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Forbes Field

By Wikipedia

Forbes Field was a Major League Baseball park in the Oakland neighborhood (or University District) of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It served as the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates of the National League from mid-1909 to mid-1970.

At a glance...
Facility statistics
Location Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Broke ground March 1, 1909
Opened June 30, 1909
First Night Game June 4, 1940
Closed June 28, 1970
Demolished July 28, 1971
Replaced Exposition Park
Replaced by Three Rivers Stadium
Owner Pirates (1909-1958)
University of Pittsburgh ('58-71)
Surface Grass
$1M (including land purchase)
Architect Osborn Engineering
Pirates (MLB, 1909-1970)
Homestead Grays (Negro Leagues, 1939-1948)
Steelers (1933-1963)
Seating capacity
23,000 (1909); 25,000 (1915), 41,000 (1925),
40,000 (1938), 33,467 (1942), 35,000 (1960)
Left Field - 360 ft
Left-Center - 422 ft
Deepest Center Field - 462 ft
Right-Center - 416 ft (estimated)
Right Field - 376 ft
Backstop - 110 ft

Left Field - 365 ft
Left-Center - 406 ft
Deep L.C. - 457 ft
Center Field - Dreyfuss Monument, no sign
Deep R.C. - 436 ft
Right-Center - 375 ft
Right Field - 300 ft
Backstop - 75 ft

It was also the home field of the Homestead Grays of the Negro Leagues from 1939 to 1948. The Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL (who were initially also called the "Pirates") used the stadium from 1933 to 1963 when they moved to nearby Pitt Stadium.

The park was built under the direction of Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss. It was named for a General John Forbes, and is perhaps the only major league baseball park named for an officer in the French and Indian War. Forbes' contribution to the area was having captured Fort Duquesne and renaming it Fort Pitt after British statesman William Pitt the Elder. Pittsburgh derives its name from this fact.

Fly to the site of the Forbes Field!
If you have Google Earth installed, click here to be "flown" to the site of the Forbes Field. 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.)

Forbes Field replaced Exposition Park. It is the only home the Pirates ever had that was not on the west bank of the Allegheny River. It was in an attractive setting, with Schenley Park and a large ravine beyond the outfield area. In its later years, the tall Cathedral of Learning on the nearby University of Pittsburgh campus afforded a breathtaking view of the ballpark, and it is from that tower that many "aerial" photos of the ballpark were taken.

On May 25, 1935, the first home run was hit over the double-deck grandstand in right field, which, coincidentally, was Babe Ruth's final career home run. That was a target that Willie Stargell would broach a number of times in his early career with the Bucs. However, the most famous homer hit in Forbes Field was undoubtedly Bill Mazeroski's walkoff home run to win the 1960 World Series for the Pirates.

The flagpole, and a portion of the left and center field walls still exist on the Forbes Quadrangle portion of campus of the University of Pittsburgh. A bronze plaque indicates the portion over which Mazeroski's 1960 blast traveled. Home plate is preserved in its original location, under Plexiglas in a hallway in one of the buildings occupying the site. The portions of the wall that still stand are also still covered in the same ivy that decorated its left and center field walls for decades, not as famously but the same way as Wrigley Field.

Forbes Field!

Forbes Field as seen during its first season.

Postcard courtesy of LCPC

06/30/1909 Cubs 3, Pirates 2
Umpires Bob Emslie, Hank O'Day
Managers Fred Clarke, Pirates
  Frank Chance, Cubs
Starting Pitchers Vic Willis, Pirates
  Ed Reulbach, Cubs
Ceremonial Pitch Pittsburgh Mayor Magee
Attendance 30,338
Batter Johnny Evers (hit by pitch)
Hit Frank Chance (single)
Run Johnny Evers
RBI Frank Chance
Single Frank Chance
Double Dots Miller
Triple Harry Steinfeldt (07/02/1909)
Home Run Mike Mitchell (07/05/1909)
Grand Slam Tommy Leach (07/21/1910)
IPHR Rebel Oakes (07/27/1909)
Stolen Base Solly Hofman
Sacrifice Hit Solly Hofman
Sacrifice Fly Solly Hofman (07/02/1909)
Cycle Honus Wagner (08/22/1912)
Win Ed Reulbach
Loss Vic Willis
Shutout Mordecai Brown (07/02/1909)
Save N/A
Hit by Pitch Vic Willis hit Johnny Evers
Wild Pitch Rip Hagerman (07/02/1909)
Balk Gene Moore (04/23/1910)
No-Hitter (None)
Primary research by Jim Herdman & David Vincent
Courtesy of Retrosheet

One artifact no longer there is the statue of John Peter "Honus" Wagner, the first great Pirates star and one of the five original inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame. That statue, which shows Wagner at bat, completing his swing, was moved to the entrance to Three Rivers Stadium and later to the entrance to PNC Park. In his playing days at shortstop, Wagner was said to have had a great range, and it is fair to say that ol' Honus is still getting around.

Forbes Field had an exceptionally large outfield, and during its 61-year history it never witnessed a no-hitter. After the extension of the right field stands into the outfield during the mid-1920s, the dimensions were pretty well set for most of the next 50 years, except during 1947-1953 when an inner fence reduced the left field area by 30 feet, to assist Pirates sluggers like Hank Greenberg and Ralph Kiner.

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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Forbes Field at night.

Postcard courtesy of LCPC

Year by Year statistics: for Forbes Field

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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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