Saturday, February 03, 2018

Baseball Stadiums of Yore

Who loves baseball? I do! I used to love it a lot more, but... things change I guess. Still, there's something about the game that appeals to me - more so than football, and even though basketball is more packed with constant action, it doesn't have the nostalgia factor. Anyway, today I have two vintage photos from old stadiums.

Let's start with this one (from June, 1959) of Lakefront Stadium (aka "Municipal Stadium) in Cleveland, Ohio - next to Lake Erie. It was, of course, home to the Cleveland Indians, as well as the Cleveland Browns football team (as well as other teams), because it was multi-purpose venue. It opened in 1931; due to it's multi-use nature, a batter would need to hit the ball 470 feet to put one over the center field wall. Nobody ever did! 

The stadium was demolished over a period of a few months from 1996 through to March, 1997; it was replaced by the charmingly-named FirstEnergy Stadium.

This next very dark photo is a mystery to me. The style of the cardboard Kodachrome mount makes me guess that this is from the late 1940's or close to 1950. The players are too far away to identify the uniforms, and there are only a few clues from which to make any theories, such as the wonderful advertisements on the distant wall. "Washington Shade and Awning", "Valley Forge Beer", and partial signage that seems to advertise Niagara Falls. Could that mean that this is Griffith Stadium, where the Washington Senators played? 


TokyoMagic! said...

I saw Lakefront Stadium (the exterior only) back in 1994. I didn't know that it had since been torn down. I'm wondering if baseball fans have any kind of attachment to the stadiums. Is it as disappointing for them when a stadium is demolished, as it is for Disneyland fans when something like Captain Hook's Pirate Ship or Adventure Thru Inner Space are demolished?

Melissa said...

TERMINAL ICE! Sounds like a 1980's action movie.

Pegleg Pete said...

I do love some vintage baseball snaps, thanks Major! It's a shame we can't make out more of that team's uniform.

Terminal Ice? I think I saw it back in the '80s. Kurt Russell, right? Or was it Jan-Michael Vincent?

Patrick Devlin said...

Thanks Major. Part of me: the anal retentive part, wants to spend the day researching all of those names, location, and phone numbers on those signs to unravel the mystery of where the shot in the park (hee) was taken, but then I remember all of the stuff I need to do today (go through all of my Disneyland drawings and blueprints and make silly plans to build miniature replicas) yeah right.

Chuck said...

Municipal Stadium, the "Mistake on the Lake!" I saw my first major league ball game there in '73 or '74, a night game, no less. My grandfather miscalculated the drive time (it was about 2½ hours away from where he lived) and we missed the first few innings. We were high up enough in the lower deck that the upper deck blocked our view of the fireworks when the Indians scored (and yes, baseball fans - the Indians did score that night, despite the fact that this was the '70s). I still have my Indians pennant from that game.

The stadium was huge, and as the Indians' fortunes fell (and there was competition from television) they had a hard time filling all of the seats for baseball games. This photo of the 25 Sep 93 game against the Brewers gives you an idea of how empty the stands looked even with a decent crowd (for the post-TV era) of 26,477.

The car in the foreground (a 1954 Buick Super 4-Door, I think; Nanook, please check my work here) clearly illustrates a primary reason people bought new cars every few years back then, particularly in the snowbelt states where they salted roads - they rusted out.

Pegleg Pete, Terminal Ice was the only film they made together. It's probably my favorite Alan Smithee movie of all time.

K. Martinez said...

I have so many memories of going to the Oakland A's and Oakland Raiders games as a child with my dad and uncles and one aunt who was a sports fanatic. While I have been to Candlestick Park when it existed, most of our family including both my parents and I were born in Oakland so the A's and Raiders were our team. My dad even took me to the Raiders training camp once in a while. Unfortunately I lost all my autograph book loaded with the players autographs from that era (60's & 70's).

On the sadder side of things, a former coworker of mine Brian Stow (a big Giants fan) was savagely beaten outside the Dodgers Stadium back in 2011 and it totally altered his quality of life. When I saw it on the national news I was shocked and horrified. It brought home the violence that is out there on a personal level.

I'm not much into sports anymore, but I'll definitely be watching the game tomorrow. Thanks for the pics that stir up so many fond childhood memories, Major.

TokyoMagic!, The Oakland Coliseum and Stadium are rumored to be removed and replaced, but I don't have any attachment to them. It's more the memories of my dad, uncles and Aunt at the games that I cherish. Disneyland is a totally different thing to me.

K. Martinez said...

Chuck, I'm amazed that you still have stuff from those games. My dad and uncles used to always take me to Bat Day at the Oakland Stadium and I got several baseball bats from those games. I no longer have anything from those days spent at the games. Oh the things, I've lost. Great memories btw.

Patrick Devlin said...

I did a quick peek at images for "Griffith Stadium" and they sure looked like you've made at least a pretty good guess, if not the right one. It just looks so pastoral and park-like, mmmm.

Nanook said...

That's a 1955 Ford truck on the far left. In the background heading to the left [looks to be] some sort of early 1950's Chevrolet - but could easily be something else. And what else could that be sporting those "tasteful" fins, but a 1957 Mercury. And yes, Chuck, that IS a 1954 Buick Super (good eye), with a delightful case of what those in the business like to call 'body cancer'.

@ Patrick-
The 'National' and 'DuPont' telephone exchanges seem to be in Washington DC - which may be a clue. And the telephone numbers all had six digits - so it must be the late 1940's. However, Valley Forge Beer was brewed by Adam Scheidt Brewing Company in Norristown, PA. On the other hand, when you add in what The Major pointed-out on the signage - I'm thinking this may be in the DC area. Any takers-?

Patrick Devlin said...

I think I"m a taker, aren't I?

Chuck said...

Ken, I saw the Indians play the A's a couple of times in '75-'76 at the Coliseum, and one of the visits was during Hat Day. Pretty sure I still have that battered A's hat in a box in storage, although I haven't seen or worn it for years.

The second game, we went with my friend Kevin and his dad. Kevin and I went to the same school (although we were in different grades), were on the same baseball team, in the same Sunday school class, and our birthdays are only five days apart, while our dads flew together. My memory is a bit hazy, but I seem to recall us parking in a garage under the stands - was that really a thing there?

With no moms around, we managed to talk our dads into buying us two or three frozen malts, the kind in a paper cup with the little, flat wooden "spoon" to scoop it out with - you all know what I'm talking about. I also remember a ball coming down within a few rows of where we were seated. We had a blast - and I have absolutely no recollection of which team won the game.

Steve DeGaetano said...

Seven years ago, I had absolutely no understanding of the game; no interest. Then my sons started playing. I figured I'd better know what I was watching. What the heck was a "dropped third strike" anyway? I was so ignorant of the game my wife got me "Baseball for Dummies."

I read. I watched. I learned. I got bit with the bug bad.

Now I'm the dad behind the backstop with the rulebook prominently displayed to keep the umps honest. I keep score in a scorebook - for fun. I have a pitching machine, a glove and a Jerry Morales model game-used Louisville Slugger in my trunk. I can tell you that Doug Allison is the first known player to ever use a glove in a game.

And on warm summer Saturday evenings, I can't think of a better place to be than at Five County Stadium with my sons and my dad, eating peanuts and drinking ice-cold beer, and watching the Mudcats dismantle the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in a walk-off ninth inning.

Melissa said...

The only baseball game I've been to was a fake one, when Mom took us to the War Memorial stadium in Buffalo to be extras in the movie "The Natural." Everybody got a free hot dog! I remember being fascinated by the rain and wind machines. It's a lovely, well-preserved old structure. I also saw Willie Nelson there, and the Moscow Circus.

Nanook said...

@ Patrick-

I think The Major did nail it with Griffith Stadium. If only the shot included center field, then we could be absolutely certain. (Of course - if someone had been there in-person, who was looking at this post - it would also be a no-brainer-!)

JG said...

Baseball is a closed book to me, don't like it or understand it, nor do I want to do so. But the pictures and especially the old ads are still fascinating.

Thank you Major.


Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, I love old baseball stadiums, not that there are many of them left. Even Dodger Stadium is getting up there, though it is still great. I think that fans generally don’t like the idea of change, but just like Disneyland, the people in charge have their own ideas of how to do things.

Melissa, ha ha! ;-)

Pegleg Pete, I think I have a few more old stadium photos, I’ll need to dig them out and scan them.

Patrick Devlin, yes, I almost went down the same road to madness, but I just didn’t have time. Plus I was pretty sure that a commenter would instantly recognize that stadium!

Chuck, I am trying to remember my first major league game; it might have been an Angels game. In fact, I’m almost sure that Vida Blue was there, so the Angels must have been playing the Oakland A’s. Cool that you still have a pennant; we went to several Angels games on “bat night”, and we still have two or three old baseball bats out in the shed. I still remember everyone banging their bats on the concrete when they were trying to get the Angels to rally, it was an amazing sound!

K. Martinez, oh man, bummer that you lost your autograph book! My little brother collected autographs, and he once asked Wilt Chamberlain for his autograph. “Not now, my man”, he replied, genially. My brother was disappointed, especially when, 30 seconds later, he saw Wilt signing an autograph for a pretty young lady! I remember the Brian Stow incident - a disgrace. Why sports fans get that worked up, I’ll never know. I used to like to watch sports with my dad, but now that he is gone, I rarely watch any.

K. Martinez, see my comment to Chuck about baseball bats! Imagine how many of those things they gave out in one game. 40,000? Maybe if just the kids got them it was a lot less. But still MANY. The bats that we had got lots of use, those things are beat up.

Patrick Devlin, thanks for taking the time - I realize that my guess could be wrong, but for now I’m going with Griffith Stadium.

Nanook, thanks as usual for the car ID’s. Look at the rust on that Buick - the weather and salted roads really ate those things up. Jay Leno always says he loves to buy cars that have been in California their whole existence. As for the stadium, I thought that they could possibly be in Baltimore, which is not too far from DC.

Patrick Devlin, me too!

Chuck, I’m sure we went to at least one “cap day” at Dodger Stadium, and I think we even got hard batter’s helmets. Those were the days. I remember those frozen malts, but I was a fan of the hot dogs - that is where I would have first put relish on a dog. The last ballgame I went to was two or three years ago - my brother won some sweet tickets to a Dodger game - and we had so much fun, even though the Dodgers lost by 8 runs.

Steve DeGaetano, I totally believe that the “kid factor” made all the difference. We used to go watch the San Jose Giants (minor league) when my siblings lived up there, and it was just as you suggested, spending time with the family, eating peanuts and hot dogs, listening to the echoed sounds of the organ music, and enjoying the various between-inning entertainment.

Melissa, wow, you were there for the filming of “The Natural”? I love that movie! I’ll have to look up the War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo. Meanwhile, I suddenly want to watch Ken Burns’ “Baseball” documentary.

Nanook, yes, I do wish we could have seen a bit more of the stadium to make a more positive ID. But I’m feeling pretty confident at this point!

JG, I actually do understand how you feel, believe it or not. Baseball is not for everybody - and I don't watch it much anymore - but I do have some nice memories from the past.