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WANTED: Your photos!
I invite fans of this Web site to share any photos which they have taken of the major league ballparks. There are currently no photos on the pages for the ones listed below, most of which are no longer in existence. I would also be glad to include photos of stadiums that served as "neutral venues," or photos that are of better quality than the current ones...
- Baker Bowl
- Braves Field
- Candlestick Park
- Colt Stadium
- Comiskey Park
- Crosley Field
- Ebbets Field
- Exhibition Stadium
- Forbes Field
- Jarry Park
- Marlins Park
- Memorial Coliseum
- Metropolitan Stadium
- Mile High Stadium
- Milwaukee County Stadium
- Polo Grounds
- Seals Stadium
- Shibe Park
- Sick's Stadium
- Sportsman's Park
- Wrigley Field (L.A.)
Please Contact me (via e-mail) if you would like to share some of your "photographic memories" with other fans.
I always credit the original photographers, and am much obliged to the following people:
- John Minor
- Glenn Simpkins
- Paul Dimitre
- John Crozier
- Joe Johnston
- Brian Vangor
- Brian Hughes
- Mario Vara III
- Mike Zurawski
- Gavin Dow
- Marc Myers
- Phil Faranda
- Lonnie Spath
- Fritz Roberson
- Keith Kirkpatrick
- Edward Findlay
- Howard Corday
- William R Kooney
- John Mikulas
- Michael Hoecker
- Wayne Whitham
- Jeff Stark
- Bill Blake
- John Clem
This web site has no connection to Major League Baseball or any of its affiliated franchises. The information contained herein is accurate as far as the author knows, and the opinions expressed are his alone.
Only 78 more days until Opening Day!
January 13, 2019 [LINK / comment]
Brian Dozier joins the Nats
In yet another roster-building coup for Washington's General Manager Mike Rizzo, infielder Brian Dozier agreed to a one-year contract worth $9 million with the Nationals. There is no optional extension. Dozier will become the Nats' regular second baseman, with Howie Kendrick as the presumable backup, depending on his health. By next year, minor league hot prospect Spencer Kieboom is expected to be ready to fill that position. Dozier came up from the minors with the Minnesota Twins in 2012, and from 2014 through 2018 (five straight years), he hit over 20 home runs, peaking at 41 in 2016. His batting average has not been spectacular, and dropped to just .215 last year, but he does have the slugging power that the Nats will need if Bryce Harper does not sign with the team. See the Washington Post sports section for this story and for the one below.
As a veteran who has avoided serious injury throughout his seven-year career, Dozier seems like a safe bet with a big potential for improvement. He turns age 32 in May, perhaps in the prime of his career. He reminds me a lot of Daniel Murphy, the second baseman who wasn't considered worth a big raise by the Mets front office at the end of the 2015 season. They bitterly regretted letting him go after the Nationals snatched him up. Like Murphy, Dozier combines steady reliability with flashes of excellence in clutch situations. In the 2015 All-Star Game, Dozier hit a solo homer, helping the American League to win, and in a preseason exhibition game at Nationals Park in 2016 he also homered. The acquisition of Dozier essentially plugs the final remaining gap in the Nats' lineup for 2019, leaving Bryce Harper and the back end of the pitching rotation as the only big question marks for the roster as spring training approaches. So, I have made a tentative update to the Washington Nationals page.
The fact that the New York Yankees signed free agent D.J. LeMahieu essentially rules them out as prospective suitors for Bryce Harper. He just had talks with the Phillies, and Mets have been rumored to be in the running, but this drama may drag out for a few more weeks...
Rendon, Turner come to terms
It was a big relief that Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner both came to terms with the Nationals front office. Rendon will get $18.8 million this year, while Turner will get $3.725 million. Rendon became a regular with the Nats in 2013, playing second base and then moving to third base after Ryan Zimmerman was reassigned to first base. Other than spending the first half of the 2015 season on the disabled list, he has been steady and extremely productive both in the batter's box and on the field in a defensive capacity. With a .308 batting average last year, he really should have made the All-Star Game. He will turn 29 in June. Turner has likewise proven to be a star-quality player, with the added advantage of high speed on the base paths. I was fortunate to see him debut in the majors on August 21, 2015. At age 25, he has a great career ahead of him.
[UPDATE: I neglected to mention that one other arbitration-eligible player, pitcher Joe Ross, also came to terms a day earlier and will thus avoid arbitration; he will get $1 million this year. Two arbitration-eligible Nationals could not come to terms, and their future with the franchise is uncertain: outfielder Michael A. Taylor and relief pitcher Kyle Barraclough.
Ballpark news roundup
I learned from Mike Zurawski that the Tampa Bay Rays are closing down the seldom-needed upper deck at Tropicana Field to create a more "intimate" experience. This will reduce capacity from about 31,000 to a little over 25,000. (The original capacity was 45,200.) See tampabay.com. So, I added a new diagram variant to the Tropicana Field page, with the upper deck colored gray to indicate that it's currently out of use. I may tweak some of those diagrams in the next couple weeks... The Rays are thus following the lead of the Oakland Athletics, who closed the entire upper deck of Oakland Coliseum in 2006, but reversed course in April 2017 when they resumed selling cheap upper-deck tickets once again. It's not an encouraging sign, but as Mike Zurawski points out, the Rays get a bigger-than-average portion of their revenues from television rights, and that will not be affected.
Yet another MLB stadium is in the midst of changing its name for the 2019 season: The Giants' AT&T Park will [henceforth] be called "Oracle Park" from now on, under the terms of a hefty 20-year, $200 million contract. As such deals go, this one seems pretty legit. See ESPN.com. Coming so soon after Safeco Field was renamed "T-Mobile Park," however, I became a bit annoyed at having to update the Stadium names [link corrected] page once again. It's rather unwieldy to maintain, and isn't very useful anyway, so I got ambitious all of a sudden and created a new, much improved page: Stadium names chronology. The old page (listed in alphabetical order) will remain at least for the time being.
In case you were worried about the Los Angeles Angels becoming "homeless" next year (see Dec. 1), rest assured, they agreed to terms to renew their existing lease agreement for one year. After that, who knows? See ESPN.com. [These last two news items are likewise courtesy of Mike Zurawski.]
And speaking of "homeless" pro sports teams, the Oakland Raiders may not have any place to play next year, as the City of Oakland leaders are (understandably) angry that the Raiders are leaving town in 2020 to take up residence in Las Vegas. One rumored temporary "home" for the Raiders is San Diego, where QualComm Stadium (or whatever they call it now) is in a virtual state of "limbo," hosting just a few college games each fall.
I see from the clock that it's time for football. Catch you later, sports fans!
January 9, 2019 [LINK / comment]
Polo Grounds: a massive update
As befitting the massive size of the original structure itself, the just-completed Polo Grounds diagram revisions were of a truly monumental scale. Ironically, the overall size and shape of the stadium and field did not change very much compared to the last Polo Grounds diagram update in August 2007 (11 1/2 years ago!!??), but the inclusion of numerous new details and additional diagram variants for different years really added up. As always, historical information (photos and text) from Bruce Orser proved invaluable, and for the first time, I got some helpful tips from Angel Amezquita.
So, what changed? For one thing, the light towers (eight of them in all, built in 1940) were included for the first time. Note that three of the four pairs were laterally symmetrical, but that two of them (overlooking the power alleys) differed from each other, for reasons to be explained. Second, I discovered after doing some careful measurements that the bleachers and adjacent grandstand in center field were about 15 feet deeper than I previously estimated. As if they needed more seats in those extremely remote parts of the ballpark! When games were sold out, some fans had to sit over 570 feet away from home plate! Third, many more peripheral structures are now depicted: the small buildings behind the center field bleachers in the 1913 diagram, and the access ramps leading down from "The Speedway" that ran along the crest of Coogan's Bluff.
For the first time, the diagrams include multiple profiles, to more clearly illustrate how different parts of the grandstand differed from each other. There are now separate diagrams for the upper deck and lower deck, showing where the entry portals and structural beams were located. One detail in the upper deck is worth highlighting: the diagonal lines which separated the relatively steep portion (about three-fourths of the stadium) from the much shallower portions in the left-center and right-center corners. Those lines were angled in such a way so as to enable the fans in the more distant seats to at least see home plate, even if first base or third place were blocked from their view by the steeper-graded seating section to their right (or left). Finally, I have yet to finish a diagram for "the site today," but that will appear in due course. (Likewise for Metropolitan Stadium, as I indicated recently.)
Clearly depicting the awkward situation in which part of the field is covered by an upper deck of seats has long been a challenge for me. As with the recent diagram updates for Tiger Stadium and Shibe Park, I am experimenting with new graphical cues in the Polo Grounds diagrams to indicate that the outfield fence, foul line, etc. lies underneath. Some diagrams depict overhangs with lavender color, and others retain the color of the roof, etc., depicting details below with black or dark gray lines.
[According to Philip Lowry's Green Cathedrals, [home plate] at the Polo Grounds was moved forward in some years, and backwards in others, possibly accounting for the variations in the distance to center field over the years. But it also states that the foul poles remained in the same place, which would mean that the diamond would no longer be a square, and I find that rather hard to swallow. For the time being, I'm "agnostic" on changes in Polo Grounds dimensions other than those in 1962, when the New York Mets were born. Those changes in dimension seem consistent and very plausible.]
[Finally, note that only the first-deck diagram shows details in the bullpens. With the overhanging second deck, trying to depict all the details would result in confusing clutter.]
College football bowl games
Congratulations to the CLEMson Tigers for winning the College Football National Championship game in Levi's Stadium (home of the Santa Clara / San Francisco 49ers) on Monday night! It was their second win in the last three years, and it was the third year of the last four that the two same teams were featured in the final game. This time the Tigers literally crushed the Alabama Crimson Tide, 44-16. Clemson had beaten Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl (which hasn't been played in the stadium called the "Cotton Bowl" since 2009), and Alabama had beaten [Oklahoma]
Miami in the Orange Bowl (which wasn't played in the stadium called the "Orange Bowl" from 2000 until it was demolished in 2009).
One of the recent Christmas season traditions is the proliferation of often-irrelevant college bowl games, which serve in effect as "participation trophies" for the also-ran teams. For example, on December 20 Marshall beat South Florida in the Gasparilla Bowl, formerly called the St. Petersburg Bowl, and probably other names before that. For the first time since 2008, when that bowl was launched, that it was played in Raymond James Stadium rather than Tropicana Field. I believe the only current MLB stadium that hosts college football bowl games is Yankee Stadium II, where the Pinstripe Bowl was played on December 27. This year the University of Virginia (which briefly reached the national Top 25 last fall) played in the Belk Bowl in Bank of America Stadium in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina. The UVa Cavaliers swamped the South Carolina Gamecocks, 28-0. Wa-hoo-wa!
Harper: waiting game
According to rumors circulating over the past week, the Washington Nationals made a significantly bigger contract offer to Bryce Harper. At this point, he seems more likely to stay with the Nationals than join some other team, but it's really anybody's guess. The signing of Alex Rodriguez by the Texas Rangers in [January 2001], and of Albert Pujols by the L.A. Angels in [December 2011], are just two examples of how owners can do serious damage to their franchise by wasting money on superstars who no longer have the motivation to perform at championship caliber. I think Bryce Harper is better than that, but spending over $300 million on a single player is extremely risky. Plus, inflated payrolls lead to inflated ticket prices.
But my main concern about paying Harper too much is that it might make it hard to keep third baseman Anthony Rendon for the long term. The Nats made a qualifying offer to Rendon, who is eligible for arbitration if negotiations fail. As a very reliable slugger and fielder who probably deserved to be on the All-Star team last year, he is worth at least one-third of what Harper is worth. But will he get paid accordingly?
December 31, 2018 [LINK / comment]
Shibe Park (surprise) update!
In yet another interruption of my vain hopes for finishing up diagram revisions by the end of the year, I made some revisions to the Shibe Park diagrams. The latter years hardly changed at at, but there were some significant improvements in accuracy and detail for the earlier years, especially 1913 and 1923. In order to get the placement of things like the scoreboard as exact as possible, I included the small buttresses in front of the outfield wall, at regular intervals of about 16 feet. (They were covered up by the enlarged wall built in 1935.) Once I realized I could use those tiny notches as a "ruler," everything became much easier.
That page also has a "the site today" diagram, showing a crude layout of Deliverance Evangelistic Church on top of Shibe Park / Connie Mack Stadium. The previous diagram update for Shibe Park was on Feb. 11, 2016.
This revision was prompted by two e-mail messages I received earlier this year. First, Eric Raudenbush sent me newspaper items that explain clearly how the bleachers in left field were modified prior to the 1923 season. Basically, the first six rows of benches plus the walkway in front were removed, thereby shifting the left field wall back by 18 feet. This clears up what had been a difficult mystery; back in 2006, ballpark expert Ron Selter had inferred from the drop in home runs in 1923 that home plate must have been moved backward by 21 feet. Now we know that home plate did not change (at least not in that year), but that the distances to left field did increase by approximately the amount he estimated. One of those articles indicated that the bleachers were also extended all the way to center field at that time. Yet unresolved is whether the bizarre forward shift in home plate in 1926 cited by Philip Lowry's Green Cathedrals (both the 1992 and 2006 editions) is real or not. Given that the 1923 change was motivated in part by a desire to reduce the number of easy home runs to left field, I have a hard time believing that they would reverse course in such a drastic fashion only three years later. Stay tuned!
Second, Terry Wallace sent me a photo of Shibe Park taken in October 1914, probably during the World Series (the "Miracle Braves" of Boston vs. Philadelphia Athletics). It shows clearly that there was a wall between the left field bleachers and the right field wall, enclosing the center field corner where the "flag pole" was. It was actually a tower with four corners, rather odd for that purpose. It looks like a small oil derrick. After considerable time comparing that photos to others I have seen, I concluded that the hitherto-unknown center field wall was the same distance from the outer wall behind the left field bleachers as was the very short wall or fence between those bleachers and the grandstand near the left field corner. As it turns out, that wall (probably a strutural element in the bleachers) ended up being the left field wall after those bleachers were reduced in size in 1923.
Putting those two crucial clues together reconciled a lot of conflicting information. It also erased any doubt as to whether the old (1910/1913) bleachers were replaced or simply added onto vertically. After looking at details such as the location of the entry portals, I am satisfied that the latter conjecture is much more likely.
The mail bag
Thanks again to Eric Raudenbush and Terry Wallace for their very helpful information summarized above. But there's more!
Christopher George asked if I know the actual roof height of old Comiskey Park. He has seen figures of 75 feet and 74. I replied that my diagram indicates the front edge is 78 feet tall, which would be a couple feet higher than the rear. Further checking may be necessary, but for now that's close enough.
Finally, Mike Zurawski sends word that Commissioner Manfred is exploring the possibility of expanding Major League Baseball from 30 to 32 teams, but only after Oakland and Tampa Bay get new stadiums approved. See reuters.com. That could be a while... Portland and Montreal were among the cities he mentioned as possible homes for new MLB franchises. There's more news from Mike that I have not had the time to absorb as of yet...
After my father passed away two years ago, my siblings and I went through his precious possessions, including his archives of Chicago Cubs and Nebraska Cornhusker memorabilia. Among the more fascinating finds were these copies of issues Who's Who magazine. Unless I am mistaken, Who's Who ceased print publication after the 2016 edition, when Bryce Harper appeared on the cover. I bought myself a copy, not realizing that it would turn out to be the final edition.
Who's Who in Baseball: Max Carey (1926), Dizzy Dean (1935), Jimmy Fox (1939), Hal Newhouser (1946), and Bob Feller (1941).
New Year's Eve!
At the stroke of midnight, my Baseball blog page will cease displaying the 2018 postseason series scores (at the bottom) and will begin displaying a countdown of the days remaining until the umpires make the official "Play ball!" shout in 15 stadiums across the country. Opening Day in 2019 will be early: March 28. That's less than three months from now!!!
Happy New Year, baseball fans!
December 24, 2018 [LINK / comment]
H.H.H. Metrodome update!
In another interruption of my firm plans for finishing up diagram revisions by the end of the year, I realized I had to fix the Metrodome diagrams. Why the unscheduled revision to a stadium that was supposedly up to high standards in terms of detail and accuracy? As you can imagine, I discovered an error in the old diagrams when I was finishing the Metropolitan Stadium diagrams a few days ago and comparing them to those of the successor. It always bothered me that the angle of the wall behind home plate was not nearly as slanted in my diagrams as indicated by photographs, and I finally figured out why. I knew that the football goal line coincided exactly with the baseball first base line, and that the back of the end zone coincided with the edge of the warning track in left field. I falsely assumed that there was the same amount of space beyond both ends of the football gridiron, but I [recently] noticed that there was about eight additional feet of space on the side near first base. Also, the distance from the third base line to the grandstand was much less than on the first base side, and when I made those adjustments, the angle behind home plate came out just right. As is the case for most of my stadium pages, you can compare the new version of the diagram (which is slightly longer and thinner) to the old version by clicking on the image.
I also took a bit more care depicting the slight (~ four feet) overhang of the upper deck above the right field fence, and a couple other details such as the passages between the luxury
sweets [suites !] through which fans entered the back of the lower deck. That page now includes a "site today" diagram, depicting the new home of the Minnesota Vikings which now sits on that plot of land: U.S. Bank Stadium.
Officially, the former home of the Twins and Vikings was called the "Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome," named for the jovial Minnesotan who served as vice president from 1965 until 1969, and who ran unsuccessfully for president in 1968. For the last few years it was known as "Mall of America Field," named for the shopping/entertainment extravaganza that was built in the suburb of Bloomington, where Metropolitan Stadium once stood.
Finally, I added this colorful "new" photo to that page. It is of topical interest because of the player who is displayed there: none other than former Viking running back Adrian Peterson, who has had a great comeback year with the Washington Redskins. "Fueled by perseverance," indeed! (As for the team itself, well...)
The southwest entry to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on August 10, 2010, soon after a Twins-Mariners game at Target Field.
Johnny Holliday retires
I mentioned on November 9 that former MLB player Ray Knight will not be returning as a commentator for the MASN pre-game and post-game shows next year. Last week we learned that his partner Johnny Holliday has decided to leave as well, meaning that two vacancies exist for next year. Holliday is known in the Washington area as a sportscaster for Maryland Terrapin athletics, and is a seasoned pro with a background as a radio disc jockey. His friendly, upbeat banter will be missed.
Among the possible replacements are Phil Wood, who co-hosts the Saturday morning "Nats Talk" show on MASN, Dan Kolko, who does on-field interviews for MASN, and former Nat Michael Morse, who filled in as color commentator a couple times this past year. Wood is a bona fide expert on Washington baseball, but is not really a TV professional, and lacks somewhat in the charisma department. He would probably do fine as a partner with someone who is more telegenic. The other two guys probably need more experience before getting a promotion to co-host.
Safeco Field is renamed
Beginning in January, the stadium in Seattle heretofore known as "Safeco Field" will officially become known as "T-Mobile Park," under the terms of a 25-year deal worth $87.5 million. See forbes.com. Thanks to Mike Zurawski and someone else whose name I forgot (on Facebook, perhaps?) for the news tip. (Why "Park" rather than "Field"? The new name makes you think about a mobile home park.)
What are the chances that a corporation in the rapidly-changing cell phone industry will remain with its identity intact for a quarter century? Just about zilch, I figure. Hey, maybe T-Mobile will get bought out by U.S. Cellular, in which case the Mariners would end up playing in U.S. Cellular Field #2?! Be that as it may, I have updated the Safeco Field and Stadium names pages accordingly.
The mail bag
I was asked by Angel Amezquita if I could add a "site today" diagram to the recently-updated Metropolitan Stadium page, and the answer is yes, very soon! I was at the location inside the massive Mall of America in January 2014.
I've been going through my e-mail in-box, and will try hard to answer other messages that have been sent in recent weeks and months. Thanks for your patience!
December 21, 2018 [LINK / comment]
Metropolitan Stadium update!
Earlier today I finished work on the Metropolitan Stadium diagrams, yet another belated triumph that was literally years in the making. In fact, it is more than four years after (!!!) a "false start" premature uploading of revised diagrams. The main quandary holding me back from completing them was trying to pinpoint the angle at which the double-decked grandstand in left field (added during the 1965 expansion) lay with respect to the foul line. I originally thought it was perpendicular (so indicated by all my diagrams up through 2010), but then in 2014 I realized that it was slightly askew, estimating the angle at about 89 degrees. Based on all the photographs I have been able to find, my best estimate is now 87 degrees. As with Tiger Stadium last week, there are now separate diagrams showing the upper and middle decks; there is no need for a separate upper-deck variant since there was no roof at "The Met"!
Among the other changes, the various temporary bleachers are slightly bigger than before, and all of them are rendered more precisely. Those bleachers changed slightly between 1961 (when the Twins arrived) and 1964, but I'm not sure exactly when. It is possible that the reconfiguration of the right field fence and bleachers took place in 1964 rather than 1965, when the double-decked grandstand in left field was built. Also, none of the diagrams representing 1965 and later depict a gap in front of the left-field grandstand. Some photos suggested the possibility of such a gap, and I previously thought the slight variations in official left field dimensions over the years might have reflected shifts in a stand-alone chain link fence, but such does not appear to be the case.
Among new details shown are the grassy slopes and trees beyond the bleachers (the field was about 15-20 feet below ground level), and the access ramps to the big bleachers along the third base side. In addition, a few peripheral structures are now depicted, such a small building beyond center field that was presumably used for either ticket sales, concessions, or rest rooms. Finally, the bullpens and the main scoreboard show more detail than before, but I must confess that I'm not certain about the bullpen layout. There is a closeup photo of the bullpens on Rick Prescott's wonderful Old Met Stadium page, but it was taken during the demolition and you can't really tell where the pitchers and catchers were positioned.
For the time being, I have omitted the "hypothetical" diagrams that I presented before as a "what-if" conjecture regarding a better football-baseball hybrid setup. Time permitting, I will redo those diagrams as well.
Nats acquire Anibal Sanchez
Mike Rizzo has kept busy since the winter meetings of MLB owners in Las Vegas came to an end last week. Yesterday the Nationals got veteran pitcher Anibal Sanchez to sign a two-year contract worth $19 million, pending the usual physical exam. The Nationals get an option for a third year, 2021. There has been no official announcment as of yet. See the Washington Post. The Venezuelan right-hander came up with the then-Florida Marlins in 2006, and had an impressive 10-3 rookie season. Sanchez was among the stars dumped by then-Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria in the great "fire sale" of 2012 (which was the very first year for Marlins Park). He spent the next few years with the Detroit Tigers and played for the Atlanta Braves this year, recording a superb 2.83 ERA. He has been inconsistent in recent years, so it's a bit of a gamble by Rizzo, so we'll see how he turns out. He will in effect be replacing Tanner Roark as the #4 man in the pitching rotation, just as recently-signed Patrick Corbin essentially replaced Gio Gonzalez as the Nats'lefty starter.
That leaves just one major slot to fill in the 2019 Nats roster: second base. If Howie Kendrick fully recovers from the injury he suffered , he could handle that responsibility, but that's a big if. One option that is being explored is Josh Harrison.
Rockies acquire Daniel Murphy
Meanwhile, former Nats star slugger Daniel Murphy signed a two-year contract with the Colorado Rockies. See MLB.com. I'm not surprised that an up-and-coming team went and got Murphy, who was extremely valuable to the Nationals in 2016 and 2017. But he injured his knee in the latter part of 2017, and it took a lot longer than expected for him to recover from the surgery he had that October. He only played about a month for the Nats this year before being traded to the Chicago Cubs, where he did very well.
Dodgers & Reds make mega-deal
The L.A. Dodgers traded four star players -- Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, and Kyle Farmer -- to the Cincinnati Reds, in exchange for pitcher Homer Bailey and two others. The deal was rather shocking for a team that made it to the World Series two years in a row, and seems aimed at saving salary budget. See MLB.com. Rumor-mongers have suggested this is a prelude to signing Bryce Harper to a jumbo contract. No comment!
To see previous blog entries, go to the Baseball archives page.