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Shibe Park

By Wikipedia

Connie Mack Stadium, known for the first two-thirds of its existence as Shibe Park, was a Major League Baseball park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was on the block bounded by Lehigh Avenue, 20th Street, Somerset Street and 21st Street.

At a glance...
Facility statistics
Location Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Broke ground 1908
Opened April 12, 1909
Closed October 1, 1970
Demolished July 1976
Replaced Columbia Park
Replaced by Veterans Stadium
Owner Connie Mack & Ben Shibe
Operator Athletic Grounds Co.
(Shibe & Mack)
Surface Grass
Construction cost $457,000 (including land)
Architect William Steele and Sons
Philadelphia Athletics (MLB, 1909-1954)
Philadelphia Phillies (MLB, 1938-1970)
Philadelphia Eagles (NFL, 1940-1957)
Seating capacity
20,000 (1909), 33,500 (1925), 33,608 (1961),
33,000 (1970)
Left Field - 360 ft
Left-Center - 393 ft
Center Field - 515 ft
Right-Center - 393 ft
Right Field - 360 ft (340 later in season)
Backstop - 90 ft (estimated)

Left Field - 334 ft
Left-Center - 387 ft
Center Field - 410 ft
Right-Center - 390 ft
Right Field - 329 ft
Backstop - 64 ft

The stadium was thus just five blocks west, corner-to-corner, from Baker Bowl, the home of the Philadelphia Phillies starting in 1887. It was the first concrete and steel stadium in the Major Leagues.

The stadium hosted two Major League Baseball All-Star Games, the first in 1943, marking the first time the game had been played at night, and in 1952, with that game holding the distinction of being the only All-Star contest shortened by rain (in this case, to five innings).

The Philadelphia Athletics of the American League opened the ballpark in 1909 after abandoning Columbia Park. The park was first called Shibe Park, named for Benjamin Shibe, who was one of the initial owners along with Connie Mack. Mr. Mack eventually acquired full ownership, but kept the name the same. The park was finally renamed Connie Mack Stadium in 1953 in honor of the gentlemanly and modest Mr. Mack, who by then was known as "The Grand Old Man of Baseball". A statue was erected in 1957 across the street in a park, was moved to Veterans Stadium in 1971, and ultimately to Citizens Bank Park in 2004.

Fly to the site of the Connie Mack Stadium!
If you have Google Earth installed, click here to be "flown" to the site of the Connie Mack Stadium. Of course the stadium is no longer there, but you can see the church that now occupies the land. (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.)

Because the Athletics were popular at the time, sellout crowds made house owners on 20th Street erect bleachers similar to those now at Wrigley Field in Chicago, and charging admission to watch the game. This infuriated Mr. Mack so much, because he was known as a tight owner when it came to finances, that in the winter of 1933, after losing a lawsuit that was filed by the club against the 20th Street house owners from his office in the cupola of the French Renaissance-designed ballpark, he raised the fence to a height of 33 feet (10 meters), a fence quickly dubbed by writers as "spite fence". But when the fence went up, the team's fortunes went down, never getting into pennant contention after that. The Athletics played in the stadium until the 1954 season before relocating to Kansas City in 1955.

The National League's Philadelphia Phillies had abandoned Baker Bowl in mid-season 1938, and played at the stadium as co-tenants, playing a doubleheader on July 4th that year, ultimately purchasing the park in the winter of 1954 when the Athletics left Philadelphia, until the stadium was closed after the 1970 season when the team moved to the then-new Veterans Stadium. The final game played there, on October 1 with the Phillies defeating the Montreal Expos 2-1 in 10 innings, was marred by people literally wrecking the stadium before the game ended. In all, a special post-game ceremony including a helecopter delivery to The Vet of home plate was cancelled. The National Football League's Philadelphia Eagles also played at the stadium during most of the 1940s and 50s, including the 1948 NFL Championship game, played in a blizzard where the home team defeated the Chicago Cardinals 7-0 with the only score by a Steve Van Buren touchdown, before moving to Franklin Field in 1958, which made Connie Mack a baseball-only facility, and eventually to The Vet.

Shibe Park!

The entrance to Shibe Park shortly after it opened.

Postcard courtesy of LCPC.

04/12/1909 Red Sox 1, Athletics 8
Umpires Tommy Connolly, Tim Hurst
Managers Connie Mack, Athletics
  Fred Lake, Red Sox
Starting Pitchers Eddie Plank, Athletics
  Frank Arellanes, Red Sox
Ceremonial Pitch Philadelphia Mayor Reyburn
Attendance 30,162
Batter Amby McConnell (ground out)
Hit Simon Nicholls (single)
Run Simon Nicholls
RBI Danny Murphy
Single Simon Nicholls
Double Danny Murphy
Triple Amby McConnell (04/13/1909)
Home Run Home Run Baker (05/29/1909)
Grand Slam Duffy Lewis (10/03/1912)
IPHR Danny Murphy (06/03/1909)
Stolen Base Harry Davis
Sacrifice Hit Tris Speaker
Sacrifice Fly Hamilton Patterson (06/15/1909)
Cycle Danny Murphy (08/25/1910)
Win Eddie Plank
Loss Frank Arellanes
Shutout Lew Brockett (04/16/1909)
Save N/A
Hit by Pitch Jack Ryan hit Harry Davis
Wild Pitch Eddie Plank
Balk Chief Bender (08/03/1909)
No-Hitter Chief Bender (05/12/1910)
Primary research by Jim Herdman & David Vincent
Courtesy of Retrosheet

Connie Mack Stadium sat empty and unwanted for the better part of six years, suffering fire on August 20, 1971 the same day the Connie Mack statue was re-dedicated at Veterans' Stadium along with vandalism and jungle-like growth of weeds. It was finally razed in 1976, ironically while Philadelphia was the central point of American Bicentennial celebrations including the Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Veterans' Stadium.

Many of the seats from this stadium were reused in War Memorial Stadium in Greensboro, North Carolina, and in Duncan Park in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Related books on Shibe Park/Connie Mack Stadium:
Philadelphia's Old Ballparks by Rich Westcott.
To Every Thing a Season: Shibe Park and Urban Philadelphia, 1909-1976 by Bruce Kuklick.

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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Postcard courtesy of LCPC

Year by Year statistics: for Shibe Park

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It uses material from this Wikipedia article, which is probably more up to date than ours (retrieved August 12, 2005).

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