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South End Grounds

By Wikipedia

South End Grounds is the most commonly used informal name for a major league baseball park that was the home ground to the Boston entry, first in the National Association of Professional Baseball Players, and then in the National League, from 1871-1914. It was built or rebuilt at the same location three times.

At a glance...
Facility statistics
Location Columbus Ave /
Walpole Street
Boston, Mass
Broke ground 1871
Replaced by Braves Field
Opened I: May 16, 1871
II: May 25, 1888
III: July 20, 1894
Closed I: September 10, 1887
II: May 15, 1894
III: June 3, 1915
Demolished I: September 1887
II: May 15, 1894
III: 1916
Owner (The team)
Surface Grass
Construction cost $75,000 (1888 grandstand)
Boston Braves (NA, NL, 1871-1915)
Seating capacity
Left Field - 250 ft
Left-Center - 445 ft
Center Field - 440 ft
Right-Center - 440 ft
Right Field - 255 ft

Its formal name, as indicated on the sign over its entrance gate, at least in its later years, was Boston National League Base Ball Park. The ballpark was located on the northeast corner of Columbus Avenue and Walpole Street. Accordingly, it was also known over the years as Grand Pavilion, Walpole Street Grounds, Union Baseball Grounds, or simply Boston Baseball Grounds).

The ballpark was across the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad tracks, to the south, from the eventual site of the Huntington Avenue Grounds, home to the Boston American League entry prior to the building of Fenway Park.

Fly to the site of the South End Grounds!
If you have Google Earth installed, click here to be "flown" to the site of the South End Grounds. Of course the stadium is no longer there, but you can see the old neighborhood. (If you do not have it installed, get it from Google. It allows you to view virtually anywhere on Earth in 3D using satellite imagery.)

The Boston club was initially known as the Red Stockings, because many of its players had come from the famous 1869-1870 barnstorming team known as the Cincinnati Red Stockings and took the nickname with them to Boston. Over time the team acquired other informal nicknames, such as "Beaneaters", "Red Caps", "Rustlers" and even "Doves". This team eventually adopted the official nickname "Braves", just a few years before abandoning South End Grounds.

Two franchise shifts later, they are now the Atlanta Braves, and are the only surviving charter member of the original National Association. Their original "Red Stockings" nickname lives on in three ways: in the Boston Red Sox of the American League, who adopted it in 1908 after the National Leaguers had given up their red trim briefly; in the Cincinnati Reds of the National League, who reclaimed their city's old nickname in the 1880s during their days in the then-major American Association; and in the perennial red trim that the Braves wear in their uniforms. It is noteworthy that of the various stadiums and ballparks the Braves have called home during their 135 seasons to date, the South End Grounds served them for the longest time period, 44 seasons. They also won 13 pennants (4 in the NA and 9 in the NL) in the park.

South End Grounds was rebuilt twice during its lifetime, the first time on purpose and the second time by necessity.

South End Grounds!

The second South End Grounds in 1893.

Courtesy of LCPC

South End Grounds (#1)

The first South End Grounds was opened on May 16, 1871. The last game was played on September 10, 1887. The ballpark's stands were demolished later that month to make way for a new structure.

South End Grounds (#2)

The second South End Grounds was opened on May 25, 1888. Sometimes called the Grand Pavilion, it was indeed the grandest of the ballpark's three incarnations, consisting of a large double-decked and grandstand with twin turrets behind home plate and uncovered stands stretching down the right and left field lines, as well as bleachers in right-center field. The ballpark sat 6,800 by one estimate. It was the only double-decked baseball stadium ever built in Boston, unless one counts the rooftop seating which has turned Fenway Park into a de facto double-deck ballpark. The second deck was added as a result of the popularity of the $20,000 Battery" of John Clarkson and King Kelly.

The stadium was destroyed in the Great Roxbury Fire of May 15, 1894, which began when children started a small fire beneath the right field bleachers during the third inning, and destroyed the stadium and 117 other buildings. During the rebuilding process, the Bostons played some of their home games on the road and the rest at Congress Street Grounds, where they achieved some history in a short time.

The pair of pictures on this page are from this second "South End Grounds."

South End Grounds (#3)

The third South End Grounds was built in ten weeks on the site of the old stand and opened on July 20, 1894. Because the previous structure had not been sufficiently insured, there wasn't enough money to rebuild the stands according to its old plans, and a smaller structure was built. Few photographs of this ballpark seem to be in circulation. In one sense, the best known photo might be the one showing the opening game of the 1903 World Series, with the Huntington Avenue Grounds in the foreground; and the South End Grounds in the background, its season over, partially hidden by smoke from the rail yards.

The Braves moved out of the South End Grounds after their game on August 11, 1914 to accommodate larger crowds during the "stretch drive" of the 1914 pennant race. The team continued to play at Fenway Park until Braves Field was completed during the 1915 season, a stretch which included their first modern World Series appearance as they shocked the Philadelphia Athletics in four straight games. The grass at the South End Grounds became so good over the years that much of it was transplanted to the new Braves Field.

Current Land Use

The stadium was demolished after the Braves left. The parking lot between Northeastern University's Columbus Parking Garage and Ruggles Station of the Orange Line of the MBTA now stands on the former site of the grandstand and the infield. The outfield was located where the garage stands. An historical marker commemorating the South End Grounds is located at Ruggles Station. The Boston Red Sox and MBTA frequently provide shuttle service on game days from Ruggles to Fenway Park.

Related Books on Ballparks
The Ballpark Book: A Journey Through the Fields of Baseball Magic by Ron Smith and Kevin Belford.
Ballpark: The Story of America's Baseball Fields by Lynn Curlee
Ballparks: A Panoramic History by Marc Sandalow and Jim Sutton.
Ballparks by Robert Von Goeben and Red Howard.
Ballparks: Then & Now by Eric Enders.
Baseball Vacations: Great Family Trips to Minor League and Classic Major League Ballbarks Across America by Bruce Adams and Margaret Engel.
Blue Skies, Green Fields: A Celebration of 50 Major League Baseball Stadiums by Ira Rosen.
Diamonds: The Evolution of the Ballpark by Michael Gershman.
Fields of Dreams: A Guide to Visiting and Enjoying All 30 Major League Ballparks by Jay Ahuja
Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebration of All Major League and Negro League Ballparks by Philip J. Lowry.
Joe Mock's Ballpark Guide by Joe Mock.
Lost Ballparks: A Celebration of Baseball's Legendary Fields by Lawrence S. Ritter.
Roadside Baseball: A Guide to Baseball Shrines Across America by Chris Epting.
Take Me Out to the Ballpark: An Illustrated Tour of Baseball Parks Past and Present by Josh Leventhal and Jessica Macmurray.
The Ultimate Baseball Road-Trip: A Fan's Guide to Major League Stadiums by Joshua Pahigian and Kevin O'Connell.
Video: Story of America's Classic Ballparks
Video: Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns

Economics of Stadiums
City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks by Philip Bess.
Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit by Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause.
Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle over Building Sports Stadiums by Kevin J. Delaney and Rick Eckstein.
Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums by Roger G. Noll and Andrew Zimbalist.

General Stadium Reference:
Sports Staff of USA Today. The Complete 4 Sport Stadium Guide. Fodor's, 1996.

Stadium Design and Financing References:
Philip Bess. City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks. Knothole Press, 1999.
Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause. Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit. Common Courage Press, 1998.
Mark S. Rosentraub. Major League Losers: The Real Cost of Sports and Who's Paying for It. HarperCollins, 1997.
Kevin J. Delaney, Rick Eckstein. Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle over Building Sports Stadiums. Rutgers University Press, 2004.
Roger G. Noll and Andrew Zimbalist. Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums. Brookings Institution, 1997.
Dean V. Baim. The Sports Stadium as a Municipal Investment. Greenwood Publishing, 1994.
Stadia: A Design and Development Guide by Geraint John and Rod Sheard. Architectural Press, 2000.
Michelle Provoost, Matthjis Bouw and Camiel Van Winkel. The Stadium: Architecture of Mass Sport. NAI Publishers, 2000.

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The original grandstands of the South End Ground before the burned in the Great Roxbury Fire of 1894.

Postcard courtesy of LCPC

Year by Year statistics: for South End Grounds

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from this Wikipedia article, which is probably more up to date than ours (retrieved August 12, 2005).

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