Posts Tagged ‘Bernard McKenna’

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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Baltimore’s Ballparks Found – Aerial Photos of Baltimore’s Lost Ballparks

November 17th, 2013

One of the more significant “unknowns” concerning Baltimore’ s lost ballparks has been the exact, former location of Maryland Baseball Park, which from 1921 to 1932 was the home ballpark of the Baltimore Black Sox. Newspaper accounts of the ballpark’s location offer little more than the ballpark’s general location at the intersection of Bush Street and Russell Street, near the Ridgely street car line. Because there is no known photographs of the ballpark, its actual location at the intersection of Bush and Russell remained a mystery.

Bernard McKenna, a professor at the University of Delaware, was convinced there had to be a photograph of the ballpark somewhere. His research led him to a website maintained by Johns Hopkins University. In 1927 the Maryland Port Administration arranged for aerial photographs to be taken of Baltimore, Maryland. Additional aerial photographs were taken in 1937. In 2011, Johns Hopkins University digitized these photographs and made them available on line.

Hidden in plain site within those aerial photographs were several of Baltimore’s Lost Ballparks, including the previously elusive Maryland Baseball Park. Below is a rundown of the photographs Mr. McKenna uncovered (as well as one provided by Larry Jendras, Jr.). Just click on the picture for a more detailed view of the image. Click on the ballpark name for more information about the various lost ballparks.

Maryland Baseball Park (also known as Maryland Park), home of the Baltimore Black Sox from 1921 to 1932, was located at the intersection of Bush and Russell Street on what is now 1801 Annapolis Road. Wheelabrator, a sold waste incinerator facility, now occupies the former site of Maryland Baseball Park.

Maryland Port Administration Aerial View of Maryland Park Circa 1927 - intersection of Bush and Russell Streets and Annapolis Road (image located at jscholarship.library.jhu.edu)

Bugle Field, home of the Baltimore Elite Giants from 1938 to 1949, was located at the the southwest corner Federal Street and Edison Highway. The Rockland Industries Building now sits in the footprint of the original grandstand.

Maryland Port Administration Aerial View of Bugle Field Circa 1937 - Intersection of Federal Street and Edison Highway (image located at jscholarship.library.jhu.edu)

Westport Stadium, home of the 1950 Baltimore Elite Giants, was located on a triangular shaped piece of property north of the intersection of Patapsco Avenue and Annapolis Road and just south of the Baltimore Washington Parkway (I-295). The site is now a vacant lot just north of Patapsco Arena. This aerial photograph, a USGS image, was provided courtesy of Larry Jendras, Jr.

USGS Image Of Westport Stadium Circa 1950 (Road to Left of Home Plate is Annapolis Road) (Thanks to Larry Jendras, Jr.)

Terrapin Park (later known as Oriole Park), located at the northwest corner of 29th Street and Greenmount Avenue, was home to the Federal League Baltimore Terrapins in 1914 and 1915, the International League Orioles from 1916 to 1944, and the Baltimore Elite Giants from 1938 to 1944. The Barclay School and the former E.I. duPont de Nemours & Co. Inc. Finishes Division, sit in the former location of the ballpark’s grandstand.

Maryland Port Administration Aerial View of Oriole Park Circa 1937 (image located at jscholarship.library.jhu.edu)

Terrapin Park was located directly across East 29th Street from American League Park, which was located at southwest corner of 29th and Greenmount. American League Park (also known as Oriole Park) was the former home ballpark of the 1901-02 American League Baltimore Orioles and the 1903-1914 International League Baltimore Orioles. The location of that ballpark is shown in the map below. American League Park was the home field where Babe Ruth played for the International League Orioles during his one season of professional baseball in Baltimore. 

Atlas of the City of Baltimore, Maryland Topographical Survey Commission 1914 (mdhistory.net)

Memorial Stadium, located at the northeast corner of Elerslie Avenue and 33rd Street, was built on the site of an earlier stadium constructed in 1922, known as Baltimore Stadium, Venable Stadium, and Municipal Stadium. Shown in the photograph below is Municipal Stadium, a large earthen ballpark that hosted college football as well as the International League Baltimore Orioles from 1944 to 1953.

Maryland Port Administration Aerial View of Baltimore's Municipal Stadium Circa 1937 (image located at jscholarship.library.jhu.edu)

The 1937 aerial photograph reproduced below shows both Terrapin Park/Oriole Park and Municipal Stadium, located less than one mile apart. Also included in that aerial shot is the former site of American League Park, located one block south of Terrapin Park/Oriole Park, and the former site of Union Park, located four blocks south of Terrapin Park/Oriole Park at the intersection of 25th Street and Guilford Avenue. Union Park was the home to the 1890’s world champion National League Baltimore Orioles.

Maryland Port Administration Aerial View of Oriole Park and Municipal Stadium Circa 1937 (image located at jscholarship.library.jhu.edu)

Although all these ballparks are now lost to time, the Maryland Port Administration’s incredible photographs help the ballparks’ live on. Many thanks to Johns Hopkins University for putting these photographs on line, and thanks to Mr. McKenna for having found the images of the ballparks hidden within.

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