Saturday, April 19, 2014

Home Sweet Home: A Look at National League Stadiums

A team's home can make a big difference in how they succeed.  Teams will play 81 games a year in their home stadium.  They will play 81 road games per year but since each stadium is unique and they will play in each road stadium about 5-10 times each year.  With that big of a disparity, teams obviously build their teams around the home grounds.  A large outfield or a lot of foul territory could lead a team to build around speed and pitching.  A smaller outfield, or a skewed outfield with a shorter field in right or left, could lead a team to stock up on right or left hand hitters.

Stadiums have changed greatly over the eras.  Starting as open fields where the plate and bases were measured off before each game and fans sat on the sidelines, they developed to accomodate the growing number of fans.  They grew in structure, design, oppulance and functionality.  This week we will take a look at the homes of each of the National League team's stadiums.

National League East
Atlanta Braves
The Boston organization, as you will remember from the articles exploring the team names, joined the National League in 1876 and started play as the Red Stockings and they did so at the South End Grounds located at the corners of Walpole and Columbus leading it to often be called Walpole Street Grounds.  The team played at this stadium, a basic ball park that had been opened in 1871 for the city's National Association entry, until 1887 when the stadium was rebuilt (at the same location) and was renamed the Grand Pavillion.

The Grand Pavillion served the Braves well until 1894.  That year tragedy struck the city as teenagers playing with matches under the bleachers started a fire that destroyed over 100 structures in the city, including the Grand Pavillion.

The third version of the South End Grounds opened mid season 1895 and was effective through the 1914 season.  Part of the reason they were able to play there for so long was that the team was bad and didn't need to worry about large overflow crowds.  That is until the miracle of 1914.  As the Braves started to make a serious run at the top spot in 1914 the fans started showing up and the South End Grounds could not accomodate the crowds.  To make sure they profited from the Miracle Braves' miracle run the rest of the games of the 1914 season were played at Fenway.

For 1915 the Braves opened Braves Field.  The fans nicknamed the stadium "the wigwam" and when the team went by the nickname the Bees it was often referred to as "the beehive".  The field dimensions were gigantic.  There was a rumor that the owner wanted a larger outfield conducive to inside the park Home Runs.  Unfortunately, Babe Ruth would revolutionize the game within five years and spark the public's interest in over the fence Home Runs.  The dimensions of the field were so large that it took until the stadium's 7th year to see even one Home Run.  As the ownership changed so did the dimensions and the Home Runs started to fly at a normal pace.  The wins did not follow suit.

Braves Field may have been born out of the success of the 1914 pennant but the excitement was short lived.  The 1915 Braves finished second behind the Phillies (7 games out of first) but there was little success that followed.  Between 1915 and 1947 the team finished above 5th place only 7 times and only twice was it third or second.  There were rumors the field was built on an ancient burial ground and that was why they couldn't win.  Realistically they just didn't have the talent to compete with the big boys.

As the league moved on after the war the Braves started to gather some good young talent, especially pitching.  Warren Spahn, Johnny Sain, Eddie Stanky and Bob Elliott were the leaders on the team that surprised everyone in 1948 with a National League title and took Cleveland to 6 games before losing the World Series.  The success, like the 1914 win, was short lived.  They quickly sank back to the middle and by that time the team was nearly broke.

Lou Perini made a decision that no one else dreamed would actually come true. A Major League Baseball team picked up their business and went elsewhere.  The Braves were the first MLB team to move and the Braves moved west to Milwaukee.  They landed in Milwaukee County Stadium which was built for the Milwaukee Brewers, a minor league affiliate of the Braves.  Ironically, the St. Louis Browns wanted to move to Milwaukee (if you remember from the article following the team names the Browns were originally in Milwaukee) but the Braves owned territorial rights because of their affiliation with the Brewers.  So you may have had the Baltimore Braves if the Browns had gotten their wish.  Of course that didn't happen and the Braves landed in Milwaukee for 13 seasons.  During that time they won two National League Championships and one World Series.  You can find more details of Milwaukee County Stadium under the Milwaukee Brewers.

With the Braves original move (followed by the Senators, Browns, Athletics, Dodgers and Giants) and pressure building for expansion the city of Atlanta built a stadium to announce to the owners they were ready.  The Braves were successful when they landed in Milwaukee but decline in play led to decline in attendance and with television becoming more widely accessible, the Braves decided Atlanta was a better market place.

The stadium that was built was officially called Atlanta Stadium but was known also as Fulton County Stadium.  Construction was finished well before the team moved to Atlanta so the stadium was used for a number of events.  On August 18, 1965, just six short months before the release of the controversial "We're more popular than Jesus" comments, the Beatles played at the stadium to a sold out crowd.  They would not be invited back for a second show as the deep south reacted strongly against Lennon's misunderstood comments.

Regardless, the Braves started play in Fulton County Stadium in 1966. In September of that year the Atlanta Falcons joined the NFL and the two would share the stadium. Neither had much opportunity for post season play.  In the first year of division play the Braves won the NL West but were swept out of the post season by the Miracle Mets.  Fulton County Stadium would not see post season baseball again until 1982 when the Braves would be swept out of the NLCS by the World Champion Cardinals.  The lack of playoffs would change dramatically as the 1990's dawned.

The Braves would become the dominant team starting with 1991. Beginning with the Braves worst to first 1991 season, Fulton County Stadium would see meaningful October baseball every year up until the last season in 1996.  In 1995 Fulton County Stadium saw the Braves win their first World Series since Milwaukee.

For the 1997 season the Braves moved into their new stadium named after the man who rebuilt the franchise into a success, Ted Turner.  Turner Field saw the team continue their National League dominance and the Braves have made the playoffs in 12 of the 17 seasons they have played here.

Miami Marlins
The Florida Marlins joined the league in 1993 and were fortunate that Joe Robbie, the Dolphins owner, thought ahead.  When planning to build a football stadium for his Dolphins in the late 1980's Robbie foresaw Major League Baseball coming into the city so he built the stadium with this in mind.  When the Marlins arrived a few years later the stadium was slightly rennovated to accomodate the Marlins.  In just a few short years the team experienced two World Series wins in this stadium but the stadium itself was a bit of a mess for baseball.

Although the facility never moved the name changed almost as quickly as the Southern Florida weather.  It was Joe Robbie Stadium, Pro Player Stadium, Dolphin Stadium, Land Shark Stadium and finally Sun Life Stadium.

The Marlins opened a brand new stadium called Marlin Park in 2012.  The description on the Marlins website says "it's time to experience baseball in Miami as it was meant to be experienced."  We will have to hope that they wrote that in 2003 because the way the fish have played in their first two years in the stadium has not been what they had in mind.  The new stadium has a retractable roof, perfect for the climate.  It also features two giant aquariums and an over the top light, water and mechanical fish and flamingo display when a Marlins batter hits a Home Run.

New York Mets
The 1962 Mets are notorious for their poor play.  One of the worst teams in history played their first two years at the abandoned Polo Grounds, left empty since the Giants moved to San Francisco.  After two truly terrible years the Mets moved into Shea Stadium.  On April 14 the Mets fulfilled everyone's expectations and lost the opening game in the stadium.  They continued by losing three of the first four.

Shea Stadium was built on the land that Walter O'Malley rejected years before when he finally decided to move to Los Angeles.  The stadium was named after William Shea, the man who fought to bring National League back into New York.  He originally tried to lure the Phillies, Pirates or Reds but failed.  When the league decided to expand Shea was successful in getting New York back into the NL. The first few years made some fans wish the NL would have gone elsewhere but the pain and suffering would be rewarded when the Mets won the World Series in 1969.  Along with the great moments of that magic year Mets fans saw some amazing moments.

Shea Stadium was the site of a historic Beatles concert in 1965, played host to the New York Jets from 1963-1983 and also served as home for the Yankees while Yankee Stadium was rennovated.  The stadium also saw some great Mets moments as the Mets reached the World Series in 1973, 1986 and 2000.  In the last great moment at Shea the Mets made the 2006 NLCS.  The more prominent features of the stadium included a big red apple that would be raised in Centerfield after a Mets Home Run as well as the distracting noise of planes overhead, as the stadium was directly beneath the flight patterns of LaGuardia airport.

In 2009 the Mets opened Citi Field in New York to replace Shea Stadium.  The brand new facility has seen little for Mets fans to cheer about yet but it did host the All Star Game in 2013.

Philadelphia Phillies
The land used by the Phillies for their first stadium had a long history that dated back to the summer of 1860.  James Buchanan was still president (though it was obvious he would be out of office as the election neared) and the country inched closer to civil war.  On June 16, at Recreation Park in Philadelphia, the first baseball game ever played in the state of Pennsylvania took place.  Recreation Park would be rennovated by 1883 but the site bordered by 24th Street, Ridge Avenue, 25th Street and Columbia Avenue would be the home of the Philadelphia Quakers when they entered the National League in 1883.

In 1887 the Quakers moved into what was officially called Philadelphia Baseball Grounds and often referred to as Philadelphia Park.  The name of the grounds were as uninspired as the baseball that was played there as the Quakers/Phillies were rarely competitive despite players like Harry Wolverton, Nap LaJoie and Ed Delahanty.  The park was small in the outfield but had gigantic amounts of foul territory (60 feet of foul territory on each outfield line) but the outfield distances were amazingly small, only 280 feet to right field.

The Phillies were known to be a cheap team, always interested in cutting costs so rather than rennovate the stadium they decided to put a wall in right field to make it more pitcher friendly.  So first they put up a tin wall.  That wasn't tall enough so again to cut corners the team added to the wall instead of starting over.  Then they did it again and again.  The result was a 60 foot wall made of a combination of wood, aluminum, tin, steel and god knows what else.  The wall was named Baker's Wall and the stadium was renamed the Baker Bowl after the owner of the Phillies.  For years the Baker wall featured an advertisement for Life Buoy soap that said "the Phillies use Life Buoy".  Some intelligent fan, realizing the Phillies lost 100 games 8 times and lost 90 or more six other years, added his own line to the ad so that it now read "The Phillies use Life Buoy...and they still stink."  The tin wall also gave birth to one of the great nicknames in baseball history as Freddie Beck, the Phillies pitcher, became known as Boom Boom.  The first boom was the ball against the bat.  The second was the ball hitting the Baker Wall.  Baker Bowl also served as the home of the Eagles for a few years.

As seen by the gradual patch work Baker Bowl, improvements and upkeep were not the top priority of the ownership.  This led to one of the famous tragedies in Philadelphia sports history.  In August 1903 a fight broke out on the streets outside the stadium.  With the Phillies in 8th place, 29 games out of first, the fight on the street was more entertaining than the game on the field and as a large group of fans rushed to watch the spectacle the grand stands collapsed when the rotted support timbers cracked in half.  Twelve people were killed and 200 plus others were injured.  This was not the only tragedy as 1928 saw a similar accident.  As rain soaked fans hudled for cover the bleachers collapsed injuring 50.  In both instances the Phillies borrowed Shibe Park from the A's until rennovations were completed.

The Phillies moved into Shibe Park (known better as Connie Mack Stadium) which was detailed in the American League Stadium under the A's.  They played at the historic stadium from 1938-1970.  Following the 1970 season the Phillies moved into what was intended as an ideal football/baseball combination stadium but in reality became a nightmare for both the Phillies and Eagles.  Often described as being a parking lot it was carpet on top of concrete.  Philadelphia Veteran's Stadium became known as the Vet and despite it being "state of the art" it quickly became hated by the Phillies and their visitors.  The Vet saw the Phillies first ever World Series win but was demolished with a sigh of relief from the local fans.

The Phillies opened Citizen's Bank Ballpark in 2004 and almost immediately the Golden Age of Phillies baseball came about. After having made the post season only nine times in the first 110 years of existence, the Phillies reached the playoffs in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 and winning one World Series.

Washington Nationals
The Nationals began as the Montreal Expos who began play at Jarry Park.  The stadium was small, poorly constructed and was nearly not ready for opening day 1969.  Beyond the right field wall was a public swimming pool whose swimmers were in danger of being hit by long home runs.  Willie McCovey once landed a Home Run ball into the pool.  The Expos played here until 1976.  The team  moved into new surroundings for 1976.

The city of Montreal played host to the Olympics in 1976 and the city had to build facilities to accomodate the games.  They created Olympic Stadium and the Expos moved in when the Olympic Games left.  The stadium had routine problems with the stadium crumbling.  The stadium was originally intended as a dome but the roof was not completed until 1987, though complete is a poor choice of words.  The roof caused problems on several occassions and a part of a tower structure in the stadium once fell on the field during a game.

The Expos played all home games here (at least while they were in Montreal) until they moved to Washington.  In 2003 and 2004, while trying to find a new home the Expos played 22 games each year at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Bithorn was the first ever Major League Player of Puret Rican decent.  He played parts of four seasons with the Cubs and White Sox (1942, 1943, 1946 and 1947) and finished his career with a 34-31 record.  The stadium was never intended as a final home for the Expos.  They were looking for a permanent home.

The Expos moved to D.C. in 2005 and moved into R.F.K. Memorial Stadium.  This will be detailed more thoroughly in the Texas Rangers stadium history.  It was originally called District of Columbia Stadium.  It was only intended as a temporary home as the team waited for their new stadium to open.  Nationals Park opened in 2008.

National League Central
Chicago Cubs
Amazingly, considering the Cubs have been in the same stadium for nearly 100 years, their first days in Chicago were almost vagabond like.  They started out on the 23rd Street Grounds for 1876 and  1877. In 1878 they moved into Lakeside Park and played here until 1884 when they moved into the West Side Park.

As much as Cubs fans associate Wrigley Field with the glory days of the Cubs, the only World Series titles (1907 and 1908) the team has ever won took place at West Side Park.  While the Cubs dynasty was starting to crumble in the early 1910's, they faced competition from the White Sox and from the newly formed Federal League.  The Chicago Whales of the Federal League built a glamorous stadium when they entered the league and named it Weeghmam Park after the owner of the team.  Unfortunatley for Weeghman the Federal League didn't last long and he was stuck with a beautiful stadium but no team.  He was able to buy the Cubs and moved them into the park abandoned by the Whales.

In 1920 minority owner William Wrigley bought the majority of the ownership and from 1920-1926 the stadium was known as Cubs Stadium.  In 1927 the name officially became Wrigley Field and has been ever since.  There have been few major rennovations since then although the big change was the addition of lights in 1988.  One story has said that the Cubs were told that they would need to add lights to allow for night baseball or Wrigley would not be permitted to host post season games.  According to this story the Cubs would have been forced to play all playoff home games in St. Louis at the home of the rival Cardinals.  Nothing changes the mind of a Cubs fan like hatred of the Cardinals.  The Cubs decided instead to add lights.  The next year the stadium hosted it's first ever night playoff game when the Cubs took on the Giants in the 1989 NLCS.

Cincinnati Reds
In 1882 the Cincinnati Red Stockings played their first game as part of the American Association at the Bank Street Grounds.  The park lasted only two years and in 1884 they were splitting time between League Park and Washington Park.  League Park was considered lavish with several sections including leather covered seats.  Washington Park has been referenced as a venue on Baseball, however, I have been unable to locate any details of the park and it is not listed on the Reds history of ballparks.  Regardless, starting in 1885 League Park was their home and remained so until 1901.

League Park suffered a severe fire (you can probably see the theme from early ballparks) and was rebuilt for the 1902 season.  The newly rennovated stadium was named the Palace of the Fans.  The details of the park were beautiful with hand carved pillars, early versions of luxury suites (they have been compared to opera boxes) and allowed for standing room at field level.

The only problem was the seating capacity was small compared to the needs of the team so in 1912 the team built a new stadium and moved into Redland Field, later known as Crosley Field.  In tradition with the great Reds parks prior, Crosley Field was considered a modern marvel and a great place to play.  The team's first World Series winners (the infamous 1919 team) played here and some of the most famous players in Reds history spent their careers here.  The stadium also made history when it hosted the first ever night game.

At the time of the move into the new Riverfront Stadium fans were excited to move into the new multi purpose facility that would host both the Reds and Bengals but as the reality of the cement fields (nearly identical to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh) became more clear fans missed the old ballpark feel of Crosley.  While at Riverfront the team became the Big Red Machine and won two World Series.

After the failed experiment with multi purpose parks the Reds opened the Great American Ballpark in 2003.  The ballpark houses a Reds Museum and Reds Hall of Fame and is considered one of the great places to watch a game.

Milwaukee Brewers
The Seattle Pilots were a disaster.  Plain and simple.  The organization had problems from day one and did not have time (or capabilities) to recover.  The doomed organization played in a stadium built in 1938 for the minor league Seattle Rainiers and named Sick's Stadium after the teams owner.   It was agreed that they would play there for a few years until a domed stadium could be completed.  Sicks Stadium had too many problems starting with capacity.  It was supposed to seat 30,000 fans by opening day but when the Pilots started play the seating capacity was 17,000.  The team didn't have the time to wait for the domed stadium.  They moved to Milwaukee.

As mentioned in the Braves stadiums section, Milwaukee County Stadium was built with the Braves in mind but when the team  moved to Atlanta it was a big stadium built for baseball with no baseball team.  The White Sox played a few home games in Milwaukee during the 1968-1969 season but in 1970 it was the Brewers who moved in from Seattle.  The facility hosted the 1975 All Star Game and was also the site of the Brewers only World Series appearance in 1982.

Milwaukee County Stadium became obsolete and as teams were building new stadiums the Brewers needed to keep up.  Unable to put a competitive team on the field for many years they needed to find some way to bring fans out to see the team.  Miller Park did that.  The team was able to use the rich history of the Milwaukee area and create fun quirks unique to the stadium and build a great ballpark.  One of the great features is the sausage races representing the great cuisine of the Milwaukee region.  The two playoff appearances since moving in haven't hurt attendance either.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Oddly the Pittsburgh Allegheneys played at Exposition Park in 1882 which was officially located in Allegheney, PA which would later be incorporated into Pittsburgh.  So to break that sentence down:  the Pittsburgh Allegheneys played in Allegheney which would later be Pittsburgh.  The park only existed for one year because it suffered from (another) ball park fire and when the river flooded the field was destroyed.  Knowing that the field had been destroyed partially because of flooding a new location would probably have been a great idea.  So they found a new place for Exposition Park II which opened in 1883.  They moved it closer to the river and played there for 1883 and 1884.

For 1885 the team moved into Recreation Park.  It was a modest stadium that hosted the Allegheneys through 1890.  Similar to Exposition Park it was officially located in Allegheney though the team claimed Pittsburgh as it's home.  The stadium hosted the first ever professional football game and in one game against the Cleveland Spiders in April of 1890 was host to a total of six fans.

Exposition Park Volume III was built for the minor league Pittsburgh Burghers at the site of the first two locations.  When the Burghers went out of business the Allegheneys pirated the land and called it home.  1891, coincidently, was the year they became the Pirates.  Exposition Park was the home of the Pirates until 1908 and parts of 1909.  It was host to the first ever World Series.  Near the river as well as the industrial center of Pittsburgh it often saw flooding and was often enveloped in steam, smoke and ash from the nearby factories.

In 1909 the Pirates moved into the stadium that would see the organization's greatest period of success: Forbes Field.  Pirates legend Fred Clarke said at the time the stadium opened that people in other parts of the country "have no adequate conception until they come here and see it."  By the end of the existence of the park it had been surpassed by many fields but it also saw Honus Wagner, Pie Traynor, Harvey Haddix, Paul and Lloyd Waner, Hank Greenberg, Roberto Clemente and Bill Mazeroski wear the black and gold.

The Pirates played in their next home for 30 years but after a few years they were homesick for the old place.  The cookie cutter cement pit of Three Rivers Stadium, which looked identical to Riverfront and Veterans Stadium got its name from the three rivers (Monongahela, Ohio and Allegheney) that converged nearby.  In the 30 years the team spent in the stadium they made numerous playoff appearances and won the 1971 and 1979 World Series (both over the Orioles and both in 7 games).

The Pirates moved into a new stadium in 2001 when PNC Park opened.  Although the Pirates have been a struggling franchise in recent years the team improved over the last few years and was able to bring the first postseason games to PNC Park in 2013.

St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals started play in the National League in 1882 at Sportsman's Park.  Sportsman's Park was remade, remodeled and rennovated many times over the years and was often known for the poor conditions of the infield.  Sportsman's Park remained until 1966, although after the Anheuser-Busch, Inc took control of the Cardinals in the 1950's it was named Busch Stadium.  In the Cardinals time in Sportsman's Park the team won 10 National League pennants and 7 World Series titles.

In 1966 the Cardinals opened a new stadium called Busch Memorial Stadium and the succcess continued.  Between 1966 and 2005 at this stadium the Cardinals reached 10 postseasons, won five National League pennants and won 2 World Series.  The stadium honored the history of the team and featured bronze statues of many Caridnal legends including Stan Musial, Dizzy Dean, Enos Slaughter, Rogers Hornsby, Red Schoendienst, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, George Sisler, Jack Buck and Ozzie Smith.

In 2005 the Cardinals opened a third stadium going by the Busch name.  The new Busch Stadium brought the statues from the old stadium and apparently brought the success as well.  In just a few short years the Cardinals have already reached three World Series and won one World Title.

National League West
Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks joined the league in 1998 and have played in the same stadium though it has changed names.  The most distinguishing features of the park are the retractable roof, the pool in right field and the strip of dirt leading from home plate to the pitchers mound.  Last year the pool became a source of controversy as the Dodgers celebrated in the pool after clinching the divsion title.  The Diamondbacks stadium was originally known as Bank One Ballpark (nicknamed the BOB).  In 2006 the name was changed to the current Chase Field.

Colorado Rockies
The Rockies joined the National League in 1993 and shared a stadium with the Denver Broncos.  The Broncos had already made Mile High Stadium one of the most famous football facilities in the world and the Rockies would need to find a way to carve their own niche in the Broncos hold on the Denver sports world.  They shared the facility for the first two years and moved into their own home at Coors Field for the 1995 season.  In their first year in the new stadium they made their organization's first playoff appearance.  They made two more playoff appearances (2007 and 2009) including a 2007  World Series appearance.

Los Angeles Dodgers
In 1884 the Brooklyn organization joined the American Association and played their home games at Washington Park in Brooklyn.  Why was it called Washington Park?  Because during the battle of Brooklyn in the American Revolution General Washington used the site for his headquarters.  The team played here  until 1891.

The team moved to Eastern Park to start the 1892 season.  The location was farther outside the city and in some ways strained the fans' loyalty as the fans needed to travel farther to get to the games.  They needed to take several trolleys to get there.  The team played there until 1897 when they moved back into a rebuilt version of Washington Park.  The team remained here until 1913.

Charles Ebbetts, smart enough to move the team closer to the fan base in Washington Park, was also smart enough to know that they needed a home of their own.  He started buying up low priced land in a neighborhood known as Pig Town.  The stadium was built here and would be the last home of the Dodgers in Brooklyn.  Ebbetts Field would be the home stadium of Dodgers favorites known as Cookie, Boit, Oisk, Duke, Campy, Pee Wee, the Reading Rifle and Jackie.  The legend of the Dodgers was built in this stadium but as the neighborhood surrounding the stadium crumbled the Dodgers looked to upgrade.

Walter O'Malley wanted nothing more than to build a new stadium in New York, hopefully still in Brooklyn, and improve the team's standing.  Every time he tried to work with the city a road block was thrown in his way.  Robert Moses had land in mind but it was land that O'Malley found unacceptable.  When the Dodgers tried to use the city of Los Angeles as a pawn to scare Moses into working with them O'Malley found a nice surprise.  While Moses was not willing to bend, Los Angeles was ready to bow.  Los Angeles offered O'Malley anything he wanted, all he had to do was ask. So he did and then he made the last decision he wanted to make...he moved the Dodgers out of Brooklyn.

Landing in Los Angeles the Dodgers played their first few years at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum while their palace was created.  The Coliseum  was an odd configuration for baseball and the adjustment in the first year was awful but by 1959 the Dodgers won their first west coast World Series.

In 1962 the Dodgers moved into the beautiful Dodgers Stadium.  It offers some of the best that Los Angeles has to offer.  Visitors to the game can witness the beautiful sunset, the mountains and the plam trees.  The Dodgers have become one of the most successful organizations in sports and have won three world championships in Los Angeles.

San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres played the first 30+ years in the same stadium, though, similar to many other stadiums we have seen, the name changed routinely.  Originally called San Diego Stadium it was then called Jack Murphy Stadium from 1980-1997.  Murphy was a sportswriter who had worked hard to bring a stadium to San Diego that would draw major sports and following his death the stadium he worked so hard for was renamed in his honor.  During this period the Padres reached their first World Series in 1984.  The stadium was renamed Qualcomm Stadium in 1997, named after a semi conductor company.

The Padres finally got their own facilities in 2004 when they moved into Petco Park.  The Padres website says that Petco Park provides "breathtaking views of San Diego" and "celebrates the sea, the sky, the natural beauty, cultural diversity and unique spirit" of the area.

San Francisco Giants
Here is something that may blow your mind.  One of the original National League teams, the Giants, who entered the league in 1883 have played in fewer stadiums than the Expos/Nationals organization and that is despite having played in two cities.  The Giants, known as the Gothams, moved into the Polo Grounds in New York when they joined the league.  The facilty was originally constructed (obviously) for polo matches.  The stadium under went large rennovations over the year, the final in 1911 after a stray cigar butt thrown carelessly from an elevated train set fire to the stadium while the Giants were away.  The Giants used Hilltop Park, the one they had fought so hard to prevent, while the Polo Grounds were repaired.

The best days of the Giants were in this park.  Mathewson, McGraw, Mays, Hubbell, Terry, Ott, Mize and Mays all played here.  When O'Malley moved the Dodgers west the Giants followed. Just as the Dodgers had to wait to move into their palace, the Giants had to wait to move into their wind tunnel.  They used the minor league facility Seal Stadium for the first two years.  It was a facility used by the minor league  San Francisco Seals but was not ready for prime time.

The Giants moved into their own stadium, Candlestick Park, in 1960 but it was a disaster from the beginning.  Winds from the bay made a pop up a Home Run and turned a foul ball headed 35 rows deep into a double.  The damp, cold weather, the dust storms  kicked up by the wind and the fog off the water made conditions miserable at times but the Giants stuck it out for years.  They had a lease so they had no choice.  The stadium, named originally after the Candlestick Point section, changed names to 3com Park in 1995 but the results were the same.  That being said, as bad as the conditions were (and made worse by sharing the field with the 49'ers) the Giants managed to make the playoffs several times and even made the World Series in 1962 and 1989.

In 2000 the Giants started the new millenium in the type of park they had imagined when they abandoned the Polo Grounds.  Pacific Bell Park opened April 11, 2000 and saw the Giants swept by the Dodgers.  It didn't matter. A new age of Giants baseball had dawned and the new palace paid homage to the Giant legends, specifically one who is most often forgotten, Willie McCovey.  McCovey Cove, in right field, is the most famous part of the park.  Right up against the water, players launching long Home Runs can splash a ball in the water.

The stadium was renamed SBC Park for 2004 and 2005 and has been called AT&T Park since. The park has many references to the history of the Giants organization including statues dedicated to Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal and the San Francisco Seals, the cities entry into the Pacific Coast League and the predecessors to the Giants.

Forbes Field in Pittsburgh was demolished in 1971.  Only two pieces of the field remain.  What are these two pieces?

Answer to Last Week's Question:
Congratulations to TJD for answering last week's trivia question correctly.
The Seattle Pilots finished the 1969 season in Seattle.  It was a bad situation and the league was unhappy with the ownership's business plan.  Still, the Seattle Pilots showed up to spring training in Florida and began preparing for the 1970 season.  The players posed for their Topps trading cards in their Pilots uniforms.  They played Spring Training games in Pilots uniforms.  On March 31 they arrived in the locker rooms to wrap up spring training and saw the same yellow and blue colors but the uniforms were different, drastically different.  Instead of Seattle they said Milwaukee and instead of Pilots they said Brewers.  Overnight, just a week before opening day, the team was sold.

1 comment:

  1. So many fires! It seems like the early stadium owners were more concerned about filling the seats than about the safety of the patrons. I enjoyed reading about the Beatles in this article even though it was brief. Their Shea Stadium performance is one of my favorites!


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