By Dan Schlossberg
As a rabid Braves fan since 1957, I have seen the team play in Milwaukee County Stadium, Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, Turner Field, and Truist Park (nee Sun Trust Park).
But I truly have regrets about missing games in Braves Field, home of the Boston Braves from 1915-1952.
A single-decked stadium that somehow seated 40,000, it was so vast that no one hit a ball over an outfield fence in its first 11 seasons. But the New York Giants hit four inside-the-park home runs in a single contest in 1922.
Braves Field dimensions were — in a word — ridiculous.
Although they were altered some 15 times over the years, one thing was constant: center field was truly going, going, gone, measuring 520 feet from home to the flagpole, which stood in fair territory. At times, the distance from home to deep center was — are you sitting down? — 550 feet.
Even Dave Kingman couldn’t have cleared it, though a trolley company did; Boston fans were able to ride streetcars right into the cavernous ballpark.
The distance was not the only problem hitters faced; a fierce wind blew in from the adjacent Charles River. Casey Stengel, who managed the team during the ‘40s, referred to it as his fourth outfielder and called it “Joe Wind.”
Built over a golf course, the ballpark also had other ghosts in its background. Horses and mules were buried alive along the third-base line during a construction accident and stayed there as long as the Braves, who finally left because the Red Sox were outdrawing them at Fenway Park, only a mile away.
Parts of Braves Field became part of the football stadium at Boston University, with the one-time ticket office turning into the BU’s campus police station.
Opened a year after the “Miracle Braves” won the only World Series of their Boston tenure, Braves Field even had an early edition of Bleacher Bums. Their 2,000-seat section of the right-field bleachers became known as “the Jury Box” when Judge Emil Fuchs owned the team.
You might remember the name: he was the guy who lured Babe Ruth as a gate attraction for one final season in 1935 but refused to name him manager — a post Ruth craved but never realized.
Ty Cobb, Ruth’s chief rival, was right about Braves Field. When he first saw it, he said, “No one will hit a home run out of this ballpark.”
Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has been covering baseball since 1969. His byline also appears in forbes.com, Latino Sports, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Sports Collectors Digest, Memories & Dreams, and 40 baseball books. To book him as a speaker, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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