January 31, 2016
After the usual marathon of photo-squinting, pixel-tweaking, and hair-pulling, I finished updates to the Shibe Park page, the first such update since 2011. (Yes, I know, other diagrams are even more outdated than that.) For the first time, that page features not one, not two, but three upper-deck diagrams! That calls attention to the multi-phased expansion of Shibe Park, and for the first time gives one a look at the "insides" of the old stadium, which was torn down in 1976. Among the most outstanding details revealed for the first time: There were two sets of entry portals in the upper deck, one being adjacent to the support beams, and the other being about 20 feet in back. This was only the case in the portion of the grandstand surrounding the infield, not the upper-deck extensions that were built in 1925. For those portions, I think there was a small lateral walkway in back at the very top, accessible via staircases located in the 20-foot-wide gaps between the original upper deck and the extended upper deck. The entry portals in the upper deck were extremely narrow, only about three feet wide. It would have been hard for two people to pass each other, especially if one of them was on the chubby side.
Other new diagram details include the "creases" in the grandstand, the bullpen pitching rubbers and home plates, and even the emergency fire-escape exits behind the upper deck beyond left field. One thing I learned for the first time is that the two dugouts were situated differently, with the home dugout (third base side) being about 15 feet closer to the middle than the visitor's dugout. Apparently this was because there was a tunnel back to the home team locker room, etc. but not for the visitors. Strange.
One change since the previous (2011) edition of the Shibe Park diagrams is that the front edge of the upper deck is about 30 feet above the ground, rather than 25 feet as I had estimated before. That makes a lot of difference. Conversely, the small upper deck in left field is slightly lower than before.
From mid-1938 (when the Phillies moved in after abandoning the nearby Baker Bowl) until end of 1954 (when the Athletics moved to Kansas City), Shibe Park was shared by two teams. In only one other stadium (Sportsman's Park) did two MLB teams share facilities for a longer period. The name was changed to "Connie Mack Stadium" in 1953, just before the team long managed by that revered former player (the A's) moved out.
Obviously, the multiple "under-the-roof" (first second and second deck) diagrams sets the standard for the rest of the "Classical Era" stadium diagrams that are currently in the works. For the first time, you'll get to see the details such as entry portals, support beams, and lateral walkways. I made a lot of progress on Sportsman's Park recently, and expect to release those diagrams in the next week or so.
That takes care of three out of the four MLB stadiums in Philadelphia, since I made updates for Veterans Stadium and Citizens Bank Park in recent months. All that's left to do for that city is the Baker Bowl. (Maybe some day I'll get to the turn-of-the-century wooden ballparks such as Philadelphia's Columbia Park.)
Last week rumors began to circulate that the new (since January last year) MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred may recommend that the National League adopt the Designated Hitter rule, as the American League has done since 1973. No-o-o-oooo!!!! Requiring pitchers to bat gives an advantage to athletes with multiple talents, and it makes watching a ball game more interesting because it forces managers to conserve their utility players and make switches in the lineup based on strategic calculations. The only reason to adopt the DH rule is that it would mean less wear and tear on pitchers, who are often a valuable (and "perishable") team asset.
At ESPN, David Schoenfield lists players who would be better off as designated hitters:
I have heard some people say that the recent contract negotiations with Yeonis Cespedes may have been affected by an expectation that the National League may start using designated hitters this year or next, in which case Jayson Werth would be a logical choice. The DH rule would raise his value, no doubt.
Facebook friend and Royals fan Chris Knight asked if anyone could identify the species of the bird used on an "Early Bird" promotion, and it didn't take long for me to figure out that it is a Western Kingbird. Chris says that such birds are often seen swooping after insects at Kauffman Stadium. In fact, I photographed one of those very same birds when I was at a game there two summers ago: