July 29, 2011
Years (literally) in the making: the Shibe Park diagrams have been thoroughly revised, with many corrections and enhancements. Where do I begin? As is often the case, the profile is now much more accurate and detailed than before, with separate profiles for the inner and outer portions of the grandstand, as well as the outfield bleacher/grandstand. I'm frankly embarrassed by how far below my ever-climbing quality standards the Shibe Park diagrams had fallen; the last major update was in 2006!
There will probably always be some uncertainties and mysterious about the various nooks and crannies in the former home of the Philadelphia Athletics and Phillies. For example, the precise layout of the diamond and foul lines during the first two decades is a little uncertain. For the time being, I have accepted the dimensions given by other authors (378 in LF, 340 in RF), but I have a sneaking suspicion that those numbers are in error. Based on photographic evidence, I think there is a real possibility that the diamond may not have been moved forward (or backwards) in the 1920s after all. Also, I'm still not sure how fans entered and exited the bleachers and upper deck grandstand in left field. There were at one time five external stairways protruding from the back, hanging over the sidewalk, much like a fire escape, but returning into the stadium at the lower level. Over the years, those stairways were removed, one by one. Anyway, the diagrams are a big leap forward.
Note that in the football version diagram, the profiles of the infield and extended portions of the grandstand are reversed, to facilitate comparison of the differences between them. It shows that in the latter portion (roughly between the bases and the foul poles), the front row was a few feet higher, while the roof was a few feet shorter. You can see just by rolling your mouse over the thumbnail image above.
In preparing these diagrams, I relied upon a variety of books and online sources, most of which were drawn to my attention by my always-reliable colleague Bruce Orser. I don't think I could possibly understate the degree to which his help has improved the quality of my diagrams. Phil Lowry's Green Cathedrals (2006), John Pastier's Ballparks Yesterday and Today (2007), Ron Selter's Ballparks of the Deadball Era (2008), and Lawrence Ritter's Lost Ballparks (1992) were all very useful, even if I disagree with some of the findings in them. Another great source was the book by Bruce Kuklick, To Every Thing a Season: Shibe Park and Urban Philadelphia, 1909-1976 (Princeton University Press, 1991).
I'm almost sure this online article is just another urban legend: "Phillies can thank Yanks for famous Ballantine scoreboard " by "Joe Sixpack" at philly.com. Supposedly, the old scoreboard from Yankee Stadium was moved to Shibe Park / Connie Mack Stadium in 1956. Sources differ, but a close inspection of photos of those two scoreboards reveals notable differences, and if the chronologies are correct, that would be literally impossible. 1956 was two years before the new scoreboard was installed in the Bronx.
* I always called it "Connie Mack Stadium" when I was growing up, and was annoyed when my father would refer to it by the original name; likewise for Sportsmans Park / Busch Stadium I, Briggs Stadium / Tiger Stadium, and a couple others.
Coincidentally, Rep. Connie Mack (R-FL) was one of the 22 House members who voted "no" on the debt-ceiling bill pushed by Speaker John Boehner earlier this evening. See politico.com. Cornelius H. McGillicuddy IV (his real name) is the great-grandson of Connie Mack (nickname), who was both manager and owner of the Philadelphia Athletics. Connie Mack IV played in the recent congressional baseball game at Nationals Park; see welovedc.com.
Stadiums superimposed page now includes a simplified version of the distance measuring device that I use for drawing ballpark diagrams. Just scroll to the very bottom of either the opaque (dark) or translucent (pale) diagram menus. This was prompted by a comment by MASN sportscaster Bob Carpenter that the distance to the corners in right and left field at Nationals Park (the corners away from the foul poles) was about 360 feet. According to my estimates, it's just about 370 feet. That 10-foot difference was significant because ...
Back in the real world of baseball, in Our Nation's Capital, the Washington Nationals were swept by the Florida Marlins this week, thereby plunging headlong into the NL East cellar. Coming off a lousy 3-6 road trip, they were trounced 11-2 on Tuesday by the Florida Marlins. On Wednesday the Marlins had a 7-1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning, when all of a sudden the Nats' bats came alive, scoring four runs. With a runner on base, up to the plate stepped Laynce Nix, who had already crushed a towering home run into the back of the second deck near the right field foul pole earlier in the game. Fans waited in eager anticipation, and when his bat cracked the ball again, it looked like a miraculous comeback was unfolding. But the ball fell just short of the right field bullpen, about five feet in front of the fence, and was caught for the final out of the game. Oh, the agony... On Thursday, the Nats fell to the Marlins once again, 5-2, confirming their lowly status as the last place team. Hopes that the Nats might even have a shot at the NL wild card spot have all but vanished, and as the July 31 trading deadline approaches, there are fears that Drew Storen or other top-notch players may be let go in return for future prospects. What a revolting development that would be
One positive note: Ryan Zimmerman went four for five, a day after going three for five at the plate. He has definitely pulled out of his post-return slump and his batting average has climbed into the .270 range.