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FLANNELS AND FIELDS

April 09, 1956
April 09, 1956

Table of Contents
April 9, 1956

Events & Discoveries
Spectacle
Preview
Managers
Sport In Art
Facts For Arguments
Coming Events
Pat On The Back

FLANNELS AND FIELDS

Things change. In Brooklyn, Walter O'Malley dreams of a ball park with a dome over it just as Larry MacPhail had a vision of the game under lights long before it became a major league reality 21 years ago. In St. Louis, the Cardinals redesigned their uniforms, moving their famous redbird from the chest to the sleeve and putting a bat in his wings. In Cincinnati, the Redlegs turn the outer shirt into a sort of vest and switch from traditional flannel to nylon. At Comiskey Park in Chicago, it is announced that in addition to hot dogs, hamburgers and onions and fish (on Fridays) will be served this season.

This is an article from the April 9, 1956 issue Original Layout

Baseball people are forever fussing around. Lengthening or shortening a foul line, putting up a screen or taking one down to cheapen or boost the price of the home run ball. The up-to-the minute styles in uniforms and ball park dimensions may be studied on the pages following. But it should be remembered that the things that have changed around a ball park and down on the field are just the trimmings and the trappings. The basic things, like the color of umpires' suits, never change and never will.

For instance, there's the magic of the ball park that makes a small boy break into a run when he comes within sight of it. It doesn't matter if it's three hours before game time. When that old ball park looms into view, suddenly there's not a moment, not a second to be wasted. A boy has just got to run.

But other things do change. In the case of uniforms, there have been all sorts of experiments since a Cincinnati dressmaker sewed together the first modern-type uniform back in 1868. Ballplayers have worn high collars and neckties and every color in the rainbow. But it wasn't until 1929 that the American League clubs broke down and put numbers on the uniforms. Different uniforms for home and road go all the way back to 1911. Today, every club has at least three sets for home and three for road. Somehow, the Yankees manage to look better tailored than any other team. Maybe because they slide less. Speaking of sliding, the slidingest team ever was the St. Louis Cardinals back in the day of Pepper Martin, Dizzy Dean, Leo Durocher and Frankie Frisch. They would come into New York so messed up and disreputable looking that somebody was reminded of a dirty-faced gang from down by the gas house.

SCREENS UP AND DOWN

This business of putting up and taking down screens in a ball park can work out in strange ways. Last year, the Cards tried to help Stan Musial by taking down a screen in right field. It backfired. It didn't help the Cardinals and it embarrassed Musial when some fans concluded (erroneously) that The Man had asked for the favor.

In Pittsburgh, the creation of Greenberg Gardens was a fiasco. With hitters like Hank Greenberg and Ralph Kiner, it hardly seemed necessary. A big hassle came in the middle of the 1953 season when Kiner was sold to the Chicago Cubs and Branch Rickey immediately proposed to remove the Gardens and lengthen the foul line again. Ford Frick, the high commissioner, stepped in and said there would be no changes allowed until the season was over. One screen that Ford Frick has never objected to is at Fenway Park in Boston. It was put up just to keep the windows of a restaurant across the street from being broken all the time.

Nobody can point to a single ball park and call it the best. The best ball park is where the best things are happening and that might be little old Ebbets Field one day and the 80,000-odd-capacity Municipal Stadium in Cleveland the next day. But the game aside, the finest plant is generally agreed to be Briggs Stadium in Detroit. Yankee Stadium fans wouldn't admit that. Steve O'Neill has called Connie Mack Stadium the worst anywhere.

Two ball parks appear to be doomed. Ebbets Field is just too small for the Dodgers (they are playing seven games in Jersey City to emphasize that fact) and the Giants are considering a part-time lease on Yankee Stadium. Three ball parks are comparatively new to the majors: Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, County Stadium in Milwaukee, Municipal Stadium in Kansas City.

For all the tampering with the trimmings and the trappings, baseball is still a game of great players and mighty deeds. Put a dome over the field in Brooklyn, switch from flannels to nylon in Cincinnati, serve your hamburgers at Comiskey Park in Chicago, bring in your cameras and televise the whole shebang in color and three dimensions. The drama on the diamond is eternal and unchanging. Three strikes are out, four balls and you take your base and the very sight of a ball park is enough to make anybody break into a run—or wish he could.

COUNTY STADIUM, MILWAUKEE
Gusts of wind may shorten well-hit drives in Milwaukee park. Gusto of fans often turns stadium into "a lunatic asylum with bases."

BROOKLYN DODGERS EBBETS FIELD
The tiniest park in the league, the construction of Ebbets Field influences the lineup of the Brooklyn team. The left field wall is tempting to right-handed sluggers; so the Dodgers are heavy in that category. As a result, a lefty rarely pitches against Brooklyn. It was here that Mickey Owen dropped the third strike in the 1941 series and Cookie Lavagetto broke up Floyd Bevens' no-hitter in the 1947 Series.

CHICAGO CUBS WRIGLEY FIELD
Often called the most beautiful park in the major leagues, Wrigley Field is the pride and joy of Owner-Aesthete Phil Wrigley. Many a close ball game has been decided by a ball stuck in the ivy that clings to the outfield wall, but it would be poison to suggest that the ivy be ripped off. Furthermore, no night games are played here because Wrigley thinks light stanchions would mar the park's beauty.

CINCINNATI REDLEGS CROSLEY FIELD
Progressive Crosley Field, the scene of the first major league night game on May 24, 1935 will be the first park this season to provide air-conditioned dugouts and dressing rooms for both players and umpires. Another unusual aspect of Crosley Field is the sloping terrace that runs along the edge of the outfield next to the wall. To catch a well-hit fly ball, an outfielder usually has to run up as well as back.

NEW YORK GIANTS POLO GROUNDS
Like Ebbets Field, the Polo Grounds influences the lineup of a team. The right-field foul line, shortest in the majors, is ideal for a left-handed pull hitter. Mel Ott, one of baseball's greats, is still deprecated by some fans because so many of his homers were drives down the right-field line. Joe Adcock of the Milwaukee Braves is the only player ever to hit a ball into the center-field bleachers in a regulation game.

PHILADELPHIA PHILS CONNIE MACK STADIUM
This is the park that Mack built, but it didn't become Connie Mack Stadium until Connie was no longer the A's manager. It was here that Connie's "$100,000 Infield" played, as did Jimmy Foxx and other greats. The Phils started playing here in 1938. Before that, they played in rickety Baker Field where, legend has it, a player once homered by hitting a ball not over the fence, but through it.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES FORBES FIELD
Catchers have to guard against passed balls at Forbes Field. It is 84 feet from home plate to backstop. Bad luck has often haunted park alterations. Owner Barney Dreyfuss was so sure the club would win the 1938 pennant that he had Series press boxes built. The Pirates finished second. In 1954, "Greenberg Gardens," a homer-luring fence, was dismantled. Visitors were hitting more homers there than the Pirates.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS BUSCH STADIUM
Originally known as Sportsman's Park, the name was changed to Busch Stadium by Cardinal President August Busch after the Browns left town for Baltimore. Long notorious for one of the hardest infields in the majors, the park has been spruced up by Busch. Unfortunately, he could do nothing about the climate. In August the heat and humidity are so bad a player can lose 10 pounds in a double-header.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES MEMORIAL STADIUM
One of the largest parks, Memorial Stadium is a slugger's nightmare. Vic Wertz, for example, "is the type of player who could not make good in Baltimore. Last season, 961 homers were hit in American League parks but only 57 were hit in Baltimore. For a manager like Paul Richards, the park is a strategist's delight. The stolen base and the hit and run are more likely to win a game than a brutish homer.

BOSTON RED SOX FENWAY PARK
The Red Sox, like the Dodgers, are always on the lookout or a right-handed power hitter who can take advantage of the short left-field wall. In 1947, Vern Stephens hit 15 home runs for the St. Louis Browns. Traded to Boston, Stephens hit 29 homers in 1948 and 39 in 1949. Left field has become such a favorite target that a screen had to be placed atop the wall to save the windows of a restaurant across the street.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX COMISKEY PARK
This park was the first symmetrically built stadium in big league ball. In 1934, the White Sox, bought Al Simmons and tried to boost his homer output by moving home plate 14 feet nearer the fences. It didn't work, and home plate was moved back. In 1949, the club tried a new tack by bringing the fences 20 feet in. The shocked Sox moved them back again after their own weak-hitting Floyd Baker homered.

CLEVELAND INDIANS MUNICIPAL STADIUM
This stadium has the largest seating capacity in the majors. On September 12, 1954, 84,587 fans paid to watch a double-header against the Yankees. Some fans were standees in center field. The distances of the park are so great that the club has placed a five-and-a-half-foot fence in the outfield. It's all or nothing with the Indians. Before 1947, they played most of their games in League Park, capacity 23,000.

DETROIT TIGERS BRIGGS STADIUM
The late Walter Briggs, Tiger owner, took as much pride in the stadium as he did in the team. Briggs's share of the profits was used to beautify the park. One of the most outrageous incidents in baseball history occurred here in the 1934 Series when fans bombarded Joe Medwick of the Cards with fruit for fighting with Marv Owen. Judge Landis had to order Joe from the game before play could resume.

KANSAS CITY ATHLETICS MUNICIPAL STADIUM
One of the oldest scoreboards in the majors is used in this park, the newest in the American League. The scoreboard was once used at Braves Field, Boston. It took more than a month to dismantle and ship the big 54,000-pound board to Kansas City. Municipal Stadium is considered a tough park by some hitters, but, all told, 180 homers, tops last year for an American League park, were hit here last season.

NEW YORK YANKEES YANKEE STADIUM
This park, often called "the house that Ruth built," is so vast that no player has ever hit a fair ball out of it. Ruth's homer No. 60, hit off Tom Zachary of Washington in 1927, landed in the right-field bleachers, as did many of the Babe's other homers. In the late summer, hitters and fielders are often bothered by the shadows cast across the playing field by the triple-decked stands behind home plate.

WASHINGTON SENATORS GRIFFITH STADIUM
Until this year, Griffith Stadium has long been a pitchers' paradise. But this season it will be different. Fences have been placed in left and center field to bring the "walls" in more than 20 feet. In past years, Washington has been about the hardest place in the majors to hit a homer. Last season, for example, only 28 homers were hit in left and center field. Washington hit 14, the opposing teams hit 14.

DIAGRAMFRED ENGOUTFIELD FENCE 4 ft. HIGH
SCREEN 10 ft. HIGH
Left Field Foul Line
320 ft.
397 FT.
402 FT.
397 FT.
315 ft.
Right Field Foul Line
DIAGRAMFRED ENGWALL 9 ft. 10½ in. HIGH
SCREEN & WALL 40 ft. HIGH
Left Field Foul Line 348 ft.
365 FT.
393 FT.
352 FT.
Right Field Foul Line 297 ft.
DIAGRAMFRED ENGOUTFIELD WALL 11 ft. 6 in. HIGH
Left Field Foul Line 355 ft.
368 FT.
400 FT.
368 FT.
Right Field Foul Line 353 ft.
DIAGRAMFRED ENGWALL 18 ft. HIGH
FENCE 12 ft. HIGH
Left Field Foul Line 328 ft.
382 FT.
387 FT.
390 FT.
Right Field Foul Line 342 ft.
DIAGRAMFRED ENGWALL 16 ft. 9¾ in. HIGH
WALL 8 ft. 6 in. HIGH
50 ft. HIGH
WALL 8 ft. 6 in. HIGH
WALL 16 ft. 9¾ in. HIGH
Left Field Foul Line 279 ft.
360 FT.
455 FT.
438 FT.
483 FT.
449 FT.
294 FT.
Right Field Foul Line 257 ft.
DIAGRAMFRED ENGLEFT FIELD WALL 12 ft. HIGH
RIGHT FIELD WALL 32 ft. HIGH
Left Field Foul Line 334 ft.
405 FT.
447 FT.
400 FT.
Right Field Foul Line 329 ft.
DIAGRAMFRED ENGWALL 12 ft. HIGH
WALL 10 ft. HIGH
SCREEN 27 ft. 8 in. HIGH
Left Field Foul Line 365 ft.
376 FT.
457 FT.
408 FT.
375 FT.
Right Field Foul Line 342 ft.
DIAGRAMFRED ENGWALL 11 ft. HIGH
WALL 11 ft. HIGH
SCREEN 36 ft. 8 in HIGH
Left Field Foul Line 351 ft.
379 FT.
425 FT.
354 FT.
Right Field Foul Line 310 ft.
DIAGRAMFRED ENGWALL 11 ft. 4 in. HIGH
FENCE 7 ft. HIGH
WALL 11 ft. 4 in. HIGH
Left Field Foul Line 309 ft.
446 FT.
450 FT.
446 FT.
Right Field Foul Line 309 ft.
DIAGRAMFRED ENGLEFT FIELD WALL 37 ft. 2 in. HIGH
WALL 17 ft. HIGH
5 ft. 3 in. HIGH
WALL 5 ft. 4½ in. to 3 ft. 5 in. HIGH
Left Field Foul Line
315 ft.
388 FT.
389 FT.
420 FT.
380 FT.
302 ft.
Right Field Foul Line
DIAGRAMFRED ENGLEFT FIELD WALL 9 ft. HIGH
RIGHT FIELD WALL 9 ft. HIGH
Left Field Foul Line 352 ft.
382 FT.
415 FT.
382 FT.
352 ft.
Right Field Foul Line
DIAGRAMFRED ENGWALL 6 ft. HIGH
WALL 6 ft. HIGH
OUTFIELD FENCE 5 ft. 6 in. HIGH
Left Field Foul Line 320 ft.
365 FT.
410 FT.
365 FT.
Right Field Foul Line 320 ft.
DIAGRAMFRED ENGOUTFIELD WALL 14 ft. HIGH
Left Field Foul Line 340 ft.
365 FT.
440 FT.
370 FT.
Right Field Foul Line 325 ft.
DIAGRAMFRED ENGWALL 18 ft. HIGH
WALL 12 ft. HIGH
Left Field Foul Line 330 ft.
375 FT.
421 FT.
387 FT.
Right Field Foul Line 353 ft.
DIAGRAMFRED ENG51 in. TO 43 in. HIGH
7 ft. 10 in. TO 13 ft. 10 in. HIGH
45 in. TO 43 in. HIGH
Left Field Foul Line
301 ft.
402 FT.
457 FT.
461 FT.
407 FT.
367 FT.
344 FT.
296 ft.
Right Field Foul Line
DIAGRAMFRED ENGWALL 31 ft. HIGH
Left Field Foul Line 350 ft.
360 FT.
380 FT.
408 FT.
401 FT.
373 FT.
320 ft.
Right Field Foul Line