Cleat Geeks

Old School Saturday; The “Bambino” vs “The Billy Goat”

The 2016 Major League Baseball season is winding down and a very interesting scenario could develop.  The possibility exists for a Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, World Series. Not the fact that the Boston Red Sox ended their “Curse of the Bambino” in 2004 or the Cubs trying to end the curse of the “Billy Goat”, or that Theo Epstein, who guided the end to futility for Boston, now is the architect to the Cubs resurgence hoping to end 108 years without a World Series title.

greenmonsterfrombehindhomeplateThe glamour of these two teams not only is the fact their fan bases are arguably the most passionate and loyal in all of sports but their “Homes” are the lure of baseball fans worldwide.

Ask any baseball fan to name where the Red Sox play and Fenway Park will be their answer.  Ask the same question for the Cubs and you will get Wrigley Field. The last of the Old School ball yards.

“The Green Monster” in Fenway and the green colored ivy walls at Wrigley are picture book settings for the history of baseball.wrigleyfieldivy

The great city of New York was home to three teams.  The New York Giants called the Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan home from 1911 through 1957 before heading to San Francisco’s Candlestick Park where fans could be seen wearing warm jackets and covered with blankets while watching a night game in July.ebbets_field_outside3

The Brooklyn Dodgers inhabited Ebbets Field in the Flatbush section. The Bums as they were lovably called by their fans were seen walking or riding a bus to the ballpark that advertised anything and everything on their outfield walls.  With the exception of Yankee Stadium, Ebbets Field might have been the most publicized ballpark of that era.  The Dodgers had many championship runs and Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier brought Ebbets Field to national prominence. In 1958 after 45 years and a political dispute over a new stadium, Walter O’Malley took the Dodgers to L.A. Ebbets Field was demolished in 1960 and much of Brooklyn wept.

The New York Yankees, the Kings of the Diamond, the owners of forty pennants and twenty-seven World Series titles are now in the new Yankee Stadium. In 1923 the old Yankee Stadium opened with their star Babe Ruth.  The Babe and Yankee Stadium are what legends are made of.  The stadium became known as the House that Ruth Built.

The Yankees moved into the “new” Yankee Stadium in 2009 across the street from the old Yankee Stadium.  Babe, Lou, Mickey, Joe D, Yogi and the rest of the Yankee greats that were recognized at the old, moved to the new, as the Yankees duplicated Monument Park.

crosley-field-cincinnatiOld School ballparks had unusual dimensions compared to today’s. Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field, home to the Pirates from 1909 to 1970, a home run to center field would require a 462 foot clout.

Crosley Field in Cincinnati housed the Reds from 1919 until 1970 and in 1935 became the first MLB park to install lights. It also was very hitter friendly with cozy dimensions, 328 feet to left, 387 to center. The outfielders had an incline to navigate on deep fly balls.

Today the modern designer is bringing old school to the new ball parks. Petco Park in San Diego houses the Western Metal Supply Building, a landmark which swallows home run balls and the left field foul pole.

Fireworks after home runs are common place but credit for that belongs to Maverick Bill Veeck who started the exploding scoreboard at the old Comiskey Park after a Chicago White Sox home run.

Connie Mack Stadium in Philly, Briggs Stadium in Detroit, Memorial Stadium in Baltimore and Municipal Stadium in Cleveland are names we all knew.

Today it’s Minute Maid, Chase, Citi Field, Guaranteed Rate, Camden Yards, just to name a few. It is now called naming rights, where a company pays the team millions of dollars to have the stadium use their name.

October baseball starts next week and ten teams will go after the cherished ring. Two weeks later the ten will be down to two. Here’s hoping it’s Old School A.L. vs Old School N.L.,  Yawkey Way vs Clark & Addison, Ben Affleck vs Bill Murray, Green Monster vs Ivy covered walls, the Splendid Splinter vs Mr. Cub, Boston Red Sox vs Chicago Cubs, Fenway Park vs Wrigley Field.

Can’t an Old School guy dream.

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