December 31, 2018
In yet another interruption of my vain hopes for finishing up diagram revisions by the end of the year, I made some revisions to the Shibe Park diagrams. The latter years hardly changed at at, but there were some significant improvements in accuracy and detail for the earlier years, especially 1913 and 1923. In order to get the placement of things like the scoreboard as exact as possible, I included the small buttresses in front of the outfield wall, at regular intervals of about 16 feet. (They were covered up by the enlarged wall built in 1935.) Once I realized I could use those tiny notches as a "ruler," everything became much easier.
That page also has a "the site today" diagram, showing a crude layout of Deliverance Evangelistic Church on top of Shibe Park / Connie Mack Stadium. The previous diagram update for Shibe Park was on Feb. 11, 2016.
This revision was prompted by two e-mail messages I received earlier this year. First, Eric Raudenbush sent me newspaper items that explain clearly how the bleachers in left field were modified prior to the 1923 season. Basically, the first six rows of benches plus the walkway in front were removed, thereby shifting the left field wall back by 18 feet. This clears up what had been a difficult mystery; back in 2006, ballpark expert Ron Selter had inferred from the drop in home runs in 1923 that home plate must have been moved backward by 21 feet. Now we know that home plate did not change (at least not in that year), but that the distances to left field did increase by approximately the amount he estimated. One of those articles indicated that the bleachers were also extended all the way to center field at that time. Yet unresolved is whether the bizarre forward shift in home plate in 1926 cited by Philip Lowry's Green Cathedrals (both the 1992 and 2006 editions) is real or not. Given that the 1923 change was motivated in part by a desire to reduce the number of easy home runs to left field, I have a hard time believing that they would reverse course in such a drastic fashion only three years later. Stay tuned!
Second, Terry Wallace sent me a photo of Shibe Park taken in October 1914, probably during the World Series (the "Miracle Braves" of Boston vs. Philadelphia Athletics). It shows clearly that there was a wall between the left field bleachers and the right field wall, enclosing the center field corner where the "flag pole" was. It was actually a tower with four corners, rather odd for that purpose. It looks like a small oil derrick. After considerable time comparing that photos to others I have seen, I concluded that the hitherto-unknown center field wall was the same distance from the outer wall behind the left field bleachers as was the very short wall or fence between those bleachers and the grandstand near the left field corner. As it turns out, that wall (probably a strutural element in the bleachers) ended up being the left field wall after those bleachers were reduced in size in 1923.
Putting those two crucial clues together reconciled a lot of conflicting information. It also erased any doubt as to whether the old (1910/1913) bleachers were replaced or simply added onto vertically. After looking at details such as the location of the entry portals, I am satisfied that the latter conjecture is much more likely.
Thanks again to Eric Raudenbush and Terry Wallace for their very helpful information summarized above. But there's more!
Christopher George asked if I know the actual roof height of old Comiskey Park. He has seen figures of 75 feet and 74. I replied that my diagram indicates the front edge is 78 feet tall, which would be a couple feet higher than the rear. Further checking may be necessary, but for now that's close enough.
Finally, Mike Zurawski sends word that Commissioner Manfred is exploring the possibility of expanding Major League Baseball from 30 to 32 teams, but only after Oakland and Tampa Bay get new stadiums approved. See reuters.com. That could be a while... Portland and Montreal were among the cities he mentioned as possible homes for new MLB franchises. There's more news from Mike that I have not had the time to absorb as of yet...
After my father passed away two years ago, my siblings and I went through his precious possessions, including his archives of Chicago Cubs and Nebraska Cornhusker memorabilia. Among the more fascinating finds were these copies of issues Who's Who magazine. Unless I am mistaken, Who's Who ceased print publication after the 2016 edition, when Bryce Harper appeared on the cover. I bought myself a copy, not realizing that it would turn out to be the final edition.
At the stroke of midnight, my Baseball blog page will cease displaying the 2018 postseason series scores (at the bottom) and will begin displaying a countdown of the days remaining until the umpires make the official "Play ball!" shout in 15 stadiums across the country. Opening Day in 2019 will be early: March 28. That's less than three months from now!!!
Happy New Year, baseball fans!