posted on Jan, 19 2006 @ 08:06 PM
TOEJAM and all,
I looked through both of my illustrated books on American ballparks. NEITHER has a panoramic picture of Braves Field during the 402-550-402 years,
nor does any of the websites my Google search just now turned up. I have one which shows the left field line, without the bleachers, presumably when
it was 402, but that wasn't original. Griffith Stadium in Washington was about that length down the LF line... until they got Roy Sievers and Harmon
Killebrew in the 50's, and decided HR crowns might be a nice thing.
Anyway, I find all of this amazing. This was not an ephemeral residency. They played in that park with the huge dimensions for a long time, when you
add up the different periods during which the park had those dimensions.
One of my ballpark books reports that in a single game there, the visiting NY Giants hit FOUR inside-the-park HR's, including two by George Kelly,
whom Bill James and perhaps I regard as the worst player in the Hall of Fame. (There are a lot of worthy candidates, several of whom played with
Kelly, like Fred Lindstrom and Travis Jackson.)
A little more on this absurd park:
(1) During all of the years they had the 402-550-402 dimensions, there were a total of SEVEN balls hit over a fence for a normal home run, the first
of which was hit in 1925 by Pancho Snyder off of Larry Benton. Meanwhile, there were TWO HUNDRED AND NINE balls hit for inside-the-park HR's.
(2) The fences were moved in in 1928, but I believe they were moved back out for a time after that.
(3) The reason for this nonsense was simple: The Braves' owner, like legendary Giants manager John McGraw and arguably the best Dead Ball player, Ty
Cobb (the other two rational candidates are Speaker and Wagner), hated the Babe Ruth style game and wanted to continue the "pure baseball" of the Dead
Ball Era. THIS park ensured there would be no HR fests. The fans, however, longed for the massive HR's that other NL stars, like Ott and Hornsby,
were making news with.
(4) In fairness, none of us saw the early Cobb & Speaker style of offensive baseball, at which those two were just plain awesome. Perhaps I should
say we didn't see the Lajoie/Wagner style, since those two played/wasted their entired careers in Dead Ball play, despite playing well into their
40's. Runs were at a premium, and as with the Dodgers of the early 60's, so were bases. All the best players stole bases, and Cobb and Wagner stole
tons. COBB AND SPEAKER HAD OVER 1,000 EXTRA BASE HITS, NOT EVEN COUNTING HR'S!!!
But the Braves didn't have pitchers to make it all thrilling. For me, I think one visit to this park might have been interesting, but that would have
TOEJAM: Would you like to know what my two "ballparks books" say about these two places? Would you like me to post it here? Is anyone sufficiently
fascinated to want to know? I could at least print some of the highlights, if anyone wants to know what these two ballpark experts say about this
This park was what we lawyers call sui generis. Or--get ready to laugh at me--it was what normal people not drowning in their own arrogance,
narcissism, cliqueishness, bombast, etc., etc., call "in a league of its own."