Saturday, August 08, 2015

Baseball Stadiums

Growing up, I was a real baseball fan. I loved watching games on TV with my dad, and once in a rare while we were able to go to see games played live. "Bat night" and "cap night" were my favorites! While my ardor for the game has cooled over the years, I still get a kick out of stuff having to do with vintage baseball. Like classic stadiums!

This first photo is from 1962, and shows a happy gent standing in front of Cleveland Municipal Stadium, also known as Lakefront Stadium - home of the Cleveland Indians. It opened in 1931, and, because it was located near Lake Erie, was famous for bitter cold winds, or (alternately) swarms of mayflies and midges. The Indians won the 1948 World Series here. The stadium was demolished in 1996, and pieces of the concrete were placed in the lake to form an artificial reef. 

Next comes this view (circa 1968) of Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, PA - home of the Pirates! Forbes Field was first constructed in 1909, and it was one of the first to be built with steel and concrete (instead of sugar cubes and Elmer's glue). The Pirates won 3 World Series here (1909, 1925, and 1960). The stadium was closed in 1970, and demolished in 1971, replaced by Three Rivers Stadium - which has also been demolished! 

I couldn't help thinking of this famous photo from LIFE magazine! "University of Pittsburgh students cheer as they look down on Forbes Field from the top of their campus' Cathedral of Learning during the 1960 World Series between the Pirates and the Yankees. In Game 7, Bill Mazeroski hit the first walk-off home run in World Series history, a shot over the left-field fence that gave the Pirates a 10-9 win".


Nanook said...


That gent in the first image is all smiles, for following the snapshot, he's going to be tooling-around the 'wilds' of Cleveland in that two-toned, green 1951 Pontiac.

In the foreground of the second image is the Hillman Library, a part of the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt), opening on January 8, 1968.

I love the name Cathedral of Learning. It sounds both medieval and very 1950's. Its nick name "Cathy" takes away somewhat from that pretentious moniker. Perhaps had I been exposed to a Cathedral of Learning when I was a lad, I would have not experienced such a 'mis-spent youth', but instead have gone on to be something worthwhile, such as a politician-! Wait - scratch that. Perhaps my youth wasn't 'mis-spent', after all-!

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

I was in Cleveland in late 1994 after the Cleveland Indians had already moved to the newer Jacobs Field, but the old stadium was still standing. I didn't know until reading your post that it had been torn down. I looked it up on Wikipedia for more info and apparently the FirstEnergy Stadium was built on that same site and is home to the Cleveland Browns. It also stated that the old Lakefront Stadium was one of the first multi-use stadiums and was used for both baseball and football. If the Indians had moved, why didn't the Browns just keep using the old stadium? Why did it have to be torn down? I know, I know for the same reason old theaters, restaurants, etc. have to be torn's progress, right?

TokyoMagic! said...

Now I'm wondering what's on those signs that are located further down along the sidewalk in that first pic. One sign looks like it reads .50, so I'm assuming that's how much it cost to park in those lots. The other sign looks like it says "Lane" and "Rides" but I can't make out the other words. Carnival Rides? Boat Rides on the lake?

Gnometrek said...

It also looks like someone is sitting under the sign. Tour guide?

Chuck said...

Ahh, Cleveland's "Mistake on the Lake." My grandfather took me to my first baseball game there in about 1973 or 74. I still have the Indians pennant he bought me as a souvenir.

TokyoMagic!, as much as I hated to see it go, Municipal Stadium was literally starting to fall apart. It was also just too big for the fanbase it served and was rarely ever full, especially after the advent of television and the Indians' long, slow slide into mediocrity through the early 90's. Designed with 78,000 seats for baseball and 83,000 for football, a normal baseball crowd of 20,000 would make the park look deserted, and even the 1964 NFL Championship Game was played with more than 3000 empty seats. The last time the stadium was full may well have been during the 1948 World Series.

The final economic death knell was the Indians' move to then-Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field), which seriously ate into He Who Shall Not Be Named's profits on the stadium's luxury boxes and ultimately drove him to move the Browns' organization (but not its name or team history) to Baltimore. Part of Cleveland's deal with the NFL for a new Browns franchise was construction of a "modern" stadium, and Municipal Stadium was sacrificed in exchange for the rights to a team.

K. Martinez said...

I remember going to quite a few Oakland A's and Giants games with my dad and uncle at the Oakland Stadium and Candlestick Park when I was a kid (60's/70's). I remember going to the bat days too. Those were good times. I haven't been to a ball park probably in over forty years now. Not sure if I'd care to either. A few years ago a former coworker of mine was beaten up badly at the Dodger Stadium and became permanently disabled (Bryan Stow). Times seem to have changed. I'll still watch an occasional football game on tv, but that's about it these days. Anyway, I enjoyed the photos of the old baseball stadiums. What an era that was! Thanks for sharing them, Major.

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

I guess this is the neighborhood my mom grew up in. Mom didn’t have a lot of stories, but she often talked of the fond memories she had of her and her brothers and sisters watching the Pirate’s games from the roof of their three story house. I never thought to look up old photos of Forbes Field. It looks like a cool place to grow up. I want to go back in time and explore that old neighborhood.

Rachel said...

Lets Go Bucs!! Listening to a Pirates game right now (playing the Dodgers here in the Burgh).

Thanks for featuring the wonderful ballpark of Forbes Field. I never got to go there as a child, tho I did get to quite a few games at Three Rivers before PNC Park was opened in 2001, which is based a lot on the design of Forbes Field, and has been called the most beautiful ballpark in baseball (tho I dont know who is quoted on this). It offers a fabulous view of downtown Pittsburgh and I go to a game as often as I can.

Wonderful pictures today :-)

Nancy said...

lol! Gmail was signed in as my daughter, Rachel, but the above comment is left by me, Nancy :-)

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I agree, that guy is definitely going to steal that car in the background! ;-) I would stay away from any place called the Cathedral of Learning. Isn’t there a Cathedral of Reality Television?

TokyoMagic!, it is a shame that the old stadiums get razed, but I’m sure that the oldest of them really do start to get obsolete compared to nice modern stadiums. What I’d really want is to see a game in one of those places that has been around for 100 years (if anything like that even exists anymore).

TokyoMagic!, I see those signs you are referring to, but can’t quite read the yellow one. Maybe when I get back to my place tonight, I’ll check the high-res scan to see if that helps.

Gnometrek, there is definitely a person there. Looks like al lonely job.

Chuck, thanks for your insight… so the stadium was falling apart… I guess time will take its toll, no matter what. There is something so depressing about seeing a live baseball game in a stadium that is 1/4 full. It’s hard to fathom that it wasn’t even full for the ’64 championship game.

K. Martinez, I don’t know if this happened at your bat days (or nights), but at some point, everyone in the place would start banging their bats on the cement, and it made an incredible sound! I remember Bryan Stow and his terrible beating… I’m sure 95% of sports fans are reasonable, but that 5% (or whatever) can be incredible idiots. Imagine beating up somebody for liking another team. So dumb. I haven’t seen a ballgame for years, but have heard that the prices have gone up astronomically. Can a dad take his three kids, maybe buy some peanuts, hot dogs, cokes, and a souvenir of some kind, and not break the bank?

Monkey Cage Kurt, my memories are of Angels games, mostly… and a few Dodger games. I’ve seen a few at Wrigley Field in Chicago, and a few up at Candlestick Park, which was still a going concern when my brother lived in that area.

Rachel/Nancy, when I saw the name “Rachel”, I thought, “Hey, Nancy’s daughter’s name is Rachel!”. I knew you would enjoy seeing this photo of Pittsburgh and the stadium, since it is your home town.

K. Martinez said...

Major, now that you bring it up, I do remember the bats banging the cement. Boy, that memory was buried deep. As for the concessions, I remember the prices being pretty high even back then, but yeah, I've heard it's really gone up astronomically as you said.

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, thanks for the info about the Cleveland stadiums!