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Forbes Field

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Forbes Field circa 1909

Forbes Field was the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1909 to 1970

One of the first steel-and-concrete ballparks, Forbes Field opened on June 30, 1909 as home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. That season the Pirates won their first World Series title. The three Series games in Pittsburgh that year outdrew the entire 1907 and 1908 World Series due to the park's size. The stadium was also known as Schenley Park.

The land for the park was acquired with the help of industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. At the time, Oakland was still home to cows and livery stables, but the area has since become a bastion of higher education, as both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University are located there. Pitt still is home to part of the Forbes Field wall. Much of the former Forbes Field site is occupied by Pitt's Hillman Library and Forbes Quad.

Color postcard showing the field, 1930s or 1940s.

A haven for triples and contact hitters, Forbes Field was not friendly to sluggers. In 1947, this was changed when the bullpens were moved from foul ground to left field, cutting 30 feet, to accommodate Hank Greenberg, who joined Pittsburgh that season. The area was called Greenberg Gardens. When Greenberg retired, the area was renamed Kiner Korner, after Ralph Kiner, who became the dominant slugger in the NL. Forbes Field was home to a couple of famous long balls - Bill Mazeroski's 1960 World Series winner and Babe Ruth's final three homers.

For its final 24 years, the park was 300' to right, 457' to center and 365' to left.

Forbes Field was also the temporary home for the Negro League Homestead Grays in 1939 after the demise of Greenlee Field the previous off-season. The Grays moved to Washington, DC's Griffith Stadium for the 1940 season and remained there for their final 11 years.

[edit] Further Reading

  • "All Ready For Opening of New Park: Dedication Week at Forbes Field Starts on Wednesday", The Pittsburg Press, June 27, 1909, p. 29. [1]
  • Les Biederman: "Repairs and Improvements Underway at Forbes Field", The Pittsburgh Press, December 2, 1945, p. 36. [2]
  • David Cicotello and Angelo J. Louisa: Forbes Field: Essays and Memories of the Pirates' Historic Ballpark, 1909-1971, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2007. [3]
  • Ron Selter: "Forbes Field, Hitter's Nightmare?", in The Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Number 31, 2003, pp. 95-97.
  • C. H. Gillespie: "Forbes Field, World's Finest Baseball Park; Ready for Opening Day", The Pittsburg Press, June 27, 1909, p. 46. [4]
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