Played Here: Philadelphia
Phillies (NL), 1887 to 1938
Opened: April 30, 1887
Reopened: April 14, 1904
First night game: No night games were ever played here
Last game: June 20, 1938
Capacity: 18,000 (1895); 20,000 (1929); 18,800 (1930).
Al Reach (Phillies owner)
Owner: Philadelphia Phillies
The Baker Bowl was a marvel
when it opened with 18,000 seats on April 30, 1887. However, the
wooden grandstand with its 40-foot-high right-field wall (later increased
to 60 feet) was badly damaged in an 1894 fire. During an August 8,
1903 doubleheader the third base stands collapsed, killing twelve
people. It was badly outdated when it was finally abandoned - the
Phillies clung to their decaying park until 1938, when they joined the
Athletics at Shibe Park. In 1950 the Baker Bowl was torn down.
There were actually two Phillies ballparks at this location. The
first existed from 1887-1894. It was built at a cost of $101,000 and had a
seating capacity of 12,500. There were 5,000 seats in a pavilion
behind home plate and 7,500 seats in grandstands that extended down the
left and right field lines. This original ballpark was the first to
offer pavilion seating for customers and the first with outside walls
built entirely of brick instead of wood. Virtually the entire
ballpark burned to the ground on August 6, 1894. Fans were seated in
temporary stands for home games during the rest of the 1894 season. Only
part of the exterior outfield wall remained and was incorporated into the
newly constructed stadium.
The second ballpark was built between 1894-95 and was dedicated on May 2,
1895. It seated 18,800 and is judged by historians as the "first
modern ballpark" built for baseball. The expanded stadium was
the first one constructed with a cantilever design-at the time a radically
new architectural technique in stadium construction. Using
cantilevered concrete supports eliminated many of the support columns in
the pavilion that had made for so much "obstructed view seating"
in the original ballpark and other existing stadiums. Use of the
cantilever design, according to one baseball historian, was " a
defining moment for the future of ballparks."
The Baker Bowl fire was only one of several that besought owners of the
period, and finally Shibe pioneered the use of concrete and reinforced
steel instead of wood. The new design led to safer parks and greater
Reuben Berman incident: The Baker Bowl left a different sort of legacy
for baseball fans in 1923. Back then, owners would force fans to
return baseballs that were hit foul into the stands - this often led to
fan resentment and not a few incidents between ushers and
spectators. But in 1923, a brave 11-year-old named Reuben Berman
decided to keep his foul ball. The Phillies pressed charges,
detaining him overnight; their legal case was strong, but the reviewing
judge sided with Berman - he argued that the lad was just following his
instincts and couldn't be blamed for wanting to keep a souvenir.
Baseball fans have been happy ever since.
The Coors Field of it's day, the Baker Bowl
produced some truly astonishing offensive performances. For
instance, in 1920 the Phillies (led by Cy Williams) smacked 50 HR at home
and just 14 on the road. The ballpark reliably boosted run
production by 25% a year, and home runs by even more than that, throughout
the 1920s and 1930s until it was abandoned n 1938..
Far and away
the liveliest ballpark of a lively era, the Hump helped Ed
Delahanty and Chuck Klein earn their Hall of Fame credentials. Klein
put in a Triple Crown performance in 1933, and was selected the National
League's Most Valuable Player, leading the senior circuit in hits (226),
runs (152), home runs (38), stolen bases (20), and hitting a remarkable
.348 and driving in 137 RBIs.
Cleveland Alexander also performed well here. His 1916 record of
sixteen shutouts is still the season record (that season, the Phillies
smacked 29 HR at home and just 13 on the road). Over two decades,
Alexander won 5 ERA titles, led the league in innings pitched 7 times, and
in wins, complete games and strikeouts 6 times each.
So, a great pitcher can succeed here - but Alexander the Great was surely
the exception. Built on an oddly shaped parcel of land, Baker Bowl
had unusual dimensions. From home plate to the bleachers down the left
field line was a healthy 341 feet, to dead center field a respectable 408
feet. However, many a ball was rocketed off the right field wall
because it was only 280 feet from home plate down the right field line, a
neighborly 310-320 feet in the right center field power ally.
Because of the cozy right field wall, Baker Bowl was often described as a
"cigar box" and "band box."
PA: Left field (N), West Lehigh Avenue; third base (W), North 15th
Street; first base (S), West Huntingdon Street; right field (E), North
Broad Street; Philadelphia and Reading Railroad tunnel beneath outfield.
The Baker Bowl was located on a square block in North Philadelphia.
The right field line ran parallel to Huntingdon Street; right field to
center field parallel to Broad Street; center field to left field parallel
to Lehigh Avenue; and the left field line parallel to 15th Street.
field: 335 ft. (1921), 341.5 ft. (1926), 341 ft. (1930), 341.5 ft.
field: 408 ft.
field: 272 ft. (1921), 279.5 ft. (1924), 280.5 ft. (1925)
field: 4 ft. (1895), 12 ft. (1929)
clubhouse: 35 ft. (with 12 ft. screen on top, 1915)
field: 40 ft. (tin over brick, 1895), 60 ft. (40 ft. tin over brick,
topped by 20 ft. screen, 1915)
May 30, 1935, Babe Ruth - then a member of the Boston Braves - took
himself out of the lineup after the first inning of the first game of
a doubleheader at Baker Bowl. He never again played in a major
Wilson became the first US President to see a World Series game when
he attended the second game of the 1915 World Series at Baker Bowl.
ball ever cleared the 35' wall of the centerfield clubhouse.
site of many Negro League baseball games - the Hilldale Daisies from
Darby, PA, often played at the ballpark in the 1920s-1930s. The
Negro League World Series games were played at the ballpark in
known by various names including Philadelphia Base Ball Park, the
Huntingdon Street Baseball Grounds, National League Park - as it was
officially called - and the "Hump," the "Cigar
Box" and the "Band Box." Gradually came to be
known as Baker Bowl after William F. Baker, owner of the Phillies
between 1913 and 1930.
"the Hump" because it was on an elevated piece of ground
that had a railroad tunnel underneath the outfield.
pool in the basement of the center-field clubhouse prior to World War
Soap Stops B.O." Lifebuoy sign on the high right-field wall.
seats added in front of the fence in center for the 1915 World Series
led directly to the Phillies losing the Series’ last game.
1933-35, Baker Bowl was the home field of the Philadelphia Eagles
football club-the team's first three years as a franchise in the
National Football League. Thus, Baker Bowl became the first dual-use
stadium for professional sports in Pennsylvania-an idea that would be
formally resurrected with the construction of Veterans Stadium for
both the Phillies and Eagles.
Prohibition the outfield wall liquor ads were boarded over with grimy
plate moved back a foot in 1925, making the right field foul pole
280.5 feet rather than 279.5 feet from the plate.