Forbes Field

From BR Bullpen

Forbes Field circa 1909

Forbes Field was the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1909 to 1970

One of the first steel-and-concrete ballparks, Forbes Field opened on June 30, 1909 as home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Its building cost of over $1 million was the highest ever to that point, almost three times as much as Shibe Park in Philadelphia, PA which had opened that same year. It featured such modern amenities as elevators to take rich patrons to third-level boxes, and an underground parking garage for motorcars. That season the Pirates won their first World Series title. The three Series games in Pittsburgh that year outdrew the entire 1907 and 1908 World Series due to the park's size (it seated overr 30,000). The stadium was also known as Schenley Park.

The land for the park was acquired with the help of industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. At the time, the Oakland neighborhood was still home to cows and livery stables, but the area has since become a bastion of higher education, as both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University are located there. Pitt still is home to part of the Forbes Field wall. Much of the former Forbes Field site is occupied by Pitt's Hillman Library and Forbes Quad.

Color postcard showing the field, 1930s or 1940s

A haven for triples and contact hitters, Forbes Field was not friendly to sluggers. In 1947, this was changed when the bullpens were moved from foul ground to left field, cutting 30 feet, to accommodate Hank Greenberg, who joined Pittsburgh that season. The area was called Greenberg Gardens. When Greenberg retired, the area was renamed Kiner Korner, after Ralph Kiner, who became the dominant slugger in the National League. The field was returned to its former dimensions in 1954, after Kiner had been traded during the 1953 season. Forbes Field was home to a couple of famous long balls - Bill Mazeroski's 1960 World Series winner and Babe Ruth's final three homers.

For its final 24 years, the park was 300' to right, 457' to center and 365' to left.

Forbes Field was also the temporary home for the Negro League Homestead Grays in 1939 after the demise of Greenlee Field the previous off-season. The Grays moved to Washington, DC's Griffith Stadium for the 1940 season and remained there for their final 11 years.

Further Reading[edit]

  • "All Ready For Opening of New Park: Dedication Week at Forbes Field Starts on Wednesday", The Pittsburg Press, June 27, 1909, p. 29. [1]
  • Ron Backer: "Greenberg Gardens Revisited: A Story about Forbes Field, Hank Greenberg, and Ralph Kiner", Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Volume 51, Number 2 (Fall 2022), pp. 39-47.
  • Les Biederman: "Repairs and Improvements Underway at Forbes Field", The Pittsburgh Press, December 2, 1945, p. 36. [2]
  • David Cicotello and Angelo J. Louisa: Forbes Field: Essays and Memories of the Pirates' Historic Ballpark, 1909-1971, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2007. ISBN 978-0-7864-2754-3 [3]
  • C. H. Gillespie: "Forbes Field, World's Finest Baseball Park; Ready for Opening Day", The Pittsburg Press, June 27, 1909, p. 46. [4]
  • Richard J. Puerzer: "The Annual Forbes Field Celebration: Pirates Fans Relive Mazeroski's Moment", in Cecilia M. Tan, ed.: Steel City Stories, The National Pastime, SABR, 2018, pp. 103-106.
  • Ron Selter: "Forbes Field, Hitter's Nightmare?", in The Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Number 31, 2003, pp. 95-97.
  • Curt Smith: "Forbes Field", in Clifton Blue Parker and Bill Nowlin, ed.: Sweet '60: The 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2013, pp. 273-278. ISBN 978-1-93359-948-9
  • Robert C. Trumpbour: "Forbes Field: Ahead of its Time in 1909", in Cecilia M. Tan, ed.: Steel City Stories, The National Pastime, SABR, 2018, pp. 7-10.

Related Sites[edit]