Results tagged ‘ Homestead Grays ’

Ballfields of PA: West Field (Homestead Grays)

Recently, I visited one of the more historical fields that I have ever played on, West Field in Munhall.  The field is located along West Street between Homestead and Munhall.  Many years ago, the Homestead Grays of the Negro League played at this field.  Here is an article from the Post Gazette.

It talks about how a local man served as a bat boy at West Field and rubbed elbows with the likes of Josh Gibson and Cool Papa Bell.  Pretty interesting stuff.

I had once lived just a mile from this field for five years and never once visited or played on it.  I had only heard bad things about it – most notably that Mark McGwire on steroids would have a tough time hitting a home run here.

Check out the dimensions:

It’s exactly 358 feet to left field.  That’s deep.
It’s about 750 feet to center field.  That’s ridiculous.  And its about 390 feet to right field.

I parked beyond the left field fence and entered through this gate along with Amy and Olivia.

I immediately noticed how ridiculously deep left field was.  And the fence got deeper in a hurry as I looked out to left center field.  It was definitely way over 400 feet to the left field power alley.

Before hitting, I took a few pictures.  Here we have a view looking towards the first base line from left field.  Notice the stands.  They’re ancient.

And a view from behind the pitcher’s mound, which doesn’t even line up correctly with home plate.

As for home plate?  I guess its somewhere under a bunch of muck.

The dugouts looked especially small:

Some more ancient bleachers:

And a view of left field looking from home plate:

Looking out towards center field:

And a panorama of the field:

And another view with large old light towers keeping guard:

I dumped out 20 baseballs and began to hit.

I tried to put everything I had into each swing to have a chance to maybe hit a home run here.

It obviously didn’t happen.  I hit five of the twenty to the base of the wall.  Once of the balls made it out of West Field… but that’s only because it rolled under the fence.

By the way, I hate the Phillies, but am a big Jim Thome fan.  So, in light of his recent return to the Phillies, I pulled out my old Jim Thome shirt for today.

Anyhow, as for a quick review of this field.  I didn’t like anything about the field itself.  It’s in rather poor shape and the dimensions of the field are awful.  The cool thing about the field is that there are actual bleachers behind the plate and along the right field line and the fact that the Homestead Grays once played here.

There’s some nostalgia here,

but I this would be my last choice to play on if I were taking batting practice or playing a round of home run derby.

Goodbye West Field, I probably won’t be back unless I come to watch a high school baseball game here.

Condition:  D-
Dimensions: F
Location/Surrounding Area:  D (there was broken glass everywhere in the lot)
Parking/Access: B

This is the worst rated field I’ve visited so far.  Look for upcoming entries about South Fayette and South Allegheny.
Links to other fields that I’ve hit at and reviewed for the Ballparks of PA Series:
Riverfront Park, Boston
Wylie Park, Elizabeth
Peterswood Park, Peters Township
Washington Park, Washington PA
Thomas Jefferson High School Field, Jefferson Hills PA
Clairton Resident Park, Clairton PA

1-23-11 Cooperstown NY

This weekend, I went to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown NY.
Cooperstown is a little over 7 hours from Pittsburgh, so we drove most of the way on Saturday afternoon and stayed overnight in Binghamton NY.

The next day, we braved the 8 degree weather and snow and made our way to Cooperstown.  There were lots of baseball shops lining Main Street on the way to Cooperstown.  Unfortunately, since it was Sunday, most of them were closed.  The Hall of Fame is open 9AM-5PM daily though.

Here I am outside of the Hall of Fame.  (I know, Where’s my coat?!)
100_6482.JPGFrom Ebbets Field:
100_6816.JPGThere was a large portion on this floor for Hank Aaron
And another section of the third floor was dedicated to Statistics.  It featured all major statistical categories with the all time career record holder and active leaders:
100_6831.JPGHere’s a short video of that section of the Hall.

Also nearby was a display case of a ball from every No-Hitter thrown in the major leagues since 1940. 
100_6840.JPGAnother brief video:

The next exhibit was a display of World Series rings dating back to the early 1900’s.
It was pretty cool.

Here are two short videos of the rings:

Near the exit of the third floor was a large display of baseball cards that included all different kinds of cards from baseball’s history.  There was another Honus Wagner 1909 card in there.
Another brief video:

We finished our trip by heading over to the library on the first floor which we missed the first time through.

Here is a view of the Gallery from the library entrance:
And the courtyard of the hall of fame with some 18 inches of snow or so burying the statues there:
There wasn’t much in this section. 

There was a small area devoted to movies:
that had old baseball movie posters
and displays:
The library section was a ghost town, everything was closed there.  The Giamatti research center, the museum, the bullpen theater.  All of it.

After several hours it was time to go.  We left a bit before 3PM and got back home around 10.
It was well worth the trip.  I wouldn’t buy a membership and go all the time, but it’s a must for any baseball fan that has never been there.  I’d say there’s pretty much something for every hardcore baseball fan there.

Coming up next:  Pirates Winter Caravan and Piratefest entries.

8-5-09 PNC Park

When I woke up this morning, I was paying the price for staying for the entire game yesterday.  Also, it didn’t help that I lifted weights for an hour when I got home (just dumb bells – and it didn’t hurt my back at all at the time when I did it.)

When I took my first step to go downstairs this morning, my body locked up with another round of back spasms.  Will these ever go away?

Luckily, by the time the afternoon rolled around, I was able to somewhat walk, and went to the game.

I was probably the 3rd person into the bleachers, managing to execute an award jog/walk to pass by other ballhawks that might feel silly sprinting in.  There were two balls to be had, and Bryan Pelescak, another top notch ballhawk at PNC Park, got both of them.  He would go on to snag at least seven balls today.

I got my first ball about fifteen minutes into batting practice.  Mark Reynolds hit a monster shot into the second deck of the bleachers.  Home runs rarely ever go up there.  If balls do land there, its usually after bouncing off of concrete in the lower section.  Reynolds’ home run landed about four rows back, and I scurried up the stairs after it.  Luckily, no one else gave pursuit.

Before picking up the ball, I snapped a picture of ball #1.
A bit later in the round, another Diamondback came up and hit a home run right down the line.  Luckily, I was standing nearby and was able to walk over and pick up ball #2 in the walkway between the left field rotunda and section 133.

I tried asking a few Diamondbacks for balls, but without luck.  There was one D’back that was particularly devilish.  He kept turning to the crowd and waving.  Several times he flaunted the ball towards the crowd, before hurling it back in towards the infield.  He gave up one ball, and it was one that he tossed into the second deck of bleachers.  He likely just wanted to see a scramble for the ball.

I tried chasing down another home run, but it was picked up by an employee who handed it to a kid.

Walking back, I caught a home run (ball #3) at the very back of section 135, just below the second set of bleachers.  I just happened to be in the right spot at the right time.

When 5:30 rolled around, and the rest of the stadium opened, I went over to center field to claim a ball from the center field batter’s eye.  The area is covered in ivy, and spells the word Pirates.  There is a fence that prevents any fans from entering the area to get balls.  Well, yesterday, there was a ball about eight feet in that would’ve been reachable had I brought my ‘Cleveland Stick’ – that collapsible measuring device that I use to get balls out of Heritage Park.  Unfortunately, the ball mysteriously had vanished. 

Sweet spots:
Game:  6 balls (4 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device)
Season:  250 balls (131 hit, 82 thrown, 37 device)
Games: 52 games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:  4.81 balls per game
Career:  416 balls
Streak:  67 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  11,470