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Seals Stadium
Temporary home of the
San Francisco Giants

Seals Stadium

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1931 1947 1958
Polo Grounds Candlestick Park

Vital statistics:
Lifetime Seating capacity Seating rows
Overhang / shade % Territory
(1,000 sq. ft.)
Fence height  CF
orien- tation
Back-stop Outfield dimensions The Clem Criteria:
Built Demo-
1st deck 2nd deck Upper deck Lower deck Upper deck Fair Foul LF CF RF Left
Left-center Center field Right-center Right field Field
asym- metry
prox- imity
Loc- ation Aesth- etics Over- all
1931* 1960* 22,900 40 - - 0% - 108.5 22.7 15 31 16 SSE 55 361 364 400 (360) (354) 4 6 6 5 6 5.4

* The Giants played here in 1958 and 1959 only. Parentheses indicate estimated distances to right center, and the right field foul pole (both evidently unmarked).

Seals Stadium was built for the minor league San Francisco Seals, the team where Joe DiMaggio and his lesser-known brothers Dominic and Vince got their start. Until 1938, however, the San Francisco Missions also played there as the home team, which is why there was a third locker room there. Seals Stadium had a simple one-deck design but had elegant architectural stonework on the outside and an Art Deco ticket sales / office building near the right field corner. It was situated in an elevated spot, providing fans with an impressive view of the Mission District. The land was sloped, with the field at ground level in right field, and about 30 feet higher behind the grandstand on the third base side. In back of the stadium there was a tall Hamm's Beer brewery. ("From the land of sky blue waters...") Across 16th Street beyond right field was Franklin Square, a small park. The third base side of the grandstand was shorter than the right side because 15th Street made an odd bend near the left foul pole. In the late 1940s, bleachers were added in right field, presumably at about the same time that light towers were installed. In 1951, an inner fence was built in left field, reducing the distance down the line from 365 to 347 feet. Much like what the Pittsburgh Pirates did at Forbes Field, the gap was named "Paul's Porch," for the franchise owner Paul Fagan, but it was removed before the 1952 season began. I have seen no basis for the original left field distance of 340 feet that was given by Lowry in Green Cathedrals.

thumbnail The Giants played at Seals Stadium for two years while Candlestick Park was under construction. With its long foul line distances, relatively standard distance to center, tight foul territory, and roofless, wide-open grandstand, it is hard to imagine a sharper contrast to the Giants' former home in the Polo Grounds. The outfield fences were angled inward, perpendicular to their respective portions of the grandstand, so that the power alleys were relatively modest in length, much like Wrigley Field in Los Angeles. The left field bleachers were added in time for the Giants' arrival, but the seating capacity of 22,900 was still woefully inadequate for Major League games. (Some photographs suggest that the left half of the bleachers in left field were several feet higher than those on the right side, but aerial photographs fail to corroborate that, so it may simply be that the bleachers were steeper on the left side.) Meanwhile, the Dodgers, the other migrants from New York (Brooklyn), were playing in gigantic Memorial Coliseum, which had a capacity of nearly 100,000. The fence in front of the center field scoreboard was moved several times over the years. According to Lowry (2007), the outfield dimensions were reduced slightly between 1958 and 1959, but I have seen no photographic evidence of this, and the latter dimensions appear more reliable. The distance to the right field corner was probably 354 feet; the 350 foot figure pertains to the corner of the bleachers. One odd feature of Seals Stadium was that it never had dirt warning tracks, one of the last major league ballparks without them.

In July 1959 Willie McCovey played his first major league game in Seals Stadium, just a few months before the Giants moved out and demolition began. Today an automobile dealer and grocery store occupy the land where it once stood.

SOURCES: Lowry (2006), Pastier (2007), Ritter (1992), Gershman (1993), Sacramento Bee

FAN TIPS: Bruce Orser, Bill Kalenborn

Seals Stadium:
Chronology of diagram updates


NOTE: The diagram thumbnails have been continually replaced since 2008, so the images seen in the older blog posts do not reflect how the full-size diagrams looked at that time. Roll your mouse over the adjacent thumbnail to see a pre-2008 version.

Seals Stadium
11 Aug 2006 05 Feb 2009 17 Jul 2012 18 Jun 2015

Vox populi: Fans' impressions

Have you been to this stadium? If so, feel free to share your impressions of it with other fans! (Registration is required.) Also, I welcome submissions of original stadium photos that fans have taken, and will make sure they get properly credited. Just send me an e-mail message via the Contact page.

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