Baseball-statisics.com: Home | Annual Leaders | All-Star Game | Hall of Fame |
3 Risk Free Issues!
Capacity: 37,106 (1952)
Braves Field

 

Braves Field
General Information

Who Played Here: Boston Braves (NL)

Opened: August 18, 1915
First night game: May 11, 1946
Last game: September 21, 1952

Architect: Osborn Engineering
Owner: Boston Braves

Highest attendance: 59,000 - September 1, 1933

 

Area of foul territory: 128,000 sq. ft.(1916 - 1920)

                              108,000 sq. ft. (1931 - 1933)

                              103,000 sq. ft. (1949 - 1952)

 

Foul territory: Large

 

Elevation: 21 feet

 

 

History

     An anachronistic, dead ball-era survivor that never quite made the transition to modern baseball, Braves Field was a huge, luxurious palace when it opened in 1915, an outdated, oft-renovated dinosaur when it closed 38 years later.  While the rest of the major leagues were struck with home run fever, Braves Field spent the first third of its existence promoting nineteenth-century baseball.  For example, in 1916, the distance to center field was 550 feet, while the distance to the foul poles were 402 feet to left and 375 feet to right.  The dimensions al but eliminated conventional home runs - the only home runs hit here before 1925 were inside-the-park jobs.

 

 

Click to order from Danbury Mint

 

     The last of the early-century steel-and-concrete ballparks opened the season after the Miracle Braves had captured the hearts of Boston fans with their mad rush to a World Series championship and a few years before Babe Ruth would change the course of baseball with his booming bat.  Most of Braves Field's existence was spent in a losing funk while the American League's Red Sox thrived at Fenway Park, only a few blocks away.

     From beginning to end, it was a house of pain for fans and players of the National League Braves.  Attendance languished near the bottom of the majors; in 1921, when the Polo Grounds became the first ballyard to crack 1 million fans, attendance at Braves Field was barely 300,000 - second lowest in the NL.  In 1951, the Braves drew the lowest total of fans in the NL, and in its final year, 1952, the ballpark drew just 280,000 fans - after the move to Milwaukee in 1953, the Braves franchise promptly became the first to break 2 million.

 

     A covered single-deck grandstand seating 18,000 wrapped around the diamond from well down each foul line.  Two uncovered pavilions seating 10,000 apiece occupied the areas just past the grandstand up to the foul poles.  The "Jury Box," as it was called after a sportswriter noticed during a game that only 12 spectators were sitting in the section, was the park's signature feature - it was a fair-territory bleacher section that seated about 2,000 and formed the outer right field boundary.

     Home to the Braves until their move to Milwaukee, the park also hosted the Red Sox' home WS games in 1915 and 1916 and their Sunday games from 1929 to 1932, and was the scene of ML baseball's longest game, a 26-inning tie between the Dodgers and Braves on May 1, 1920.

 

     After the Braves left in 1953, Boston University purchased the property, converted it for football and changed its name to Nickerson Field, where the B.U. Terriers played football until 1997.  Field hockey and soccer games as well as commencement ceremonies are still held there.  The old right-field pavilion has been incorporated into Nickerson's seating arrangement.  The first base ticket office and the concrete outer wall in right and center field are still standing, too.

 

 

Location

 

Boston, MA: Near Boston University, about three miles west of downtown Boston and one mile west of Fenway Park.  First base (S), Commonwealth Avenue; right field (E), Harry Agganis Way (Gaffney Street); left field (N), Boston and Albany Railroad tracks/Charles River; third base (W), Babcock Street.  The right field pavilion, ticket office, and part of the exterior wall are all still standing. The complex is now called Nickerson Field.

Dimensions - History

 

Left field: 402 (1915), 375 (1921), 404 (1922), 403 (1926), 320 (April 21, 1928), 353.5 (July 24, 1928), 340 (1930), 353.67 (1931), 359 (1933), 353.67 (1934), 368 (1936), 350 (1940), 337 (1941), 334 (1942), 340 (1943), 337 (1944)

 

Left-center: 402.5 ft. (1915), 396 (1916), 402.42 (1921), 404 (1922), 402.5 (1926), 330 (April 21, 1928), 359 (July 24, 1928), 365 (1942), 355 ft. (1943)

 

Center field: 440 ft. (1915), 387 (April 21, 1928), 417 (July 24, 1928), 387.17 (1929), 394.5 (1930), 387.25 (1931), 417 (1933), 426 (1936), 407 (1937), 408 (1939), 385 (1940), 401 (1941), 375 (1942), 370 (1943), 390 (1944), 380 (1945), 370 (1946)

 

Center field at the flag pole: 520

 

Deepest center field corner, just to the right of straightaway center: 550 (1915), 401 (1942), 390 (1943)

 

Right-center: 402 (1915), 362 (1942), 355 (1943)

 

Right field: 402 (1915), 375 (1916), 365 (1921), 364 (1928), 297.75 (1929), 297.92 (1931), 364 (1933), 297 (1936), 376 (1937), 378 (1938), 350 (1940), 340 (April 1943), 320 (July 1943), 340 (April 1944), 320 (May 1944), 340 (April 1946), 320 (May 1946), 318 (1947), 320 (1948), 319 (1948)

 

Backstop: 75 (1915), 60 (1936).

 

 

Fences - History

 

Left field to center: 10 (concrete, 1945), 8 (wood, 1928), 20 (wood, 1946), 25 (wood, 1953)

 

Left field scoreboard: sides 64 (1948), middle arch 68 (1929)

 

Left field: 1 (gravestones, July 24, 1928), 30 (canvas, 1929)

 

Right-center exit gate: 8 (wire)

 

Right field: 10 (six screen above 4 wood).



Analysis

     The best descriptor of the Bee Hive - as it was officially known from 1936 to April 29, 1941 - is "cavernous."  Braves Field, in deference to owner James Gaffney's love of inside-the-park home runs, spent the first third of its existence promoting nineteenth-century baseball while the rest of the nation was stricken with home run fever.  Early Braves Field, featuring 402-foot foul lines and an unreachable 550-foot center field barrier, was billed as "the largest baseball park in the world," an assessment endorsed by pitchers who were further aided by Boston's notorious East wind - the prevailing winds blew straight in from center field, preventing many home runs.

     The spacious out field that was 402' down the left-field line and 520' to center.  Those distances were shortened over the years, but the left-field fence remained 25' high, and a 10' wall in right guarded the "Jury Box," a small bleacher section with extremely boisterous fans.  From 1916 to 1920, the ballpark favored pitching, but only slightly - in the dead ball era, the size of the playing field stops mattering at some point because home runs were so few and far between anyway that they don't contribute much to scoring.  In fact, the huge distances can actually boost scoring in some cases - a line drive that would have rattled around the outfield walls at Wrigley or Fenway for a double might have kept rolling for a triple or an inside-the-park homer in Braves.  Outfielders, loathe to a let a ball past them for fear that the ball would keep rolling all the way to the Charles River, would play deep, allowing singles to drop in front of and in between them.  The years when the park really sabotaged offense came in the late 1930s.

 

     In 1927 management broke down and added bleacher sections in front of the left and center field walls, reducing home run distance by about 70 feet.  But opponents feasted on the new dimensions and the bleachers were gone by late season.  From that point on, the park underwent almost annual (some claimed daily) renovation before settling on its final look in 1947 - 337 feet down the left field line, 390 to center and 319 to right.  In these last few years, the park depressed run production bvy around 10% and home runs by about 30-40%.

 

     The park's biggest beneficiaries were the pitching, mainly Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain, who led the team to a pennant in 1948.  Flyball pitchers benefit the most because they can feel free to get the ball up in the strike zone, but all pitchers loved it here.  Hitters who kept the ball on the ground, and who had speed to generate extra bases on long hits, fared better than the "swing" hitters.  Rabbit Maranville built a Hall of Fame career here, for instance.  Unfortunately, the Braves never could get the slash-and-burn offense down - even their 1948 edition featured sluggers like Bob Elliott and Jeff Heath - only player on that team stole more than 6 bases. 

 

 

Park Factors

 

Year Runs HR
1916 85 31
1917 87 63
1918 88 48
1919 100 65
1920 97 38
1921 84 49
1922 91 32
1923 101 55
1924 90 30
1925 87 37
1926 70 17
1927 90 26
1928 102 132
1929 89 58
1930 91 78
1931 97 67
1932 81 61
1933 86 99
1934 68 65
1935 97 96
1936 86 55
1937 72 50
1938 69 36
1939 82 32
1940 101 65
1941 86 59
1942 93 100
1943 90 62
1944 88 145
1945 132 205
1946 88 61
1947 88 62
1948 97 63
1949 89 60
1950 72 60
1951 96 74
1952 89 75

 

 

Fun Facts

 

  • The infield grass was transplanted from the old South End Grounds (III).
  • A view over the left field fence revealed the Charles River, sometimes filled with the shells of Harvard racing crews, and a railroad yard that gave the park its distinctive smell.
  • Visitors to Braves Field could arrive on the Commonwealth Avenue trolley, which would swing inside the park's main facade and drop them off right at their gate. 
  • On July 28, 1935, the Boston Braves played a game against the Brooklyn Dodgers and the total attendance that day was 95 fans.
  • Originally, there was a ground-level scoreboard in left field.
  • The scoreboard was moved in 1928 to the rear of right field.
  • Fir trees were planted beyond the center field fence to mask smoke from the nearby railroad.
  • In 1948, a 68-foot scoreboard was added in left field.
  • Boston University purchased the field in the 1950s and put in a football field from the first base dugout to right-center.
  • A plaque placed on the site in 1988 recounts the history of the park.


Baseball-statistics.com: Front | Advertiser Info | Contact Us | Tools | Site Map
Copyright 2001 QATD Internet Ventures.

.