bat is visible  as well.

Old Yankee Stadium Bat as seen from Hall of Legends

At the top of the stadium along the first base line, the old Yankee Stadium site and Heritage Field are visible behind the last row of seats.

Old Yankee Stadium Site as seen through New Yankee Stadium Upper Deck

Having now visited the old Yankee Stadium site and seen a game in the new stadium, I still can’t believe they tore down old Yankee Stadium.  Sure, future generations of fans will be able to stand where the stadium once stood and perhaps throw around a baseball.  This certainly is better than having turned the site  into a parking lot.  But, it is little solace for those of us who wished the city and the team  had found a way to build new Yankee Stadium in place of the old, keeping the playing field the same.  In the end, old Yankee Stadium is now just another lost ballpark and the “House that Ruth Built” is now nothing more than a memory.

Old Yankee Stadium Site as seen from Top of New Yankee Stadium First Base Side

 

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Shea Stadium’s Ghost in the Shadow of Citi Field

October 17th, 2011

Shea Stadium was home to the New York Mets from 1964 to 2008.

Approaching Shea Stadium from the No. 7 Train

Located in Flushing, New York, adjacent to the former grounds of the 1964 Worlds Fair, Shea was the second of the so-called “cookie cutter,” multi purpose stadiums, following RFK stadium (formerly D.C. Stadium), which opened in 1961.

Shea Stadium Gate E Located Near Right Field

Stadium access by subway was behind the stadium via stairs to the Willets Point subway stop.

Shea Stadium Beyond Stairs To Willets Point Subway Station

The stadium facade was for the most part a series of walking ramps from the ground floor to the upper reaches of the stadium.

Shea Stadium Exterior

Out beyond center field was a large parking lot which, thankfully, was not visible from lower seating bowl.

Shea Stadium on a Beautiful Summer's Afternoon

Prior to construction beginning on Citi Field, the area beyond center field seemed almost bucolic.

Shea Stadium Outfield Pre Citi Field Construction

Shea Stadium’s home run apple, which rose out of an upside down top hat, sat just beyond right-center field.

Shea Stadium's Home Run Apple

The right-field scoreboard included a lighted-neon panoramic outline of the New York City skyline.

Shea Stadium Right Field Scoreboard

On a clear, summer afternoon, Shea Stadium was a great place to watch a ballgame.

Shea Stadium With Pedro Martinez on the Mound

The distance from home plate to dead center field was 410 feet, one of the longest in the majors.

Shea Stadium - the View from Center Field

The view from inside the stadium seating area changed dramatically when construction began on Citi Field.

Shea Stadium Right Field Scoreboard with Citi Field In Background

The juxtaposition of the two stadiums provided plenty of interesting camera angles for capturing the past and the future of baseball in Flushing, NY.

View of Citi Field from Shea Stadium Section 27

From 2006 until its closing in 2008, every visit to Shea Stadium was a reminder that the ballpark’s days were numbered.

Looking Through Shea Stadium Ramp toward Citi Field

It seemed a shame that the team couldn’t have found a way to incorporate part of the old stadium structure in the new ballpark.

Can't We Both Just Get Along? Shea and Citi Field Side by Side

Still, Citi Field does pay homage to its predecessor in several ways.  The former site of Shea Stadium is marked in parking lot B of Citi Field.

Shea Stadium Home Plate Marker

Arrive several hours before game time and you should have no problem running the bases of old Shea Stadium.

Shea Stadium Home Plate Marker Looking Toward PItchers Mound

In addition to home plate and the pitcher’s mound, each base is denoted with a bronze marker.  The figurine etched into the marker denotes the neon ballplayers that once graced the gate entrances of Shea Stadium.

Shea Stadium First Base Marker

The home run apple was moved from its former location beyond Shea Stadium’s right-center field to Citi Field’s front entrance just beyond the Willets Point subway stop.

Shea Stadium Home Run Apple Adorns Citi Field Parking Lot

The NYC Neon skyline was removed from the top of Shea Stadium’s right-field scoreboard and placed atop Citi Field’s Shake Shack located beyond center field.

NYC Skyline Removed From Shea's Old Right Field Scoreboard

Also located beyond the outfield is the Shea bridge, a pedestrian walkway honoring William Shea.

Shea Bridge Relocated to Citi Field

A plaque on the side of the bridge pays homage to Mr. Shea, the namesake of the Mets’ former ballpark.

Plaque Attached to Shea Bridge at Citi Field

Although Shea Stadium has joined the ever-growing list of lost ballparks, its memory lives on at the Mets’ new home, Citi Field.  It’s ghost now sits in Citi Field’s shadow, more specifically, parking lot B.

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Hilltop Park And the Church of Baseball

December 17th, 2010

Perched on a hill overlooking the Hudson River at the southwest corner of Broadway and 168th Street in Washington Heights was Hilltop Park, the original home ball field of the New York Yankees (known then as the Highlanders).

Entrance to Hilltop Park (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

The third base grandstand, which once ran parallel to Fort Washington Avenue, is shown in the picture below.

The first base grandstand, depicted in the photograph below, ran parallel to 165th Street.

Kid Gleason of the Chicago White Sox at Hilltop Park (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

The New York Presbyterian/Columbia Medical Center, erected in the 1920’s, now engulfs the entire site.

American League Park Circa 1910 (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

Nothing remains of the old ballpark.

New York Presbyterian/Columbia Medical Center, Former Site of Hilltop Park

In a courtyard just off Fort Washington Avenue, between 165th and 168th Streets, is a bronze plaque marking the former location of home plate.

Former Site of Hilltop Park’s Home Plate

The New York Yankees donated the plaque to the hospital and unveiled it in 1993 during a dedication attended by former Highlanders pitcher Chet Hoff, who was then 102 years old.  Mr. Hoff went on to become the oldest living ex-major-leaguer ever, before his death five years later.

Bronze Plaque Honoring Former Location of Hilltop Park

This famous picture (below) of Ty Cobb sliding into third base, and third baseman Jimmy Austin, was taken at Hilltop Park.

Ty Cobb Sliding Into Third Base at Hilltop Park (photo image courtesy of Mike’s Chicago White Sox website at  www.freewebs.com/karamaxjoe/jimmyaustinjersey.htm  

The location of third base, where this picture was taken, is inside the Presbyterian Building shown in the photo below, just 90 feet beyond where the home plate marker resides.

The Presbyterian Building, Former Site of Third Base at Hilltop Park

The medical center’s chapel – the Pauline A. Hartford Memorial Chapel – is  constructed on what once was Hilltop Park’s right field.  It is, literally, a true “church of baseball.”

Pauline A Hartford Memorial Chapel (With Rose Window Seen Through Trees), Located in Former Site of Hilltop Park Right Field

UPDATE – AUGUST 2011

The courtyard off Fort Washington Street currently is under construction and the bronze plaque honoring the former location of home plate has been removed.

Sign On Fort Washington Street Announcing Construction In Courtyard

As such, the courtyard is closed off to visitors.

Courtyard as seen through chain link fence

 

Although the actual ballpark is long gone, the distinctive, attached apartment buildings at the corner of 168th and Broadway remain from the time of Hilltop Park.  Those buildings appear in the photograph below.

Players Practicing at Hilltop Park (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

The photograph below depicts those same buildings, along with a Victorian style stone building, long gone, that sat along Broadway, just south of 168th Street.

New York Highlander Curt Coleman at Hilltop Park (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

The buildings  as they appear today facing 168th Street, at the intersection of 168th and Broadway.

Apartments Facing 168th Street

The apartment buildings house offices, a restaurant, and Melbran Pharmacy.

Melbran Pharmacy at the Corner of 168th and Broadway

The former ballpark site is easily accessible via the 168th Street Subway Station.

Subway Stop at 168th and Broadway

The lost ballpark located up Broadway, 120 blocks north on Times Square, is worth a visit for any true New York Yankees fan and is only a two mile drive from the Yankees current home at 161st  Street in the Bronx.  Just take the Macombs Dam Bridge across the Harlem River to west 155th Street to Broadway, and head north to 165th  Street. Or, take the subway to 168th Street Station.

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Still Hard to Fathom

April 7th, 2010

A Sea of Blue Surrounding an Island of Green

Just about every day I visit demolitionofyankeestadium.com to view the amazing pictures posted there documenting the destruction of an American icon. The latest pictures show only a small portion of the original stadium structure remaining. As a fan of the game I still cannot believe that the City of New York has failed to retain even a small portion of the original stadium for posterity.

Gone Now, All Gone

In recognition of the sad passing of old Yankee Stadium, I’ve posted a few  pictures taken there over the years.

Stepping Back in time

Although an Orioles fan, I can appreciate the history of the stadium and am sorry to see her become just another lost ballpark.

Beer Man Needed Now More Than Ever

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