everybody wants to be able to go to a place where there are angels. sometimes they’re in the outfield. for fat elvis, you’d have to start your tour of cathedrals with the House that Ruth Built — Yankee Stadium. no, he didn’t build it himself, but he was the main drive that allowed the yankees to afford such a luxurious stadium at the start of the roaring ’20s.
a magnificent stadium where greats such as Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, and many more roamed the field. i’m fortunate enough to say i attended games in Ruth’s Home.
before the yankees moved into Yankee Stadium, they were tenants of the New York Giants Baseball Club. they shared the Polo Grounds from 1913-1922. but the Giants stadium might be most famous for being the place Willie Mays hauled in ‘the catch’. it was right across the river from Yankee Stadium. while the Yankees were winning world series after world series the Giant fans would have only a few
opportunities. after 1930 the Giants only won 5 pennants and two world series before abandoning Manhattan for the left coast after 1957. the Mets took over the stadium in ’62, but were only there for two seasons before they moved and the stadium was subsequently torn down to make room for more public housing. the stadium was oddly shaped like a horseshoe with extremely short left and right field line dimensions while having a cavernous centerfield (nearly 500 feet at the deepest).
Forbes Field has always appealed to me due to its spacious park dimensions. i don’t think hitters would have liked it too much and pitchers would love it. long fly balls, considered home runs in most parks of the era, would come safely down in the gloves of the outfielders. though not quite as cavernous as the 483 foot centerfield fence of the Polo Grounds, Forbes did have a spot in left-center that was 457 feet. even trying to reach the foul pole lines took a good swing. left corner was 365 feet. rightfield was touchable at 300 feet, but quickly ran away from the batter to 375 feet in right field. compare that to the Polo Grounds corners at 279 feet to left and 258 feet to right.
the stadium was used from 1909 until 1970. in the 61 years of games, there were only four world series played there and only once (1960) after the 20s had come and gone. whether it was the unusually oversized ballpark, becoming very uncommon after the deadball era came to a close, or inept management that prevented playoff contending teams is debatable. as a fan, i wish i had a chance to see a game played here.
two more parks quickly come to mind when we’re discussing great baseball cathedrals. the placement on this page is no indication whatsoever of the importance or elegance of these stadiums. first Fenway Park. ever known for the fabled “Green Monster” in left field (the 37 foot high wall), it’s the oldest active baseball stadium in the major leagues having games played there since 1912. for the longest time the Bosox were known as the team that couldn’t win a world series due to the curse of the Bambino. the Sox owner, tired of demands from Ruth, traded the player to the Yankees for some magic beans. the Sox won the world series in 1918 and after the trade, wouldn’t see a world series victory again until 2004.
many greats have come and gone through Boston including Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Roger Clemens and many, many more. over the recent years new ownership has helped turn the ballclub into a perennial playoff contender.
the next ballpark is currently the 2nd oldest park … Wrigley Field in Chicago. this is another storied park with a curse attached. the story goes that in 1945 the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern bought two tickets to the Cubs World Series game for he and his pet goat. the stadium would not let him in with the goat. he refused to attend the game without his pet and placed a curse on the Cubs. they had not been able to make a return trip to the world series until the drought ended in 2016. it was one of the longest stretches of any team to somehow miss making it to the championships. they had a few close calls, but they always fell short.
most cub fans were especially fond of two things at a Cubs game – the ivy (covering, but not protecting from the brick outfield wall), and Harry Caray singing ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’. while Caray is gone, the ivy remains and now a feeling that the curse has been forever broken. even in the bleakest of seasons, the fans of Chicago’s north side were never fair-weathered. they might be some of the most die-hard fans in baseball.
there are more to come, but for now elvis has left the building.