Major League Baseball parks have changed dramatically in the past 50 years, and many of the older parks like Forbes Field and Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh have disappeared in a cloud of demolition. Here are two photos I took at a Pirates game at Forbes Field in August, 1962. Although Forbes Field was demolished in the early 1970’s and replaced with University of Pittsburgh academic buildings, some small parts of the ball park remain. The left field wall was preserved, and lines of bricks were placed in the campus pavement to mark the locations of Forbes Field’s foul lines. The most interesting piece of Forbes Field that was saved is home plate preserved at its original location – now under glass – in the lobby floor at Pitt’s Posvar Hall.
Here’s a look at the infield, taken during batting practice at that 1962 game. I’m always amazed when I see photos of old ball parks and the ragged condition of their infields. But in 1962 most baseball games were televised in black and white, and only later did color TV broadcasts of baseball games encourage more manicured grounds.
In August, 1963 I took this photo at a Red Sox game in Boston’s Fenway Park. The infield looks a bit greener than the infield at Forbes Field, but it still wasn’t up to today’s grounds keeping standards.
Fenway’s “Green Monster” left field wall looms above the scoreboard and – like Forbes Field – the outfield grass at Fenway looks good, but it doesn’t have the precisely aligned mower tracks that are seen in today’s ball parks.
Now for some photos I took at Three Rivers Stadium after it opened in 1970. First, Game 5 of the 1971 World Series. In the 1970’s I was working at the advertising agency that had the contract to create monochrome animations that would appear on Three River’s original giant message board above the center field wall.
The Pirates starting line-up for Game 5 on October 14, 1971. The final score was Pirates 4, Orioles 0, and the Pirates went on to win the ’71 World Series in seven games.
The Orioles dugout seen from my seat during Game 5. The dugouts at Three Rivers were not “dug out”, probably a concession to the stadium’s moveable seating sections. As a result, the players’ benches were at field level and there was no fence and railing in front of the bench as in most of today’s dugouts.
For his birthday on June 6, 1982 we took my dad to the Pirates-Padres game at Three Rivers. Here’s Tony Pena stepping on home plate as Dale Berra cheers him on. The Pirates won 2-1.
It was an enjoyable afternoon at Three River Stadium. Here’s my dad with his grandson Jarrett during the game.
Bob Rathke 2017
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