Old Ball Parks

The other night my wife and I were at dinner with our friends from Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society. Of course we were talking baseball. The subject turned to the old ball parks that are long gone and now just a memory.

Being from Philadelphia, my friends were reminiscing about the Philadelphia Phillies old Connie Mack Stadium. They talked about how we had to park on the street most of the time because Connie Mack Stadium didn't have much of a parking lot. And how sometimes you're seat would be located directly behind a steel "I" beam.

Every one of those old ball parks had something unique about it. Like cosy little Crosley Field in Cincinnati. The Red's ball park had a grass terrace in center field that sloped up to the center field fence. Plus, it only held about 25,000 fans.

Or Brooklyn's Ebbets Field which was home to the Dodgers for forty four seasons. Ebbets Field was a small ball park. One of it's features were the advertisements all over the outfield fence.

Then there was the huge outfield and double deck grandstand of Pittsburgh's Forbes Field. I can still imagine Honus Wagner and Roberto Clemente playing there.

The Polo Grounds still stands out to me as one of the best old ball parks of all time. It's left field line ran a short 279 feet while center field was 483 feet from home plate! This beautiful old relic saw so much baseball history. Including the "catch" by the New York Giants' Willie Mays during the 1954 World Series.

Sportsman's Park in St. Louis was originally built for the St. Louis Browns. Baseball was played at the site of Sprotsman's Park from 1876 until 1966. Longer than anywhere else.

Who can forget old Cleveland Stadium. Home of the Indians from 1932 until 1993 when the Indians moved to brand new Jacobs Field. The unusual thing about this old ball park was that it was originally built to hold a whopping 78,000 fans!

Chicago's Comiskey Park was built where the city had it's dump in 1910. It was originally named The Baseball Palace Of The World.

Tiger Stadium in Detroit opened in 1912. It was originally named Navin Field after Tiger's owner Frank Navin. Re-named Briggs Stadium in 1938, the Tigers played here until 1999.

All of those old ball parks were something special. Remember how excited we were when they built the Astro Dome? I mean, who ever thought we would see baseball played indoors.

Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium is gone, too. It was home to the 1980 World Champion Phillies.

Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, where Pete Rose and the rest of the Big Red Machine played, along with Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium, where Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell played, are both parking lots now.

Thank God we still have Fenway Park in Boston and Wrigley Field in Chicago. But I'm afraid it's only a matter of time until these two old ball parks are dust too.

Yeah, the new ball parks around baseball are great. They are state of the art for sure. But I still love to watch the guy inside the score board at Fenway park change the score by hand. The obstructed seats are gone from the new stadiums but the smell of cigar smoke and hot dogs are still floating over the site where the Phillies' Connie Mack Stadium stood.

And the names of the new stadiums just don't seem right. What a shame that Pittsburgh's new stadium is named PNC Park instead of Roberto Clemente Field. And how cool would it be to go to Richie Ashburn Park instead of Citizen's Bank Park? At least the new Yankee Stadium wasn't named after a bank!

Maybe it's because we were so much younger then. Those old ball parks are a part of our childhood. Well, that's progress. I guess.

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